How To Scan and Modify Your Audi or Volkswagen Using VAG-COM

How To Scan and Modify Your Audi or Volkswagen Using VAG-COM

Ok, first of all what is VAG-COM or VCDS? VAG-COM is the Interface that plugs into the car. And VCDS is a Windows based software that was developed by RossTech – which uses the interface to log into car’s computer.

Hence it’s a diagnostic software that will diagnose vehicles with VAG engines… and covers nearly all Audi, Volkswagen Seat and Skoda models. It also works on non-VAG vehicles, but is limited to their generic OBD2 system of Engine and Transmission.

VAG cars have been scannable (starting out with OBD1) since 1990 until today. Therefore if you have a VW or Audi that was assembled from 1990 to present – you can immediately use the VAGCOM-VCDS diagnostic tool.

 A person can use the VCDS system for virtually all the functions that the dealer diagnostic tools can perform .

Before the owners of a vehicle had no option but to take their vehicles to a dealership to run the diagnostics… but now with VAG-COM… the smaller independent workshops can perform key functions using the onboard computer technology.

The type of diagnostics that can be done range from engine related problems such as diesel ignition timing to coding a new electronic control unit (ECU).

The VCDS diagnostic system uses a more detailed manufacturer protocol commands and allows the user to access all the diagnostics that have been installed in the vehicle provided it is a Volkswagen or Audi.

Uses of VAGCOM / VCDS

On of the key components to good vehicle maintenance, repair or upgrade is to make sure that you have the right tools and know how to use them.

Using the VAG-COM diagnostic tool will show you the state of your engine, how it is performing and then you can make the required adjustments to ensure that your car runs as economical as possible and reliably.

  • There are lots of car enthusiast that like to check if the car is running according to the original OEM specifications… and doing the diagnostics using the VAG-COM with a VW or Audi… will do exactly that.
  • A person generally knows when a vehicle is not running right and often the symptoms are obvious with bad idling, struggling to start and loss of power. Using diagnostic systems will show exactly where the problem lies letting you do the required repairs and getting it back to its best performance.
  • Sometimes modifications need to be made to get the optimum performance and using the VAG-COM before and afterwards will show what the improvements are after the Volkswagen or Audi engine has been modified.

How it works

It uses the OBD-II on-board diagnostic system which is part of the engine operating parameters. This however, requires to be decoded and that is exactly what the VAG-COM software does for the Audi and Volkswagen engines.

It then codes them into 4 character codes which are simple to understand and each one is related to the performance of the vehicle.

There are thousands of different codes and by using the VCDS system it will direct you to exactly where the problem is lying.

In short, if you have a Volkswagen or an Audi there you no longer the need to guess what is wrong with the car or doing modifications by trial and error.

The great thing about the VAG-COM diagnostic system a person no longer has to visit the dealer and pay an astronomical price for the service but you can do it right from your home.

How to Use the Software

After the software has been downloaded onto your laptop… start the VCDS from the shortcut icon on your computer and the main screen will appear. It will show all the options that are available.

Plug the cable into the car and to the laptop and turn the ignition on.

Go to the options menu and it will show the tab port and protocol options.

Then you select the port or USB that it is connected to. Press the test button and the test window will show. If the message ok’s, the software is ready to use!

vag-com-vcds-software-ross-tech-guide

To test the vehicle you will need the cable that plugs into the car and the plug is in the vehicle cab normally placed somewhere in the dash of the car.

vehicles-obd-port-location

 

Scanning for Faults

Once the scanning screen is accessed then it will require the chassis number.

Each chassis number have different control modules that exist across the VW and Audi range and with newer cars, there are more control modules and the reason why the chassis number is important is that not one of the cars have all the modules.

The newer models that have a full CAN diagnostic system a person can use the auto detect function of the software.

vcds-auto-scan-function

The VAG-COM directory has a file for all the vehicle profiles and it can be edited if you press the hyperlink above the chassis type.

If you are not sure of which controllers you have in your car you can use the control module finder.

vcds-vagcom-faults-2

vcds-vagcom-faults-1

Press the start and the auto scan will start. This process can take a while but after it is completed the lines that are printed in Red are where there are faults.

You click on these and the fault codes can be cleared. depending on the fault it is important the necessary repairs have been carried out.

vcds-clear-dtc-codes-message

 

Using the Codes to Modify the Vehicle

Using fuel trim as an example the VAG-COM will check the current status of the fuel trim and in this case, you need to check the appropriate group for the vehicle.

