Q How safe is reading, editing and flashing my ECU?
Remember, that RomRaider and the definitions file are currently in beta status. This means that the software is being tested to fix any bugs and problems that may arise. As such, it is recommended only for advanced users who are willing to take a risk in using it. There have been more than a few successful flashes and tunes, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a bug, error or misrepresentation of data that might cause serious problems down the road for a user. Remember, this software is not a commercial product, with money set aside for R&D. It was created by a group of enthusiasts who work in their spare time, for free, on the project. There is no available Subaru reference manual that tells the developers everything they need to know to read and edit an image. The ecu image itself does not have labels that describe which values are which. Often times, the actual values on the image need to converted using a formula so that they can be understood by the tuner. All of this means that a lot of the progress that has been made by the community is through a period of trial and error and continuing improvement.
Even if you experience no bugs or errors, there are no safe guards in place to prevent you from making tuning changes resulting in a blown motor and/or unexpected behavior when driving. In addition, issues with your particular home computer, such as viruses, can cause problems that can lead to the same results.
Q What is the worst that can happen if something goes wrong?
The problems that have the potential to occur include, but not limited to:
- An unreadable/usuable ecu.
- A blown motor and its subsequent damage.
- Unexpected behavior on the road or track that may cause injury or death to the user as well as others.
- Violation of local and/or federal laws due to the modification of the factory ecu.
DISCLAIMER: By using RomRaider and its ecu definitions file, either directly or indirectly, you agree to assume 100% of all risk and RomRaider’s creators and contributors shall not be held responsible for any damages or injuries you may receive.
Here are some tips to help lower some of the risk:
- Make sure your computer is running well, does not have a tendency to lock up, and is virus and spyware free. When flashing, make sure the laptop is plugged in and not just running on the battery. Turn off any power saving functions, especially those that shut down the hard drive, enter standby/hibernation or “speed step” the processor speed to a lower level. Close out all other programs except for Ecuflash before starting.
- Make sure your car’s battery, charging and electrical system are in top shape.
- Make sure the OpenPort cable is securely connected and not in a position that can be yanked out easily.
- Always check for and use the latest version of RomRaider, as well as the latest ecu definitions.
- Always keep a back-up copy of your original rom in a safe place.
- When tuning, small changes each flash are better. Use the free Ecuexplorer logger to study the effects of the changes on your car. In addition, make sure you have, at a minimum, an EGT gauge, a boost gauge, a wideband O2 sensor and a knock detection device (such as TXS’ Knock Lite).
- Do not flash your rom if RomRaider gives you an error message that the “real value and byte value conversion expressions are invalid”. This means that the formula for that parameter is not the exact reverse expression of the formula that displays the real world value to you (in the ecu definitions file). If this is the case, it can save the wrong value in that table, which may occur whether you specifically edited the table in question or not.
- After editing, save the rom, close out RomRaider and then reopen RomRaider and your saved rom. Make sure the changes were actually made. Also, triple check the values you edited to make sure they are exactly what you intended them to be.
- Do not edit a table if you are not 100% sure what it does. Also, be wary of values that don’t seem to make sense as the definition for that table may be incorrect.
- Do not rely solely on the descriptions in RomRaider to tune your car. Verify with other sources that you understand the impact of changing the data in a particular table and how all the changes in the image will interact with one another.
- Tuning is not for beginners set out to experiment. Even seemingly small changes by a novice can result in a blown engine.
This article is part of the official RomRaider FAQ.