Monday, May 22, 2017

TO CHIP OR NOT TO CHIP

TO CHIP OR NOT TO CHIP


The word chip has entered our vocabulary by force and is loosely used in everyday speech but it has absolutely nothing to do with deep fried thin potato slices or potato wedges. A chip in this sense refers to a mico-chip, as in monolithic integrated circuit, or micro computer chip, or micro processor integrated chip or just IC for short. Integrated Circuit chips or IC's first appeared in the 60's as a complete electronic circuit etched onto a small piece ("chip") of semiconductor material, embedded in a dual inline plastic package. It essentially replaced much of the circuitry dominated by silicon transistors or entire silicon transistor circuits, which started replacing vacuum tubes just a decade previously. In a nutshell, a single IC can contain hundreds or thousands, or millions, or even billions of transistors on a single piece of silicon just the size of an adults "pinky" nail, subject to its level of integration. The level of integration range from small scale integration, to large integration (LSI), to very large scale integration (VLSI), each using up to as many as a  million transistor to form logic gates, flip-flops and multiplexers.


Small integration (SSI) and LSI Analogue and digital Chips 

Over three decades, IC's metamorphosed from a meager 8 pin dual inline package, for example the analogue NE555  timer chip, to the digital but now obsolete 132-pin package i386 processor, to several other surface mounted low-profile quad flat packages (LQFP).  But within  a few short years we surpassed the Pentium 4 chip and arrived at the Intel Core i7  Thin Quad Flat Package (TQFP) processor. The most current Intel chip to date, is the  LGA 1151 Socket, Coffee Lake Quad Core Computer Processor. However, somewhere between theses two extremes, PLCC's, ROM's, PROM's, EPROM's, EEPROM's, RAM, SRAM, DSRAM, PSRAM, Flash Memory, PROFET Highside Power Switches, Microprocessors and 32-bit microcontrollers  evolved.

Some specifically designed for the automotive industry, for  use in Engine Control Module's (ECM), Electronic Control Units (ECU's) Transmission Control Units (TCU's), Anti-skid Braking System ABS units and so many other automotive controllers.  Automotive Chips have been around for several years, but is currently in great demand, and to say that this technology has evolved, is probably the understatement of the century. In fact Automotive  Chips  advancements progressed rapidly,  improved unequivocally, matured almost instantly and  became largely scalable and highly integrated. Software programming gave these Automotive Chips a degree of artificial intelligence, most of them configured by car manufacturuers for average performance to extend engine and transmission lifespans so that they would last through the warranty period. 
Stainless Steel Exhaust Downpipes 

Since Automotive Chips are programmable and configurable, many have ventured into  chipping them. Chipping an ECM / ECU for some means removing the ROM containing the ecu's stock maps and replacing it with a new chip containing maps altered for enhanced performance. However, a ECU dump can be changed with a hex-editor and the ROM can be reflashed with diagnostic software like, REVO Stage 1 Performance Software, TOAD, RomRaider, EcuFlash, VAG CAN Pro (VCP), Winols, Galletto, etc, using the appropriate Chip Tuning / Flashing InterfaceHacking an ECU  can be pretty straight forward, especially with VAG COM diagnostic tools, which permits you to find  where the various maps reside in memory, then filling them with new or experimental values. 
K&N VW Polo air Filter induction kit

This procedure is not as simple as it sounds and is best left to the tweekers who have some knowledge of MISRA C.  MISRA C is a software development standard for the C programming language specifically developed by the Motor Industry Software Reliability Association. Since ECU programming is a very specialized business, any errors or accidental changes can prove disastrous and scramble your ECU permanently, unless you have a saved ECU dump to revert back to.  ECU maps can be found strewn all over the internet especially those for older cars. But be forewarned, they may not work as expected.
Carbonised Valves before and after

Having said that, many car enthusiasts  want their cars tweaked for more power, cleaner emissions, better fuel economy and better performance, expecting at least 20% more power and at least 20% more torque. But these are not realistic expectations for non-turbo cars with a standard engine. Also chiptuning is subject to climate and atmospheric pressure meaning a engine tuned for top performance at sea level will not perform optimally at high altitudes and vise versa. Also remember that tuning for performance is at the other extreme to tuning for  economy.  According to my son, whose VW Golf 7 R was optimised  with RaceChip One for Increased Acceleration & Performance with a 76mm stainless steel downpipe, Intake Induction kit & Intercooler upgrades,  Blow Off Dump Valve Adapter Spacer Kit, DPF & EGR Removed and fitted with a Bilstein B12 Eibach 30mm/30mm Lowering Suspension Spring Pro Kit, when he speeds he can actually see his fuel level decrease as the needle races towards empty. Definitely money not well spent.



