ABS/TC off Dongle

We don’t have to explain it to the real Alfist. How much fun it is to drive a rear wheel driven car with an appropriate oversteer through a bend or to accelerate out of it. From the early Alfa’s to the last transaxle 75’s this was possible. Then Alfa Romeo switched to front-wheel drive. Fortunately one of the best if not THE best front wheel drives on the market.

It had to take until 2016 before Alfa’s were driven on the rear wheels again (not including the 4C and 8C). Between 1992 and 2016 a lot has changed in the car world. ABS was already there in 1992, but linked to it was traction control. Traction control prevents slipping wheels so that grip remains and therefore stability. Traction control became part of ESC which stands for Electronic Stability Control. Sounds nice and nice that it can be done, but for the purist the fun of real driving went away bit by bit.

 

In 2016 the Giulia came on the market. With rear wheel drive. The Alfa that Alfists had been waiting for for years. With the fastest Q-version the driving aids can for the most part be switched off completely. But unfortunately for the weaker versions, the driver’s aids are not switchable off. To the great annoyance of the real purist who could finally drive his rear wheel driven Alfa again but couldn’t do anything at all with it like before.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Alfa Giulia and Stelvio is whether the traction control can be turned off. That question was easier asked than the answer given. Reason enough for us to investigate. The process of development started very simply by investigating how the Giulia Q works. This has an extra position on the DNA button, called “race”. In that “race” mode, the traction control is disabled. The symbol on the clock panel clearly indicates this. When studying the electrical diagram it seemed almost too good to be true. There are 4 wires from the DNA button to the body computer. For each position of the DNA button 1. But unfortunately, when we mount the DNA button of a Giulia Q in a non-Q, A, N and D work fine. But when choosing “Race”, the system goes wrong. Despite frantic attempts, we couldn’t get this to work at the time.

 

The next step to get it done was a much more intensive one. We had to delve deeply into the internal communication of the Giulia, the so-called CAN network. The CAN network is a digital network that allows all the control units in the car to “talk” to each other. The first idea was to develop an app in combination with a universal EOBD dongle. It soon became clear that we would leave too many variables to chance. For example, the operating system of the phone/tablet and the quality/stability of the bluetooth EOBD dongle. But before we got there we had to understand the language in which the CAN system communicates. Then we had to find out how it works with a Giulia Q and reproduce it on a non-Q. Many hours further with the development of hard- and software, we discovered how this works with a Q. We applied this to a non-Q, but unfortunately. A non-Q does not answer the instructions that deactivate the traction control with a Q.Back to the drawing boards……………………………. Again!

A last option to investigate was whether it is possible to paralyze the entire ABS system. If the ABS system is out of action, no traction control can take place. A disadvantage could be that other functions linked to the ABS system will no longer work. The advantage is that the car drives without any electronic devices. And that is exactly what the purist wants, and it would be nice if the driver could choose for himself whether he wants the ABS/TC off or on. The most obvious thing to do is to use the DNA button. A- and N- stay as they are and as soon as the D-position with a connected ABS/TC off dongle is chosen, the ABS goes into a coma, again after a lot of time of thinking, researching and testing.

We´ve made this product in 2017. Since summer 2019 we´ve also een other solution.

Using the ABS/TC Dongle

Switching off the ABS/ESC system

Turn the DNA button to the A or N position.

Insert the ABS/TC off dongle into the EOBD plug. The green LED indicates that there is power on the dongle. The red LED is for optional Bluetooth communication and will flash.

 

The ABS/TC off dongle connected to the EOBD plug

The ABS and ESC and thus the traction control can be switched off via the D-position of the DNA button. Switching on or off requires that the car is stationary. It does not matter whether the engine is running or not.Also the position of the gear shift or automatic mode is not important.We recommend the neutral position with a manual gearbox, the P-position with an automatic gearbox. Also the useage of the foot brake or hand brake has no influence.

 

The clock panel, it's okay yet.

When you choose the D-position the following happens:

The ABS, ESC, red exclamation mark and, for most versions, the “Forward Collision Warning OFF” lights up.

