Programming Engine ECMs
Parameter changes vs Programming
- Maximum road speed
- Maximum cruise control speed
- Adjust idle shut down timer
- PTO setttings
There are literally hundreds of parameters that can be set on todays modern electronic engines found in commercial trucks. There are also a variety of tools available to do this that range from OEM software to aftermarket software such as Noregon JPRO, TEXA IDC5, PF-Diagnose, and many others. You will find a big difference in these aftermarket programs. For example, JPRO can change around 5 parameters on Cummins engines. The TEXA dealer level diagnostic tool can do over 100.
The other question we ask clients when talking about programming is the ability to program injectors. For this, the options are much more limited. While OEM software will work great for programming injectors, the purchase price can be very high and annual fees add up quickly. The only aftermarket tool we know of that does injector programming on all engines would the one from TEXA, which has the added benefit of no annual fees.
Programming ECMs Properly
Alternatively, the best way to program ECMs is to bypass the datalink entirely and connect straight to the ECM. This would allow you to program ECMs both on the vehicle and on the work bench. Our company, Diesel Laptops, manufactures and sells a complete line of bypass and breakout cables for exactly this reason.
The other best practice we always recommend is backing up your ECM before making any changes. Most software offers the ability to create this backup, which they may call an image, work order, template, or something along those lines. We also recommend printing all engine parameters to PDF or regular paper, so you have a backup as well. Failure to backup your current engine configuration can turn a 30-minute job into an entire day.
Why do you need to program?
Let’s take a step back and think about a situation. You have a 5-year old truck in the shop, and a technician has diagnosed it and said it needs a software update. This truck has been running for 5-years, and just now it has a software “bug” that needs to be programmed so it can be fixed? Probably not. It is more than likely a mis-diagnosed issue. While we agree that a lot of troubleshooting from the OEMs will state that you should calibrate an ECM to the most current software level, this very rarely resolves the issue. The software updates from manufacturers such as Cummins clearly tell you what the bug fixes are. In our experience, less then 10% of all ECM programming requests resolve the issue.
Reprogramming Engine ECMs
Programming Mack and Volvo ECMs
To pile on the bad news, we need to discuss price. If you wish to program only Mack or Volvo ECMs, the price is roughly $1,800. If you wish to do both, they give a slight discount at $3,000. Furthermore, if you are doing ECM programming on Volvo and Mack you will want to make sure to keep your software updated, which will run you around $250 per year after the first year.
Programming Cummins ECMs
However, to be eligible to purchase Cummins Insite Pro you must also complete their basic training courses. This involves passing several online courses that should you are competent in the Cummins Insite software. You can find more information on this by looking at the Cummins Training website. You will also need to register yourself on Cummins QuickServe Online (free), along with obtaining a Cummins Service Training ID (free). However, expect some costs involved to pass the required training classes.
Once you’ve done all the training, and jumped through all the hoops, you are then eligible to purchase a Cummins Insite Professional license. However, there are still some limitations.
If you find yourself needed a fleet calibration from Cummins, you will not be able to purchase one. They have now made these only available to authorized Cummins dealers. You would need a fleet calibration if you are flashing a new ECM for the first time, or you are trying to change the ECM software level currently on the ECM to a completely new variant. If you are simply performing a software level update, you won’t need a fleet calibration.
The short story with Cummins ECM programming is that to do ECM programming you will have to jump through a lot of hoops, pass required training, and you still can’t do it to the level that dealers and distributors can.
Programming International Engine ECMs
Programming Detroit Diesel Engine ECMs
Once you’ve created your account, you can then talk to Detroit about purchasing the Diagnostic Link 8 Professional software. Currently, the price is around $2,200 per year for the privilege to program Detroit ECMs. This does include the diagnostic software package as well, which is around $750 per year.
Programing CAT ECMs
Programming PACCAR Engine ECMs
For the MX-11 and MX-13, you will not be able to purchase software to do programming. Purchasing their software is difficult enough, along with being very expensive. Even if you purchase their diagnostic software, you are blocked from many any engine parameter changes or doing programming. All these functions require server authentication from PACCAR, which they have reserved for dealers only.
Programming Other Component ECMs
Programming Allison ECMs
- FuelSense 2.0 reprogramming (Enables fleets to optimize fuel economy)
- Reprograming of dynamic shift sensing
- Reprogramming of retarder
- Reprogramming of shift selectors
- Reprogramming of selected TCM parameters (You must pass Allison Training for access)
The important thing to note here is that Allison does not allow complete programming of the transmission control module (TCM). This is reserved for dealers and distributors only.
Programming of Eaton ECMs
Programming Bendix ECMs
Programming Meritor WABCO ECMs
- Purchase the Meritor WABCO ABS Software.
- Sign up for a free account on Meritors Website.
- Fill out their form to obtain a price. This form includes VIN number, old ECU part #, new ECU part #, and the new ECU serial number. You then hit a button to obtain a price for the file, along with the ability to purchase it and download. We have seen pricing range from $75 to $500 for a single file.