Archive for January, 2012
In today’s world, computers run everything; including your Volvo.
Benefits of performing the software updates
Volvo offers complimentary – FREE software updates/upgrades with service, model year 2000+. This a proactive way to neutralize bugs before you are even aware they exist. And just like your computer, you need the latest and the greatest software calibration to fine tune your engines performance.
There is a chance the new calibration will change noticeable characteristics in the way the car drives. The update may raise or lower the idle, change the shifts or idle speed control, or other settings meant to solve a warranty issue, economy issue, or emissions.
Pay to Play: T6 Polestar Performance Software Package carries an MSRP of $1,495 installed
What updated Software calibration entails
Software calibration entails optimizing the engine management system for increased efficiency, optimizing the climate control for airflow and temperature management or improving automatic transmission gear shifting quality. Volvo is continually developing new software and by providing updates to ensure that your car is operating at it’s optimum best — peak performance.
Customized settings that will be affected after the Software Upgrade
- Remember that after a software update all your settings will be erased from memory.The clock and radio presets, mirror and power seat memory (in vehicles so equipped), and any setting in the infotainment system menu that has been altered by the customer from the factory default value. Information on the settings can be found in your Owner’s Manual. Alternatively, your Volvo Service Advisor can walk you through on how to re-install your presets.
How Volvo Software Upgrades Work
Your Volvo consists of many small computers, commonly known as modules. Each one of theses on-board computers — modules — is programmed at the factory with software enabling it to perform specific tasks.
Software upgrades — flash reprogramming — must be done with a Volvo specialty shop using Volvo’s VIDA application which connects Volvo Technicians directly to Volvo.
Volvo’s uses VIDA (Vehicle Information & Diagnostics for After Sales)computer system for software (firmware) downloads, fault tracing and on-board diagnostics. This is a sophisticated and expensive computer system only available to Volvo dealerships.
A Volvo technician will simply enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into VIDA, and scroll down to a specific system or component, such as the ABS module and pull up all the relevant information specific to the VIN# — your Volvo — and that component for parts catalogs, fault tracing, diagnostics and software (firmware) downloads.
Thus, the purpose of VIDA is to order and download Volvo software; in addition, to repairing faults and updating Volvo on-board electronic control units (ECU).
Common on-board computers include:
Engine Control Module (ECM)
- Transmission Control Module (TCM)
- Fuel Injection Control Module (FICM)
- Climate Control Module (CCM)
- Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
- Delay in shifting
- Harsh shifting
- Lurching The software for these electronically controlled transmission has gone though many version changes over the years and has become much more refined. A software upgrade can therefore significantly reduce neutral to drive delays and shift flare.
Other control modules are used to manage every electronic system in your car;power windows, door locks, navigation and crash data.
Engine Control Module (ECM)
The Electronic control Module (ECM) software’s function is to control spark timing, fuel delivery, fuel economy, engine idle speed, performance, cruising, driveability and emissions controls.
Transmission Control Module (TCM)
Transmission Control Module (TCM) software, controls how the transmission and torque converter work.Volvo will first recommend for a software update on the TCM to address these concerns. The delay in shifting also known as transmission flare up is a result of a lag, this is when the transmission goes into neutral in between shifting from one gear to another. Flare up Software upgrade will fix this problem, enabling smoother shifting.
For example, every once in a while we get calls from customers with transmission problems. Transmission service required indicator light will usually be illuminated. Transmission service urgent light — means that you better sit down before you hear the bad news.
Transmission symptoms include:
If your car rolls backwards when in drive while at stop on a slight slope, you will need a software upgrade. The neutral-at- a-stop while in Drive “feature” was removed with later software versions because it can cause damage when the transmission engages harshly.
Climate Control Module (CCM)
During the summer, it’s not uncommon to hear of bugs – malfunctions – in the Climate Control Module (CCM). The air vents blow out hot air and then cycles to cold air or one side may blow hot and the other side blows cold air.
Volvo has made a Software upgrade for the AC control module available to correct climate control system faults or bugs. Most likely the module has lost the factory default setting and just needs to be re-calibrated.
