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      09-02-2009, 11:11 PM   #1
frankzlin79
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Tune and Dealer Warranty

Does anybody here have a tune to their car, had to go in for service (either related to drive train components or other issues such as broken AC, broken power adjustment in seat, etc.) and somehow the dealer discovered you had a tune, blamed the issues with your car on the tune, then denied to repair under warranty?
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      09-02-2009, 11:23 PM   #2
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I've read about this concern previously, and I read in a few of the responses that the dealer would have to prove that you reflashed your M3......And basically the only way for them do that would be to ship your ECU to BMW Germany I believe.

They most likely would not be able to tell that you got a software upgrade though. If a M3 owner like me would come in to the service center with a full catless exhaust, I'd assume they would be very suspicious about my M3.

If you're really concerned about your warranty issue, the smartest advice I could give to you would be to go with the Dinan software at one of the dealerships.
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      09-02-2009, 11:30 PM   #3
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I havent heard of this happening, however it really is up to the tech. They basically have the right to decline repairs on a car with aftermarket mods and can flag the car. However if u just bring it in for those things and u have a re-flash, it will be pretty hard to detect a u have a tune on the car. So the worst thing that can happen is they program ur car and u lose ur tune. But thats an easy fix, just get it re-flashed again.

Just make sure its not ur tune causing the problem for sure before u take it in. Because if they cant fix it and the car is doing weird stuff, then they will investigate more and could find out ur flashed. Then u pay for the consequences and say ba bye to warranty.
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      09-02-2009, 11:53 PM   #4
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I doubt that the only way a tune can be detected is by sending the ECU to Germany. I'm sure the local dealers have some way of immediately telling whether the car has been tuned. Afterall, our cars are basically computers running on wheels. And because there is so much electric data stored in our cars, the dealer should be able to find it. Just look at all the data the SA can get just with your key FOB!

As far as the dealer must prove that your mod caused the damage is from the Magnuson Moss Act. But if the dealer suspects or knows you have a mod, the dealer can decline to repair under warranty and send you home. If you want the repair under warranty at this point, you'll need to file a lawsuit To get the court, which is a huge hassle.
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      09-03-2009, 12:32 AM   #5
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Never heard of this happening with an ECU flash. The dealer can not see the code in the file. They can solely overwrite it.

Now if you have a piggyback unit installed, that's a different story. Just like the MSD81 ECU on the 335's that BMW designed to combat piggyback control units. The car would through a shadow code that indicated that the car had been modified. However, with our flashes no such thing will happen. The tune is completely transparent to the dealership.
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      09-03-2009, 01:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankzlin79 View Post
I doubt that the only way a tune can be detected is by sending the ECU to Germany. I'm sure the local dealers have some way of immediately telling whether the car has been tuned. Afterall, our cars are basically computers running on wheels. And because there is so much electric data stored in our cars, the dealer should be able to find it. Just look at all the data the SA can get just with your key FOB!

As far as the dealer must prove that your mod caused the damage is from the Magnuson Moss Act. But if the dealer suspects or knows you have a mod, the dealer can decline to repair under warranty and send you home. If you want the repair under warranty at this point, you'll need to file a lawsuit To get the court, which is a huge hassle.
The tools the dealer are having are missing many things. I have seen a BMW M engineer work on my car with the factory tool at the dealer and trust me, they will know EXACTLY what you did to the car, your favourite gear spent most time in, top speed, etc. It is VERY VERY advanced and Dealers dont have this tool. And the software itself has many funky tools to adjust many many variables that most tuners dont even have access to. I have seen it with my own eyes and I also could not believe it.
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      09-03-2009, 11:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PencilGeek View Post
In order for the dealer to do this, they'd have to read your ECU file, save it as binary data, and compare it against one of any number of factory ECU tunes (and updates) available for your car. They don't even have the capability to read your ECU and save it as a file -- let alone extract all of the various ECU program files from within PROGMAN or PROGMAN-ONLINE (and now ISTA/P). So short of sending your ECU to Germany, there's no way the dealer can tell.
PencilGeek hit it on the dot. There may be other ways, but extremely unlikely and they would only occur if a red flag was waving.

