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Almost every car with a modern on-board computer also has a secret menu. Since the knowledge of this fact has become widespread by now, the name is somehow hardly correct anymore, but has become so common. Here menu items can be called up and information can be viewed that is not accessible in the normal menu. Actually, the secret menu for the car service of the manufacturers should be a quick way to search for errors or information. But even the layman can do that if you know how to find the menu. However, it is important to know what you are doing and what it is better not to do.
What information is available?
The secret menu differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and often even between different models. This is because not every menu item that is possible can be applied to every vehicle. The information stored here can usually be read out by workshops via WDS in the event of technical problems. The following step can be applied to the BMW 3 Series E46, for example, if you want to unlock the secret menu. Switch on the ignition (item 1), press the left button (trip odometer reset) and hold it down until the test on the display shows instrument cluster lights up. Now press the same button until the number on the right has reached 19. Now L on and L off begin to light up alternately in the left part of the display. At "L off" press the button again (-> Lock off). You can now navigate through the individual points. That always works with the same button.
Examples of menu items from the secret menu:
- Vehicle information such as the chassis number, the number of impulses, the date of manufacture of the vehicle, the actual odometer reading and some basic information about the existing software.
- System test for the correct functioning of all warning lights and the pointer instruments.
- Information about maintenance and service of the vehicle.
- Tank information such as volume, consumption and range.
- Current information on the speed, speed, temperature of the coolant, the exterior and the interior.
- Information from the Automotive Distance Control System (ADC) and the electrical voltage in the car.
- Read out the coolant temperature
- Operating hours display
Manipulation of the secret menu
Since the secret menu is just a usually hidden part of the regular software, there is definitely the possibility to hack into this system and manipulate it. To a certain extent, this is part of the routine in workshops when error messages that the on-board computer incorrectly displays must be eliminated. With the right technology and the right software, anyone can theoretically manipulate the secret menu. It should be considered what is the real meaning of the information stored here. In fact, this system is intended for informational purposes only, but not to confuse the average driver. For this reason only, this part of the menu is hidden. There is no information here that no one is allowed to see.
Manipulation possible / information not reliable
However, it is not the inspection of this information that is problematic, but its manipulation. Data is stored here that is linked to the technical and other key data of the vehicle. For this reason, in most cases it makes no sense to want to manipulate this data at all. In fact, this can even be legally problematic. For example, the actual mileage can be read out in the secret menu even after odometer manipulation. There would only be a reason for manipulation in the course of illegal actions. But even if no illegal manipulations are planned, errors can lead to expensive or irreparable damage to the system or the entire vehicle and are not covered by the guarantee or insurance.
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