July changes for California smog checks

mejpassat

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So it is my understanding that starting July 1 of this year California is going to be able to detect any ECU flashes beyond the factory flashes and if found will deny registration.
They say it is due to so many cars/trucks doing the tuner flashes.
From what I understand this test will detect the "portable" ECU flashes that will be detectable even if the user goes back to the stock tune.
If any one has any info or comments on this, would like to hear some input.
And here I was thinking of getting a tune.:(
 

rotarykid

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I call bs on carb being able to legally do that...

So it is my understanding that starting July 1 of this year California is going to be able to detect any ECU flashes beyond the factory flashes and if found will deny registration.
They say it is due to so many cars/trucks doing the tuner flashes.
From what I understand this test will detect the "portable" ECU flashes that will be detectable even if the user goes back to the stock tune.
If any one has any info or comments on this, would like to hear some input.
And here I was thinking of getting a tune.:(

although most of us here are aware that carb is known for being a dishonest group with a weed up their collected arses about diesel anything, I have a hard time believing they could get away with denying registration if the car/truck ecu tested as within spec in a test at the time of the ecu test if the vehicle had been driven long enough for the ecu to test as ready.....

....If the ashats that run carb want to try this kind of crap you could always claim they are detecting your previous for off road only tune, used while in off-road conditions only that is no longer in place.....

...I don't believe a judge/court would allow them to refuse to register any vehicle that at the time of the test meets all requirements, it is none of their business what tune might have been on the vehicle at an earlier time....
 

tdi54

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mejspassat, any official documentation or info regarding the carb being able to detect (during the smog check) if the ecu had been flashed before?
 

mejpassat

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mejspassat, any official documentation or info regarding the carb being able to detect (during the smog check) if the ecu had been flashed before?
No, All of this information is coming from articles on changes to carb rules and the smog guy I've been taking all my cars to for years.
One of the comments made from non Cali cars needs to be addressed. On all newer cars there is no tailpipe test(which can't be done on our cars. Only registers and now, tracking software changes. That is how I'm understanding all of the new changes.
 

n1das

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The number of times the ECU has been reflashed can be viewed with VCDS if you know what to look for. There is a non-resettable counter that increments by one when the ECU is reflashed via OBD-II. It documents the number of reflash attempts. CARB can see this information via OBD-II. If the counter value is greater than zero, that means the ECU has been reflashed via OBD-II either by VW or by a tuner.

When I had the ECU tuned in my 05 PD Jetta Wagen TDI back in 2005, the processor chip was flashed the way it was done at the factory so it isn't done via OBD-II and the non-resettable counter value remains at 0. It requires removing the ECU from the car and disassembling it and connecting to a port used for development but is depopulated for production.
 

mejpassat

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The number of times the ECU has been reflashed can be viewed with VCDS if you know what to look for. There is a non-resettable counter that increments by one when the ECU is reflashed via OBD-II. It documents the number of reflash attempts. CARB can see this information via OBD-II. If the counter value is greater than zero, that means the ECU has been reflashed via OBD-II either by VW or by a tuner.

When I had the ECU tuned in my 05 PD Jetta Wagen TDI back in 2005, the processor chip was flashed the way it was done at the factory so it isn't done via OBD-II and the non-resettable counter value remains at 0. It requires removing the ECU from the car and disassembling it and connecting to a port used for development but is depopulated for production.
I'm sure that CARB will know how many re-flashes are supposed to be on our fixed vehicles.
:confused:
 

kwong7

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I ran into a smog check issue two years ago. The smog check technician told me that all the monitors were not "ready" and that if I had a modified ECM program that the car would not pass. Luckily I had my original stock ECM sitting on my parts shelf (for 15 years). I reinstalled the stock ECM, passed my smog check, and reinstalled my flashed Rocketchip ECM. I had a little trouble and had to install/reinstall many times to get make sure all the pins lined up.

Fast-forward to today and my brother-in-law tells me Ca has upped it's testing procedures for ECU testing. He said flashed ECUs will not pass and that 150 miles and 15 start-cycles with a recently swapped ECU are needed before it can pass. I'll be swapping my stock ECM in again and will drive it around for a week before testing.

