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Ownership The risks of tampering with your car’s ECU

16:07  23 may  2018
16:07  23 may  2018 Source:   driving.ca

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We recently covered the risks that come with certain modifications and upgrades, but left out one key area until now – plug-in computer chips Keep in mind, your connection to your warranty pretty much starts and ends with your retailer. If they see a plug-in chip (or evidence of it) in your car ’ s system

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a car engine© Provided by Driving.ca

We recently covered the risks that come with certain modifications and upgrades, but left out one key area until now – plug-in computer chips for certain vehicles that can accommodate certain changes. For instance, you can purchase certain chips for many popular SUVs and pickup trucks that keep systems running correctly when oversized tires or off-road axle gears are installed. The software will interact with various on-board systems to correct wheel and vehicle speed calculations, available Most are available through off-road equipment specialty shops for pricing and ordering.

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We recently covered the risks that come with certain modifications and upgrades, but left out one key area until now – plug-in computer chips for certain vehicles that can accommodate certain changes. For instance

The risks of tampering with your car ’ s ECU . Here’s what you should know before upgrading your car . by Brian Turner | May 3.

While we’re on the topic of plug-and-play chips, it’s worth mentioning a few things about these performance-enhancing modifications. These have been around since the beginning of computer-controlled fuel injection and they’re popular with enthusiasts who look for better-than-stock performance.

On gasoline engines, they can advance ignition timing and adjust fuel injection rates, among other things. For diesels, they can boost injection rates putting more fuel into the recipe. For responsible drivers who look after their rides, these can be helpful additions and won’t usually present any problems. But there are some risks to consider.

First, all automakers have clauses in their warranties that indicate that any damage or problem that can be directly attributed to the installation and use of aftermarket products will not be covered. For many accessories, this is fairly straightforward. You’re not likely going to be denied a warranty request for a defective water pump, just because you installed a lift-kit on your truck. Similarly, your wallet should be safe if a steering rack failed on a vehicle with aftermarket trailer hitch wiring. But engine controllers and computers touch pretty much almost every system on a vehicle, so when you add some unauthorized software to these electronic brains, you may risk a lot of warranty coverage.

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Now, security researchers are turning their attention to the computers in cars , which typically contain as many as 50 distinct ECUs —short for electronic control units —that are all "The fact that a risk of attack exists but there is not a way for researchers to monitor or interact with the system is distressing.

Keep in mind, your connection to your warranty pretty much starts and ends with your retailer. If they see a plug-in chip (or evidence of it) in your car’s system, they may just close the hood and prepare a retail estimate, leaving you with a long distance battle with the automaker’s head office to get some resolution.

For many performance chip fans, this doesn’t present too many concerns because they either wait until the factory warranty expires, or trust the manufacturer based on past experiences.

But while factory warranties expire, emissions regulations don’t. Many performance chips come with a warning that they are not emissions compliant and are only designed for off-road use. It’s a case of not having your cake and eating it, too – in many cases, you can’t have all the performance you can wring out of a stock engine without exceeding emission specs.

You might feel safe knowing that environment department officers seldom travel the highways looking for heavy emitters, but the long arm of the law does have a way of catching up and their fines can be substantial.

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