Car enthusiasts and racers alike are often on the hunt for deals on parts, and sometimes second-hand products fit the budget. Haltech recently released a used ECU buyer’s guide with tips on what to look for before making a purchase for a used ECU.
Certain parts, such has headers or suspension pieces are easier to verify their condition, but electronic items can be far more difficult to ascertain their performance. That said, even the gnarliest-looking ECU could still perform exactly as intended.
Haltech recommends a simple visual inspection first, starting with looking at the connection pins to make sure none are damaged, broken, or missing. Taking a look at the screws that hold the ECU together is the next place to look. They should be in good shape, and you’ll want to be weary if any are missing, or rusty, and the latter is a sure sign that there has been water damage.
Checking the sticker on the back is the next place to look. You should find the serial number and model of the ECU, but Haltech noted that some display units have gotten on the market before. These are not fully functional units and should be avoided on the used market. Normally, the sticker is marked as such, but if the sticker is missing, it could mean that someone is trying to hide that fact. That said, Haltech also noted that is not always the case, as there are some sanctioning or series rules that require non-marked ECUs.
If it has a production name and serial number, Haltech can give you a production date and whether or not it has ever been reported as stolen. If all of the stickers and/or identifying marks have been removed for whatever reason, you can find the serial number in the software.
What if you buy an ECU that is non-functional? Well, you can send it in to Haltech for repairs. There is a small fee to have the ECUs tested and Haltech will send a report once the diagnostic has been completed. Keep in mind that water-damaged ECUs are usually terminal.
So what if you check everything out only to open up the software and find it is password protected? The good thing is that only the maps are protected, but you can go into the software and reset it, which does restore it back to its default settings. From there, you can look to Haltech’s base map files to get your car up and running with a baseline calibration. From there, you’ll want to update the software if it is out of date.
Lastly, Haltech suggests you check the Haltech website before you pull the trigger on a used one, as used prices are often close to new prices and for a few dollars more, you could have a brand new ECU.