Dell E4300 BIOS hacking

I just got my hands on a 2nd hand Dell Latitude E4300 laptop previously owned by the Belgian Ministry of Justice. The computer has a functional Windows license on it, however the computer is currently configured in a Administrative Domain so any normal users that could possible log into this machine is not allowed to install any software. Furthermore, since I didn’t have any user credentials I was forced to find a way to bypass the AD user login. Linux  gives us some possibilities, however since the BIOS is locked by a administrative password I was not able to select or change any other boot device aside of the hard drive. One solution is to unscrew the hard drive and install it into another computer where you do have the boot options available. However, bypassing the BIOS admin password is not so hard either on these machines and requires just some googling…

To get into the administrative password protected BIOS, first press f12 during system boot to get into the E4300 BIOS. You’ll notice the unlock button at the bottom. Press it and you’ll be asked for the admin password. You can however obtain the master password from the following website:, enter your serial number (might look like this: 1234567-2A7B), and use the password that is given by “Dell by serial number”. So in the BIOS, press the unlock button, next enter the password and press ctrl + enter and now you should get into the unlocked BIOS. One remark here: the password should be entered on a QWERTY keyboard, for AZERTY keyboards you’ll have to convert your password to a QWERTY string. So, if for example you get the following response from the BIOS-PS.ORG website: “Dell by serial number: hTfn7Xz3yWqg8”, then you should enter “hTfnèXw”yZag!” on a Belgian AZERTY keyboard. So the trick here is to enter numbers without using the shift button as you’re used to, switch “q” with “a”, “z” with “w”, and “m” with “,”.

Now, make yourself a LINUX life boot cd, mount the windows drive and save whatever data you wanted to safe. Good luck!


Opel/vauxhall Vectra C 1.9 CDTI (Z19DTH) engine overview part 2

Continuing on what I wrote few days ago, here is part 2 of the Opel/Vauxhall Vectra C 1.9 CDTI (Z19DTH) engine overview. Some of the most common things were already pointed out, in this article I’ll add a few more.

For starters, the glow plugs:

z19dth-position-drallklappen-1804311767020540345The glow plugs makes sure that the fuel burns when starting the engine, afterwards they’re no longer needed with diesel engines. Here is a more closed up shot:

images (1)

Be carefull if you’re thinking of replacing them, they can snap quite easily. It’s good to already add some lubricant few days before you’re going to remove them. The biggest part of the glow plug is however hidden inside the engine and is not visable on the pictures above. In total, they look like this:

uvy7y8u7The big iron tube you see on top of the engine is the common rail:

Commen Rail schematics:


In the following video there is a good explanation about the common rail system in modern diesel engines:

In this video they also mention the swirl flaps. These flaps are located inside the intake manifold, but can sometimes be a source of error. Since using the EGR system involves reusing exhaust gas, the EGR valve and intake manifold’s swirl flaps might block or get damaged because of dust particles that stick around. A good tip is to check the EGR valve once in a time and clean it (does not take a lot of time since it is easily reachable). Alternatives is to block of the EGR valve so that no exhaust gasses are used anymore. On the internet you’ll probable find some blanking plates, but you can also make one yourself:

camerapics001Aside of this you also might want to check the boost (MAP) sensor as it is also located in the intake manifold and so it will take a lot of dust too. The boost sensor sits close to the EGR valve:

P1020135The sensor itself might have a lot of dirt on it, so cleaning is advised:

images (2)

The boost sensor, also known as MAP (manifold absolute pressure) sensor, measures the air mass flow rate. The ECU can then take the exact fuel amount to make a optimum combustion.

On the front of the car there is also the MAF sensor, located just next to the intake air filtering box:


The MAF (mass airflow) sensor senses the mass airflow of air being brought to the turbo. It may also be a source of problematic engine behavior, although it occurs less than malfunctioning EGR valves for example.

Opel/vauxhall Vectra C 1.9 CDTI (Z19DTH) engine overview

My previous article teached you something about modern car emission control systems. In this article I will explain you through a series of pictures how these are implemented in the Opel/Vauxhall Vectra C 1.9 CDTI with Z19DTH engine code.

For starters let’s have a look at the front of the car with radiator, intercooler and airco heat exchanger removed:

304793_422653101109945_310353594_nThe engine block itself can easily be noticed central in this picture. The air intake is at the left side in this picture next to the front light, from there on the air flows into the air filter and back out into the turbo which is the brownish rusty thing also at the center of the picture. The turbo uses the exhaust gas to spin up and so it is fixed onto the exhaust gas manifold. The exhaust gas manifolds collects all the exhaust gas that has been created inside the engine due to the burning of air and fuel. It collects it and brings it to together and then runs the exhaust gas to the turbo which will spin up at the exhaust side and at the air intake side (because both compressor wheels are physically connected). And so the intake air will get compressed which allow for more air inside the engine and so more fuel to burn which increases the engine performance in general. Another shot of the front of the engine:

z19dth-front-3034240990127979278Here is another shot of the turbo mounted onto the exhaust manifold:

9840143-origpic-ccd6f1The EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system for the Z19DTH engine takes exhaust gas from the exhaust manifold. In the above picture you can clearly see the bigger hole on the right side where some of the exhaust gas will be collected. The picture before also has an indication where this hole is located. So, some of the exhaust gas will be used to drive the turbo, other remaining exhaust gas will be reused in the EGR system. From that particular hole that I just described, the exhaust gas flows through the EGR cooler and back into the air intake system. The EGR cooler is cooled be the same water that cools the engine, and looks as following:


From exhaust manifold to intake manifold:


In real life:


In the above picture, the thing next to the EGR cooler is the EGR valve. The black part of the valve is the electronics to drive it. Inside the iron housing there is more or less a small iron bar which will control the valve and make it possible for exhaust gas to either be mixed with the compressed intake air or not used at all. The EGR valve sits on the back of the engine where there is the intake manifold.

2013070510608AR_-TOP-Turbodiesel-Motor-Z19DTH-OPEL-ASTRA-H-2006-19-CDTi-110kw-104000km_b5The intake manifold is where both EGR’ed exhaust gas and compressed intake air flow together. The intake manifold will guide the mixture inside the engine where it is used for burning fuel. Another view at the back of the engine:

da607d7b652edacaHere is what the intake manifold looks like separately:


In real life:


And so air travels inside the inside, helps burning the fuel and leaves the engine again through the exhaust manifold, to either be reused again for driving the turbo or for the EGR system. For today that’s enough details, more later!