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How To Unsolder The ECU Chip In A 95 GTI VR6

How To Unsolder The ECU Chip In A 95 GTI VR6

NOTE: This is what I did to unsolder my chip & solder in a socket, but if you follow these instructions and you screw up your ECU, don't blame me.

NOTE 2: PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! The ECU costs $900.00 to replace. Practice all your de-soldering & soldering moves on something before doing it to your ECU for real! I practiced on the board of an old 2400 baud modem, which has chips with pins similar to the VR6 ECU chip.

Equipment/supplies needed:
  • Soldering iron: I have a Weller soldering unit whose power is variable from 0-40W. I used around 20-30W during the de-soldering process, and 40W when soldering in the socket
  • 1/16" or 1/8" soldering braid: soldering braid is a flat braid of fine copper wires. It is used to wick away molten solder. To use it, put it on the solder to be removed, press the tip of the soldering iron onto the braid and hold until the solder melts and is wicked into the braid.
    A "desoldering tool": supposedly you can buy this at Radio Shack. I could not find one locally so I didn't use it. It's supposedly a soldering iron w/ a built-in suction device which allows you to melt the solder & suck it away all in one operation. If you can find this, I think it will make unsoldering the chip MUCH easier.
    A "solder sucker": a vacuum bulb thingy that will suck the solder away as you are melting it.
  • Rosin core solder: get as fine a solder as you can. I used a very fine solder, which I think made it easier to control the amount of solder being put down.
  • A 28 pin socket. When buying the socket, bring your chip & test to make sure it fits. Buy as high quality a socket as you can find.
  • First remove the ECM. Follow these instructions.
  • Use the solder braid and soldering iron to melt & wick away solder from the OEM chip's pins. Since the board is fairly thick, you will need to work on both sides of the board to get all the solder out. A clean hole should resemble a hole, and have no solder in it. Alternate between pins at either end of the chip, and stop if the chip gets so hot that you can't hold a finger on it indefinitely. This process took me 2+ hours.
  • BEFORE YOU REMOVE THE CHIP: make a mark on the board at the end of the chip that has the semi-circular "notch"; that will remind you which way to put the the socket in (the socket has the same notch as the chip). Don't be like me and put the socket in with the notch at the wrong end!
  • Once all the holes are clean, insert a flat blade screwdriver under the chip, and lever the chip out. First twist the handle, using the width of the screwdriver blade as the lever. When the chip is loosened, rock the screwdriver back and forth lengthwise to lever the chip out.
  • Use the solder braid to thoroughly clean the board around the holes and the holes themselves.
  • Insert the socket, match up its notch with the mark on the board.
  • Working on the underside of the board, heat up each pin on the socket for 6-7 seconds then apply the solder. The solder should melt immediately and be sucked down into the pin's hole. Stop when the solder doesn't go down anymore. Do NOT put too much solder in, as it will flow out the other side and onto the other side of the board and make contacts where it shouldn't. Using too much solder can also cause the solder to overflow the hole on this side of the board and run into adjacent contacts.
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