ECU swap question

Inigo Montoya

New Member
Hi everyone :)

I have a 'spare' ECU for my 2008 Rodeo, after the mechanic ordered a replacement that turned out to be unnecessary.

The new ECU was supplied and programmed by Injectronics in Melbourne, and they kindly agreed to return my old unit (even though it is technically an exchange) - but they went to great lengths to explain that I can't just plug it in and expect it to work. Their explanation was that certain 'programming' had been removed from the old unit and transferred to the new one, but they weren't more specific than that.

Keeping the old, working unit gives me some protection against the cost (and availability) of a future replacement - I can just send both units back to Injectronics and get them to swap the programming back to the old unit. I'm just keen to know whether I am totally reliant on Injectronics in this scenario or if there are other ways to get the same result?

Can anyone tell me what is actually involved in the 'programming' swap? Could I (or any mechanic or electronics repairer) simply swap a chip? Or is there really a programming process - in which case, what has been 'taken' from my old unit? And why do they even need the old unit to program the new one - surely, if the old unit was completely fried (or lost in the post) I could still get a new one?
 
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CaptainBanana

Well-Known Member
Many are Vin locked and security locked for example to the transponder chip in your key. Normal mechanics will not usually have the ability to change these.
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
Generally from about 2000 onward depending on manufacturer, each computer in a car needs to talk to all the other systems via a can bus or similar system, each must be matched to the car from my understanding so just swapping out an ECU is not that simple.
 

boobook

Well-Known Member
The ECU will be programmed or enabled with certain features that make up the type of vehicle. Eg Australian delivery, DX or LX etc. So some may have electric mirrors and some not for example.

While the hardware may be the same. The enabled features will carry from car to car. They would have taken those software features and swapped them across. I suspect the Rodeo doesn't just allow these to be copied like others. Otherwise, it would be easy to make every ECU the top-of-the-range version.
 

CaptainBanana

Well-Known Member
The ECU will be programmed or enabled with certain features that make up the type of vehicle. Eg Australian delivery, DX or LX etc. So some may have electric mirrors and some not for example.

While the hardware may be the same. The enabled features will carry from car to car. They would have taken those software features and swapped them across. I suspect the Rodeo doesn't just allow these to be copied like others. Otherwise, it would be easy to make every ECU the top-of-the-range version.


Actually the body control module or whatever the relevant manufacturer calls their version tends to do this stuff the main issue with the engine management computer is security coding.
 

typhoeus

Well-Known Member
if you are into coding, look up speeduino . . assemble and program your own ecu, using open source software for a couple of hundred $
 

Inigo Montoya

New Member
Thanks for the replies, sounds like it's mostly a security thing. Still not sure what the actual difference is between a programming 'swap' and a box-fresh replacement, had my old unit been eaten by a tiger. There must be a hardware component to the swap. Maybe I'll try and open it up for a peek.

Very ineresting to hear about open source ecu hacks.
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
Very ineresting to hear about open source ecu hacks.
Open source ECU hacks generally equal cheap unproven ways to detonate your engine. My advice would be to stick to the experts who kknow what they're doing when it comes to your ECU.
Thanks for the replies, sounds like it's mostly a security thing. Still not sure what the actual difference is between a programming 'swap' and a box-fresh replacement, had my old unit been eaten by a tiger. There must be a hardware component to the swap. Maybe I'll try and open it up for a peek.
You'll likely find a control unit encased in resin for protection, and not a lot to see.
The security restraints in these units are generally programming to match the ECU to the VIN and model specific engine data - the place you got it from would have copied the data from your old unit, rather than having to program it from fresh with the potential for an error.

Manufacturers have been increasing the level of security locking of ECUs for about 20 years now - the various control units in my 2018 truck are locked and require a password from General Motors, which is only given to authorised repairers. Forget trying to re-tune or re-anything on these trucks,
I know of someone who fried a Land Rover Discovery ECU in Coober Pedy, who got a replacement ECU programmed by a dealer in Adelaide and even that wouldn't work - they wound up having to replace all five of the control units in the vehicle before it would run again.
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
I know of someone who fried a Land Rover Discovery ECU in Coober Pedy, who got a replacement ECU programmed by a dealer in Adelaide and even that wouldn't work - they wound up having to replace all five of the control units in the vehicle before it would run again.
I had to laugh when that story was doing the rounds on the net, it just proved how crap and unreliable Land Rovers are :rolleyes:
All manufacturers these days have all the ecu's locked to the security system of the car, the better the security system the harder it is to swap things out.
As far as the OP , just leave the ECU thats working in the car, put the other one in the shed and in 10 years ask yourself what it is then shrug and bin it
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
I had to laugh when that story was doing the rounds on the net, it just proved how crap and unreliable Land Rovers are :rolleyes:
All manufacturers these days have all the ecu's locked to the security system of the car, the better the security system the harder it is to swap things out.
As far as the OP , just leave the ECU thats working in the car, put the other one in the shed and in 10 years ask yourself what it is then shrug and bin it
Hey Matt, I actually think that Land Rovers are good vehicles (although I will admit to taking the mickey sometimes) - I think the Disco concerned was a IV (don't quote me) and I believe that they have overcome the control module issues in later models. I have a mate who is a seriously one-eyed Disco and LR lover and even he wouldn't buy that series of Disco.

And these issues with control modules being the weak point in modern vehicles is affecting every brand.
 
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