Frequently Asked Questions
I just got set up with a BenchForce™ Starter Kit. How do I hook this up?
Please see the diagram below. You can also download the PDF.
Do you offer discounts?
We offer the following discounts:
1. All orders totaling $200 before tax receive free shipping.
2. Qualified Resellers get volume discounts.
3. Flash Sale items are always discounted. These include the following:
- Blemished items
- Returned items
- Discontinued / Closeout Items
An example of quantity price breaks would be: Bill’s Programming Shop needs five sets of BenchForce Starter Kits. They receive a price break on the 5 items because they are buying five of the same item. If Bill’s Programming Shop is instead ordering twenty different programming harnesses, they pay retail price for each harness.
We understand that certain vehicle manufacturers and software developers have terms & conditions that might make their warranties and/or agreements with you void if you make any modifications to their equipment. While we don’t believe that our devices, when used properly, are a violation of such terms & policies, we aren’t lawyers, so use these products at your own risk.
Note: violations of our Purchasing Policy can invalidate any support we are able to offer. We outline misuse of products under YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK.
Is BenchForce™ PowerBlock™ a J2534 USB/Serial Programming Device?
BenchForce PowerBlock does not communicate with nor does it program any controllers. Communication with a controller on the bench requires a compatible USB/Serial programming device.
Our system is simple, safe, and easy to use. BenchForce brings the vehicle diagnostic connection to the bench. Our PowerBlock is a circuit board-based solution with an OBD-II diagnostic connector and switchable ignition.
BenchForce allows you to bypass unnecessary on-board modules in the vehicle during the reprogramming process to ensure safe and reliable communication between ECU(s) and your programming equipment.
BenchForce PowerBlock uses an industry-standard 16-pin OBD-II diagnostic link connector that is compatible with 1996-newer OBD-II programming tools.
What protocols and programming interfaces does PowerBlock™ work with?
- CAN bus (OBD-II)
- Class 2 Serial (OBD-II)
- GM Low Speed LAN
- OBD-I (Pre 1996)
- J1939 (Heavy Equipment)
- MEFI (GM)
- FEPS (Ford)
- SCI (Chrysler)
- SCP (Ford)
While we don’t have a comprehensive list of every programming and diagnostic tool available, these are the most common devices our customers are using:
- OEM Programming Tools
- EFILive FlashScan 2
- HP Tuners MVPI & MPVI2
- Alientech Interface Cable(s)
- DimSport Interface Cable(s)
- Drew Technologies Interface Cable(s)
- EASE Diagnostics Interface Cable(s)
Do I need a Pass-Through Harness between PowerBlock™ and the ECU Harness?
A pass-through harness is used, in most cases, to attach PowerBlock to a programming harness. The pass-through harness was established for 2 reasons:
- This connection provides a rock-solid, locking link to the circuit board within the PowerBlock. You won’t experience any issues with communication because of physical connectivity.
- At the time of this writing, without a pass-through harness we would need to have a separate PowerBlock for standard OBD-II, OBD-II with FEPS, and J1939. For our customers that do more than one type of programming, this would be cost prohibitive, requiring them to obtain 3 completely separate systems to meet their programming needs.
Note: Some ECU harnesses connect directly to PowerBlock. Each ECU harness product page demonstrates the PowerBlock connection method. If you need additional information, please feel free to contact us.
How do I know which harness I need for my controller?
We do our best to offer up-to-date information for all of our programming harnesses. You can find your harness easily by using any of these methods:
- Use the filter feature on the Harnesses page to see only the exact harnesses you need.
- Type keywords into the search field at the upper right of the site. For example, “E40” or “transmission”
The best way for us to categorize our harnesses is by application, which breaks down to make, model, and model year. This allows you to easily find the appropriate harness for your application.
Why can’t my programming interface communicate with this ECU?
The first step is to take a look at the BenchForce tag on your harness. Are you working with the right controller for this harness? In some cases, you may have a harness that is physically compatible with your controller (see the question before this one about ECU model year overlap) but is not the correct pinout for your application. If everything checks out, it’s most likely related to your USB/serial programming device and/or software. As described previously in the FAQ, we only provide a way to communicate.
The second step is to check for CAN termination. Which leads us to our next question.
What is CAN termination? How do I use that?
The controllers in many mid-2000 and newer vehicles communicate on a Controller Area Network (CAN). In order to know which devices are the ends of the CAN bus, 120Ω termination resistors are used. In many cases, the engine control module contains a termination resistor. When the termination resistors are not present, no communication will occur on the bus.
PowerBlock II and PowerBlock IV have switchable CAN termination built in. Flip the switch one way for ignition power on, flip it the other way for ignition power + CAN termination. The side of the PowerBlock is labeled to show you which way is which.
Note: If you are programming a BCM, TCM, or any other controllers lacking CAN termination, they may not communicate until you switch CAN termination to the on position.
What if I want to hook up more than one module at a time?
We offer the BenchForce Y-Splitter Harness so that you can plug the Y-Splitter into the appropriate pass-through harness (J1939, OBD-II, Ford SCP FEPS, etc.) and right into the PowerBlock. This gives you 2 harness connections to the PowerBlock, which you can use to attach an ECU Harness and TCM Harness, or you can even use it to attach a second Y-Splitter to give you a total of 3 connections into a single PowerBlock. Finally, if you are one of our longstanding customers who purchased a PowerBlock I, or a Professional Series Switch Assembly (neither of which have built-in CAN termination) you can use the Y-Splitter to accomplish 120Ω CAN termination by adding one of our BenchForce J1939 120 Ohm CAN Termination or BenchForce OBD-II 120 Ohm CAN Termination Harnesses.