In Front of the Flywheel - July - 2020

Programming: Part V – Vehicles from Asia

In this final installment of this module programming series we will address Toyota, Honda and touch on a few other Asian engineered vehicles. The processes covered in the previous four articles is basically the same for most Asian vehicles as well. Do the research, always connect a battery maintainer, etc. Let’s get to it!

Toyota / Lexus / Scion

Toyota has been very nice to the aftermarket. Not only is their service information excellent quality and very affordable, since 1996 the Toyota Techstream LITE has been available for a very reasonable subscription fee. The Techstream LITE application includes the factory OE scan tool software and module programming functions. In addition, if you have Vehicle Security Professional (VSP) credentials you can perform security functions. The only hardware required is a PC and a compatible J2534 interface. Drew Technologies even offers a Toyota Mongoose cable (approximately $500) to get the job done. The interface is so affordable that many dealership technicians are buying their own interface rather than waiting in line for an open interface from the tool room.

Toyota offers a variety of subscription options and prices. The “Standard” subscription is for access to service information only. The “Professional Diagnostic” subscription includes service information, Techstream LITE scan tool and module programming. The “Security Professional” subscription is the same as the “Professional Diagnostic” but also includes security functions for qualified individuals. There are short term and long-term options for all of these subscriptions and the pricing can be seen in Fig. 1.

Once an account has been established, a subscription has been purchased and Techstream LITE has been downloaded and installed, scan tool functions and programming can begin. When the vehicle has been identified and communication is successful, there are two ways to access module programming functions. The first is to click on the “ECU Reprogramming” tab in the left column. The second is the method I usually prefer which is choosing the “Health Check” tab near the top left of the screen. Both of these options can be seen in Fig. 2. I prefer the “Health Check” tab because it provides additional information that may be useful during diagnosis.

In the following example, a Health Check has been performed on a 2004 Tundra. You can see (Fig. 3) that all of the modules have been polled, DTC stored (if any) are displayed and, for our conversation today, calibration numbers have been automatically checked. In the upper right of the screen we can see that one of the current Engine and ECT calibrations (30C14000) has an update available. Clicking on the “Yes” will move you forward with the programming process. Regardless of which route you choose, the tool will then launch the Calibration Update Wizard (CUW) and the programming process (Fig. 4) can begin.

From this point forward the process is not that different from other manufacturers. Follow the prompts on the application, cycle the key when requested and do not skip any steps. When the process is complete the final screen will display “Reprogramming successful” along with the calibration numbers before and after the flash.

Honda / Acura

Honda is very similar to Toyota. They also allow full scan tool functionality (i-HDS) and module programming when you purchase the subscription. A factory Honda interface can be used, or a compatible J2534 device. Also, like Toyota, some Honda dealer technicians are also using a Drew Technologies Mongoose interface. It is not the same Toyota interface but is available for about the same pricing from a variety of vendors. Honda offers both short-term and long-term subscriptions for Service Information System, i-HDS and Vehicle Security Professional. The pricing for these options can be seen in Fig. 5. Once the subscription is purchased and i-HDS has been downloaded and installed, scan tool operations and programming can begin. Launching the i- HDS brings up the main screen (Fig. 6.) This screen has many options. Today we will touch on two of them. First is the “Connect to the Vehicle” button which launches the i-HDS scan tool. From here all of the usual scan tool functions can be performed as well as the “Replace PCM” function that may be necessary when replacing certain modules. The second button is “J2534 Rewrite.” This option launches the Honda ECU Programming application.

Once the application (Fig. 7) has been launched it is a matter of following the screen prompts in the usual manner. Once the vehicle has been identified, the application will provide a list of programmable modules on the vehicle. In the case of a 2005 Accord, the vehicle used for these screens, the only programmable module is the PGM-FI. If it were to have more programmable modules on board they would show up in the list as well. For example, if we were connected to a Civic hybrid of the same vintage, we would see: PGM-FI, AT (CVT), IMA Motor and IMA Battery. If the application allows you to select the module this indicates there is an update available. If the module appears on the list, and is grayed out, this indicates that the module’s calibration is up-to-date.

As always, follow the prompts on the screen, do not skip any steps and when the process is complete a final screen reviewing what was accomplished, including the before and after Program ID’s, will be displayed.


From this point on I will mention a few points about some other manufacturers. Since, as I believe we have already illustrated, there is a lot of similar button pushing between makes. Some basic information is included below. For more detailed information check or the specific OE’s service website.

Mazda J2534 programming is almost identical to Ford. The software is made by the same company, the screens are the same as well as the process. If you read Part II of this series you will do fine with Mazda. Note: do not use this application on the same PC that has Ford software installed. There will most likely be software conflicts. A separate PC should be used.

Subaru offers J2534 programming a little bit differently. For years ECM’s and TCM’s were the only programmable modules. In later years, more modules are starting to be offered like cameras DCM, BIU and VDC just to name a few. The main difference is the calibration files are sold on a CD-ROM that you have to order and wait for it to be shipped to you. The cost of the disc is $75 and it includes all of the current updates. What this means is that there is no subscription fee. The contents of the CD are installed on your hard drive and away you go.

Hyundai/Kia are very similar and operate almost the same. I would recommend not attempting both of these makes using the same PC. This is one of the cases where it may be wise to perform Hyundai with one PC and Kia with another. Something to be careful with on both of these makes is: some of the earlier models had some unique Data Link Connector pin-outs. The respective OE service information sites show diagrams of the pin-outs so jumper wires can be used to make the additional connections to your interface.

Nissan/Infinity, in my experience, has historically had some J2534 programming issues. You will need to buy the NERS software ($350), then purchase the individual flash file that you choose from a list, copy the file into the appropriate folder on your PC and then attempt to flash the module with your fingers crossed. Hopefully you chose the correct file, which can sometimes be a craps shoot, and hope nothing else causes a flashing failure. That does not even take into account some of the older ECM’s that took 7 hours to program! In my opinion, to be highly successful with Nissan, OE tooling and subscriptions should be used.

Mitsubishi offers J2534 ECM programming that has a slightly different process. When the software is preparing for the flash an application file is generated and sent to Mitsubishi. An installation file is then generated and downloaded. From that point it is a matter of following instructions and pushing buttons like other manufacturers.

Isuzu does not offer separate J2534 programming. However, the Isuzu IDS scan tool software DVD can be purchased for $400 and provides scan tool functions as well as the calibration files included on the DVD. Check to make sure your J2534 interface is validated with Isuzu before ordering the disc.

Summary 1: Vehicles from Asia

To summarize this article, there are a lot of similarities between Asian manufactures as well as some distinct differences. The pricing for these vehicles is pretty reasonable most of the time. If you already have a J2534 device, short-term subscriptions can often be attractive to complete a vehicle that is in your shop. If you are relatively new to programming, and wanted to expand into the Asian market, I would suggest trying these vehicles in the following order: Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai/Kia and then the others. Those are ordered using the following criteria: ease, cost and frequency of updates. You can decide which will provide the best return on investment for your shop.

Summary 2: Programming Parts I – V

Now that we have completed a five-part series on the same subject I would like to refer back to Part I. No matter which manufacturer you are attempting to program always do the reading first to make sure you know the procedure. Check to make sure you have the correct tooling to accomplish the job. Always connect a battery maintainer before programming. I do not want to beat a dead horse, but stick to the proven system/ process to ensure programming success. The horror stories you may have heard about programming failures were most likely caused by skipping a step or not following service information correctly. Good luck programming!