Ford Reflash: PC Computer

Ford Reflash: Setting Up Your PC

You’ve just finished up a job on a Ford vehicle, and you’re about to try and start it up. However, it needs programmed first. You’ve decided to use a J2534 tool, but there are certain things you’ll need to consider ­before purchasing that subscription at www.motorcraftservice.com.

OEM reflashChoosing a PC

The PC you choose for reflashing can be as important as the process of reflashing itself. More importantly, the PC has to be compatible with the manufacturer’s requirements.

When considering any laptop for the purpose of reflashing, first visit the manufacturer’s website and check out its PC requirements. Two websites that provide this information are www.oemonestop.com and www.nastf.org.

This is the information you’ll need in hand when you run down to the local computer store and purchase a laptop for the purposes of reflashing.

Recommended PC Requirements
• Processor: 500 MHz
• Memory: 128 MB of RAM
• Available space: 200 MB
• Graphics card: 800×600, 16-bit color
• Internet: High-speed Internet connection, DSL or cable modem

Software Requirements
• Operating system: Windows 2000, XP or Vista
• Web browser: Internet Explorer Version 7.0 or later

VCM II reflashingWhat You Need To Do

There’s a lot that has to be done on your end to get your PC to work with the manufacturer’s website, plus you will need to load the software for your J2534.

Firewalls need to be turned off, screen savers should be off, cookie settings should match the requirements from the manufacturer, the screen resolution needs to be set, pop-up blockers need to be off, and any third-party anti-virus, anti-spyware or Internet security software must be temporarily disabled.

My advice is once you have all of the correct settings in your PC, create a new account user on your PC. So, I have a user profile named “Ford Reprogramming,” and that is the only reason I use that profile. Creating a new user profile is easy. Go to your control panel, then go to “user accounts” and create a new account. All the settings that you have made will now be stored under that heading. So, instead of constantly changing all of your settings back and forth from the regular settings to those you need for reprogramming, you can just toggle back and forth between user accounts.

After I spent the better part of a day setting up my PC to reflash, I was glad to finally see my efforts pay off using the J2534 tool. Actually, I think the reflash was a lot easier than setting up the laptop.

Motorcraft reflashAdditional Points of Interest

Always disconnect the cable/pass-thru device before entering the Ford program. The Ford Module Programming (FMP) runs its checks first before the J2534 tool is attached.

The FMP changes constantly, generally each month, and you must completely remove the old program from your PC before attempting to download the newest version. The FMP won’t allow you to have two copies on the same PC. After the first copy is completely removed, you can then download them a second time. But, put it where you can find it. I had a problem finding the files after I downloaded it the first time, so I thought I would just download a second copy. On the second download, I put the files where I knew I could retrieve them easier.

Ford reflash TSBThe emergency brake must be on. I found that out the hard way. The program blue process line came to a complete stop and an error message came up. I had to go back to the beginning and read all of the precautions and procedures again.

Any parameters in your PC that are not correct need to be reset before continuing. If you turn off the computer to reboot for some reason, and there will be many occasions to do that, some of the pop-up settings may revert back to their original settings. Check them before continuing.

I haven’t tried all of the different J2534 tools out there — some may be easier to use than others. But, I know from experience, your PC has to be configured correctly, or it doesn’t matter how much you would like to flash that Ford. Motorcraftservice.com can’t do anything from its end if you don’t have all of the information correct at your end.

IDS Start-Up Troubleshooting Tips

Reflash PC setupCommunications between the Integrated Diagnostic System (IDS) and the VCM relies on the Microsoft Windows Network Services being started before the PC is connected to the VCM. If IDS attempts to communicate with a VCM prior to those services starting, communications are not possible, and IDS will usually ­produce Testman or Tabman errors.

Reflash PC tipsTherefore, Ford released an IDS start-up warning in IDS R73. This will prevent the IDS software from starting until the proper Microsoft Windows Network Services is running. This action will only delay IDS from opening. It will not stop a technician from using IDS to repair a vehicle.

IDS Start-Up Warnings:

The aborted screen as shown here identifies the Windows Services by names, as they would appear in the Windows Task Manager.

Troubleshooting Steps:

Possible causes for this issue may be that the RAM (Random Access Memory) is being consumed by virus infections, malware or failed hardware.

Verify the PC has adequate RAM and hard drive space. PCs running less than 512 MB of RAM on XP Professional or 1 GB of RAM on Windows 7 are not adequate. Replace the PC or add additional RAM if the hardware is expandable. PC hard drives should be at least 30% free.

If the PC hardware is adequate to run IDS, you should run a repair on the PC operating system (Windows 7) or restage the operating system (Windows XP) and reload IDS. That will resolve any software-related viruses and corruptions. Windows XP users should only be using Service Pack 3.

If restaging the operating system does not resolve the issue, assume the PC hardware has an issue. The PC hardware should be repaired or the PC should be replaced.

Courtesy of Ford Motorcraft

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