Volvo introduces PIN codes

UPDATE: The article below is out dated. However, it explains the issues with Volvo's PIN codes well.

Today we are facing the fact that Volvo on most new car models (5-cyl D4, D5 and 6-cyl T6) has introduced a system which requires that you have a 10-digit PIN code in order to get security access to the electronical control system of the car. This PIN code is unique for each car and without the code it is, for example, impossible to exchange hardware that needs to be “encoded”, or to install new software in the engine control module, ECM. The purpose of this action is that Volvo wants to tie service works to their own brand workshops, and to acquire a monopoly on the aftermarket of engine tuning. As long as a Volvo owner doesn’t have access to his PIN code, he has lost the possibility to freely choose a supplier on the market.

The consequences
There are a lot of situations that require having security access to the car’s control system. For example, when performing many kinds of service works that come when the car is a bit older and has fallen out of the warranty, you must ”encode” new hardware, such as injectors on a diesel car, throttle or control unit. Furthermore, you must be able to reload the software when installing a power optimization that is integrated with the rest of the control system of the car. And there is a large group of car enthusiasts that build and modify their cars on their own by exchanging the downpipes, intercoolers, turbos and so on, which also requires an ability to reload the software of the car.

When Volvo tries to acquire a monopoly on the aftermarket by preventing outside companies to perform these kinds of works, it affects independent workshops, tuning companies, suppliers of tuning products and all car enthusiasts that want to upgrade their car by themselves. And all car owners in particular will be affected since they will be forced to go to Volvo’s own ranks, without any possibility to freely choose whatever supplier they want. We must ask ourselves if developments are going in the right direction when a big company acts in a manner that so strongly limits the freedom of the customers and hinders healthy competition on the market.

Your PIN code is the key to freedom of choice
If you have a car that is affected by this, it is still possible to tune your car at BSR if you have access to your unique 10-digit PIN code. You can try to get this code by contacting the Volvo customer service. After this, we will be able to tune your car. Since the car owner normally doesn’t have access to his PIN code, we have taken away the possibility to order any of the concerned tuning kits in our webshop. We hope that the situation will change in the future, so that we can sell the tuning kits as usual, but at present we can’t do much more about it.

BSR has for a long time been successful in overcoming or getting around Volvo’s PIN code system by a number of smart solutions. Evidently, this has not been appreciated by Volvo at all, and the situation developed into a form of cat-and-mouse game. Volvo has been surprisingly concerned about stopping BSR’s activities. We have recognized this by the fact that they have bought our products and have tried to log how we do things as soon as we managed to find any hole in their system. They have also sent lawyers and expressed threats and unpleasant things targeted directly at our business. In short, this is the background to why we need your PIN code.

Choose another car make?
It is regrettable that Volvo tries to make it difficult for independent companies because it affects both customers and the aftermarket in a negative way. And the question is what happens in the long term when the car fleet is 10-15 years old and reparations and service are of such a nature that they require access to the control system of the car? Is this the time when Volvo will reap the profits from all customers that are locked to the brand workshops? And what happens with the next generation of car enthusiasts that, in the future, want to modify and upgrade their Volvo? They will not be able to do this on any of the new cars. And with the economic turbulence in the car industry in mind, what happens if Volvo goes bankrupt and no one will have access to the electronics of the car? Since Volvo now uses these kinds of methods that so strongly limits the freedom of its customers, maybe it is time to choose another car make next time you change car? For it must be better when the car owner can hire whichever company he wants to, when it comes to matters concerning his car? After all, it is the car owner that owns the car, not the car manufacturer.