There are several chiptuning workshops strewed throughout South Africa, some better than others and some not worth their salt, all offering Volkswagen  ECU Remapping and Chip Tuning services for older and newer models. Among them are, Alpha Performance Inovation, Chiplogic, Tuned2Race, ATM Chiptuning, CPI Performance Innovation, DTE Systems SA, Wulfchiptegnik, Unichip Performance Tuners and GT Performance, etc. I've have several friends who had their VW's Chiptuned but they are definitely not happy with the results, saying that ECU Remapping and Chip Tuning is just a ripoff, it's like pouring money down a drain. 

However, for the DIY car enthusiast with an older 2.0L VW Citi Golf, weber 40mm sidedrafts, a 300deg cam  and a  solid lifter head, is a feasible performance investment that can deliver 112kw 207nm.  Add a Blow Off Dump Valve Adapter Spacer Kit to 
vent extra boost air into the atmosphere instead of sending it back into the engine's intake manifold besides the WHOOOSHH sounds is really awesome!!
Blow Off Dump Valve Adapter Spacer Kit

ECU Remap via OBD port, ECU Reprogramming & Software upgrade & Chip Tuning, Injection timing, injection quantity, injection pressure, boost pressure and air mass flow, Better Throttle Response, Optimized Fuel Efficiency. Enhanced Throttle Response, GTI VW Polo GTI, VW Golf 5, VW Golf 6 R, VW Golf 6 GTI, VW Golf 7 R, VW Golf 7 GTI, VW Polo TDI, VW's Audi A4/A5/S5 Audi S3 8V Audi S3 8P  Audi RS3/TTRS Audi RS5 / RS6

Monday, April 24, 2017

NO PROBLEM FOUND

NO PROBLEM FOUND

Have you ever taken your under warranty car to your service agent after experiencing extreme EPC Light and Engine Light activity, only to be told "No problem found"? Does the inside of your under 75,000km  car sound like an aviary when you turn-on it's fan? Or, do you constantly have to top-up your oil level between oil changes or at least every 1500 km? How do you handle it, when you go to the agents, to complain about excessive oil consumption, only to be  told that, “all cars use oil and oil consumption is a normal part of a car’s operation, beside oil consumption issues were disclosed in the vehicle owner’s manual". Has your car behaved like a washing machine during a rinse and spin cycle while driving on the freeway, misfiring, shaking and scaring the living day light out of you? If yes to any of the above, then you must be driving a VAG Car - VW, Skoda, Audi or Seat. Yes, when those injector coils go faulty in mid travel, it really frightens you because the car feels like is going to fall apart any moment.  

This also happens to VW, Jetta, VW Caddy, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Amarok, Volkswagen Caddy, Volkswagen CC,  Volkswagen Fox, Volkswagen Gol G5,   Volkswagen Golf Mk6,  Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Scirocco,  Volkswagen Sharan, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volkswagen Touareg,   Volkswagen Touran, Audi A3, Audi A6, Audi A7, Audi A8, Audi Q5, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Phaeton, Volkswagen Polo, Volkswagen  Lupo and Volkswagen Passat.

I've experienced the radiator fan blades disintegrate while driving, and the unbalanced rotation caused the same, exact, identical, engine shake. Then I've also experienced starting difficulties, irregular idling, poor fuel economy, hesitant acceleration, engine misfires and engine stalls. Not to mention the the constant, "in your face" red engine  warning light. All of which turned out to be components of the charge air path, especially the Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF).

When the "No problem Found" response became unbearable, it was time for self discovery. So what I've come to realize is that a mass air flow sensor, is integral part of every modern VAG engine and is normally situated somewhere inside the intake air duct, between the air filter and the engine. 

I've owned several cars, amongst which were Renault, Opel, Mercedes Benz and Mazda yet never ever had the need to replace a MAF even after several years. However with VW, it needs to be cleaned or replaced regularly every 2-3 years. Cleaning a MAF is cheaper than replacing it though replacing a MAF sensor is just easier. It is DIY job because the MAF replacement cost at a VW dealers averages about R1500,00. 