For modern vehicles, you can check the repair manual for the particular module.

Once you have accessed the code you will find two percentages. The first percentage is when the car is idling and the second percentage is when the car is operating at faster speeds.

Negative figures indicate that the vehicle is running too rich and the oxygen sensor is, therefore, closing the injectors to soon.

Positive values are the engine is running too lean and the opposite effect will take place with the injector control.

After that, you can adjust the trim as per the factory manual.

There will very seldom be zeros in both the fields and if there are you have probably cleared the values.

One of the advantages of using the VAG-COM diagnostic system is that you have the flexibility to do readings of the various sensors in real time.

Firstly you need to choose the modules and generally, these modules are all listed under the engine option.

vag-com-select-control-module

By using the features you are able to log more than one group at a time. These can include the air mass meter diagnosis, vehicle speed but that is generally just for interest and coolant intake and temperature which is a good way to compare the revs against the vehicle speed.

To use some examples

Using Block 115 there will be readings in column 3 and 4 which will be the requested boost and the actual boost. The ECU is programmed to control the turbo waste gate to achieve close to the requested boost.

Therefore when the car is at full throttle then the deviation should at no time be higher than 100 millibars. If the deviation is higher than that then there could be a problem.

vagcom-measuring-blocks-vcds

Just like block 120 you can measure the amount of torque and compare the readings to other parameters such as the boost and duty cycle. If all these three factors are strong then the car is running well.

If the boost is too low then there could be a pressure loss such as the clamps or if there are any cracks. If it does not solve the problem then you will need to troubleshoot the system.

Some Tips for Data Logging

Setting up the vehicle: make sure that the air conditioning is off. If you have traction control then turn that off as well and make sure that all the car windows are up. It is important to note that if the car was running on a different octane fuel before the test then run it as low as possible and put the fuel that you would like to test the vehicle with. Drive the car for at least 15 km to make sure that the last of the fuel is used up.

At what speeds to drive: The runs are generally done in full throttle and in 4th gear. The revs start at 1500 rpm to red line. If speed is a problem then use a lower gear and do the run that way.

A number of runs: There should be no less than 4 runs and each run will cover certain logs in order for you to ensure that you get the engine information to enable you to make repairs or modifications. It is important to note that the engine should be at operating temperature before you start logging and that you use the same stretch of road.

Setting up the computer: The data that is being logged should be in the advanced measuring block which you will find in the Engine Controller Interface. The next step is to activate the turbo mode so that you get a good data sampling rate. Make sure that you get the data feedback in numerical data and not in graphs. You are able to export the required data in CSV format.

Below are some screen shots that show you how to set up the computer.

vcds-setup-install-steps-screenshots vcds-setup-install-steps-screenshots-2

Each round is used for the different analyses with the first one being the analyses between the boost and fuelling.

You get the results from the data read out which include a total of 12 items. These are:

  1. The speed of the engine
  2. Any misfires
  3. The lambda value
  4. The accelerator pedal position
  5. What the throttle angle is
  6. The timing
  7. The fuel pressure at the time
  8. N75 Duty Cycle
  9. The boost pressure which is specified
  10. The boost pressure that was achieved
  11. The rail pressure which is specified
  12. The actual rail pressure

 

Each of the rounds is for different diagnostics and these include Boost and timing, MAF load and Misfire specific.

Output Tests

This is the measuring of data when it is available from the specific module in question. To do the output tests using the VCDS click on the “start button” or “Activate” depending which module is being used.

Aspects that need to be taken into consideration when doing output tests is that:

  • The outputs that are tested and in which sequence will depend on the modules and not the diagnostic tester. To find out the sequence refer to the factory repair module.
  • Once the test has been started and you would like to go back then clicking “Done, Go Back” will take you back to the Open Controller function screen.
  • Most modules will only allow sequence testing only once per session. Even though the VCDS system will allow you to go back to the previous screen the sequence is still running. But it will probably not allow you to run the testing sequence again. However, there is a method of doing it manually.
  • Some output tests might need additional actions and as an example, if you want to run a test on the injectors the accelerator pedal needs to be pressed before the test will begin
  • Most of these test are only available when the engine is not running.
  • The message “short to ground” is normal.

There are a few warnings that need to be taken into consideration when doing output tests.

