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      01-22-2010, 03:52 PM   #1
AMOCHOSTO
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What is the downside to ecu flash software?

I've been reading for years about ecu software modifications and upgraded chips for cars.

On this site I've read that certain ecu flashes can increase power and driveability and even decrease fuel consumption.

With all of these improvements I wonder why BMW doesn't provide software that maxes out all of these factors as standard, the obvious answer is that there must be some reduction in reliability.

So here are the questions; What are the downsides to a software upgrade? What does a software upgrade do to the way the engine operates, and what adverse effects are probable and possible to occur to an engine thus modified?

I have searched and not found what I'm looking for.

Thanks
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      01-22-2010, 04:21 PM   #2
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BMW warranties issue.
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      01-22-2010, 04:29 PM   #3
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Thanks Fanta,

But I was more interested in how the software affects the engine than my pocketbook.
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      01-22-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMOCHOSTO View Post
Thanks Fanta,

But I was more interested in how the software affects the engine than my pocketbook.
You're hoping the tuner knows what they're doing....

There are some very reputable tuners out there, but I don't think any have the reputation BMW has, and most won't replace anything in the car if they cause the problems like BMW will.
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      01-22-2010, 06:07 PM   #5
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ECU mod is tempting for me....these two things hold me back
1.) warranty
2.) bmw knows what their doing when they design the ecu, why mess with it?
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      01-22-2010, 07:26 PM   #6
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Downsides to ECU Flash...

I've been researching the ECU Flash as well. In fact, I just about pulled the trigger with Powerchip. Only reason I didn't was because they started ignoring my inquiries on "the next step" to purchasing ECU Flash. Anyways, from my research I've come to the conclusion that engine reliability in years to come after the ECU Flash is relatively unknown. I mean if you only plan on keeping the car for 3-5 years, you should be good to go. Any longer then that and you're stuck with a big fat "?". Why?

1.) I don't think anyone has had their ECU Flash for longer then 3-4 years.
2.) How extensive could ECU Flash testing be from these well known tuners? E9X M3 has only been out since late 2007.

Of course, I'm not in the tuning industry so I don't actually know the rigors of each individual tuners testing or if it's even possible for them to test engine wear/life/reliability with ECU Flash after 100,000 miles, etc. This is just the conclusion I've come to after reasearching the ECU Flash for our car.

Also, initially I though Dinan's ECU Flash was wack because of the lack of power gains compared to others but after further research Dinan might not be so wack afterall. It seems to me that Dinan's software is used more to compliment their exhaust systems and charge pipe/intake i.e. changing the air intake and exhaust flow parameters a little. And at the same time making some minor tweaks to the ECU that BMW didn't due to emissions regulations. Yes, their ECU Flash doesn't create as much power as others but maybe there's a reason for their conservative approach, just like there's a reason why BMW tuned the ECU the way they did. Still, my 2 above points apply to Dinan, too.

Now I'm not saying that all these tuners are no good or anything of the sort. Just that engine reliability and warranty matters are kind of up in the air once you do the ECU Flash. Trust me, I want it hella bad, too. Another thing. Guys, don't tear me a new asshole if I'm off in any of this that I've typed. This is just my opinion. Hope this helps...

Last edited by pumper206; 01-22-2010 at 07:28 PM. Reason: Title
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      01-22-2010, 09:26 PM   #7
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Gents,
No matter what an engine is simply a large airpump. A more efficient air pump at WOT, is also a more efficient air pump at part throttle (assuming your tuner tunes at part throttle, yes we do). Hence, if you make more WOT HP/TQ post tune, your fuel economy at part throttle will also increase. We see it happen all the time on a spread of vehicles from Lambo, MB/AMG, to SRT8/10s.

The factory powertrain engineers are restricted by many things including NVH, emissions, beancounters, legal, insurance, etc. We aren't impeded by the same regulations and have access to 100% the same maps the factory tuners do. Also all my tuners are former factory trained apprentice tuners for Bosch, Siemens or Denso. Yes BMW knows what they're doing, but so do we, or else we wouldn't bother.

For those concerned about warranty, we calculate our own checksums (never have CELs) and BMW dealers do not have the equipment necessary to see the changes we make to your ECU file. So warranty is a non issue--additionally we sell our BMW, Porsche, MB/AMG, Audi tuning dealer direct via select dealers worldwide. You don't last very long if you blow up even 1 motor in this game

There's not nearly as much to squeeze out of a S65/M3 cal as there is a M156/C63 however there are still good gains to be had with engine tuning. You will feel the difference at both part and WOT no question.

If there are any specific questions about tuning in general or tuning the S65 in general please let me know.