Tip - Please note, if you go ahead with the software upgrade/update, there is no going back—reprogamming cannot be reversed. The die is cast, and there is no going back.
“My key is stuck, the ignition key will not go past position 1, turns on the lights and radio, and that’s it”, she said. This is an example of a very common complaint.
This morning, one angry lady called in and wanted to pre-order an Ignition lock cylinder. Apparently she had already done a self diagnosis and determined that the Ignition lock cylinder for her 2006 XC70 had failed because the key would not turn past the first position. She is now having the car towed in by AAA.
Unfortunately, she is out of warranty, the cost of this repair is at least $750 and takes three to five business just to get the part in. This is because the ignition lock cylinder is precoded to match your programmed Ignition key. She was angry, mainly because it takes about five days to fix the problem and that’s why she wanted to pre-order the Ignition lock cylinder.
It happens at the most inopportune times, you might be leaving for work early in the morning or in a grocery store parking lot. It’s bound to leave you stuck and stranded, you wiggle the ignition key, praying that the key will turn. Lord please, just this one time. Sometimes it works. But it’s getting progressively worse. Soon it won’t work at all. Cars usually give you a warning, if it’s an intermittent problem, it’s sure to progressively get worse.
The Volvo Ignition cylinder lock is jammed internally and needs replacement.
From talking to the guys (Technicians), I have drawn a conclusion that the reasons why the Ignition lock cylinder fails could be two fold:
- The key chain is heavily laden with a bunch of house keys. This excess weight, weighs down on the key, which in turn pushes down on the tumblers in the lock mechanism.
- The tumblers are made of a soft metal, maybe aluminum. This design feature combined with a heavily laden key chain results in failure of the ignition lock cylinder.
TIP – Don’t attach heavy objects to your ignition key or you may end up paying hundred of dollars to replace the Ignition lock cylinder
Good News:Technology comes to the rescue
The good news is that, with the new model Volvo’s, the new style keys (smart keys) slide into the dash and all you have to do is press down on the start/stop button to start up the car. The Volvo Smart key — looks like a key fob on steroids — rectangel shaped about half an inch thick and three inches long.
With the Volvo proximity smart key system, the driver needs only to walk up to the car and the doors unlocks automatically — as long as the key is in your possession, pocket or purse – when you pull the handle open. Upon sitting inside the car, you press the “start engine ” button – no more physically turning a key in the lock. As long as you have the smart key somewhere in the car — pocket, purse, hat or shoe — the engine will start. The computer – ignition module – inside the vehicle recognizes the rolling code projected by the smart key, and then verifies with the codes stored in the computer before starting the engine. Thus, your key matches your car.
Volvo Winter Driving Technologies: Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Corner Traction Control And Electronic Stability Control
I am no expert in driving, especially when it comes to winter driving because like all other folks in the Washington DC Area when I see two inches of snow, I panic.
When I see the white stuff only one thing comes to mind — rush to the grocery store for some Milk, Bread and Beer – before the stores get cleaned out. Now, you don’t want to buy lots of groceries because the power may go out, and we also know that it may be several days before Pepco (Power Company) restores electricity to your neighborhood. Anything in the refrigerator will go bad before you know it. But beer can be buried in the snow outside and it will keep you from starving while you shovel a path to the nearest main road.
Eventually, when you make it out to the highways, you will be amazed to see 4WD vehicles zipping past you like a Nascar Speedway. The same 4WD vehicles further down the highway, will litter the ditches, stuck fast in the snow because the drivers forgot some very important facts.
4WD and AWD — helps you accelerate, but not in cornering and certainly not to stop.
When driving on the highway, make sure to maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles — overconfident 4WD’s – to allow a safe stopping distance. In an emergency, when you step hard onto the brake pedal, you will feel a pulsing on your foot — Anti-Lock Braking kicking in — this prevents the wheels from locking up, thus giving you back steering control.
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) : This is a safety feature that enables a vehicle to steer while braking heavily on a wet slippery surface.
