5 questions to ask yourself before switching to a standalone ECU

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Mar 24, 2024 | Shop Work, ECU, electronics, GRM+ | Posted in Shop Work , Electronics & Electrical Systems , Buyer's Guides | From the Dec. 2021 issue | Never miss an article

In the continuing quest for performance, eventually you’ll hit physical or digital barriers separating your car from that next level. When it comes to the physical barriers, those are usually pretty cut and dried: Piston engines are air pumps, ultimately, so installing those exhaust headers and an intake that increases pumping efficiency are straightforward decisions.

But when it comes to the …

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Comments
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/11/22 11:04 a.m.

6. Do you have emissions inspections?

Aftermarket ECUs will not return OBD-II codes, so if your car was built after 1995 and you have regular emissions checks, you should check to see if your state has alternative testing methods for cars with inoperative emissions monitoring systems. Keep resale in mind as well, the ECU will prevent you from selling your car to some states because of htis.

AndyHess
AndyHess New Reader
4/11/22 1:26 p.m.

"Want to call in an expert? That’s easy. In fact, we recommend having someone qualified perform that first tune and provide a good baseline. "  OK - Where do you find an actual expert?  There are so many claims on the Internet and in forums, and so many horror stories - is there an index of reliable expert tuners for OEM ECU's?

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/11/22 1:33 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Not being able to connect to the computer IS an emissions fail.

 

You've no idea how many failed emissions I've fixed by replacing the cigarette lighter fuse, usually after digging a penny out of the receptacle.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
4/11/22 2:25 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Not being able to connect to the computer IS an emissions fail.

 

You've no idea how many failed emissions I've fixed by replacing the cigarette lighter fuse, usually after digging a penny out of the receptacle.

There's a useful trick to look for a cheap car.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/11/22 3:11 p.m.
AndyHess said:

"Want to call in an expert? That’s easy. In fact, we recommend having someone qualified perform that first tune and provide a good baseline. "  OK - Where do you find an actual expert?  There are so many claims on the Internet and in forums, and so many horror stories - is there an index of reliable expert tuners for OEM ECU's?

This article is about aftermarket ECUs and not reflashed OE ECUs, but the question is the same. Who would identify a tuner as an expert and/or reliable, and maintain the list? It's always going to have to be crowd-sourced unless there's some sort of training required by the manufacturer of the ECU (or the reflashing interface), and I don't think any manufacturers require that.

If I was looking for a local tuner of something like a Megasquirt, I'd go to the people who sold me the Megasquirt (probably DIY Autotune as they're the adults in the room) and ask for recommendations.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
4/11/22 3:16 p.m.
AndyHess said:

"Want to call in an expert? That’s easy. In fact, we recommend having someone qualified perform that first tune and provide a good baseline. "  OK - Where do you find an actual expert?  There are so many claims on the Internet and in forums, and so many horror stories - is there an index of reliable expert tuners for OEM ECU's?

I didn't read this closely until Keith replied.  For OEM reflashers, there will never be a compiled list of business that do that.  Ever.  Unless every one of them wants a knock on the door from the FBI.  

Experts for that have to really be careful, especially since there is a recent crack down on OEM re-calibrate software.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/11/22 8:51 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

If I was looking for a local tuner of something like a Megasquirt, I'd go to the people who sold me the Megasquirt (probably DIY Autotune as they're the adults in the room) and ask for recommendations.

There is also "Find a Tuner" on MSExtra.com, if you don't want to wade through FB groups. Also :wave:

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
4/12/22 3:34 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Thank you so very much for this. I've been trying to sort all this out myself and keep running into a wall. 
 I really need a EFI for dummies  excerpt all of the books I've bought while helpful explaining things fail to walk me through step by step.  
      There is the mega squirt, here is the V12  now you can substitute this Lucas sensor  for that GM sensor by using this connector wired to the Red & green wire. 

Maybe not that linear but something close.  
My next step is to buy the cables from DIY and see if I can figure that stuff out myself. 
 I'm actually proud that I've gotten this far.  I tried the forums but wow,  a newbie really isn't welcome.   
     I follow a lot of U Tube especially with our Calvin Nelson on his 4200 Atlas. 
     But he's off and running and I'm not even in the Toddler stage. 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/12/22 4:13 p.m.

I can get onto teams with you and hold your hand on a per-hour basis. I include 2hr with all my pnp system sales in a similar way but limit it to getting the sw running, logging, troubleshooting as all the wiring bits are taken care of already.

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
4/13/22 9:45 a.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) :

I fully intend to hire your knowledge and experience   as soon as I'm out of the Toddler stage.   Right now we are still in the building it stage. 

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