MASS AIRFLOW SENSOR 


VAG engines require a "perfect blend" of air and fuel for absolute combustion. This "perfect blend" is known as stoichiometric or Lambda = 1, which essentially means "the mixture is right" in mechanical jargon. The vacumn caused by the turbo blower and the pistons down-ward travel creates air charge. The main aim of the charge air path is to provide a smooth increase in torque, and to deliver high efficiency throughout its  operating ranges. This air charge is measured by the MAF, so by implication a  properly functioning MAF is absolutely crucial to a smooth ride. But in modern Engine Management Systems their are several components that contribute to maintaining this "perfect blend" among which are:-

1) The Electronic throttle control (EPC)
2) Charge air pressure sensor G31
3) Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor G70
4) Barometric Pressure (BARO) sensor F96
5) Intake Air Temperature (IAT) sensor G42 / G299

So any fault in the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor G70 will trigger the EPC light, because the Motronic engine control unit (ECU)  uses it as an engine load signal and as a reference data to calculate the  signal plausibility of other sensor inputs, when and how much fuel to deliver, and when to generate a spark for the relieve cylinder. At the same time, it will also trigger a DTC in memory. The MAF also works in conjunction with an O2 sensor that provides a “closed-loop” feedback  known as short term fuel trim (STFT) / Long term fuel trim (LTFT), in order to make corrections to that predicted air mass. If the air filter isn't replaced on a regular basis, a build- up of impurities in the MAF will cause it to start failing when it gets too dirty to do its job and trigger the EPC light. 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ENGINE STALL / SHUTS OFF WHILE DRIVING

Engine stalls / shuts off while driving.

Of all the cars built by Volkswagen, the Jetta seems to be the most troublesome VW, and out of all the Jetta models manufactured, since its inception, the 2015 model seems to be the most problematic. Problematic  is perhaps isn't  the best adjective nor the most appropriate word that Jetta owners would use to describe their vehicles.  Most of them say their cars are, very scary and highly dangerous, because of the engine suddenly stalling,  especially in places where it's unsafe to stop. 

Female VW Jetta owners are now generally upset, afraid and some are even terrified to drive their cars, because of their frightful experiences with their cars losing power on the highway / express lanes, as the EPC and engine light turns on. They are fearful and generally worried that it could happen again. All of them convinced that it can lead to a very serious accident, also  stating that the car feels like a death trap when it stalls in fast moving traffic. Many of them feel it is unsafe for them to drive with their children in a car with the potential of being in a rear collision at any time, or get them all killed. They are disappointed and disgusted by Volkswagen personal for not caring about their complaints.

We're talking about new cars and well maintained cars, cars that are taken care of, most with less than 20 000 km on their clocks and one with as few as 30km on its clock, that needs to be towed to the VW service centers. To make matters worse,  roadside assistance sold with these Jettas have an ETA of 3 hours. And to crown the problem, VW agents can't seem to find the reason why these Jettas turn  off in mid travel, yet they are always replacing spare parts. They blame it on a central fuse which was not properly installed, or on the  wiring harness to the gas accelerator housing. Some blame it on calibration, yet it doesn't fix the problem. When a VW dealer was told that the car is unable to accelerate after stopping at a traffic light or at stop street, they echoed that they've never heard of this happening to any other Jetta before, yet this problem seems to be as common as sand.

 In fact it is really common on the 2009 Volkswagen  Routan -  traction control light comes on and the vehicle  completely loses power, engine shuts off while driving and the steering locks. If ever there was a   safety issue, then this is it. Then there is the smell of  gasoline or diesel inside the cabin which the service centers dismiss as an overfilled fuel tank which turned out to be leaky high pressure fuel pump on a 2015 Jetta. Then there is the cooling fan that runs at high speed after the ignition as been turned off, and as a consequence drains my battery.

When these Jettas switch off, nothing works not even the SOS roadside button, so it more like electrical than mechanical, though when the car goes into limp mode the steering system locks and the car cannot even be steered out of harms way. To add insult to injury, VW is unwilling to recall these Jettas and these problems don't seem to be covered by the  VW warranty. 