The warning messages (accompanied by an audible tone) which appear on the screen between the tachometer and speedometer are successively:

  • “ABS not available”
    The wheels can now lock under very hard braking
  • “Have the braking system checked”
    This is a general warning
  • “ESC (Electronic Stability Control) not available”
    This system controls, amongst other things, the conscious Traction Control as well as over- and understeer.
  • “Have electronic parking brake checked”
    The parking brake does not work anymore.
  • “Hill Holder control not available”
    The car is no longer held on a small slope with driving away
  • “AST not available”
    AST stands for Alfa Steering Torque). In dangerous situations (eg with hard braking on surfaces with different grip) it influences the power steering, so that the driver can imagine how he should keep the steering wheel to improve the stability of the vehicle. Something that a real driver hates.

 

 

A few moments later, two more messages appear:

  • “Automatic Highbeam not available”
  • “FCW operation limited camera front check”

Unfortunately, for cars with electronic shock absorbers this system will be switches off.

After a few cycles of the above warnings, the warning messages stop and the normal display reappears. This can be accelerated by pressing the button on the right steering rod. This allows the cycles to be pressed until the normal display is visible again. The warning lights in the cluster display will remain on.

Switching on the ABS/ESC system

Re-enabling the ABS is done simply by turning the DNA knob back to N or A. Switching on takes about 4 seconds and one can hear that everything is being activated again. When you hold your foot on the brake pedal, you will feel a reaction from re-engaging ABS system in the brake pedal.

Note: switching off the electronic parking brake still works but the parking brake is no longer applied. Always set the car flat, or keep the foot on the brake pressed or put the automatic gearbox in P.

Liability

Squadra Tuning will not accept any liability for damage caused in any way by using our ABS/TC off dongle. Use of it is entirely at own risk in any form whatsoever.

We state emphatically that the use of the ABS/TC off dongle on the public road is not legal, because the Giulia and Stelvio are standardly equipped with safety systems that belong to the type approval. By disabling these systems, the Giulia and Stelvio no longer meet all requirements concerning this type of approval. The ABS/TC off dongle is therefore “For track use ONLY” and “NOT road legal”.

The ABS/TC off dongle was specially developed for the Alfa Romeo Giulia/Stelvio 2.0 Turbo/2.2 JTDm models. Therefore, do NOT use the dongle in any other type of car.

Foolproof?
We did our best to make the ABS/TC off dongle as Foolproof as possible. A few examples with a stationary car.

What happens if the ABS/TC off dongle is plugged into the EOBD connector while the DNA is in the D position?
Then it comes into effect almost immediately.

What happens if the dongle is removed during operation?
Then the ABS switches on again.

What happens if the contact is switched off while the dongle is still in and active?
First nothing because the contact is off. When the ignition is switched on again in the D-position, the ABS switches on normally. When the N-position is switched on, the ABS will switch off for a while and then back on again.

What happens if, while the contact is off, the DNA from D to N is switched on and the contact is switched on again?
Then the ABS just switches on again as long as the dongle is still in the EOBD connector…

…. what if it doesn’t work anymore?
When the ABS/ESC is no longer switched on, a simple “CPR” procedure is possible. Turn the power on and off 3 times. Wait 3 to 5 seconds between switching on and off. After the third time the ABS system has reset itself and is switched on again.

Who is the ABS/TC dongle for?
In the introduction we already used the term “purist”. And that’s what we came up with this for. The purist is someone who loves to steer and accelerate and doesn’t want to be supported by electronic interventions of ABS, stability control, collision warnings, steering system, brake aids and so on. Someone who wants to have everything under control and wants to rely on their own reflexes. The circuit is the perfect place for this.

Liability

Squadra Tuning will not accept any liability for damage caused in any way by using our ABS/TC off dongle. Use of it is entirely at own risk in any form whatsoever.

We state emphatically that the use of the ABS/TC off dongle on the public road is not legal, because the Giulia and Stelvio are standardly equipped with safety systems that belong to the type approval. By disabling these systems, the Giulia and Stelvio no longer meet all requirements concerning this type of approval. The ABS/TC off dongle is therefore “For track use ONLY” and “NOT road legal”.

The ABS/TC off dongle was specially developed for the Alfa Romeo Giulia/Stelvio 2.0 Turbo/2.2 JTDm models. Therefore, do NOT use the dongle in any other type of car.