I'm glad my two BEVs will never need smog testing...it's becoming a PITA.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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I'm surprised (or maybe not) that CA is going after such old cars. We have ECU checking on our cars here in Massachusetts, but after 15 years it's safety only. That includes most of my cars. :)
 

showdown 42

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Move to FL no emissions testing on any cars regardless of age. Land of the Free home of the brave. Population is growing by almost 5% each yr I wonder why. My old state of CT is losing population at an alarming rate and I know why LOL.
 

n1das

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I ran into a smog check issue two years ago. The smog check technician told me that all the monitors were not "ready" and that if I had a modified ECM program that the car would not pass. Luckily I had my original stock ECM sitting on my parts shelf (for 15 years). I reinstalled the stock ECM, passed my smog check, and reinstalled my flashed Rocketchip ECM. I had a little trouble and had to install/reinstall many times to get make sure all the pins lined up.
Keeping a spare bone stock ECU on hand to swap in/out might be the most practical solution for tuned TDIs provided the car has just a tune and no hardware mods that would throw codes with stock ECU programming.

So it is my understanding that starting July 1 of this year California is going to be able to detect any ECU flashes beyond the factory flashes and if found will deny registration.
They say it is due to so many cars/trucks doing the tuner flashes.
From what I understand this test will detect the "portable" ECU flashes that will be detectable even if the user goes back to the stock tune.
If any one has any info or comments on this, would like to hear some input.
And here I was thinking of getting a tune.:(
While CARB is able to see the number of reflash attempts (a non-resettable counter viewable with VCDS), I don't think they will be able to tell from that alone whether a reflash was done by VW or by a tuner. I suspect CARB will also look for other identifying information about the tune. The information is all there if you know what to look for. The tuners need to keep all viewable information looking exactly like a VW factory tune. Beyond that, the only other way to tell if a car has been tuned is by driving the car or running on a dyno and knowing exactly what live data to look at.
 
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n1das

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I'm sure that CARB will know how many re-flashes are supposed to be on our fixed vehicles.
:confused:
Yeah, and if a reflash by VW failed during the flash and is restarted, the non-resettable counter documenting the number of flash attempts still increments by one. :(
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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Move to FL no emissions testing on any cars regardless of age. Land of the Free home of the brave. Population is growing by almost 5% each yr I wonder why. My old state of CT is losing population at an alarming rate and I know why LOL.
Only problem is...then you're in Florida. :D And for what it's worth, CT population is either flat or growing slowly. Not declining at any significant (or even measurable over time) rate.
 
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Rob Mayercik

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Yeah, and if a reflash by VW failed during the flash and is restarted, the non-resettable counter documenting the number of flash attempts still increments by one. :(
This.

How can CARB know whether the flash count changed because of a "tune" or a fumble-fingered dealer tech screwing it up three times while doing a TSB or recall?

Outside of actually dumping the ECU's memory and comparing it to known images of OEM SW (which I'm sure would probably not stand up to a legal challenge, and there's no way on this Earth that the manufacturers are going to let some Government agency store copies of their very expensive IP), I don't get this - most cars out there probably have anywhere from 3 to a dozen different ECU revs out "in the wild", depending on the vehicle in general and the service history in specific.
 

Lightflyer1

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Being that they have the power, I would imagine they can force the mfg to divulge what ever information is needed to make this determination. Manufacturers may even help and like this, as it will tell them up front for many cars, which ones they can deny warranty work on without ever touching the car themselves.
 

bizzle

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CARB doesn't need to know the flash counter to determine whether it's been flashed. CARB also doesn't need an exact image of the flash file to determine that it's been altered. If there is ever a question of fact, like whether the flash counter should be 1 or many, it's irrelevant to you as a driver because CARB will simply refuse your registration unless and until you prove to them your ECU is untampered. I would definitely not rely on some implausible story about VW technicians messing up a flash...I'm not even sure that happens. I've never flashed an ECU but I have flashed other hardware devices and incomplete flashes resulted in either a bricked device or an unflashed one--never an increased flash count :) The humor in this is it's always the offenders who try and float these implausible scenarios and wonder why they aren't credited as possible scenarios.

But given the problems you all described, which CARB is obviously aware exist since they were obvious objections to be raised, that's not going to be the mechanism. It may be an additional measurement, but it won't be the sole one. Tuned ECUs already have it rough in California. Gone are the days of electrical tape over a CEL...as of about 20+ years ago.

