What ECU Coding Can Bring to Your Car

Nowadays cars are becoming more modern. It is a complex machine with many functions that are controlled by a computer.

However, there is another reason why a car’s software is interesting. Cars are equipped with assistance systems, hands-free options, and other smart services. However, not all of these embedded functions are enabled (or activated) by the manufacturer. Car owners have the possibility to configure or code it themselves!

Today, let’s dive into what is car coding and how it works.

What is Car Coding?

Car coding is a relatively new thing in the automotive world, and it implies software modifications to a vehicle to allow the use of functions not available in the car when it left the factory for different reasons, mainly local regulations.

A car’s on-board computer takes over many functions that we aren’t aware of. Car drivers would be overwhelmed if they had to operate these functions manually. This is because the on-board computer also performs these functions simultaneously. Moreover, the functions can be classified according to various criteria.

What Do You Need While Car Coding

Just like tuners would access the ECU of a vehicle for a reflash, and like service technicians would use the OBD II port to check the error codes on a vehicle, car coders can use the same diagnostics port to enable new functions for a vehicle.

For a person to be able to code a car, they require an OBD to Ethernet/USB adaptor, a Laptop or computer, and dedicated software to do the job. BMW E-Series vehicles used an Ediabas K+DCAN USB Interface and the BMW F-Series are using an Ethernet to a USB (ENET) interface.

Most important of all, you need a professional and reliable diagnostic tool to help you get the work well-done.

LAUNCH V+ 4.0, Faster, Stronger & Top Powerful
LAUNCH V+ 4.0, Faster, Stronger & Top Powerful
4.6 / 5

2021 OE-level advanced functions with plenty of extra features for professionals. The ideal option for millions of car repair shops and workshops.
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  • A highly sophisticated device that ensures top-notch functioning of your car.
  • Helps in online coding for popular and high-end brands such as Porsche, Benz, Hyundai, and Audi.
  • Includes 30+ reset functions, ECU coding, and also supports operative solenoids and active testing.
  • Functions well with a number of systems such as ECM, TCM, SRS, fuel systems, and wiper systems to name a few.
  • Adept at reading and clearing DTCs and live data.
  • An 8-inch tablet that offers a thorough inspection of the vehicle.
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled.
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty.
  • Excellent customer support team.
TOPDON Phoenix Plus, Designed with Technicians in Mind
TOPDON Phoenix Plus, Designed with Technicians in Mind
5 / 5

Boasts high-quality features with easy workflow to tackle the complex vehicle diagnostic issues for most modern vehicles worldwide.
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  • The unit impressed us with its versatility.
  • With 28+ reset functions, including oil and SAS reset, ABS bleeding, injector coding, BMS, and TPMS reset, etc.
  • Adept at ECU coding which further enhances its utility in mechanics.
  • Decode and clear DTCs as well as live data, etc.
  • Suggest maintenance recommendations for various components of the vehicle such as the engine, transmission, brake, fuel, and emission systems.
  • Compatible with a wide range of brands of cars; no less than 150!
  • A true workhorse; comes with a battery life of up to 8 hours,
Autel MK906BT, Enhanced Pro-Level Diagnostic Tablet
Autel MK906BT, Enhanced Pro-Level Diagnostic Tablet
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Based on the Android operating system with the best possible coverage of OE-level diagnostics and ECU coding capability.
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  • Highly versatile and functional device that combines multiple services into one nifty package.
  • Incredible OE-level functioning and an HDMI port to boot
  • Access the subsystem and component tests of specific vehicles. (*This is dependent not only on the manufacturer and model but also on the tests displayed in the menu of the scanner.)
  • Gives the user prompt access to the car’s systems for servicing and maintenance issues.
  • Includes ABS Auto Bleed, fuel injector sync, and comes with a connect kit.
  • Adept at determining the response capacity of the ECM with respect to the given commands.
  • Reads live data, code, and ECU information.
What Can Car Coding Bring to my Vehicle?

Some basic coding functions:

  • Deactivating the Start/Stop function.
  • Beeping when unlocking and locking.
  • Locking the doors once a certain speed is reached(e.g. from 15 km/h).
  • Seatbelt warning sounds.
  • Mirrors automatically folding and unfolding.
  • Closing the windows after locking the car door with the key.

Lighting coding:
The on-board computer also runs many functions in the lighting system.
These are some example:

  • Flashing the brake lights during emergency braking.
  • Activating/deactivating daytime running lights.
  • Changing the brightness of daytime running lights.
  • Flashing of the headlights when locking or unlocking the doors via the remote control.
  • Flashing of the headlights when the alarm system is triggered.

Dashboard coding:
Analog dashboards are only really seen in museums these days. The digital dashboards offer many different coding possibilities. For example:

  • Displaying of the real speed via GPS signal
  • Displaying the amount of fuel consumption at a given speed
  • Changing the brightness of the dashboard
  • Displaying the optimal gear changing time in eco or sport mode
  • Select whether the display should be on the dashboard or head-up display
  • Incoming call display

Warning signals coding:
Moreover, the visual support and acoustic warning signals make parking and exiting safer. Additionally, the parking aid can include:

  • The rearview camera, which is automatically activated when the vehicle is put into reverse gear or rolled backward.
  • An acoustic warning signal, which sounds automatically when reverse gear is engaged or when the vehicle is rolling backward.
Final Words You Need To Pay Attention To

Whenever performing such work, the person must make sure the connection between the vehicle and the computer operating the changes is not tampered, and both devices must have excellent access to stable power.

Car’s battery might be drained during coding, so it is wise to use a charger to maintain the necessary power level or keep the engine running. If you use a charger, the ignition must be on to allow full access to the vehicle’s computers.

Another thing is, just like jail breaking an iPhone or any software mods, the warranty of the vehicle could be voided by coding. After all, it is a third-party intervention to the computers of the car, without the manufacturer’s approval.

There is a risk that some systems might get broken if the operator does not do everything properly. Car coding should never involve an “I’ll just wing it” strategy. There is also a risk of permanent damage to a vehicle’s electronic systems. In the worst cases, one of the car’s computers could receive irreparable harm and require replacement.