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I've been told this is a terrible idea and just wanted greater confidence even though the warning against has been taken. I want to be able to fine tune a 1990 car with an OBD-I port in addition to adding features such as launch control. Understanding this I'd need to, at the very least, be able to use OBD-II. Is there a way to do this or am I a fish out of water?

  • What car from 1990 has so much power that you can't modulate the throttle well enough and you need launch control? – cory Oct 18 '16 at 14:05
  • If you can find basically the same car that was made in 1990 and 1996? You should be able to swap the engine harness, ECU, and possibly a few sensors. The hard part will be matching up with the body harness. I would be very surprised if they did not change their body wiring (gauges) between 1990 and 1996. – rpmerf Oct 19 '16 at 12:10
  • I believe some cars have an aftermarket conversion harness for putting ODB2 in an ODB1 car. I think I remember seeing it for my Acura Integra, so it should work on most Hondas of that era. – rpmerf Oct 19 '16 at 12:12
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I think it's a very laudable enterprise.

I also think your "fish" isn't gonna last long. Your best bet is to convert to an aftermarket injection and ignition system (Haltech comes to mind; but there are many others.)

OBD II is all about emissions compliance. If you really want to explore the extremes, it's gonna be about your tune. You need to gather all your inputs and end up with an injection and timing map that truly represents your goals. That isn't going to happen in OBD I, and you will cripple your creativity trying to eek it out in OBD II. The "OBD" level isn't the point. Can you flash it? Can you change it? THAT will be the point.

An OBD I car ECU is not gonna have the speed and the chops to do what [I think] you are asking. There may be nothing wrong with the block, cams, and cylinders. But computers triple in capability every couple of years, and it's quite likely an "OBD I" ECU can't even be flashed or reprogrammed effectively.

A modern aftermarket ECU injection system would give you the benefit of the latest sensor and computer capability. While expensive, it pales in comparison to trying to make ... "your grandmother learn to program C++."

(No disrespect - your Grandmother could be a genius. Send me her number...)

[cough ... Sorry] To answer your question, your best bet is the latest aftermarket technology that can be applied to any set of reciprocating pistons.

Keep in mind the journey will be very steep an fraught with many perils. Also keep in mind that with dedication you will own tuning and understanding about AFR and IC engines.

To me, that in itself makes it worthwhile. Best of luck.

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  • My grandma's a pretty smart lady... but she's married. :/ Sorry, man – Adrian Stubbs Oct 17 '16 at 6:12
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As explained in other answers, the short of it is, no it is not easily feasible. For your purpose, a tunable after-market ECU would be necessary. You may be interested in an open-source ECU, that you can build yourself, provided you have some electronics and programming knowledge. It's been ported to 40 different vehicles so far, and you can add yours to the list.

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  • Can you please elaborate more on Free EMS, I tried to check the link and reading some documentation but could not warp my head around it. Is it some type of software that you build in a hardware (ECU) to tune your engine characteristics – method Oct 17 '16 at 7:57
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    @method Yes. It is custom software and custom hardware. This allows you to control absolutely every aspect of the powertrain. I've been looking at this for a back-burner project, since, for a car that has electronically controlled automatic transmission, this ECU will allow you to tune the shift points for your driving style. – tlhIngan Oct 17 '16 at 8:13
  • Wow this is quite amazing, and I am assuming that it is only possible for obd 2 or does it not matter? – method Oct 17 '16 at 8:27
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In short the answer is no. You best bet will be to get an aftermarket computer fuel injection system and put on the vehicle. If you can be more specific about what you want to tune exactly I may be able to give you an easier alternative.

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  • i mainly want to edit fuel injection and ignition system however i'm getting the sense that I needed a little bit more knowledge on how such a thing would be accomplished – Adrian Stubbs Oct 17 '16 at 5:57
  • @AdrianStubbs Are you just looking for more horsepower, or do you want to play with tuning? – Move More Comments Link To Top Oct 17 '16 at 5:59
  • I want to play with tuning. Simply for instance modifying the power band to get better lower end torque... I know this can be done with a simple ecu chip addition but i prefer learning the more holistic approach. I love my car, don't want anything bad to happen due to personal ignorance. ultimately I want to install a turbocharger in a 3.0l Porsche 944. This would require knowledge of boost control and the like. Horsepower's nice but there's always a limit to the love so to speak. – Adrian Stubbs Oct 17 '16 at 6:09

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