Diagnostic Software for VW-Audi Group Cars

 
881 Sumneytown Pike, Lansdale PA 19446, USA

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Frequently Asked Questions -- Page 1

1.1  Will VCDS work with my car?

VCDS and VCDS-Mobile will work with most Volkswagen and Audi models sold World-Wide 1994 through the current model year. It will work with some cars all the way back to model year 1990. It will also work with most late-model SEAT, and Skoda models sold in markets other than North America. If your VW or Audi has a 16-pin "OBD-II style" Data Link Connector,  VCDS will definitely work.  If your car has the old "2x2" Data Link Connection, check if there is a wire going to each pin, as shown in the picture. If there are four wires, VCDS should work with any diagnostics-capable modules that are present.  If there are only three wires, then nothing in the car is diagnostics-capable..  Please see these Application Charts where you can select your model and see which modules can communicate with VCDS.  Also see the Issues page for a few things that may not work as expected.   If in doubt, e-mail us.

1.2  Will VCDS work even if my car is "chipped"?

Yes.  If it doesn't work in a "chipped" car, the chip-vendor did something seriously wrong! Chips from reputable vendors do not interfere with diagnostic functions so if the factory scan tools can "talk" to the ECU, then VCDS should be able to as well.

1.3  What functions are included in the current release?

Please see the Function Chart for the current feature set. We strive to keep VCDS updated to work with the latest vehicles and functions. The objective is to allow users to perform the same diagnostic functions that are performed by the VW/Audi factory scan tools, using instructions found in the factory repair manuals.

1.4  What  are the computer requirements?

A computer running Microsoft Windows.    A Laptop, Netbook or Tablet computer is best, but a desktop PC can also be used.

With a Serial interface:  As of VCDS Release 11.x, we recommend at least a 500 MHz Pentium-II (or AMD equivalent) with 128 MB of RAM and Windows 2000 or newer.   Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 are all fine.    As of Release 10, we no longer support Windows 95, 98, ME or NT4.

With a USB interface: We recommend at least a 1 GHz Pentium-III (or AMD equivalent) with 256 MB of RAM and Windows XP or newer.  With Windows Vista, 7, or 8 use a machine robust enough to properly support the operating system.   

VCDS may work on some lesser PCs, but machines with specs lower than the above recommendations are "unsupported" meaning if it doesn't work, please don't ask us for help. 

Available disk-space should be a non-issue on any PC made in the last 10 years; VCDS requires less than 100 MB.  

Screen resolution can be as low as 640x480, but 800x600 or more is recommended.

If you are using a power supply for a laptop, it should be one specifically designed for that purpose, NOT a "universal" adapter.

Systems running Windows in a virtualized environment (for example Virtual PC on a Mac) are not supported.  See also Question 1.8.

1.5  Should I get a Serial or a USB interface?

This depends primarily on the PC you're planning to use:

If you're using a modern PC running Windows XP or newer, then you should probably get a USB interface.   Although USB interfaces are no faster than serial versions, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find new PCs with serial ports, so a USB interface is more future-proof.  

If you're using a PC running an older version of Windows or with a CPU speed of less than 1GHz, we recommend a Serial interface.   Obviously a serial interface requires a Serial Port which looks like this:

Observe the port we surrounded with the GREEN oval. Notice the 9 male pins? That's a Serial port.   Observe the port circled and crossed in RED Notice the 15 female pins? That is a Monitor port and will not work!

Many generic USB<->Serial converters are unable to handle the baud rate and timing requirements that are demanded by some control modules using the VAG protocols.  If you wish to use a USB<->Serial converter, we recommend that you get one with an FT232B or FT232R chipset.   It is essential to configure the virtual COM port that it creates to be in the range of COM1 to COM4, and to set the Latency timer to 2.  See this screen-shot as a guide to configuring these devices.  Please understand, this is a recommendation only; if you purchase your own USB<->Serial converter, please do not expect us to support it.

For registered users with HEX-COM or HEX-COM+CAN interfaces, we can supply a modified FT232B based USB<->Serial converter, which is compatible with the "Direct" drivers provided with VCDS version 10.6 and newer, and is fully supported by us.  Once "married" to your interface, these converters provide the exact same functionality as our HEX-USB or HEX-USB+CAN interfaces. However, this "marriage" requires a revised license to be loaded in the interface, so the initial installation is not just plug-an-play. This makes us reluctant to put them in our web-store.  If you are registered user with a HEX-COM or HEX-COM+CAN interface and no longer have a PC with a serial port, please contact our Sales Department.  

1.6  What if the PC I wish to use with VCDS doesn't have Internet access?

Except for the Pro-Kit, our software is provided to you via our download page, rather than a disk, so you will need a way to transfer the Self-Installing EXE file to the PC that you will be using with VCDS. The file fits easily on a removable USB drive and can also be burned onto a CD-R or CD-RW. Make sure that you do not run the EXE file until you have copied it onto the PC where you would like VCDS to be installed.  Since software updates are provided only through our website, you should plan on repeating this transfer process to keep current. You do not need to be connected to the Internet while using VCDS.