Somehow certain problems tend to be specific to certain Jettas models, for example, the 2004 and the 2015 Jetta seem to have engine problems though not exclusively.  Clutch clutch failure in the 2015 Jetta  is also common. The 2003 and the 2016 Jettas appear to have transmission problems though also not exclusively. The 2006 tend to have interior electrical accessories issues and the  2009 Jetta seem to have problems with their 'brakes' and ABS module failure. Jetta with FSI and TSI direct injection engines are subject to carbon buildup in the intake system which can cause power loss. It is wise to clean the intake manifold, cylinder head ports  every 30,000 kilometers..

Jetta SE V4 Turbo, Jetta CLI, Jetta S 2.0L, Jetta SE V4 Turbo, Jetta SE 1.8t, Jetta Trendline Plus 2L, Jetta TDI, Jetta TSI 1.8L

Saturday, April 15, 2017

REDUCED COST OF OWNERSHIP

REDUCED COST OF OWNERSHIP

Global automaker Volkswagen AG hasn't been the flavour of the month for more years than I care to remember. Their unpopularity started with the emissions scandal that engulfed the company for cheating on emissions tests over a period of six years; not to mention the recalls and poor customer service at virtually all their service centers globally that further pissed off their clients. It was their initial denial, arrogance  and passing of the buck by high ranking VW executives that severely angered VW car owners. The cheating and lying of these individuals compromised most VW owners globally because the trade-in value of their vehicles fell substantially. Dealers were saddled with VW vehicles cars that wouldn't sell because the general public eschewed VW with a passion. 


In an attempt to win back customer confidence, Volkswagen is offering a six-year or 72,000 miles warranty on two of its all new big-ass 2018 sport utility vehicles (SUVs). This new 72,000 miles, (120 000 km) warranty surpasses, the industry-standard of 60,000 mile (100 000km) by a good 20 000 km or 1 year's worth of driving. Generally sport utility vehicles only come with a standard three-year/36,000-mile warranty whereas Volkswagen  announced  their enhanced warranty for both their 2018 Atlas and Tiguan SUVs. According to Hinrich Woebcken, Chief Executive Officer for Volkswagen Group of America, the objective of this extended warranty is to reduce the cost of ownership for the owners of these new Volkswagen SUVs. The new 4Motion AllWheel Drive VW Alas shares the MQB platform with the Mk7 Golf hatchback; and it can park itself, it can do so even do so in  perpendicular parking spaces. It monitors blind spots and  resist errant lane changes, and even sports the ability to adaptively cruise  in stop-and-go traffic. 



The interior of the Atlas is aesthetically pleasing and cavernous with three rows of seats that provides comfortably seating for  seven adults. It also sports a  meaningful cargo space behind the third-row seat, which when folded flat extends to a user-friendly deck for loading. The Atlas is propelled by a 2.0-litre turbo L4, with an eight-speed automatic front-wheel drive, whereas the 3.6-litre V-6 engine version comes in all-wheel drive. These big-ass SUVs are what Big-ass Americans want, and the Atlas is designed to accommodate the biggest asses you can imagine. The Atlas of the forerunner to the new-look, completely redesigned Tiguan compact SUV destined to be built in  Mexico. This 5-door, 5-seat Tiguan SUV is available in two 1.4 TSI engines, the first as a 92kW for both the Trendline (manual only) and Comfortline manual, while Comfortline auto (DSG) gets the 110kW version.  The 2.0 TSI 162kW top of the range Tiguan with Golf GTI power will be available shortly, to be followed by the 2.0 TDI engines that are available in 81kW, 105kW or 130kW. The Tiguan is sold in some 170 countries globally, which makes this SUV one of the important vehicles in the Volkswagen stable alongside the Golf, Polo and Passat.



However, regardless of the newest and the latest in VW motion, the Diesel emission scandal is still haunting the automaker and in the wake of their admission of guilt, Volkswagen executives agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the USA, to settle legal claims brought against them by Volkswagen owners,  state governments, environmental regulators and VW car dealers. They even offered to buy back about half a million  diesel vehicles that are known to be polluting the USA. In an attempt to rebuild goodwill, Volkswagen offered to pay out $1,000 in cash or dealership credits to VW vehicle owners who can also receive a free 24-hour road service for three years. Over and above this, VW dealers will offer them a $2,000 cash rebate toward their  new car purchase.

