Setting up your PC to flash Fords with J2534
So, you’ve just finished up a Ford, and you’re about to try and start it up. However, it needs programmed. 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. You’re going to need a laptop.
First things first, your PC
The PC you choose for reflashing can be as important as the process of reflashing itself. Quality is always important, size, and overall construction can be an issue once you start wrestling around with it in the car. More importantly, it’s got to be compatible with the manufacturer’s requirements.
The first thing to do before purchasing or considering your existing laptop for the purpose of reflashing is to go to the manufacturer’s website and check out what they require for the PC. Here’s two websites that can give you that information, www.oemonestop.com or www.nastf.org. Both of these sites have a complete list of the all the manufacturer’s websites for you to chose from. For this particular article we’ll stick to Fords.
Recommended Minimum PC Requirements - (Taken directly from www.motorcraftservice.com.)
Processor – 500 MHz
Memory – 128 MB of RAM
Available Hard Disk Space – 200MB
Graphics Card – 800x600 16-bit color
Internet Connection – High-speed Internet connection, such as DSL or Cable Modem
Operating System – Windows 2000, XP or Vista
Web Browser – Internet Explorer Version 7.0 or later
Adobe Acrobat Reader – Version 5 or later
This is the information you’ll need in hand when you run down to the local computer store and purchase a laptop for the purpose of reflashing. You’ll notice a software requirement “Adobe Acrobat Reader – Version 5 or later” This is one of the software programs that probably is not on your laptop when you buy it. This is a requirement, and you will have to download it to your PC. The latest edition I found is ‘5.0.5”.
Each and every one of the minimum requirements must be met in order to properly have your PC compatible with Motorcraftservice.com information.
Preliminary Check and Browser settings
There’s a lot that has to be done on your end in order to get the PC to work on the manufacturer’s website. Also, you will need to load the software for your J2534 into your PC as well. Generally I found that all this information is on the websites, however, it wasn’t an easy thing to find. In my opinion this information should have been on the top of the list of “things to know” before starting a reflash. I found a lot of this through the school of “Hard Knocks”, it’s a rough way of finding things out that’s for sure. Needless to say, paying attention to details is important when setting up your laptop.
Things that you’ll need to do
This is a list of things that you’ll have to have done before starting any download/flash from the site.
Firewalls need to be turned off, Screen savers should be off, Cookies settings should match the requirements from the manufacturer, Screen resolution needs 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 the correct settings in your PC I would create a new account user on your PC. The way I have my laptop set up I have a user profile named: “Ford Reprogramming” and that is the only thing I use that profile for. It’s easy to do, just go to your control panel then to “user accounts” and create a new account. All the settings that you have made will now be stored under that heading. You then can adjust the settings back to what you want them to be on your regular profile (user name).
For me, after spending the better part of a day setting up my first 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. But I have to admit when the flash program blue bar gets to 100% and it comes up with that final message on the screen: “Download complete”, and the car starts… You’ll take a big sigh of relief too.
More points of interest that you should know
Always disconnect the mongoose cable/Pass-thru device before entering the Ford program. The FMP program runs its checks first before the J2534 tool is attached.
The download program from Ford (FMP–Ford Module Programming) changes constantly, generally each month, you must completely remove the old program from your PC before attempting to download the newest version. This is extremely important. It’s time consuming too. I had a problem in finding the files after I downloaded it the first time. So I thought I would just download a second copy and on the second download I would put the files where I knew I could retrieve them easier. FMP won’t allow you to have two copies on the same PC. After the first copy is completely removed you can then download it a second time. But, put it where you can find it, the desktop is a good place.
The 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 again and read all the precautions and procedures again. There it was in the procedures, I didn’t think it was a big deal to “apply the emergency brake” I thought it was only a safety issue not an absolute must. Nope, it’s part of the process.
All or 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.
Believe me, after I did the first one I was so frustrated with the whole process that I turned down several reflashes for quite some time, until I felt confident to try it again. But I’ll still say it’s not for everyone. It’s a real stressful thing to stand next to the car waiting on a program to finish knowing that it’s out of your hands as to whether or not the car will start. It’s up to the download and not your physical repairs anymore.
I haven’t tried all the different J2534 tools out there, some maybe easier, and some could be more difficult. But I do know this 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 their end if you don’t have all your information correct at your end.
Read, follow, and comprehend what information is on the screen, and don’t forget to save your settings for the next time.