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New features, bug fixes… and a faster car?  Software updates & Remapping explained

A wide range of modern cars have advanced onboard computers running the show:  everything from the touchscreen display to automatic lane keeping.  The software behind all of this vehicle control is so in-depth that, as with many modern devices, it needs to go through regular review and improvement by the manufacturer.

In earlier generation cars, you were stuck with the setup you had, except for a few models which the dealership could refresh for you via special tools and a pre-booked slot but now, new features, problem solving and perhaps even a speed boost can be “sent” to your car easily through a quick update.

A number of cars can now get major feature improvements whilst sitting on the driveway overnight, so it’s worth knowing how it all works.

There are a few different ways that cars can be updated:

  • “Over the air” update: this is the gold standard, used by manufacturers such as Tesla. Via the car’s wi-fi connection, it downloads an update and installs it at a time of your choosing (when you’re not driving it), meaning that it can all be done fully remotely.
  • Manufacturer-provided DIY update: an update is provided to you from the manufacturer on a USB stick (or DVD-ROM for older vehicles) which you then put in your vehicle to start the update process.
  • Self-download DIY update: use your own USB stick and download an update from the web onto it. Then pop it in the car to get started.
  • Dealer update: your dealer updates the software in your vehicle in person, using specialist hardware and software

What about the speed boost mentioned earlier? Well, some manufacturers are building the physical hardware for various features into vehicles, disabling them and giving you the choice to upgrade or subscribe to those features – for a fee, of course. As well as acceleration and battery range boosts, one of the German manufacturers is offering a subscription to front seat heating. All of this is done via software updates (and your credit card!) for a near-instant vehicle upgrade. Another method of increasing performance and speed is remapping a tuning service offered by vehicle expert tuners such as Raven Performance Remapping, in which the ECU of the vehicle is calibrated to delivery more power.

If you’re looking for the new features – and the ability to add more through software updates – it might be worth finding out whether you can sell your car and get the right chunk of cash to put towards one of the latest and greatest vehicles.  Enter your reg number and let’s see what Sell My Car Essex can do for you.