When you start up your car, you will often see the warning lights flash dance in sequence – this is just the on board computer checking that all systems are go. The (ABS) light will also light up momentarily. But if it stays on while you are driving then it’s telling you that there may be a fault in the ABS module. Please head over to the dealership and have it looked at.
Corner Traction Control:This technology is incorporated in Volvo and it’s purpose is to reduce the tendency of under-steer.
What Engineers term as Under-steer is when the front tires go into a skid. When this happens you loose control of steering in the direction you want to proceed.
Traction control: Helps prevent spinning of the tires during rapid acceleration that’s too aggressive for the road or weather conditions. When Traction Control engages, it reduces the engine’s RPM or power while applying the brakes. So, while traction control helps maintain directional stability, it also slows down the vehicle.
Electronic Stability Control: ESC systems have sensors monitoring the speed of each tire, the steering wheel position (angle), centrifugal force, and the overall yaw rate and lateral acceleration of the vehicle. Information from the module and sensors is used to detect when a driver is about to lose control of a vehicle.
Okay folks, what all this jargon implies is that when your car starts to slide sideways — for example, you were headed south but now the nose of the car is pointed southwest in a ditch — you know something is wrong.
The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system detects when the rear wheels start to slide to the right (vehicle yaw) counter-clockwise, ESC briefly applies the brake to the right front tire. Thereby, inducing a clockwise spin to counteract the slide (yaw) and stabilize the vehicle. The ESC also slows down the vehicle’s by reducing the engine power and applying brakes at the same time to match the road conditions.
When I was 17 I wrecked my best friend’s vehicle. After cutting class and sneaking out of high school, Ben let me take a spin in his pick-up truck on a desolate gravel road. I got to a straight patch of roadway and I put the pedal to the metal — accelerated—little did I know that the tires were bald.
The front wheels lost traction on acceleration (under-steer), I jammed my foot on the brake pedal and the brakes locked-up on me, the car was out of control – back in the day, neither ABS nor traction control existed — desperately, I tried to wrestle the wheel for control. It felt like everything was happening in slow motion. Finally, I got traction. But I had the wheel twisted to the right, the car flew up and into an embankment and tore up the right front end. I was shaken but uninjured, my friend Ben was okay too. Foolishly, none of us had our seat belts on. I opened the driver side door and got out to survey the damage and all I could think in my mind was S%&*# – my dad is going to kill me.
Tip - The moral of this story is that whether your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, traction control, a vehicle stability system or all-wheel drive, it is your tires that provide the real traction. The more tire traction these systems have to work with the safer your life will be. Don’t drive on bald tires like I did, use either Winter Tires or at least All Season Tires with good tread for traction.
Yes, just like humans, windows can suffer a case of Alzheimer’s disease.
This is what happens, you hit the window Up-button to raise the driver side window. The window goes up and immediately comes crashing down. What the heck! your right, the window just lost it’s mind. Simply, the window regulator has to be re-initialized because it has lost it’s memory.
Now, this may be a quick fix that you could do yourself. If it does not work, take your car to the dealership and get the window regulator initialized. The Volvo Dealership will have the window initialized using the Volvo diagnostic computer, VIDA.
The quick fix works for most newer model Volvo’s 2009 and up, except for the Volvo XC90.
POWER WINDOW RE-INITIALIZATION PROCEDURE
The reason why the power windows require re-initialization is because a door module has been disconnected, replaced, or the vehicles battery has been disconnected or discharged. Like a rehab patient learning to talk or walk again, the computer or module has to re-learn the window functions.
The power window will be re-initialized when the door module learns or puts into memory, the full up and full down positions.
To re-initialize a power window:
1. Close the door for the window being reinitialized.
2. Turn ON the ignition, to position 2.
3. Run the window to the full up position and hold the switch continuously for a minimum of 10 seconds.
4. Run the window to the full down position and hold the switch continuously for a minimum of 10 seconds.
This will initialize the window regulator. If not, you need to take your Volvo to the nearest Volvo Dealership.