  • Never try and do output tests while the car is being driven. By doing output tests while it is in motion can have dire consequences. The ABS brakes, for example, could be disabled and then activated causing one wheel at a time being locked and unlocked.
  • Before anyone ventures in doing output tests, it is recommended that the repair manual is read and thoroughly understood so that you know what to expect.
  • If you try and do output tests on the Airbag you could get a warning saying that the car might not start and asking if you would like to proceed.

Summary of the Advantages

Anyone who has a workshop can now have access to VCDS diagnostic tools. If you own or service Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda or Seat… and you want to make sure that the cars perform at their best then doing the diagnostics are a crucial part of the service.

You could be an enthusiast who services their own vehicles and with the VAG-COM diagnostic tool will ensure that you will get the ultimate performance from the car

Following are the diagnostics and capabilities of using the VCDS system:

  • Gain OEM quality access to all the diagnostics for VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars (including Bentley) and they do not have to be modern but any model manufactured from 1990 to current can have diagnostics done using the VAG-COM system.
  • Able to scan for over 19,000 fault codes and reset them.
  • Through the module coding system the modules can be coded which was only possible by using factory level tools before.
  • You can do modifications that are specific to the country that you live in such as seat belt chimes, sunroof with remote and enable lap timer plus much more.
  • One of the biggest advantages is to be able to get data logging while driving and checking the performance of the engine making sure that it is always giving the best economical use of fuel etc.
  • Diagnosing first when there is a failure in the vehicle which allows that the faulty part only is replaced.

To download and install the VAG-COM software only requires a computer and an Internet connection. The suppliers can advise which connecting devices to use but most of them whether they are Wi-Fi or USB connections will be able to work with most models that have been assembled in 1990 onwards.

Some, however, have a limit to a number of cars and if you are a workshop owner there are systems available that will diagnose an unlimited amount of cars.

Some accessories that might come in handy are:

  • Getting a copy of the VCDS manual so that you can get started
  • Purchase an HEX-NET interface and the frequently asked questions so that you can do your own troubleshooting if needed
  • An OBD-II right angle extension cable if you would like to ensure that the diagnostic tool is connected away from the driver’s feet and legs.
  • Have a USB extension cable so that the VCDS can be connected to the car and the computer.
  • If the car was manufactured before 1995 then as part of the accessories is a 2 x 2 adapter to connect to the OBD-II which is being used with the current diagnostic tools.

Conclusion

The great feature of the modern cars is that they are fully computerised… and if you are an owner of an Audi or Volkswagen; having a VAG-COM diagnostic system will ensure that you can  maintain the vehicle to operate at its peak performance which is in the long term a lot more economical .

What was once only available to the factory or dealer workshops is now available to everyone.

How To Scan and Modify Your Audi or Volkswagen Using VAG-COM
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27 Responses to How To Scan and Modify Your Audi or Volkswagen Using VAG-COM

  1. Hello TCD Support Professional,
    I’m an old retired US Marine from generations of Marines with good friends and memories of the land down under.
    I hope my little note finds you and all your mates well today.

    I own a 2006 Audi A3, a 2010 Dodge RAM 2500 turbo diesel pickup truck, and 2011 Subaru Forester (Touring) vehicles. I own a laptop PC with Windows 7 ultimate OS as well as an iPad and iPhone with iOS 10x.
    My background with automobiles spans from the 60’s to the present. I grew up on a grain and live stock production farm in the mid-western US and worked on heavy equipment, automobiles, and helped an uncle build drag racing fuelers, railers, and street cars. I spent a career as a US Marine developing a low and high tech systems engineering background with vehicles,telecom & IT, weapon systems, etc. Today I generally do routine maintenance on my vehicles, but do not have an interface to gain access to vehicle computers.

    Most of what I’ve seen on the market is junk or costs too damn much for me to afford. Then I saw your website today. I admit it brought to mind some dear friends and their families I haven’t seen for years and a local friend from Melbourne who came to the US years ago and remains a dear life friend. Just as your Army saved the life of my father during WW-II, I helped Australian Army and Navy men and their families in my time to help return a favor I can never repay. I know all this seems odd, but our nations and our peoples share a great bond of freedom during peace and war, that is centuries old. I handed down my legacy to my son who became an exchange student ambassador to your great nation in 1993 and spent a year meeting heads of state as well as many wonderful families during his travels. Maybe you can let your mates know there is a yank over here that wish you all well.