Volkswagen's hopes to become the world’s largest automaker after being in this top spot for only two months, were dashed after Toyota Motor Corp reported global production figures of almost a quarter million ahead of Volkswagen today. The  Renault-Nissan Alliance with Mitsubishi also pulled ahead of Volkswagen, leaving this giant German car maker in 3rd spot. For now at leat, but what will the future hold?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

WHY DOES VOLKSWAGEN AND AUDI KEYS COST SO MUCH?

WHY DOES VW AND AUDI KEYS COST SO MUCH? 

I'm certain it's a fair question to ask, "Why does a Volkswagen or Audi key cost so much?" It's obviously not made of solid gold or  platinum, nor from the mythical "rear and expensive" material called kryptonite, yet it seems to commands the same price range. For that matter, "Why do all automotive keys cost so much"?It's totally incomprehensible that a key would cost more than the monthly installment of the latest version of the car whose key is in 
question. Its just really expensive, so how to manufacturers justify these charges? Some locksmith can supply the same Volkswagen key or any car key for that matter for a lot less than any automobile agent can; and they can normally also replace most car keys much quicker than the agents. That being said, most people scramble around to get a replacement key after they've lost the only key they have. So, the first rule of owning a car key says, "if there's a possibility of losing the key, or there's a chance of it getting stolen, or locked inside the car, or even breaking, then its imperative get a copy cut before your are forced to have a copy made". 




DUPLICATING A KEY FROM ANOTHER KEY

Today almost all cars manufacturers have pretty much developed their own special type of locks. For example,  Ford and Jaguar have adopted the 8 cut Tibbe lock whereas VAG and Volvo have adopted the ‘Laser’ type lock. So before we continue, we have to acknowledge that not all keys are born equal, because keys generally fall in several categories. There are non vehicular dimple keys and tubular keys, then there  are standard single sided flat steel keys. Then there are non-transponder edge-cut automotive double sided keys steel keys and to duplicate these from another key is the easiest and costs the least and average around R50.00, mearly because those key blacks are cheap and abundant. Then there are the transponder type keys (laser  cut) keys and to duplicate these from another key cost a lot more than that of a flat steel key.  They average around R150.00 - R200.00 because the blank is substantially more expensive, but the main reason for their cost higher, is that one also requires a sophisticated milling key cutting machine with a special cutting adapter kit that cost ten times more than a flat key cutting machine. 

Then there is the high security Tibbe key and to duplicate such a key, roughly cost the same as cutting a transponder key. Tibbe keys also requires the same sophisticated milling key cutting machine fitted with a different cutting Tibbe Key Adapter Kit.  


CUTTING A KEY FROM A CYLINDER  

When you need a key cut but you don't have a sample key, the cost will depend  on the make, the model, the type and the year of manufacture of such vehicle. In such a case the key can be reverse engineered by a locksmith of considerable skill, from either the ignition lock, which then has to be removed from the car or from the drivers door lock, which would also have to be removed from the car. A successfully made key should then be able to start the car, unlock the doors, the boot and the glove compartment as well as the petrol cap if all components are still standard originals. 

Reverse engineering a key is a time consuming, thus a costly exercise and it would be well worth to remember "the first rule of owning a car key". Alternatively, the key can be duplicated from its key code, using the appropriate key duplication equipment and software which is more geared towards the later model cars. However few locksmiths offer this service and since the Tibbe key is not all that common, very few locksmith have the equipment and skill to cut them.


CUTTING TRANSPONDER KEYS

Transponder keys are extremely diverse and quite costly to duplicate for a number of reasons. The key blanks are more costly and the decoding equipment and bitting software needed to duplicate them is also expensive. Probably the best way to duplicate these keys, are from the key code using a computerized key cutting machine. Key codes can be generated from your VIN using the freely downloadable AutoCode - VIN to Key Code Generator App. However, you pay per code, on-line. CodesExpress is similar, but InstaCode is the most comprehensive key data software available today.   It  is compatible with a wide range of electronic, and manual key cutting machines and able to produce the  bitting number from the key code automatically. Its menu allows selections for manufacturer, model and key blank and code.  

