Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2008   by CARS Magazine

Letters to the Editor (September 01, 2008)

As an automotive service technician for over 15 years and specializing in Chrysler platforms, I shudder at the suggestion that ECM flashing (SSGM May, 2008) could be considered a "regular and profitab...


As an automotive service technician for over 15 years and specializing in Chrysler platforms, I shudder at the suggestion that ECM flashing (SSGM May, 2008) could be considered a “regular and profitable maintenance procedure.”

Yes, ECM flashes can help with some issues. But they can just as easily cause problems that the tech and/or customer may not have anticipated. For example, most modern Chrysler ECMs run the engines and the transmissions. Flashes that are used for drivability improvements are supposed to be used only if a customer has expressed a concern and the condition can be verified by the tech (as these flashes rewrite the engine and transmission portions of the ECM at the same time). Flashing the ECM (in this example) may improve engine performance and emissions, but can also change shift points and converter clutch engagement strategies that, while may still be considered improvements, present a drive quality that the customer does not like nor ever complained about. ECM flashes in Chrysler vehicles are not reversible; you can’t go back if the flash presents a condition that the customer didn’t like. Not even with a new ECM.

A better solution to the examples set out in the article might be to have the customer maintain the vehicle through regular maintenance schedules and diagnosis, and reset adaptive parameters in the ECM after regular servicing or repair (tune-ups or O2 sensor replacement, for example). I have witnessed several examples of ECM flashing gone terribly wrong. The best of intentions resulted in needless headache and frustration. Flashing ECM’s in the aftermarket is a great service to offer but, in my opinion, not as maintenance. Specific working knowledge and information on a model or system will always be a technician’s greatest asset.

Stephen Osellame Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

You did a super job of staging the battery article picture with the hands covering any identifying brands (June 2008). But, the tech/model holding the battery cable clamp was wearing a ring — ooh bad news! Darryl Niehaus With the AIA making a statement that they believe that they will not be able to achieve Legislation in the R2R matter — or at least not in this lifetime — do you think it will hurt their membership due to the fact that their members have joined and supported them for the intention of getting legislation?

One would wonder if their support from current members will drop, and new membership might also lose ground. I can only hope that they join forces and direction with ARA, and other associations to combine all of our voices as one, to pursue a voluntary agreement such as VISTA.

Is it really that difficult for a couple organizations that are suppose to have “their member’s” best interests in mind to understand that working as one voice and one direction is the most powerful way to achieve success? Time to loose the egos, the “we’re going to beat you” attitudes and start looking out for those who work on the front-lines of this industry.

Doug Lowther Doug’s Mountainview Auto Service Penticton B. C.


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