Thanks!
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      01-22-2010, 10:10 PM   #8
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Since most tuners are not going to show or tell you the details of their tune, you best bet would be to base it on their experience and track record (this is from LBM). In other words, go to a turner who has a history of well-executed tunes.

Avoid inexperienced tuners. It takes a lot of experience and technical know-how to properly tune an ECU (meaning unleashing performance while maintaining judicious safety margins, driveability, maintainability, emissions, etc.), especially on a car like ours which has a very advanced control system.
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      01-22-2010, 10:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rldzhao View Post
Since most tuners are not going to show or tell you the details of their tune, you best bet would be to base it on their experience and track record (this is from LBM). In other words, go to a turner who has a history of well-executed tunes.

Avoid inexperienced tuners. It takes a lot of experience and technical know-how to properly tune an ECU (meaning unleashing performance while maintaining judicious safety margins, driveability, maintainability, emissions, etc.), especially on a car like ours which has a very advanced control system.
Well said and agreed. Here's basic info on our E90/S65 ECU Tuning:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=330332
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      01-22-2010, 11:04 PM   #10
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I am a software engineer. I like to remove speed limit of my M3.
I can buy another BMW ECU to flash it and keep the original ECU for service only.
Problem is:
Electronic devices are running concurrently and data store in different NVRAM modules.
Once there is a problem, I can reinstall my original ECU, how can I flash all the rest NVRAM for a reset?
You cannot disconnect power to flash NVRAM.
If I don't flash it all, BMW will know. I don't know what to do rather than leave it.
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      01-22-2010, 11:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pumper206 View Post
Downsides to ECU Flash...

I've been researching the ECU Flash as well. In fact, I just about pulled the trigger with Powerchip. Only reason I didn't was because they started ignoring my inquiries on "the next step" to purchasing ECU Flash. Anyways, from my research I've come to the conclusion that engine reliability in years to come after the ECU Flash is relatively unknown. I mean if you only plan on keeping the car for 3-5 years, you should be good to go. Any longer then that and you're stuck with a big fat "?". Why?

1.) I don't think anyone has had their ECU Flash for longer then 3-4 years.
2.) How extensive could ECU Flash testing be from these well known tuners? E9X M3 has only been out since late 2007.

Of course, I'm not in the tuning industry so I don't actually know the rigors of each individual tuners testing or if it's even possible for them to test engine wear/life/reliability with ECU Flash after 100,000 miles, etc. This is just the conclusion I've come to after reasearching the ECU Flash for our car.

Also, initially I though Dinan's ECU Flash was wack because of the lack of power gains compared to others but after further research Dinan might not be so wack afterall. It seems to me that Dinan's software is used more to compliment their exhaust systems and charge pipe/intake i.e. changing the air intake and exhaust flow parameters a little. And at the same time making some minor tweaks to the ECU that BMW didn't due to emissions regulations. Yes, their ECU Flash doesn't create as much power as others but maybe there's a reason for their conservative approach, just like there's a reason why BMW tuned the ECU the way they did. Still, my 2 above points apply to Dinan, too.

Now I'm not saying that all these tuners are no good or anything of the sort. Just that engine reliability and warranty matters are kind of up in the air once you do the ECU Flash. Trust me, I want it hella bad, too. Another thing. Guys, don't tear me a new asshole if I'm off in any of this that I've typed. This is just my opinion. Hope this helps...
You have a very good and honest point.

I chose Powerchip's tune because I got too damn tempted.

I'll have to see how my M3 holds up in the long run with all the mods I've done.
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      01-27-2010, 12:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nawaaz View Post
You have a very good and honest point.

I chose Powerchip's tune because I got too damn tempted.

I'll have to see how my M3 holds up in the long run with all the mods I've done.

What gains did you get with powerchip, or in other words what power gains were advertised, and does it feel different? was it worth it knowing you could risk your warranty etc
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      01-27-2010, 02:17 AM   #13
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i have had the Dinan software in my past 3 M cars and while it may not make the most power i have never had a problem in any of them and never a problem at the dealer with warranty issues while friends of mine with the same cars have went other routes and either had warranty problems or problems with the software in the car which then caused warranty problems

people bash dinan on here like no other but in my personal experience i wouldn't put anything else in my cars if i was gonna mod the ecu
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      01-27-2010, 09:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
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What gains did you get with powerchip, or in other words what power gains were advertised, and does it feel different? was it worth it knowing you could risk your warranty etc
Judging from my before/after dyno's, I gained about 18 whp and 3 wtq (link to my dyno thread: http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=322545)

I admit that I took a risk. The reason why I went for it was because I wanted to have the missing puzzle that would complete the rest of my bolt-on's.

If you feel even slightly nervous, my advice is to keep the peace of mind in having your M3's factory warranty.
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      01-27-2010, 10:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Gents,
The factory powertrain engineers are restricted by many things including NVH, emissions, beancounters, legal, insurance, etc. We aren't impeded by the same regulations and have access to 100% the same maps the factory tuners do. . .

