Complete ECM reset procedure
Not a day without learning something new
The reset procedure is billed as a ‘cheap fix’. It does often give good immediate results, however if there is something wrong with your car (any number of issues as listed above) then over a 2-8 week period the car will likely return to its original state.
The reset procedure removes all mean values stored by your onboard computer that control engine timing, fuel use etc. As you continue to drive the car, the stored values ‘average out’ to best suit the engine condition.
If your car has for example a leaking intake manifold gasket or broken O2 sensors, the readings are quickly going to become ‘corrupted’ with incorrect information. This can lead to the engine running too rich or too lean (check your sparks for evidence). Within a short period of time the car will return to rough idle as the underlying problem has not been fixed. That said – the reset procedure can reset values that are no longer applicable. You may have replaced something on the car (e.g. Catalytic Converters) thus causing a sudden change in normal engine running. The readings stored over 10-20 years will suddenly not suit you recently modified car. The car will however read new values in and average out over time. The Reset procedure simply speeds that process up.
The long and short of it is that this procedure can sometimes fix rough idle and transmission timing and seems to improve the cars performance. However with existing underlying issues as outlined above – it won’t be long before the problems return. Perhaps this procedure could be used if you’re trying to sell your E32 ;-)
1. Disconnect battery cables, first negative, then positive.
2. Cover and protect the battery posts! Leave no potential of a battery short circuit.
3. Turn ignition to position II.
4. Connect both battery cables ("SHORT") for at least 10 minutes. This step drains a capacitor in the ECU/TCU. (Covered the battery with a thick, dry shop towel to prevent actually shorting the battery! – careful of arc welding in my back seat! As the battery was in place, and the cables aren't that long, you could use a very long Craftsman screwdriver and two small vice-grips to actually clamp the negative and positive cables to the metal shank of the screwdriver.
5. Wait 10 minutes - then ignition off, key out.
6. Reconnect battery positive, then negative.
7. OBC says "PPPP", reset time. Start and idle the engine for 5 minutes, then off for five, then out for a drive.
8. Now, with the car in lowest gear (one or two depending on your make), accelerate until at least 5000 rpm is reached. Allow the car to slow to idle, and then repeat two more times. Let the car idle for 5 minutes. All Done!
9. Idle should smooth out over 10-12 miles; shifts should be immediately smoother.