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      09-03-2009, 04:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PencilGeek View Post
In order for the dealer to do this, they'd have to read your ECU file, save it as binary data, and compare it against one of any number of factory ECU tunes (and updates) available for your car. They don't even have the capability to read your ECU and save it as a file -- let alone extract all of the various ECU program files from within PROGMAN or PROGMAN-ONLINE (and now ISTA/P). So short of sending your ECU to Germany, there's no way the dealer can tell.
Exactly what Robert said
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      09-03-2009, 04:43 PM   #9
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So.. they can read piggy back but not flash?
Am I understanding correctly?
My buddy with 335i (who doesn't even have any piggyback- he only has dual cone intake and chopped muffler) went to dealership and they said, he's error codes shows that he has aftermarket tune and tried to avoid his remaining warranty.
He even needed to get those codes in print and send it to BMW.
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      09-03-2009, 05:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isugoo View Post
So.. they can read piggy back but not flash?
Am I understanding correctly?
My buddy with 335i (who doesn't even have any piggyback- he only has dual cone intake and chopped muffler) went to dealership and they said, he's error codes shows that he has aftermarket tune and tried to avoid his remaining warranty.
He even needed to get those codes in print and send it to BMW.
A piggy back involves telltale hardware, which the dealer can spot pretty easily. A flash is strictly a software change.

Clearly, if your friend didn't have any software modification, the dealer was just guessing, which lends further support to everyone's assertions that the dealers can't detect the presence of a flash one way or another.
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      09-03-2009, 06:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike@Powerchip View Post
Never heard of this happening with an ECU flash. The dealer can not see the code in the file. They can solely overwrite it.

Now if you have a piggyback unit installed, that's a different story. Just like the MSD81 ECU on the 335's that BMW designed to combat piggyback control units. The car would through a shadow code that indicated that the car had been modified. However, with our flashes no such thing will happen. The tune is completely transparent to the dealership.
What about if the car is throwing codes related to the tune. Won't they catch on then? I know with the 335's this happens all the time.
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      09-03-2009, 07:37 PM   #12
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Perhaps a good flash will not throw error codes?

Last edited by frankzlin79; 09-03-2009 at 09:34 PM.
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      09-03-2009, 07:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ca$hOnly View Post
What about if the car is throwing codes related to the tune. Won't they catch on then? I know with the 335's this happens all the time.
They will not necessarily be able to detect the fact that you have a tune in there by the error codes thrown. Since it is not a piggyback device, physical detection is not an option. The best they could do, aside from what PencilGeek detailed involving saving the ECU bin and doing a compare against known-good factory ECU binaries, would be to use heuristics against the error codes and determine that the car is 'likely' tuned.

335s are a little different because of the MSD81 shadow code fields.
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      09-03-2009, 08:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankzlin79
Does anybody here have a tune to their car, had to go in for service (either related to drive train components or other issues such as broken AC, broken power adjustment in seat, etc.) and somehow the dealer discovered you had a tune, blamed the issues with your car on the tune, then denied to repair under warranty?
There would be no reason to search for any type of aftermarket tune for any of these items as the two have no relation with each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PencilGeek View Post
In order for the dealer to do this, they'd have to read your ECU file, save it as binary data, and compare it against one of any number of factory ECU tunes (and updates) available for your car. They don't even have the capability to read your ECU and save it as a file -- let alone extract all of the various ECU program files from within PROGMAN or PROGMAN-ONLINE (and now ISTA/P). So short of sending your ECU to Germany, there's no way the dealer can tell.
This is absolutely correct. Your dealer lacks the proper tools in order to detect any type of modified flash. Also keep in mind that dealers cannot find what they are not looking for in the first place, unless bolt-on mods lead them into that direction.

