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James: Local Chrysler dealership fell victim to the recent downsizing due to Chrysler bankruptcy. Local used car dealer has a 99 Grand Caravan that had a bad BCM. He got a used one from the salvage yard, installed it, but the alarm is active (his 99 never had an alarm). So he took it out to the dealer, they said they can't program the used BCM with a new VIN, etc. because it already has a VIN in it. They say it has to be a new BCM or they are locked out. His goal is to change VINs, then turn off the alarm feature. Since you have the DRB III, what are the facts? Mark S. La Junta, Colorado

Mark, If it is a used BCM (Body Control Module) you can't reprogram it. The BCM must be a “new or rebuilt” from the manufacture, not a used one. Same thing with Jeep’s Electronic Control Module (ECM) it must be new or rebuilt and not used. Once the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is entered in the computer that's the one it forever “see’s”. It can not be re-programmed with another Vehicle Identification Number. Since so many dealerships have closed down over the last few months that most independent shops are having to purchase manufacture specific scanners such as the “DRB III” and “Star Mobile” for Chrysler’s and Jeeps, or the “Tech 2” for GM products, or “IDS” for Fords. Every manufacture has their own scanner and website for the latest updates and information. Newer cars (1996 and up) MUST have the correct computer updates installed or the vehicle will not function as it is designed. This is why modern independent auto repair shops must keep up with the newest tools and training procedures to keep your car running like new. Most of today’s vehicle drive-ability problems with engine and transmission can be corrected with a computer re-program. There are no parts needed to make them shift or run better, just the information supplied to the computer. Cars have come a long way from yearly tune-ups and with points and plugs that we did 30 years ago. Today’s modern independent auto repair shops have all the equipment that the dealerships have, and then some.

 

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