Smog techs don't crawl under vehicles unless someone makes them. On a diesel, they plug your vehicle directly into the DMV's system and look at the tailpipe to assess opacity. The computer does all the work and analysis. The tech simply pushes buttons to tell it when to start and end. There's no reason for them to dig any further than that, the computer tells all and it's live data to DMV. It would not surprise me at all if the system was also wrapped into VW (and other manufacturers) at this point.
 

bizzle

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If what you're hearing is true, then I think the only safe assumption that can be made would be that all OBDII vehicles would be subject to this scrutiny.
 

rotarykid

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more proof of the unwarranted war the arshats who run CARB are carrying out against all auto class diesels in that hateful state....these things are so few compared to everything else on the road in that stupid state there as to not even be possible for them to have any enfluence on pollution levels anywhere in the state...so this is nothing more than a continuing of the attack on non-existent in any real numbers auto class diesels...

if the ashats who run carb really wanted to clean up any air they would have decades ago passed rules that required all gasoline powered cars to have ultra-fine pm traps....

since they still have not they are as a group on the CARB pannal once again shown how dishonest they actually are in their claim BS non-existent attempts to clean up what air???? no clean air to be gotten from cars that make up less than 0.001 % of vehicles on the roads of ca....
 

bizzle

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This change isn't directed at diesels. It's for all vehicles in California. The amount of tuned TDIs in the state compared to gassers is likely a rounding error.

I'm not sure what you hope to gain by complaining about our regulations, but they don't impact you so it's strange seeing such a strong reaction to them from you.

CARB has cleaned up our air as anyone who has lived here since the 70s can attest to.
 

Lightflyer1

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Not jumping in either way on CARB regs, but they do impact the other 49 states to a huge degree with no input from us. They cause the automakers to make choices based on CARB rules alone. They can and have had a huge impact on everyone else.
 

bizzle

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This change to require smog stations in California to test for tampered ECUs has zero impact on auto manufacturers or other states' regulations unless those states also decide it's a good idea to check for tampered ECUs.

Discussing any other CARB regulations that may or may not impact non-Californians is widely off-topic in this thread. This also only targets people breaking the law so I also don't care one bit if it does adversely impact non-Californians as the people whining are scofflaws.
 

Rob Mayercik

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CARB doesn't need to know the flash counter to determine whether it's been flashed. CARB also doesn't need an exact image of the flash file to determine that it's been altered. If there is ever a question of fact, like whether the flash counter should be 1 or many, it's irrelevant to you as a driver because CARB will simply refuse your registration unless and until you prove to them your ECU is untampered. I would definitely not rely on some implausible story about VW technicians messing up a flash...I'm not even sure that happens. I've never flashed an ECU but I have flashed other hardware devices and incomplete flashes resulted in either a bricked device or an unflashed one--never an increased flash count :) The humor in this is it's always the offenders who try and float these implausible scenarios and wonder why they aren't credited as possible scenarios.
Oh, I know about bricking things, but I was thinking more along the lines of "Ok, I flashed it" "Hey, you loaded version <x>, I said to load <y>". "Oops, let me try that again"...
 

bizzle

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I don't think the engine management is flashed like that. I suspect that, aside from the dieselgate fiasco, stock vehicles would have no additional flashes to their ECU at that level. The flash counter should be 0 or 1 (depending on where they start counting from) and that wouldn't change unless a major, nation-wide recall was implemented. Normal dealer-level flashes, like module updates, stereo firmware changes, and things like that wouldn't increase the flash counter.

How frequently these types of flashes occur is speculation on my part, but given the engine software management is so heavily regulated and there being no reason for a manufacturer to alter it unless compelled to by law (cf. dieselgate software taking over a year before being approved) it seems likely there wouldn't be an X or Y version to misload and reload like your scenario.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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I don't think the engine management is flashed like that. I suspect that, aside from the dieselgate fiasco, stock vehicles would have no additional flashes to their ECU at that level.
Re-flashes are pretty frequent, I think. My '15 had two re-flashes prior to the dieselgate fix. Some older cars have had multiple dealer re-flashes for glow plugs, EGR controls, and other items. I'm somewhat skeptical that CARB will have accurate data, especially for older cars.
 