But that's not the end of it, because after the key is cut it will open the door but will not start the engine. The fob key electronic head needs to be programmed or replaced with the appropriate frequency, either 315MHz VW/Jetta, 433MHz VW/Audi, or 434MHz VW/Skoda, 868MHz Audi, etc, etc,  and further programming to allow the remote to activate and operate the central locking. You can do this yourself but only if you have a second key, and I'll describe the procedure  in a success blog.


PROGRAMMING

The Philips  Crypto code  transponder duplication / RFID transponder complexity still needs to be contended with after providing proof that the car to which the key in question belongs, is rightfully yours. Programming the Philips  Crypto code Transponder is expensive puerly because the equipment like the JMD Handy Baby, or the MiraClone, or the 884 Decryptor Ultegra, or the AD900Pro needed to duplicate the transponder are currently quite expensive.  


IMMOBILIZER

Virtually every car built after 1996 is equipped with some sort of an anti-theft device that circumvents “hot wring” or theft of the 
the car. Volkswagen calls its system, an Immobilizer. So when the VW key with its embedded  Phillips cryto  transponder / T6 Glass Chip RFID transponder  is inserted into the key hole, it is energized by the reader coil located in the steering column, allowing the evaluation unit (ECU) to authorize  the car to start. If all's well and the codes is verified as correct the car will start, if not, the car will start momentarily and switch off immediately.


CONCLUSION

Having looked at what it takes to produce a valid key, it goes without saying that it's going to be expensive purely because non of the transponder copier manufacturers and key cutting machine manufacturers and the key moulding manufacturers have had a return on their investments as yet. This should change over time but only if enough people loose their keys or if everyone who owns a single key has it duplicated. Essentially when the demand for keys increases. Then and only then will the price reduce. Be that as it may, since Volkswagen doesn't manufacture or cut the key themselves nor program the transponder chip but only act as a middle man to get the key to you, its probably best that you go directly to the locksmiths they use to produce their keys and since Volkswagen's locksmith use the same equipment and keys used by the professional locksmith trading down the street, it is imperative that you support him rather than pour your hard earned cash into the VW money pit. Just last week, a friend who works as a chauffeur was the victim of a  home burglary and the thief stole the key to his boss's Mercedes Benz C320.  When they phoned Orbit Motors to get a replacement, they were quoted R10K  for a key. The bossman was astounded at the price and repeated that he wants to bey a key and not shares in Orbit Motors.


WARNING

Do not be tempted to but keys or transponders off e-bay, e-bid or other e auction. In most cases these transponder chips are plain 
junk. They do not work. There are so many fake items manufactured globally and electronic chips are no different. I've bought several dozen of 4000 series integrated circuits off e-bay, most of which were duds. I think these chips are produced when the production lines were set up and the masks haven't been perfected, which should've ostensibly been dumped, but some how they find their way onto the black market which in my estimate is just another money pit. 


RANSOMWARE

RANSOMWARE


VW POLO HIGHLINE

Do you know what Ransomware is? Well, for those who don't know, it is a type of computer malware that encrypts your computer documents, photos, databases, files and other general computer data, then demands payment (ransome) to obtain the decryption key. Computer hijackers and hackers normally spread Ransomware, attached to an emails that once executed, opens a security hole in your computer system for them to exploit. The latest ransomware makes use of your computer's RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) port to gain access to computers holding sensitive information. The RDP port is aka as port 3389. However ransomware is not limited to laptops, notebooks and desktop computers, virtually every device that are connected to an IoT (Internet of  Things) platform can be encrypted for ransom and the possibilities are quite varied. An IoT platform is essentially a suite of interrelated Internet enabled devices that deploy  applications that manage, monitor, and control connected devices.

The Internet of Things embrace technologies like Wi-FI, UWB, CAN bus, Bluetooth, ZigBee, RFID (radio frequency identification), GSM OnStar Telematics (GPS,  Tracking & remote door unlocking, Voice recognition & wireless Internet connection) Flexray, sensors, smart phones, smart homes, digital machines and mechanical objects, people or even animals that are allocated a unique identifiers -IPv6 address- with the innate ability to transfer data over a network. 

