The Toyota Reflash Conundrum

Reflash is the now prominent term when it comes to tuning, a purely software based solution that doesn’t involve any additional hardware, plugging of devices or wiring in of anything.

How it normally works is that software is used to Read the Ecu contents when the laptop is plugged into the car’s on-board-diagnostic (OBD) port, and then after the changes have been made, Write the contents back.

This method works on almost all cars, except for Toyota, whose ECU only allows a Write, but not Read. That’s where the conundrum lies. How can you edit something when you can’t get to it?

Well turns out we have to buy the base file from the reflash software provider, and they in turn have their ways of getting that base file from dealerships all over the world.

The file were talking about is the Software calibration file below:

Toyota actually doesn’t make the ECU, Denso does and they do it in batches, and each batch will have a different calibration file even if they’re going into the same car model. For example, the Fortuner 3.0L has over 50 different calibration files even though they all go into essentially the same car. And if we open it up, the contents are also the same. Why is it like that? Dunno.

Since most reflash software is made in Europe, it makes sense that the European spec vehicles are the first ones that get made and have the files available. Then it trickles down to the rest of the world.

And if your car came with a locally manufactured ECU, like the ones on our Vios below:

Only way to get a base calibration file is if you have contacts pretty high up inside the dealership.

Eventually like everything electronic, it will get hacked and cracked, just like people are now able to run Family Computer games on an old iPhone3. It’s just a matter of time. And that’s also another conundrum. The whole point of ECU reflash is that it doesn’t void the warranty period, but by the time the calibration file does become available, warranty period is over and you now have a other choices such as Unichip Computer or if you’re rich, full blown stand alone ECU.

So does anyone know anyone in the casa?

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