Following instructions and doing the Impossible

I decided that because today is such a nice day outside I’d try out my new computer for my car, the Cobb AccessPORT I purchased last week.What this device allows you to do is rewrite the mappings for your engine. Cobb provides a number of ‘off the shelf’ maps for the device, however with more hardware/software you can build your own maps to load on via this device. What rewriting the mappings for your engine allows you to do, especially in a turbo charged car like mine, is produce more horsepower and torque.

So I gathered all the gear up that I would require for this, and I even read the manual and brought it with me to guide me along my way. I was worried that if I missed a step I’d screw up my car. So of course, I missed a step. In the first step, yes the first step, I didn’t connect the test-mode connectors together like I was supposed to. This is apparently a critical step in the process and it’s impossible to flash your ECU without connecting these. I realized I’d missed this step after I started the flash.

The Green connectors are the test-mode connectors.

The Green connectors are the test-mode connectors.

I didn’t want to disconnect the unit for fear it would corrupt my ECU, but I feared that leaving it in would also corrupt my ECU. I left it all connected however because either way it was going to corrupt it and I might as well see if it wrote the mappings anyway. Additionally I had the thought in the back of my head that perhaps by leaving those disconnected it’s just not doing anything at all except wasting my time. I hoped the latter was true.

When the flashing finished I took a deep breath, turned the ignition off, removed the bits that needed to be removed and tried to start my car. Thankfully it started, this was a huuuge relief, but did it flash the ECU? According to the device it did. So out I went to test this fact. Sure enough the car worked, the boost levels were higher than stock though not achieving target and my car was faster. But why then was I required to connect this test-mode connector together? Suddenly I was worried again, if my battery died would my ECU forget the settings, were they only in temporary memory, where on-the-fly maps go?

Looks like it worked...

Looks like it worked...

To answer this question I called up Cobb. Cobb assured me that what I had done could not have happened, not they, not Subaru, not anyone could rewrite the flash without the test-mode connectors connected. They offered no explanation but suggested I go and re-flash the car properly to be sure. Which I did. I went out for another drive to confirm that all was working, and it appeared that nothing had changed.

So the moral of the story is… sometimes if you skip a step it works out fine, wait no, I mean, the moral of the story is learn to follow directions, right? I’m confused, how did it work if it was impossible?

-Aka