Lightflyer1

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This change to require smog stations in California to test for tampered ECUs has zero impact on auto manufacturers or other states' regulations unless those states also decide it's a good idea to check for tampered ECUs.

Discussing any other CARB regulations that may or may not impact non-Californians is widely off-topic in this thread. This also only targets people breaking the law so I also don't care one bit if it does adversely impact non-Californians as the people whining are scofflaws.
Not off topic for what you wrote.

"I'm not sure what you hope to gain by complaining about our regulations, but they don't impact you so it's strange seeing such a strong reaction to them from you."

You wrote our "regulations" and "they" which implies more than just this one.
 

bizzle

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Re-flashes are pretty frequent, I think. My '15 had two re-flashes prior to the dieselgate fix. Some older cars have had multiple dealer re-flashes for glow plugs, EGR controls, and other items. I'm somewhat skeptical that CARB will have accurate data, especially for older cars.
I don't know if those type of flashes actually increases the engine map flash counter, but they are documented regardless. If it's a required emissions update, like the one we had to do shortly before Dieselgate broke, one would not be able to register the vehicle until the recall is completed. There would not be a situation where some cars come in with 1 flash and can be registered while some cars come in with 2 flashes and can be registered. They either all have 2 flashes or they can't be registered in that scenario. When an authorized flash is applied to your vehicle, it's updated in the records. You can verify this by running your VIN through one of those online sites or contacting a dealership and asking if the vehicle has the update applied. They can tell you because it's documented in a database.

Also, none of this would result in a situation where a tech flashes the vehicle to Y (the fix) and then flashes it back to X (pre-fix) and then leaving it that way or trying to flash it with Y again resulting in 3 flashes, for example. So there's not a realistic situation that would cause a specific VIN to have 3 flashes when it should only have 1.

The only time the flash counter won't align with the VIN record is when the ECU is flashed by a non-authorized source, which is also how VW determines TD1. The same arguments could be made against VW in this regard. How does VW know that your car wasn't flashed 6 times by the last dealer during the recall that only called for 1 flash? We can either conclude that VW does not have well-established error check/correction in their flashing software and inadvertently refuses warranty repairs for people wrongfully and illegally, or they do have such systems and can determine (and demonstrate to interested parties) with reasonable certainty when an unauthorized flash has occurred.

It's trivial for CARB to access VWs records. In fact, my understanding is VW regularly updates CARB with such records specifically for registration purposes. I received notifications from the DMV when my vehicle wasn't up to date during one of the required emissions updates pre-dieselgate indicating that I would no longer be able to register my vehicle until the fix had been applied. California had a record that my vehicle had not been updated yet and they were notified directly when it was updated. All of that was handled without my involvement other than taking the vehicle to the dealership.
 

rotarykid

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CARB stupid rules do not exist in vacuum, their rules hurt us all!

This change isn't directed at diesels. It's for all vehicles in California. The amount of tuned TDIs in the state compared to gassers is likely a rounding error.

I'm not sure what you hope to gain by complaining about our regulations, but they don't impact you so it's strange seeing such a strong reaction to them from you.

CARB has cleaned up our air as anyone who has lived here since the 70s can attest to.
YES THEY DO!!! Both of my home states, NC & CO have both debated putting those stupid rules into effect....Also the EPA has adopted those stupid rules that
carb has put into place effecting all of the new vehicles anywhere/everywhere in the US & Canada......so these stupid rules do at somepoint hurt the rest of!!!
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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CARB has cleaned up our air as anyone who has lived here since the 70s can attest to.
I object to CARB's predatory stance towards diesels, which dates back to the Nixon administration, but I have to agree that the air quality in the LA basin would be far worse without the regulations. Not that it's good. LA had 87 days of what's considered dangerous ozone pollution in the summer of '18. And asthma rates among children in LA county are far higher than the rest of the US.

Regardless, I can't imagine what it would be like without the regulations and their enforcement.
 

meerschm

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The only way air quality controls are increased is in response to air quality that does not meet standards.


so if the air quality is bad, going after folks who mess with the programming seems to me to have a pretty good bang for the buck, and does not require any new technology.
 
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