1.7  Can I use VCDS on a desktop computer?

Yes,  but you will probably need an extension cable for your interface if the PC is more than 6 feet from the car's diagnostic port..  

We stock Serial extension cables 15' (3m) length.    You can extend a Serial interface up to 50'.    See the Accessories section of our Store for pricing.

We stock a 16-ft Active USB Extension.   You can extend a USB interface up to 32' with two of these.   We do not sell or support any other brands or models of USB extensions. If you have problems with a different brand of USB extension, the first thing we're going to tell you is to eliminate the extension.

1.8  Will there be a Mac or Linux version?

There will be no "native" Mac or Linux versions.  The time and effort required to "port" VCDS to these platforms would never be worthwhile.     VCDS works fine on Apple Mac computers that have Intel processors (all modern Macs) when Windows is installed on them using Boot Camp.    Most computers that are used to run Linux can also boot Windows.     If you do not wish to install Windows, we now offer a platform-independent version of VCDS called "VCDS-Mobile". 

1.9  Will there be a version for iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, or Windows Phone?

We have no plans to make a native "Application" for any of these platforms.   Instead, we are have created a platform-indendent version of VCDS called "VCDS-Mobile".   It can be used on modern versions of any of the above smart-phones and tablets.

1.10  What's the difference between VCDS and an OBD-II Scan-Tool?

OBD-II is a government mandated diagnostic protocol that is primarily aimed at diagnosing emissions-related problems.   An OBD-II scan tool will work in many different brands of cars.  VCDS uses VW's proprietary diagnostic protocol and and is only designed and supported for use in VW/Audi vehicles.  Although you can use an OBD-II Scan Tool in an OBD-II compliant (1996 or newer) VW or Audi, an OBD-II Scan Tool can only talk to the engine, not the numerous other "intelligent" systems in the car.   Want to reprogram your central locks or your Radio?  Diagnose a problem with your ABS, Airbags, or Automatic Transmission?  Re-align your Immobilizer after swapping ECU's?  Reset your Service Reminder Indicators?   Communicate with a pre-1996 model (not OBD-II compliant) car?  An OBD-II Scan-Tool can't do any of these things. Please see our OBD-II Page for information on using the Generic OBD-II function in VCDS. Want some reasons to choose VCDS over a generic OBD-II scan tool? See this Real World Comparison.  

1.11  Can I use VCDS to roll back my electronic odometer?

No. VCDS cannot be used to change odometer readings, with one exception:  The odometer reading on a brand new instrument cluster (with less than 100 km / 62 miles on it) can be increased, one time only. Of course, this assumes that the instrument cluster is new enough cluster to be "diagnostics capable"; as a general rule most 1998 and newer instrument clusters are.   

1.12  Can I use VCDS to "Flash" the chip in my ECU?

No, we have investigated flashing, but found that there are several different methods of encryption for various VW/Audi vehicles, as well as delicate licensing issues to overcome. Therefore, we do not intend to pursue flashing any further at this time. You cannot alter boost, timing, fueling, rev limiter, or speed limiter with VCDS. You should contact a chiptuner if you wish to have those parameters altered.

1.13  Is there anything else I need to make full use of VCDS?

Yes.  A good Repair Manual containing the the "Native" Scan-Tool procedures for your car.   VCDS is a tool, not an on-line service manual. We could not possibly document everything you can do with it in every year and model of VW/Audi that VCDS can be used with.

In the USA, VW/Audi provides online fee-based factory repair information through the following sites:
Volkswagen: erwin.vw.com
Audi: erwin.audiusa.com

Through model year 2008 for US and Canadian market VW and Audi models, you can also purchase DVD Repair Manuals by Robert Bentley Publishers.  This may be a more cost-effective solution for owners of a single year/model compared to the erWin subscriptions.  Please note that Bentley also has some publications called "Service Manuals".   These tend to be less complete than the Official Factory Repair manuals and are not recommended for use with VCDS.  

Since the above sources of repair information only applies to US/Canadian vehicles, if your car is European-spec or from the rest of the World, they may be of little use to you.

For Rest-of-World VW, Audi, and SEAT manuals, check erwin-portal.com

For Rest-of-World Skoda manuals, check erwin.skoda-auto.cz

1.14  Will VCDS work on Windows Vista and Windows 7?

Yes, all current versions of VCDS and VCDS-Lite are fully compatible with Windows 7.   If you're using an old version that isn't, please update.

1.15  Will VCDS work on Windows 8?

Yes,  all current versions of VCDS and VCDS-Lite are fully compatible with Windows 8.   If you're using an old version that isn't, please update. If you are using Windows 8.1, VCDS-Lite should work fine once installed, but the installer may not run unless you run it in XP (or anything other than 8.1) compatibility mode.

1.16  Will VCDS work on Microsoft Surface tablets?

There are two versions of these tablets, "Surface" and "Surface Pro". The regular "Surface" tablets are based on ARM CPUs running "Windows RT" and have no compatibility with normal Windows x86 programs.  The regular Windows-based version VCDS will not work on these, but VCDS-Mobile  does. The "Surface Pro" tablets use Intel CPUs and Windows 8 Pro, and VCDS will works fine on them.


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