In this video, Andre Simon of HPA and Mike McGinnis of COBB Tuning explain exactly what a CAN bus system is, how reflash tuning software has made such leaps and bounds over the last decade and where its limitations still lie.
10 or more years ago a standalone ECU was the go-to choice for almost any performance build and flash tuning/chip tuning/reflash tuning was solely for mild modifications. Standalone ECUs gave the tuner the ability to add many more sensors, freely tune for modifications as well as track conditions on race day and so much more. This was possible because in most cases the factory ECU’s primary/sole focus was engine management, but fast forward to today and you’re going to find OEM engine management systems control so much more from the ‘little’ things like climate control and gauge clusters to transmissions and braking + traction control functions.
Luckily people like Mike McGinnis of COBB using their vehicles, such as Mikes Nissan GTR at TX2K as a test bed for development. Mike and the COBB team are on the ball with reflashing software that can manipulate a factory ECU that was never designed to do anything more than control what rolled out the factory door control and engine at 2, 3 or even 4 times the stock power level. With products like COBBs CAN Gateway tuners can essentially ‘plug and play’ additional sensors into vehicles CAN bus network enabling features such as Flex Fuel (ethanol content sensor), safeties such as coolant and fuel pressure sensors (some of this is still in the final stages of development). Coupled with boost control and the ability to run extra fuel injectors (often a requirement for ethanol fuel systems) you are quickly not far off what a standalone system is capable of and potentially for a much lower upfront cost.
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