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Discussion Starter #1
After searching through an endless amount of forum discussions dated over the past decade surrounding ECU flashes and warranty, I've noticed a few statements that Subaru can identify historical changes to the ECU.

I called Cobb the other day and their rep confirmed with me that an unmarried Access Port will only be seen as a resetted ECU by Subaru, which is the equivalent to unplugging a battery.

1. What's the consensus here? Can Subaru identify historical flashes or can they only see a resetted ECU?

2. Has there been any confirmed instances where warranty was denied to a "properly" unmarried tune with no trace of visual mods?

3. If there are instances with denied warranty, assuming Subaru can identify historical flashes, are these only limited to a specific year make/model.

Apologies if somebody has already confirmed and gotten to the bottom of this but based on my research I still feel like I don't know the answer.
 

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there's so much anecdotal crap out there of yes and no and maybe so that in the end, its just easier to assume if you WANT an intact warranty, dont mod or install a cobb. If you are OK with the possibility of losing warranty, aka "pay to play," then go for it.

i think several years ago, someone asked the same exact question with vague to anecdotal answers... and then several years prior to that, same thing.

I would love for someone to change my cynical view; i welcome those to try :D
 

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there's so much anecdotal crap out there of yes and no and maybe so that in the end, its just easier to assume if you WANT an intact warranty, dont mod or install a cobb. If you are OK with the possibility of losing warranty, aka "pay to play," then go for it.

i think several years ago, someone asked the same exact question with vague to anecdotal answers... and then several years prior to that, same thing.

I would love for someone to change my cynical view; i welcome those to try :D
Based off of the limited information I could find, I agree with you on the conservative response on approaching this. However, it just puzzles me with such a large community and we still can't get to the bottom of this.

I've spoken with Cobb and I know where they stand per my original post. However nobody can confirm where Subaru stands.

I'm surprised that none of the Subaru reps, that is also part of our forum community, have chimed in. Nobody has buddies that work for Subaru that are active in the forums?

Or better yet, anybody that bought a pre owned WRX and did a Pre Purchase Inspection through Subaru might be able to confirm what Subaru can verify.

Also, I would be curious to know if any of our fellow members have actually been denied warranty with a clean stock unmarried tune.


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I would be curious to know if any of our fellow members have actually been denied warranty with a clean stock unmarried tune.
Not sure what you meant. It's certainly been claimed here and else where that people have had claims denied when they were actually stock, and people who were significantly modded even at the dealer and had whole engines covered - enough times to assume at least a small percentage of each were real. It actually is hit or miss depending on the dealer, their service personnel, the owner, the car, and Subaru factory techs. There is no bullet proof answer. You mod, you take your chances. It certainly helps if your dealer is supportive, whether they are your friend, they hate SOA that day and want to stick it to em, OR how or many other cars have they tried to have covered before SOA starts checking into them. . . .


ADDED: I did not really answer the question of can they tell. I'm saying at this point it doesn't really matter - and oh for that question , the answer is the same!!! We've heard instances of both yes they can tell, and no they can not. Personally I don't think that not so long ago they could not. I also believe that that dealers have told owners they could to get them to admit modding or abuse, and that it has worked. But It's just a matter of time. Even if they couldn't on a 2019 perhaps they will be able to in 2020 . . . As an engineer, I cant imagine that they next platform wont be able too.
 

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Not sure what you meant. It's certainly been claimed here and else where that people have had claims denied when they were actually stock, and people who were significantly modded even at the dealer and had whole engines covered - enough times to assume at least a small percentage of each were real. It actually is hit or miss depending on the dealer, their service personnel, the owner, the car, and Subaru factory techs. There is no bullet proof answer. You mod, you take your chances. It certainly helps if your dealer is supportive, whether they are your friend, they hate SOA that day and want to stick it to em, how or many other cars have they tried to have covered . . .
Thanks for chiming in.

If it's been confirmed that claims have been denied when actually stock with no signs of mods, then that would validate Cobb's understanding of what Subaru can identify after unmarrying is incorrect. That's the information I've been trying to dig for. Maybe I just need to do more digging as I couldn't find those instances.

I would be curious to know if those are isolated to a certain year model with a newer ecu. Also if these denied stock claims were fully unmarried back to stock or maybe there was just a user error e.g. the initial backup of the cars tune during the marrying process was not stock to begin with or the user was using Cobb's version of the stock tune instead of fully unmarrying?

I understand it's at the discretion of the dealership if there is any modding identified, so significantly modded cars have no gray areas and doesn't need to be discussed as we already know what to expect. However, it is not at their discretion if they can't identify any changes.



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Not sure what you meant. It's certainly been claimed here and else where that people have had claims denied when they were actually stock, and people who were significantly modded even at the dealer and had whole engines covered - enough times to assume at least a small percentage of each were real. It actually is hit or miss depending on the dealer, their service personnel, the owner, the car, and Subaru factory techs. There is no bullet proof answer. You mod, you take your chances. It certainly helps if your dealer is supportive, whether they are your friend, they hate SOA that day and want to stick it to em, OR how or many other cars have they tried to have covered before SOA starts checking into them. . . .