    Anyway, I’m considering becoming a member / purchasing your application, but I’m confused as to what I have to purchase.
    o Will the TOAD support my Dodge Diesel truck and my Subaru Forester?
    o Do I need the VAG-COM VCDS 2017 – OBD2 Diagnostic Cable & Software for my 2006 Audi A3 ? Does this software work with TOAD or is it separate?
    o Is there a way to talk to a human in Total Car Support ?

    Thanks again for your professional time.

    • 1) Dodge Diesel – No. Will need OEM tool for this, as they tend to use (more often then not), proprietary protocols.

      2) 2006 Audi A3 – Yes, VCDS/VAGCOM does support this car.

      3) TOAD and VAGCOM are totally different products. RossTech VAGCOM specifically focuses on Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda vehicles.

      4) We offer email support at totalcardiagnostics.com/support

  2. I am from India and I want to purchase the VAG-COM for Audi, VW, Skoda. Plz let me know from where should I purchase. Plz mail me the dealer, distributor address if avilable in India or UK.
    Regards,
    Asad

  3. Excellent article. Found it by searching for “how to use vag com” and while there’s videos on how to use on Audi TT, none of them are as detailed as this. Great work.

  4. Superb! Vehicles’s Airbag light had been on for 1 year. Audi dealer said they are still waiting for a “repair” from airbag manufacturer. I used the VAGCOM unit purchased from this site and reset my airbag instantly with push of a button. It’s been weeks and airbag light is still off.

  5. Reads 1999 VW Jetta obd2 airbag and any other CANBus data. Used to diagnose the dreaded airbag light. Now if I could only find a new airbag that would work as well as this vagcom scanner!

  6. Works flawlessly in my dad’s Audi Q7 2009 4.2 FSI. We can access each module in this Audi, reading and erasing the errors codes with push button ease. Also works as an OBD2 scanner for other car manufacturers (only OBDII button will work in VCDS software for this). I am satisfied with the money that I paid for this rosstech vag-com scanner.

  7. Over course 2+- months, our 2005 Passat developed an intermittent Immobilizer problem. Sometimes the key would be recognized and start, sometimes the instrument cluster would have a flashing yellow key and also “Immobil Active” prompt. Attempted various solutions. Determined the instrument cluster (Half MFA) was the problem and requiered to be changed. Specific codes are needed to perform this job. With VAGCOM, it worked!! Special function/Read PIN code/Instruments/Enter/Enter/Enter as we remember.

  8. Good price and it works too as neighbors original. It cleared my check engine and airbag codes on my 2006 new beetle. Easy to use and price was cheaper then the dealer would have charged.

  9. Totally pleasured! Vag worked better than I expected. Yes, it uses genuine Vcds Ross software. Long story short, vehicles airbag, anti-skid, and tpms lights were activated when we removed the seats to replace the carpet because of water leak in the sunroof drain.

    Instead of getting punched in the gut by whopping fees of a mechanic service center, we had a couple of other options. I could opt $50 for low-cost Xtool Vag401 on Amazon, or take the gamble for $67 for this Vagcom unit which found by Googling. The airbag was successfully reset, so the unit did the job and deserves a mention here indeed.

    Also it was a bonus to get the unit to activate the backup camera option for the navigation unit (RNS315)! So now I need to find the OEM backup camera kit and we’re in business. Worth every cent!

  10. Good tool… simple to use… accurate… money saver! You get the codes for sure, look them up on the internet and buy the needed part to repair… avoid the time and the money of a mechanic… at the very least, know what is wrong with the automobile before taking it to mechanic. Also able to code like original RossTech VAGCOM, so it’s a truly useful tool.

  11. Hi, I have a 2013 Passat that has a 2.5 L engine. Could you tell me which VAGCOM/ VCDS will work, 12 or 18?

  12. Does precisely as stated. I needed the device to reset the alarm state on my 2008 Audio Q5 when it goes into a BUGGY fault condition. I keep the this vag-com scan tool in my car to do emergency resets, when and if, the Audi computer’s take a dump. Always the same alarm code, and always clears instantly, and when reset, my Audi runs perfectly.

  13. Hi 🙂
    A couple of years ago I bought the vcds/vag-com 12.12 cable(not 100% sure it’s called 12.12 but it starts with 12 atleast).

    The software has worked perfectly except for some access/security/login codes on 2010-2012 vehicles isnt available.

    Is it possible to update the software and/or cable so I can use a newer version of vcds/vag-com?

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