I was just curious if there is such a thing as aftermarket plug-n-play ECUs that are compatible with a vehicle (have all the features the OEM ECU does) but also have some extra ones, such as maybe sharing the vehicle statistics (or all activity) via Bluetooth to a smartphone or even control some parts of the engine directly via a smartphone.

  • Nice question..
    – Shobin P
    Jun 11, 2015 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


Yes, there are aftermarket engine management systems on the market which take most (if not all) of the factory inputs. I don't know if I would consider it exactly plug-n-play, but one such is the Haltec Elite 2500, which has the following attributes:

  • Waterproof Case (IP67)
  • 8 x Fuel Injection Outputs
  • 8 x Ignition Outputs
  • 28 x Digital Outputs
  • 10 x Analogue Voltage Inputs
  • USB laptop communications
  • Drive By Wire (DBW) Throttle Control
  • 6 x Engine Position Inputs with extensive trigger type support
  • Programmable Injector Peak and Hold Currents
  • OBDII Capable – set and clear diagnostics trouble codes
  • New “ESP” calibration software – More intuitive and easier to use than ever
  • Dual CAN Bus communications for OEM and Haltech CAN expansion
  • User definable 5D Tuning – Tune by Gear, Cam Angle or any channel for ultimate tuning flexibility
  • Variable Cam Control – Independently Control up to 4 camshafts
  • Dual Channel Knock Control – With FFT analysis for accurate detection
  • Auto Tune Capabilities – Short and Long term fuel, ignition & boost learning
  • Staged Fuelling – Up to four stages of injectors
  • Multi-fuel Support- Support for Petrol (Gasoline), Methanol and Ethanol
  • E85 Flex Fuel Ready – With additional boost tables
  • Closed Loop Boost Control – Multiple Modes – Tune by gear, wheel speed or time
  • Closed Loop Idle Control – With learning for consistent idle stability
  • Closed Loop 02 Control – Dual bank control for precise tuning
  • Anti-Lag and Launch Control – Drag and Rally modes
  • Data logging – Internal memory & external laptop logging
  • Multi Level Engine Protection – Set limits for sensors and protect your engine
  • ECU comes fully enabled, no additional charges for advanced features

The big advantage of having one of these over a stock vehicle computer is the tune-ability. You don't have to purchase expensive software to tune this guy ... it all comes with the system. It is very flexible by design.

There are other systems out there as well:

I'm sure there are even more ... Each do their own thing, but most of these do it very well.

  • would this be a steady vehicle component used at runtime or just something you'd plug in only when you need to do maintenance/tuning ?
    – amphibient
    Jun 12, 2015 at 20:10
  • 1
    @amphibient - This runs the engine/powertrain. When you need to do maintenance/tuning, you attach a computer (or handheld depending on the EMS) and do your thing. Jun 12, 2015 at 21:08

Yes there are aftermarket ECUs which are simple plug and play they are called piggyback ECUs.

They intercept the signal from the vehicle sensors and the OEM ECU and trick it to accepting false parameters.

These can be Pre ECU like mentioned above, it may trick the OEM ECU by adjusting the feedback from the O2 sensor making the ECU think engine is running rich or lean.

There are also Post ECU Piggybacks which generally not as common actually control the components of the vehicle taking away the control from the OEM ECU. The Problem with the Post ECU is that it is quite difficult to set up and tune but the final result is MUCH more rewarding that the pre ECU piggyback.

The Piggyback ECUs also have a wider array of Engine Map compared to the OEM ECU.

TO answer 2nd part of your question, as of now there are no ECUs which can send feedback to a smartphone or anything but i have seen a lot of Concepts recently of having engine parameters monitoring on smartphone.

What you can do is get a piggyback ECU(Quality one, there are a lot of crappy ones available) which has a built in USB port , then download a custom software for that ECU and hook it to your computer so that you can monitor the parameters on your laptop.

As a side note, you can control the Air conditioning of your Nissan Leaf from your smartphone :-)

  • USB port ? dude, i am sure they come with Bluetooth by now...
    – amphibient
    Jun 11, 2015 at 17:20

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