ADDED: I did not really answer the question of can they tell. I'm saying at this point it doesn't really matter - and oh for that question , the answer is the same!!! We've heard instances of both yes they can tell, and no they can not. Personally I don't think that not so long ago they could not. I also believe that that dealers have told owners they could to get them to admit modding or abuse, and that it has worked. But It's just a matter of time. Even if they couldn't on a 2019 perhaps they will be able to in 2020 . . . As an engineer, I cant imagine that they next platform wont be able too.
After the rod and engine bearing settlement that took place recently for the ej's, I completely agree, there is no way Subaru would release a new platform without being able to detect unmarried ECU flashes. That's not assuming they already can.

I went to my local dealership to see if I can get an answer straight from the horses mouth. The guy that was helping me said they wouldn't be able to detect an unmarried ECU but will be able to detect freshly stripped bolts and that only stage 1 is a safe bet. When I brought up CID's he seemed a bit hesitant and not 100% confident after. When I have time I'm going to try and get confirmation from another rep or maybe call a few other dealers.

Basically I'm telling them I'm in the market for a used Subaru but don't want to buy a molested engine and asking them if their pre purchase inspections will be able to confirm that I won't be buying one that has been previously flashed. If any one active in the forums can call their local dealerships and report back that would also be greatly appreciated as that would give us a larger sample size.




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The issue is still the same. knowledgeable and untruthful answers is part of what you'll hear - and I certainly would NOT trust a answers now, to hold up latter if you run into an engine failure.


After the rod and engine bearing settlement that took place recently for the ej's, I completely agree,
The suite that was instigated may be considered to be proof that some owners of stock cars were denied.

I'm repeating myself . . . done . . .
 

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Basically I'm telling them I'm in the market for a used Subaru but don't want to buy a molested engine and asking them if their pre purchase inspections will be able to confirm that I won't be buying one that has been previously flashed. If any one active in the forums can call their local dealerships and report back that would also be greatly appreciated as that would give us a larger sample size.

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i think that's kinda above their paygrade and you'll get dishonest answers. your best bet is to probably ask those questions to some of the subaru techs that post videos on youtube. They may be more forthcoming with honest answers.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The issue is still the same. knowledgeable and untruthful answers is part of what you'll hear - and I certainly would trust a answers now, to hold up latter if you run into an engine failure.









The suite that that instigated may be considered to be proof that some owners of stock cars were denied.



I'm repeating myself . . . done . . .
Thanks for your input and perspective on this.

I would say getting responses straight from the dealer as I suggested would provide the most reasonable assurance and will be the approach I'll be taking to get to the bottom of this.

In the end, I can see why this doesn't matter for any GD and some early model GR owners, since those warranties are most likely expired.

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i think that's kinda above their paygrade and you'll get dishonest answers. your best bet is to probably ask those questions to some of the subaru techs that post videos on youtube. They may be more forthcoming with honest answers.
I believe the Pre Purchase Inspections includes a diagnostic scan. However I'm not sure if this would be the same as a scan from any other average joe.

Thanks for another source to look into.



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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Based on my research I am leaning towards the consensus that Subaru can detect if an ECU has been flashed. In the end, it is at the dealership's discretion if they want to help you out but ultimately, if they really wanted to, they can detect historic flashes after unmarrying. This is based off of the GR models. I'm assuming anything newer would be the same.

Source - Spoke to the following at multiple dealerships:

4 of 4 Service Technicians all said they can see key counts after the last flash (same as ECU reset). They can also see that each historic flash will update an identifier and add a number to it after unmarrying.

1 of 3 Service Advisors said the same thing as the Service Technicians above.

1 of 3 Service Advisors said they can check key counts after the last flash but will require SOA to come down to actually check the ECU to confirm each historic flash. It can be done but it just requires more involvement.

1 of 3 Service Advisors said they can only check key counts after the last flash.

1 of 1 Parts Dept said they can't check if reverted back to stock tune.

1 of 1 Front Desk said they can't check if reverted back to stock tune.

There is consistency with the service technicians which are likely the most knowledgeable. I've also spoken with SOA and they have confirmed a trail is left behind after each flash even if reverted back to stock. Of the 3 Service Advisors, they all had to put me on hold and ask someone else to relay the message. Parts Dept might know what they're talking about depending on the person but I don't have any expectation for them to actually know. Based on my experience the Front Desk is usually the least knowledgeable at least at my local dealership.

Note that I have not seen or received any of these services in action. However, this is a service that you can pay for to have an ECU checked. They range from $100 - $200 to perform.
 

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* Error in my last post. I would not trust anyone for a correct answer. I wouln't even trust someone at a dealer to give you an answer that will hold up later if you were to have an problem!!! Talking to someone is not a contract!!! It's that simple.


I believe the Pre Purchase Inspections includes a diagnostic scan. However I'm not sure if this would be the same as a scan from any other average joe.

Thanks for another source to look into.
SOA does have better electronic diagnostic tools than us. Not sure if dealers use em or just the Tech reps, but they exist.
 