For those concerned about warranty, we calculate our own checksums (never have CELs) and BMW dealers do not have the equipment necessary to see the changes we make to your ECU file. So warranty is a non issue . . .
Andy,

I'm going to trust at face-value that you are very good at what you do, and that you are thorough in your programming for the purpose of this post. However, there are a couple of minor clarifications to your claims (and I've only quoted those parts of your post pertinent to those), that I think are important for all potential tune customers to note.

1) You may not have to worry about "legal and emissions issues," because you can put language in your sales agreement like "off road use only." However, your customers will have to worry about such things if they live in a state where emissions are checked.

2) BMW dealers may not have the equipment to detect one of your tunes, but BMW "corporate" does, and they are ones who will have to approve an engine repair or replacement warranty claim, so it's not completely accurate to say, "warranty is a non issue."

Granted, a responsible tune is highly unlikely to cause an engine problem during a warranty period, but overall longevity in comparison to OEM is an unknown. However, if an engine melts down for another reason, there is a very big warranty question mark for a car with a modified ECU because the ECU is probably going to be downloaded by the dealer and sent for analysis by BMW in Germany, as a requirement before approving a warranty claim.
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      01-27-2010, 06:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Andy,

I'm going to trust at face-value that you are very good at what you do, and that you are thorough in your programming for the purpose of this post. However, there are a couple of minor clarifications to your claims (and I've only quoted those parts of your post pertinent to those), that I think are important for all potential tune customers to note.
foosh, thanks for pointing out the necessary clarifications I'll be glad to answer them.

Quote:
1) You may not have to worry about "legal and emissions issues," because you can put language in your sales agreement like "off road use only." However, your customers will have to worry about such things if they live in a state where emissions are checked.
Unless you remove your cats or swap to off-road grind cams it's simply not possible to fail emissions due to our ECU tune. What we do is make the engine a more efficient pump and by doing so the emissions output is actually lessened. That's why you also see a subsequent fuel economy gain of 1.5-2.0mpg on the highway after a quality E90 ECU tune. A more efficient engine=More WOT Power, Better Part Throttle Fuel Economy, and Less Emissions.


Quote:
2) BMW dealers may not have the equipment to detect one of your tunes, but BMW "corporate" does, and they are ones who will have to approve an engine repair or replacement warranty claim, so it's not completely accurate to say, "warranty is a non issue."
As you stated, dealers do not, however BMW USA does have the necessary tools that is correct. That being said, if a customer were to encounter a warranty related issue which may call into question the source of the ECU file, they simply need to send the controller back to us to flash back to stock and no one will be any wiser. We do not trigger flash counters and calculate our own checksums so there will be no issues going this route.

Otherwise we advise anyone post flash to always tell their service advisors not to update the ECU in any way, as they are happy with the factory tune they are currently running.

Quote:
Granted, a responsible tune is highly unlikely to cause an engine problem during a warranty period, but overall longevity in comparison to OEM is an unknown. However, if an engine melts down for another reason, there is a very big warranty question mark for a car with a modified ECU because the ECU is probably going to be downloaded by the dealer and sent for analysis by BMW in Germany, as a requirement before approving a warranty claim.
No question if there is a major engine issue it would be prudent for the owner to send the ECU back to whoever flashed it for a stock file to be put back on. With that being said you won't last long in this business if you blow up a motor and it takes quite a bit of hamfisted idiocy to blow up a stock longblock N/A motor.

Thanks for taking the time to ask questions that help clarify things for others, please let me know if there's anything else that requires further explanation.


Thanks!
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      01-27-2010, 06:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foosh View Post
Andy,

I'm going to trust at face-value that you are very good at what you do, and that you are thorough in your programming for the purpose of this post. However, there are a couple of minor clarifications to your claims (and I've only quoted those parts of your post pertinent to those), that I think are important for all potential tune customers to note.

1) You may not have to worry about "legal and emissions issues," because you can put language in your sales agreement like "off road use only." However, your customers will have to worry about such things if they live in a state where emissions are checked.

2) BMW dealers may not have the equipment to detect one of your tunes, but BMW "corporate" does, and they are ones who will have to approve an engine repair or replacement warranty claim, so it's not completely accurate to say, "warranty is a non issue."

Granted, a responsible tune is highly unlikely to cause an engine problem during a warranty period, but overall longevity in comparison to OEM is an unknown. However, if an engine melts down for another reason, there is a very big warranty question mark for a car with a modified ECU because the ECU is probably going to be downloaded by the dealer and sent for analysis by BMW in Germany, as a requirement before approving a warranty claim.
Exactly, and thats when its risky
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