For those of you who are into Subarus, Porsche, Ford Ecoboosts, or Nissan GTRs, you’re probably familiar with Cobb Tuning. They’ve long been one of the premier aftermarket parts companies for those aforementioned automotive brands, with their flagship product being the Accessport, which is essentially a platform to flash your vehicle with and it also allows other tuners to develop tunes for vehicles and then flash them through the Accessport.
Of course, one of the big things many people look for when tuning their vehicles is the ability to tune around emissions systems. For example, tons of people run catless downpipes on their Subarus to pick up more power, but the EPA is not exactly okay with that kind of this. And unfortunately, the EPA has come knocking on Cobb’s door and some big things are about to change.
Green Speed Update April 2022
This all started just a few days ago, with Cobb publishing a blog post Green Speed Update April 2022, which goes over the changes they’ve made and the fact that they’re pushing to get more of their products CARB certified. Ultimately, the EPA is coming after a lot of aftermarket brands that produce emissions delete products or aid in making them easier to work with.
The big piece of news is the change of all their software that could be viewed as a bypass, defeat, or delete tuning and delete calibrations. So, what does this mean exactly? It means all their off-the-shelf tuning will not support catless downpipes, emissions delete products, or things that aren’t CARB certified.
It also means that Cobb’s tuning software, Accesstuner, will prevent tuners from creating files that could possibly be viewed as a delete tune or a tune for something which isn’t CARB certified.
To explain that in more detail, that means Diagnostic Trouble Codes that pop up from O2 sensors, EGT sensors, three-way cat sensors, EGR sensors, EVAP sensors, secondary air injection sensors, tumble generator valves, and more, can no longer be suppressed. So, you can no longer shut off your engine light after deleting emissions components with an Accessport.
What’s even worse is that running Ethanol with a flew fuel system will set off some of these DTC signals, which means Cobb has removed the Nissan and Subaru Flex Fuel features from their Accessport, even though they continued selling their Flex Fuel kits right up until now.
It’s understandable as to why Cobb is doing this, as the EPA has been crushing down on other companies with fines up in the millions of dollars and Cobb understandably wants to avoid being fined millions of dollars, but the manner in which they carried out this update was poorly handled and ultimately screws many of their customers and shops who rely on their products.
The issue isn’t that they removed the features I mentioned. Sure, it’s annoying and ultimately sucks, as removing emissions components can often result in improved performance, improved fuel mileage, and massively improved reliability in some applications, but rather that they gave everyone zero warning on this.
They continued selling products like their Flex Fuel kit as recently as one month ago, and they’re now locking tuners out of being able to create Flex Fuel maps. That means that every single customer and shop who purchased a Flex Fuel kit is now screwed unless they go with another tuning option, such as a standalone ECU.
Cobb quite literally gave tuners just 30 days between the flex-fuel system sales ending and the end of support for those kits. It’s one thing to stop supporting the product, it’s another to do it with just a 30-day period between stopping sales and stopping support.
That kind of lack of communication massively screws every shop that relies on Cobb’s Accessport features and it screws those shop’s customers, as well as screwing individuals who are tuning their car on their own accord.
Other Options are Lacking
You might be thinking, well why not just switch to a similar tuning platform? While you most definitely can, there aren’t any other platforms with the kind of support and widespread usage as the Accessport. One of the closest options is Ecutek, but they’re owned by the same parent company as Cobb, which means Ecutek will be taking similar steps in the coming weeks or months.
Of course, the ultimate solution is switching to a standalone ECU, which offers much better tuning flexibility and many more advanced features as compared to an Accessport, but standalone ECUs are incredibly expensive, especially as compared to the Accessport which is under $1000 for most applications, where a standalone can cost upwards of five grand or more depending how fancy you go.
There are cheaper options, such as Megasquirt, but they’re not nearly as simple to use and it still begs the question, how long until those companies also take similar changes to avoid attracting attention from the EPA and ultimately massive fines? How long until all tuning companies stop supporting tuning for anything emissions-related?
It really sucks and this could potentially cause a domino effect, or could also cause the opposite. These changes will likely end up causing the Accessport to drop massively in popularity, which means something has to take its place, so now it could just be a waiting game to see which platform rises up as the new Accessport.
To be fair though, Cobb supposedly has a solution coming, although they haven’t disclosed when it will come through or what it will be.