Can you imagine a hijacker capable of hacking healthcare IoT devices and medical implants; holding pacemaker patients hostage demanding payment or he will turn off their device, without any need for physical contact.  Can you imagine your car demanding money before it will start? Yes, I'm sure you can. Every VW Audi, Skoda and Seat or for that matter every car truck or tractor that was manufactured before 1996 with its glut of sensors, smart relays and internet connected telematics can hold its owner to ransom. An ECU may not hold ransomware per se but it might as well be because every time your cars coughs or sneezes it demands money. And when it refuses to start, it is as if you are being blackmailed by Volkswagen Audi Seat or Skoda into paying them some money before they get your car to start.  

I have a friend who owns a Porsche that he hardly ever drives. When he attempted starting her after about a month in the garage, the  multi-function dashboard display lit-up in red, displaying "battery/alternator visit workshop", then reverted to its normal colours displaying "undervoltage consumer defective". When the specialist Porsche mechanic arrived and jump started the car, several other light that were never on started to light up. Like the brake pad warning light, oil level monitoring failure and the check engine light and finally the  visit workshop message.

Understandably, the amount of automation in our cars today are suppose to make them safer, better and cheaper to maintain but the converse is true. The average VW owner spends virtually 30% of the value of the car before they finally give up on the car. This implies that by the time three VW owners get rid of their cars, Volkswagen got paid for four. VAG car keys are another hijack or ransome. 

Not too long ago I locked my keys in the boot of my VW Polo Highline. I simply thought just buying another key would solve all my problems. But I was mistaken nor was it that simple. I had to furnish them with my Particulars of purchase, copy of registration document,  and the VIN, just to prove that th car belonged to me. The cost of the key wasn't a few hundred rands but a few thousand rands from the a VW dealer, but that's just for the key. It still had to be programmed at a undeclared cost, so that the RFID transponder in the steering stalk of the car can communicate with the key. If that's not holding car owners to ransom then I don't know what is.

All the VW Polo Highline vehicles held to ransom by Volkswagen.
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

RECALL

FLASH OF DEATH

The Volkswagen emissions scandal has hardly died down, when we heard that Volkswagen is in the dog box once again. The German car giant is in the process of 
'recalling  as many as 3 million 
Volkswagen's, Audi's, Seats 
and Skoda's  worldwide'
due to DSG (direct-shift gearbox) "gearbox problems" that causes loss of power. This is probably one of the biggest recalls in VW's history. Though in comparison  to Toyota's recall of 10 million cars between 2009 and 2010, amid accident fears over sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats, Volkswagen’s recall is but minuscule.  Some believe that the Volkswagen  recall is  bogus. But it's really good to see that Volkswagen is "stepping up to the plate"


VOLKSWAGEN RECALL

The recall reports that the dreaded 7-dry DSG malfunctions are the result of faulty "temperature sensors" (NTC - thermister) caused by the use of synthetic oil in 7-speed dual-clutch gearboxes.  As such synthetic oil will be replaced with traditional mineral oil. Somehow the Audi 2L TFSI models, the Golf GTI's with the 6-wet DSG and the reliable Tiptronic A/T  are not affected. But that doesn't mean that the wet DSG's are not totally immune to mechatronic failure in the future.  Jetta SportsWagen, GTI and Eos vehicles built between September 2008 and August 2009 and a limited number of 2010 Jetta seem to be most affected. It was probably a bad batch of DSG's.

One is the "false neutral syndrome" where the flashing PRNDS occurs with the car losing all motive power without warning, (traced to a faulty DSG heat/temperature sensor) and the other is where the DSG (direct-shift gearbox; German:- Direkt-Schalt-Getriebe) suffers severe delays at shift points, causing erratic shifting, jerking, long stall pauses, clutch slipping, surging in forward and reverse, etc. 

The "gearbox problem" previously mentioned is non other than the "Flash of Death" aka "DSG Flash of Death" aka "false neutral syndrome", resulting in  a flashing PRNDS. When this happens,  the car loses all motive power without warning, as its transmission goes into limp mode by selecting  3rd gear. But this isn't always the case because subject to the actual "gearbox problem", because the transmission may not disengage. So when the engine is switched off, it may not start thereafter. A second transmission problem revolves around causing erratic shifting, jerking, severe delays at shift points, clutch slipping, surging in both forward and reverse. This  often happens when accelerating, overtaking  or cruising and your VW or Audi is also prone to slip gears and judder at low speeds, even though clutch adaptation may have been done. These faults have been associated with the Mechatronic Unit, bent clutch forks and warped clutch packs. If you have vag-com, you will see that your car threw one or more of the following DTC's, or a variation of them.