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* Error in my last post. I would not trust anyone for a correct answer. I wouln't even trust someone at a dealer to give you an answer that will hold up later if you were to have an problem!!! Talking to someone is not a contract!!! It's that simple.









SOA does have better electronic diagnostic tools than us. Not sure if dealers use em or just the Tech reps, but they exist.
I hear you on that! That goes with anything in life. In the end, you have to just use your best judgement.

I spoke with a few Subaru service technician on this subject and they all showed good character. A few of them just enjoyed talking about Subarus in general as they also have been modding cars themselves for years. I don't believe they had any incentives to mislead me on this topic. Based off of all the sources I've encountered, I would put the most weight on their responses.

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Cobb is not the party to honor your warranty. That is Subaru.

I do not see Cobb to have any interest in you not buying AP due to warranty being voided.
 

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Regardless of if they can tell what exactly has been done, they can tell that something has been done.

They can look at the "reset" count (maybe flash count?) to see the number of times that the ECU has been "reset" (ie battery disconnected or ECU has been flashed). They can also see the number of key cycles and if the obd2 readiness monitors have passed since the last reset. Subaru will keep track of any revisions that they've flashed to your ECU.

It'll look suspicious if you take the car in for an engine issue and the key cycles are low and the readiness monitor haven't passed yet. You could try to sell it as "I tried resetting the battery to see if it would fix the issue".. but it'll probably look suspicious enough for them to dig deeper, especially if it's a warranty claim for engine failure. Keep in mind that when you have a pro-tune or e-tune (especially for flex fuel) the ECU is flashed at least 10+ times for tune revisions. It'll look very suspicious if you have 10-20 "resets".. At that point they'll probably be checking to see what bolts have been loosened.. and digging deeper into the ECU (if they have that ability). Either way, it'll be a hassle for you..

I've heard from Subaru techs that the general diagnostic ran for troubleshooting and pre-purchase inspections don't go in depth enough to look at the reset/flash count. They ran "diagnostics" on my '16 WRX when I traded it in and made no comments about previous mods/tune. They planned to sell it as certified pre-owned (CPO) due to the condition & low mileage.

As others have said, do it at your own risk and be prepared to pay for repairs.. "Pay to Play". With that said, my local Subaru dealership sells AccessPorts on a display in their showroom... so it may just depend on how "mod friendly" your dealership is.
 

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subaru can not detect if an ECU has been flashed and then reverted back.. However, doing this resets all the counters - similar to a disconnected battery and subsequently drained capacitors.

Its the same as if you reinstalled the OS on your computer.. You cant tell what was there before, but astute observers can identify a fresh install / restore.
 

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subaru can not detect if an ECU has been flashed and then reverted back.. However, doing this resets all the counters - similar to a disconnected battery and subsequently drained capacitors.



Its the same as if you reinstalled the OS on your computer.. You cant tell what was there before, but astute observers can identify a fresh install / restore.
The multiple techs I've spoken too think otherwise.

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The multiple techs I've spoken too think otherwise.
theyre wrong..

ask them to tell you specifically how they can tell that a different tune has been on the ecu, other than the counters have been reset. And that doesnt necessarily mean that other than OEM software has been installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
theyre wrong..



ask them to tell you specifically how they can tell that a different tune has been on the ecu, other than the counters have been reset. And that doesnt necessarily mean that other than OEM software has been installed.
They all said they can see beyond ECU resets and key counts.

I basically told all of them I was buying a used Subaru from a private party but wanted to insure the warranty won't be compromised due to past ECU flashes that have been unmarried. I asked them how does one go about that and they all said they can confirm how many past flashes with a diagnostic test which they can include in their pre purchase inspection services for $100-$200.

I don't believe they would lie in such a scenario as they will be taking on the risk of misleading someone on a significant purchase of a used car. It would be stupid of the dealership to take on such an unnecessary liability.

Unfortunately I don't have an unmarried car for them to check. If you want to put a nail in the coffin to this question and specifically see the results of their test I would suggest to find someone with an unmarried tune to bring their car in.

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They all said they can see beyond ECU resets and key counts.

I basically told all of them I was buying a used Subaru from a private party but wanted to insure the warranty won't be compromised due to past ECU flashes that have been unmarried. I asked them how does one go about that and they all said they can confirm how many past flashes with a diagnostic test which they can include in their pre purchase inspection services for $100-$200.

I don't believe they would lie in such a scenario as they will be taking on the risk of misleading someone on a significant purchase of a used car. It would be stupid of the dealership to take on such an unnecessary liability.

Unfortunately I don't have an unmarried car for them to check. If you want to put a nail in the coffin to this question and specifically see the results of their test I would suggest to find someone with an unmarried tune to bring their car in.

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If you dont think dealerships lie, ok then. for me, the nail is in the coffin. my car is already out of warranty period.

no tech can guarantee any future warranty claim will be honored or denied, that is the entirely arbitrary decision of SOA.

if youre buying a used STI, get the normal PPI, leak down, and compression test. if those check out - negotiate as low as you can. ;)
 
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