The Myth Behind Dealer Flash Updates
We receive a lot of phone calls asking what may happen if a dealer flashes your computer when it is at the dealer for service. We thought we would take the time to explain what may result if this would occur, how to prevent it, and not to worry because there is life after a dealer re-flash.
First we will define a couple of terms used throughout this article. “Flashed” is the slang term used for describing the process of loading a new computer program on your factory Ford computer (PCM). The PCM in the vehicle is often referred to as the computer. “Strategy” or “Processor Code” is a term used to describe what computer program is actually on the computer. Think of the strategy as the serial number of the program on the computer. You could have 3 of the exact same computers but each could have a different strategy or processor code. All 3 vehicles would drive and run exactly the same but they may each be running a different strategy. Finally “no start situation” is referring to when you have the wrong program loaded on the PCM and the vehicle will not start.
When you place your custom tuning order with Brenspeed we develop your custom tune around a specific processor code or strategy. The code or strategy simply lets us know which factory Ford program you have loaded on your PCM. Once we have developed your tune we load it on a SCT Programmer and then you load the tune on your vehicle. At the time of loading our tune on your vehicle the SCT Programmer automatically stores the factory Ford tune (strategy). Because your factory Ford strategy is now stored on the SCT Programmer you can re-load your factory computer program back on the vehicle at any time.
Now we want to go into detail on dealer updates. Dealer updates are something your Ford dealer might try to do without asking your permission. An update is when the dealer flashes your computer with a new strategy. This is often performed because the dealer wants to make sure you are running the most current Ford programs. Often Ford changes the programming for various reasons but most often it is because of a change in government standards. Earlier we explained that our custom tune is designed around your specific strategy or processor code. Because of this you do not want a new strategy flashed on your computer. If you get a dealer flash and your strategy changes not only does that mean your car will be leaving the dealership with a factory program but also our custom tunes may no longer work on the PCM. Also the factory tune saved in the SCT programmer is no longer of use because it is also the old strategy. If you try to re-load our custom tune on the car and you have the wrong strategy the car will not start. So then you try to re-load the stock tune stored in the programmer and it is for the old strategy which means the car will not start. So now what do you do?
The easiest method of getting around the dealer flash is telling them not do it. Life is not always that easy so we have come with up with a solution to solve this problem. By following these simple steps you can avoid a no start situation.
1. Your SCT programmer can be used to read the strategy of the computer. This is a great feature because you can at any time see what strategy or program the computer may be running. An example of a strategy is FBNF1G3 which also is a TJF1 processor code. Before taking your vehicle in for service you can return the vehicle to the stock program and use the SCT Programmer to read the strategy. Write this information down and save it for when the dealer is finished with the vehicle. Remember if you are running a performance part on the vehicle that requires the custom tune this part must be removed if you plan to drive the vehicle with the stock program.
2. Once the dealership is finished with the vehicle you can use the SCT Programmer again to pull the strategy. If it is not same strategy as before you entered the dealership DO NOT load your custom tune back on the vehicle. Contact Brenspeed and we will modify your current tunes for no charge so they will work with the new strategy. We will e-mail you the tunes and you can load them on the SCT Programmer and then load the tunes on the vehicle. If you are not comfortable with e-mail you can send us the programmer and we can load the tunes on it for you. We may request a copy of the dealership invoice which will state the PCM has been flashed.
If you do not follow the above steps you can put yourself into a no start situation. If you allow the dealer to flash your computer and then you try to load our tunes that are a different strategy your vehicle will not start. This can EASILY be avoided by following the above steps.
If worst case scenario happens and you do not follow the above steps and you are put into a no start situation we can still help. It gets more complicated but we can through various methods get you into a new program that will make the vehicle start and run like it did before. The good news is there is always a solution and we can help.
We will end this article hoping you will keep this in mind. Do not be afraid of the dealer and of a flash update. If you do your part everything will go smoothly. The easiest way around it is avoid the dealer flash update. Our opinion is the vehicle is yours so they should not perform maintenance that you do not request. Remember in the end we can always help you out of about any situation as we have every Ford program available but it is easier on everybody if the situation is avoided.