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  #1  
Old 08-01-2020, 09:55 AM
imwjl imwjl is offline
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Default Car hacks?

Anyone here into the electronics hacks and many bolt on changes available to some modern vehicle platforms?

I'm aware this can be a very deep rabbit hole but I'm tempted to step in. The VW we got in May already has some of VAG's best parts. A few simple tweaks would be nice or fun. I know a tank of 93 octane and blowing on the fire some more is a slight difference but a "tune" and few mechanical items can be a huge difference.

This also interests me because I recall the time I needed more than internet searches to really know what a fault code meant when my last car got fairly old. Thing is, Carly adapter that is for lots of cars doesn't seem to do as much or much at all as getting ones that specialize by brand.

There's more interest because for example, my wife paid the dealer $100 to in essence learn the kids didn't tighten the gas cap.

Warranty is another concern. The new car has a 6/72 warranty. I would not have have an expensive claim denied.

Yet another rabbit hole is the Mini Cooper S convertible in our garage. It's my mother's car she's shared but she'll be 90 years old and is thinking of selling it. Most of the time I don't like the Minis but my recently getting a 6 speed turbocharged VW might mean I've plunged into the same realm. The Mini convertible is fun at times.

Yes, totally first world problems. We've sold the Camry still leaving 4 vehicles here, there's nothing practical about the Mini Cooper S convertible, and it would not have the safety as a mod platform like the VW.

The retro grouches here can't be too mad at me. I have teens who know how to shift gears, do some auto mechanic stuff, use a multimeter, and one just did a nice job of fiberglass and trailer repair for the sailboat.

My biggest fear of all is my love of working at stuff is quick to take away time I use for physical fitness. More into cars usually means one more notch in the belt, less guitar time.
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Old 08-01-2020, 08:45 PM
unimogbert unimogbert is offline
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You can buy a trouble code reader with significant capability for less than $100. Would have paid for itself by telling you that your wife's gas cap was the probable leak. Knowing whether a code is serious or not is comforting. Many of the codes are US-regulatory reqired to be standard.

I consider carrying such a code reader to be second only to having a fully aired spare, lug wrench and jack aboard. Service manual for the vehicle is 3rd if it can be obtained. (Some brands won't sell the info)

I don't mess with performance mods as my vehicles have adequate performance for my wishes and I greatly prefer being able to go to the parts counter and buy the OEM-specified part based on the Make/Year/Model.

If I want to feel like I'm high performance I ride my motorcycle quickly on the local mountain roads. (10 to 15 mph over the limit is about my max level of excitement)
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  #3  
Old 08-02-2020, 05:53 AM
imwjl imwjl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unimogbert View Post
You can buy a trouble code reader with significant capability for less than $100. Would have paid for itself by telling you that your wife's gas cap was the probable leak. Knowing whether a code is serious or not is comforting. Many of the codes are US-regulatory reqired to be standard.

I consider carrying such a code reader to be second only to having a fully aired spare, lug wrench and jack aboard. Service manual for the vehicle is 3rd if it can be obtained. (Some brands won't sell the info)

I don't mess with performance mods as my vehicles have adequate performance for my wishes and I greatly prefer being able to go to the parts counter and buy the OEM-specified part based on the Make/Year/Model.

If I want to feel like I'm high performance I ride my motorcycle quickly on the local mountain roads. (10 to 15 mph over the limit is about my max level of excitement)
I'm finding some that read codes across makes are not so strong for all the options one of our car has.

Good point on the jack. We were aware of more and more cars not having a spare and it weighed on our recent purchase. The pic here occurred with our 1 week old car. Debris from a bad accident on the freeway. Getting home slowly with the temp spare was better than some stories I got from associates who had to be towed home or were stranded longer.

Your other point hits home too. After a great MTB ride yesterday I was reminded of the overall safer, cheaper and legal l thrills available that way.

The vehicle specific mods that interest me the most are not so much about tweaking the engine. Disable when to shift indicator, tweak the lighting, add 4 or 5 instead of 3 blinks if you tap the turn indicator.

Also in play (budget) is I'm also quite sure now that I want a second set of wheels for winter - something I've done before and appreciated. Have snow rated tires, same overall diameter but more sidewall.

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Old 08-02-2020, 10:22 AM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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imwjl,

Wow. Were you able to patch it?

That's a heckuva picture. That could mess up your trip.
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:57 AM
CoffeeFan CoffeeFan is offline
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I used to be able to crawl into the engine compartment of my 1965 Plymouth Belvedere to work on the engine.

I miss the old days...
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Old 08-02-2020, 04:49 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is online now
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Aww c’mon.... that tire will buff out, for sure.

I don’t wrench on cars anymore, but did everything that was legal on my airplane. The last motorcycle sold two weeks ago.
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  #7  
Old 08-02-2020, 05:19 PM
imwjl imwjl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerbie View Post
imwjl,

Wow. Were you able to patch it?

That's a heckuva picture. That could mess up your trip.
There was was really no option except get an identical OEM replacement ASAP because only 350 mi on odometer.
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Old 08-02-2020, 07:11 PM
tinnitus tinnitus is offline
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Not an actual "hack" per se, but this has worked out well for me a couple times now and saved me more than a few hundred bucks.

