View Full Version : Reprograming a Stoch ECU

07-06-2013, 06:34 PM
Question: is it possible to reprogram a stock ecu (97 Celica) to run a turbo?
The stock engine 1.8 is on the way out and I have a chance to get a 3s-gte engine. I want to do this swap for my son and give him the car. Only problem is the ECU that comes with it has the older OBD1 and to get it through inspection (pollution only) I need the OBD2. The inspection stations here can't read OBD1 and they say they can not use the probe on my 97. They have to see the codes by law.
I've heard that you can reprogram ECU's but no one seems to be able to tell me how or were to get it done. A lot of confusion out there in webland, some places say yes and others say absolutely no and not to try it. I have a friend that has a stock Toyota and purchased an aftermarket ECU when his died, for that car (to up performance a little) but it will not talk to the Inspection Stations computer. So he bought a working stock one from a J/Y and swaps it out a few days before he goes to inspection to get it through.
I'm new to this form so forgive me if I didn't post this question the right way. I'm kind of in a bind and I'm looking for answers as I'm short on time for this. Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

07-06-2013, 07:47 PM

Aside from that I've never heard about OBD1 being a problem at inspection stations. Lots of old cars on the road. Makes no sense for them not to be able to inspect them.

07-06-2013, 11:15 PM
It is not smog legal to run an older ecu set up or engine in a newer car, is running obd1 in an obd 2 car. The engine and ecu can not be older than the car, at least that is how it is in CA.

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07-06-2013, 11:22 PM
I think that it's federal that if the car is emissions controlled that you can't run an engine older that the car. It just depends on the state. I would say that if you're having to have emissions testing that is probably going to apply.

Since the car is a 97, why don't you see if you can find a late 3rd gen swap or even a 4th gen. A little more work but doable and it might get you around the ECU issue.

07-08-2013, 12:29 PM
Apart from that, moving from an A series engine to an S series engine is a pain unless you're good with fabrication. But even if you stayed A series, if you went with anything other than another 7afe, you would need the proper ECU to go with it. The problem with the 4age route would be finding one newer than your car. They are not all that common to begin with, but do make a respectable amount of power. If you do find one that is 97 or newer, it would have OBDII anyway.

07-09-2013, 05:05 AM
I love Alberta for this. Because I run an engine in my car that was not available as a factory option, it is automatically exempt from all emissions regulations. Just needs a muffler!

07-09-2013, 06:00 AM
Would it be too much hassle to go stand alone? And I thought most states allowed you to do sniff test if the car had been modified?

07-10-2013, 07:01 AM
If it is Fed Law it must be something new at least in the past 2 years. Funny thing is, here in AZ there are only 2 cities that require emissions testing. Tucson and Phoenix, older cars can use the sniffer but for some reason it looks like 97 and up must use the computer. Also 2 years ago I got the same message from the emission test about "Not Communicating" and the car still passed and I got a 2 year registration. This year, it is due again, I get the same message and the guy's at the E/Station say it can not pass. When I show them the old rip from the last time reading the same they just scratch their heads as to why it says Emissions = Passed. Seeming that it is just emissions you would think they could use the sniffer but like all bureaucrats they can't use logic. They must see all fault codes. I may sell it to a friend and have it registered outside of the emission limits. But then again I just might put my 65 Corvair or 68 Camaro back on the road. They are much easier to work on and way less of a hassle when it comes to emissions.

07-10-2013, 11:01 AM
Do they have a list of "trusted automotive repair establishments" to do the emissions? Can you go that route?

07-12-2013, 03:21 AM
We are trying to go through another rout, were they check the car and weigh they expense of fixing the problem then using the sniffer. They may then wave the computer readout and use the sniffer, but the emphasize the may part. I'm also checking on getting an updated ECU with OBD2 for a turbo car, I was told that it may be easier to reprogram an ECU of that type to run the engine instead of the stock one. It's just hard for me to believe that with all the aftermarket things you can do to upgrade, when rebuilding an engine, including installing a turbo, that someone out there can't reprogram the ECU for it or make an aftermarket one for an upgrade.
I didn't want to put it in my first post, but my son did the engine swap when I was deployed as a surprise for me. Everything went great the first time going through the Inspection Station 2 years ago, but this year it has turned in to a nightmare. But then again I'm dealing with the government and you would think I'd be use to it by now. I have a guy in town I just learned of through a friend that put a Chev 350 W/duel turbos he is running on the street in his Gen 6. I'm going to try to talk to him over the weekend and see how he overcame the problem. But I just have a feeling that he probably lives outside the city limits and he is not required E/Testing. There is another guy here in town that has an 800 HP Toyota MR2 he runs on the track I'll talk to. He's does a lot of electronics/computer stuff with his cars. He may be able to help as he took care of a problem I had earlier with it. He is a little hard to get a hold of. I'm still doing research and have to contact a few places, but I'll figure something out.