Software flashes leave no visual tells that anything has been tampered with and can be reflashed back to stock at any time. While GIAC is to be on the aggressive side, it's safe enough to push your M3 where it shouldn't be.

Dealers have specific shadow codes to detect these types of tunes, it's a cat and mouse game for the piggybacks, their time may be up soon as far as the new generation of DMEs are coming in soon. Yes, we can detect the "hidden" codes the dealers look for as well. However, Piggybacks are a different story and do not apply at all to the M3.

Dealers are people too. You would be surprised how far just remembering their first name or simple kindness goes. Try to pull a fast one - and you just might be out of luck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ca$hOnly
What about if the car is throwing codes related to the tune. Won't they catch on then? I know with the 335's this happens all the time.
I have not seen a Powerchip or GIAC flash that has been reported of doing this yet, I wouldn't worry about it. If you have any doubts, we can always perform a diagnostic scan (as we do before and after and GIAC flashes to ensure a clean bill of health) before making a dealer trip to ensure you are 100% safe.
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      09-03-2009, 08:53 PM   #15
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Dealers are people too. You would be surprised how far just remembering their first name or simple kindness goes. Try to pull a fast one - and you just might be out of luck.
Totally agree. I've always had the best service when I'm up front with the dealer. In my expeience, as long as you're up front with them, they will try to help you out as much as possible. It's when you try to lie and hide stuff that they just send you packing to resolve your problems on your own. Good relationships in the car industry (or any industry) go a long way.
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      09-03-2009, 09:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by 808MGuy View Post
I've always had the best service when I'm up front with the dealer.
How up front would you be if they ask you if you have a tune ?
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      09-03-2009, 09:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by elp_jc View Post
How up front would you be if they ask you if you have a tune ?
In my last car I told the dealer about every mod I had including software tunes. Never had a problem. I don't see what the issue would be with telling them. I something actually did break because of it, I wouldn't expect the dealer to eat the cost on that.
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      09-03-2009, 09:36 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by 808MGuy View Post
In my last car I told the dealer about every mod I had including software tunes. Never had a problem. I don't see what the issue would be with telling them. I something actually did break because of it, I wouldn't expect the dealer to eat the cost on that.
So you're one of the honest ones . This thread seems to be about how to avoid dealer knowing car is tuned in case of trouble, which is stupid IMO. A good tech knows when something doesn't add up. Proving it is not a problem after that. Then owner would have to prove tune didn't cause the problem; good luck with that. A tune is a risk I'll never take with such an expensive and complicated engine, but if I did, I'd never try to hide that either. Take care.
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      09-03-2009, 09:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 808MGuy View Post
In my last car I told the dealer about every mod I had including software tunes. Never had a problem. I don't see what the issue would be with telling them. I something actually did break because of it, I wouldn't expect the dealer to eat the cost on that.
+100000000

Nobody benefits when the tech has to chase down a problem for hours on end because he doesn't have the whole picture. The dealer will be much less understanding when they have to pry the information out of you after a tech or two has wasted hours on your car. Besides, it's a good policy in life to be straightforward anyway.

The tunes offered by the major tuners here really aren't a problematic modification on the M3 -- they really don't push the envelope.
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      09-04-2009, 02:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elp_jc View Post
So you're one of the honest ones . This thread seems to be about how to avoid dealer knowing car is tuned in case of trouble, which is stupid IMO. A good tech knows when something doesn't add up. Proving it is not a problem after that. Then owner would have to prove tune didn't cause the problem; good luck with that. A tune is a risk I'll never take with such an expensive and complicated engine, but if I did, I'd never try to hide that either. Take care.
I don't have a problem with not paying if something goes wrong related to the tune. My issue is giving the dealer a loophole to blame stuff on the tune, whether it's related or not.
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