17090 - Transmission Range Sensor (F125): Implausible Signal
P0706 - 000 - -

17106 - Transmission Output Speed Sensor (G195): No Signal
P0722 - 000 - - - Intermittent

17114 - Gear Ratio Monitoring: Incorrect Gear Ratio 
P0730 - 35-10 - - - Intermittent

17114 - Incorrect Gear Ratio
P0730 - 000 - - - Intermittent

18113 - Gear Ratio Monitoring: Adaptation Limit Reached
P1705 - 09-10 - Adaptation Limit Surpassed - Intermittent

18149 - Clutch Pressure Adaptation: Limit Reached 
P1741 - 001 - Upper Limit Exceeded - Intermittent

18149 - Clutch Pressure Adaptation: Limit Reached 
P1741 - 35-10 - - - Intermittent

18149 - Clutch Pressure Adaptation: Limit Reached
P1741 - 002 - Lower Limit Exceeded - Intermittent

18151 - Clutch Slip Monitoring: Signal too Large 
P1743 - 35-00 - -

18172 - Transmission Temperature Monitoring
P1764 - 000 - - - Intermittent

18201 - Transmission Output Speed Sensor 2 (G196): No Signal
P1793 - 000 - -

18226 - Pressure Control Valve 2 (N216): Electrical Malfunction
P1818 - 007 - Short to Ground - Intermittent

18226 - Pressure Control Valve 2 (N216): Electrical Malfunction
P1818 - 006 - Short to Plus - Intermittent

28775 - No communication with Gear Selector Module 
U0103-000--MIL ON

28775 - No Communication with Gear Selector Module
U0103 - 004 - No Signal/Communication

MECHATRONIC UNIT

Long story short, your VW or Audi is more likely than not going to need a mechatronic replacement when you experience the above. However, that doesn't mean every transmission problem can be solved by replacing the mechartonic unit.  I know of someone who experienced the "VW DSG Flash of Death". So, he took his Audi to the VW service agents who diagnosed a faulty Mechtronic unit and a faulty wiring harness. Charged him $3500 for parts and labour and three weeks later, "DSG Flash of Death" struck again. The peculiar thing about the "DSG Flash of Death" is that it affects  brand new vehicles. Cars with as little as 3K kilometers on the clock and virtually none of them exceeding 50K on the clock before the DSG (Dreaded Spiteful Genie / direct-shift gearbox) takes revenge. But a faulty mechatronic unit isn't the only problem Volkswagen is facing. Some 30,000 Volkswagen Tiguans are being recalled in the UK alone because of an intermittent fuse / blown fuse problem that causes headlights to cut out. 

The amount of transmission complaints that NHTSA received prompted their lawyers to get Volkswagen to initiate the recall. 
Be that as it may, VW and Audi branded cars sport really great technology, engineering and performance as well as beautiful aesthetics, but what good is all that if the darned car leaves you stranded every so often, costs a bundle to repair and maintain, besides the darn thing can kills you, when limp mode kicks in on the freeway, with fast flowing traffic on your tail.


OTHER VEHICLE RECALLS

Recalls are common in the motor industry but getting the incumbent to take responsible can be a painful as pulling teeth. Recalls are also as common as sand and by the looks of things,  no auto manufacturer is except.  For example, Ford Kuga SUV fire recall goes all the way back to 2013 in South Africa. Now, they are  in the process recalling thousands of its Kuga (fireball) models following client reports that the SUVs self-combusts.  

Honda is recalling an  additional 775 000 vehicles for defective front passenger airbag inflators that was manufactured by the Japanese supplier Takata.

Toyota is globally recalling all the Mirai fuel-cell vehicles  due to a software bug that can shut off its hydrogen-powered system without warning. Toyota is  also recalling more than 300 000 hybrid Prius vehicles globally due to a defect in their parking brakes. 

Volkswagen will recall an additional 50 000 vehicles in China due to brake problems when the cruise control is activated

BMW is recalling some 150 000 cars and SUVs in the US and Canada due to wiring problem to the fuel pumps inside the gas that can cause its engines to suddenly stall.

Mazda is recalling almost 175 000 cars in the US due to the seats can suddenly change angles, making driving difficult.


And the list goes on.