Depending on how many miles you have on your current tires, many newer AWD cars (Subarus in particular) require that you replace all 4 tires in the event of a single catastrophic sidewall failure like imwjl's blowout shown above (no repairing that). The logic: If all 4 tires are somewhat worn, a single new tire will be a larger diameter and can damage the differential. I won't try to explain it, but there's plenty to be found on google.

Anyhow, I use a very common (upper-end) model of Toyo tire all year round, which works great even in the occasional snow and ice we get around here. Twice now (over a 15-20 year span), I got sidewall gouges that could not be repaired (unlike a simple nail hole in the tread). With 50% wear on all four tires, I would've had to replace all 4 so the new one wouldn't be a larger diameter and hurt the diff. But Les Schwab Tire Center (prominent in most western states) called around and found me a used replacement (same brand/model) with 50% wear at one of their other shops. They ran to fetch it, did an inspection, spin balanced and had me on my way in a couple hours. Still honoring the warranty certificate on the tire they replaced. All no charge. Twice.

Tried that with them a third time but it involved low-end Bridgestones that came with another Outback when I bought it new, and they didn't carry that model. Had to bite the bullet and buy all 4. Made sure they switched me back to my trusty Toyos.

Will your go-to tire shop do all of this for you? Maybe, maybe not. But I did learn that if you buy the same brand/model as your destroyed tire, a lot of shops can actually SHAVE it for $25-30 to match the diameter of your 3 remaining good tires. Worth asking about if you find yourself in a similar situation with a vehicle that requires it.

Last edited by tinnitus; 08-03-2020 at 09:23 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-02-2020, 07:56 PM
unimogbert unimogbert is offline
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Modify the number of blinks for the turn signal???????

That is simply too much complexity (and added cost) for its own sake. I'm not a fan of complexity because when it fails sometimes not even the dealer personnel can fix it. Or it'll cost you $700 to change the perpetrator/module.

My cars are 19 years old. My motorcycle is 32 years old.

And I'm not going to Windows 10 without a fight.


Now get off my lawn!
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  #10  
Old 08-02-2020, 09:51 PM
HodgdonExtreme HodgdonExtreme is online now
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Everything electronic on todays cars is part of the CANBUS - the controller area network daiseychain of components, whose activity is digitally controlled via an electronic control module.

Thus, any functionality you want to alter will involve re-flashing an ecu with altered code.

There are forums dedicated to such things, and some very passionate folks that just love to delve into the nitty gritty details of how all that works.

I suggest you search out some of those forums, and prepare yourself for a very, very steep learning curve.
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  #11  
Old 08-03-2020, 05:33 AM
imwjl imwjl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HodgdonExtreme View Post
Everything electronic on todays cars is part of the CANBUS - the controller area network daiseychain of components, whose activity is digitally controlled via an electronic control module.

Thus, any functionality you want to alter will involve re-flashing an ecu with altered code.

There are forums dedicated to such things, and some very passionate folks that just love to delve into the nitty gritty details of how all that works.

I suggest you search out some of those forums, and prepare yourself for a very, very steep learning curve.
Yes, I'm aware and have been doing research. There is a class of products that make it simpler such as done with phone app, but also choices clearly best for some makes and models.

The homework has been very entertaining. What a maker's vehicles have in common, and for VAG (VW, Audi) what differences are just software. There's an entertaining part where reading German stumps some and my wife being a near native speaker and loving the car. Another funny aspect of her German mom turned Subaru fan.

A spreadsheet I keep for budgeting is helping me keep my sanity here, and my always trying to now take a plunge too fast. I'm mostly doing sensible things good for our lifestyle and sports we do.
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Old 08-03-2020, 09:28 PM
tinnitus tinnitus is offline
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I'd be ecstatic to find a hack that allows me to simply turn off the stereo in a 2015 Outback while the transmission is in reverse. As it is, that is impossible. Volume works so I can turn it down. But if it's on, it stays on until I shift out of reverse. Ridiculous.
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  #13  
Old 08-04-2020, 05:35 AM
imwjl imwjl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinnitus View Post
I'd be ecstatic to find a hack that allows me to simply turn off the stereo in a 2015 Outback while the transmission is in reverse. As it is, that is impossible. Volume works so I can turn it down. But if it's on, it stays on until I shift out of reverse. Ridiculous.
A friend with that vintage and I realized there are OBDII port products for it but not with all the mod options some cars have. WRX have more options. He is looking at options to replace the whole stereo so he can have an Android Auto option.

There's a very active Outback forum worth looking at to know options that you might have. I know a 2013-14 with EyeSight required premium stereo but think the backup display is all they have in common.

Some I know have been very pleased with upgrades to get Car Play, and I can say for sure that we appreciate that more than we expected to but our Outback has stock sound system.

My priorities are still functional or low cost fun over significant software and physical modifications to the drive train.

More and more I wonder if modifying your sound system will be a thing of the past or lesser. Cars not having the standard space for an after market unit, highly engineered interiors with little space for speaker mods. There is the schema VW has where the spare tire well holds the subwoofer and they sell an accessories part option with different branding, and a software flash adjusts your head unit for it. I don't know if others do the same.
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