07-12-2013, 03:25 AM
To all that replied, Thank you. Please keep the suggestions flowing though. You never know, someone may hit on something I haven't thought of yet.
Thanks again and never give up!
Sorry it takes some time to reply, we are getting ready for a big inspection at the base so I don't get on here for a few days at a time. (Job burnout I guess, get home and vege after work)

07-12-2013, 03:38 AM
Yes, I'm working that rout too along with others and some online sources. I still think there should be a way to reprogram an ECU, re-chip it or get an aftermarket one. Just hard to believe that with all the aftermarket upgrades one can do today and that everything must run through a damn computer, that someone or company doesn't have a fix or upgrade for the ECU. Thanks for your post.

07-12-2013, 04:04 AM
Act may offer one, they make re chipped custom programmed 3sgte ecu

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07-12-2013, 04:11 AM
I met ats lol

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07-12-2013, 04:48 AM
Well, you would think that would be logical but we are dealing with the government and the EPA that sets the rules. So common sense and efficiency will not be tolerated.
I can tell you this, with all the research I've done. The fist ECU system had OBD 0 (On Board Diagnostics), I think that started in the 80s when EFI started out on cars. Very, very basic info on codes for check engine, not standardized and the whole system had to fail. Then that got upgraded to OBD 1 with better codes but still the whole system had to fail for the check engine codes, standardized codes for that Mfg. only ex: one set for Toyota and another for Chevy exc. Then about 1997 they got upgraded to OBD 2 which standardized the codes throughout the auto industry, so each fault code was the same and more codes so only the part that failed in the system, instead of the whole system, could be identified and replaced. Then sometime around 2005 OBD 2 was tweaked to OBD 2A with more fault codes to include more systems like transmissions and ABS. From what I'm hearing now the industry is working on OBD 3. My opinion, but I think the government and the auto industry want to make it impossible to do any work on your car yourself and to make it as hard as they can to let you upgrade or change anything on the basic car you bought.
Vehicles pre-computerized and ECU systems that run the older OBD 0 and 1 codes are checked using the sniffer up the tailpipe with the engine running at a certain RPM. Here in AZ 1967 and up are checked for pollution only, in 2 cities, Tucson and Phoenix. Anything before 1967 is exempt and anything from 1997 and up must hook up to a computer at the Insp/Station so the codes can be pulled. Oh and they check the gas cap seal too here. So those nasty gas fumes don't pollute the air and possibly kill an ant or fly and you get to save a drop or two in your tank.
The government again, go figure and they thought the catalytic converter would be good for the environment too, converting CO to harmless CO2 and water vapor. Now the global warming nuts are screaming that cars emitting CO2 are the cause of the global warming B/S, asthma is much more common today because they found that the cat. cars emit ozone and in large populated areas in high concentrations. It is somewhat corrosive that may be damaging lung tissue, corroding metal, rubber and plastic. Yes, the government is good for everything. Only thing is the government has the Midas touch, it's just that they turn everything to crap instead of gold.

07-12-2013, 04:55 AM
Thanks I'll check them out. I also heard that Micro Import Service might do something like that along with a company called Jet. But I've seen mixed reviews about that last one, but I'll still check them out though.

07-12-2013, 05:09 AM
You can easily get an aftermarket ECU, but they won't play nice with the OBD stuff. If you get a 97+ 3SGTE swap and run the stock ECU you should be fine, but like others said, going from an A series engine to an S series will be tough as it isn't a bolt in swap.

Oh and for the gas cap that's because most cars won't run right without a cap.

I love Alberta for this. Because I run an engine in my car that was not available as a factory option, it is automatically exempt from all emissions regulations. Just needs a muffler!

We've got it even better, there isn't even emissions testing in BC aside from Vancouver, and they're scrapping it.