Cobb is an extremely popular aftermarket manufacturer that sells tuning hardware and software for cars, especially Subarus. For years, the company has built its reputation on extracting more performance from everyday vehicles through improved parts and computers. This software was previously able to make adjustments that the government was not happy with, but was somewhat powerless to enforce. That has now changed and Cobb is adjusting to compliance.
Soon, a few big things happen, as Cobb explained in a blog post that has since sparked debate on the internet. Indeed, those who use its Accesstuner Software system will no longer be able to perform anything that could be considered “music deletion”. This means that anything that bypasses emissions components like O2 sensors or EGR parts is no longer considered kosher; it’s not that hard to figure out because Cobb could face millions in fines and even arrest if he voluntarily continued. But people are furious because they bought Cobb parts, like its flex-fuel kit, just a month ago and won’t get support from the manufacturer.
The bottom line for people who use these products is somewhat complicated, but we talked to shops and owners, and tried to talk with the company itself to clarify what happens. Cobb, however, refused to comment. Contacted by The readera spokesperson replied: ‘At this time we prefer not to comment further than what has been posted.’
However, stores affected by Cobb’s Green Speed project were happy to chat and break down what it means for their customers. We had a call with Redline Tuning of Columbia Station, Ohio, who are an authorized Cobb dealer. During a conversation Wednesday, the shop owner, Cody Pincura, said that even if he was not happy with what was going on and he would have liked more notice, the writing was on the wall for some time. “From an industry perspective, a lot of us knew this was coming,” he told me. “We just didn’t know it was going to happen like this.”
Pincura went on to clarify that Redline Tuning has not been removing the emissions gear in a quest for bigger power gains lately. In his view, it is not necessary for most street construction uninstall tumble generator valves, air pumps, EGR systems or other items related to emissions of Subarus to get the numbers that most of its customers really want.
“How this will affect long-term customers shouldn’t be too significant, in my view,” he explained. “[Customers] think they need catless downpipes to make high horsepower, they think they need TGV deletes to make high horsepower, [but] they do not get it. “According to him, unless you want to do a really serious output, many if not all emission-related equipment can be preserved most of the time. This could mean that there is no engine check lights and no fault controls.
Of course, that’s not all. As Pincura went on to detail, those most affected are those who bought Cobb’s flex-fuel kits, which it sold just a month ago. The kits allowed vehicles to seamlessly run regular unleaded gasoline with a blend of ethanol, usually E85, without having to upgrade to a separate piece. Cobb now claims this device is non-emissions compliant, and it will remove the part’s functionality via a software update from its Accessport devices. “Discontinuing flex-fuel kits and saying you do is not the same as saying you’re going to discontinue support,” Pincura told me, clearly frustrated. “If you want my honest opinion on this, it’s a bad deal.”
Cobb gave tuners just 30 days between the flex-fuel system stopping sale and the end of its support. If you are a reputable store with many customers, you have people expecting installs beyond this short period. “We’re backed up for months. Some people are backed up for six months,” Pincura said. “That’s where it goes wrong. There should have been better communication.”
As an example of how this situation must be properly managed, Pincura said EcuTeK, setting a company owned by the same parent company as Cobb offering similar services. Now EcuTeK will have to take the same measures as Cobb in the US, so if you want to go to them, you have to maintain your control equipment unless you agree with CEL. If you already use a product EcuTeK now, be thankful that he seems to have a real timetable in mind for how the changes will occur. After a call with the company, Pincura said she told him: “Yes, for all our US customers, we have to do, however, here is a schedule here when that happens, and we have solutions to play. for when it happens. ”
In the meantime, however, Cobb’s lack of communication has caused serious headaches for stores like Redline and individuals. “It wasn’t even just the customers they didn’t tell,” Pincura explained. “They didn’t tell their dealer network, they didn’t tell their professional tuning network or anything. And we’re dealing with the repercussions of that now.” Redline is a Cobb dealer as well as a tuning shop. He’s responsible for the Cobb products he’s sold to customers, and now they’re being returned in droves. “People are returning Accessports, people are returning flex-fuel kits… they basically can’t do what’s been advertised,” Pincura added. This does not only affect a small part of Pincura’s customers. “I would say probably 80% of the cars we use are flex fuel.”
To be clear, a solution allegedly comes from Cobb, but in the meantime people who have these kits on their cars have few other realistic options without spending a lot of money. It’s also not like it’s the only Cobb product people buy. Cobb is arguably the leading manufacturer of parts for turbocharged Subarus, and people trust the brand. We spoke with a 2015 WRX STI owner, Tye Shelton, who spent over $25,000 on a build using almost exclusively Cobb parts. Now he’s stuck with a car that probably won’t pass inspection as it currently stands.
Although he went through three engines while using Cobb accessories on his STI, he was still a loyal customer. He called Cobb “a hill he was ready to die on” and certainly bought parts—including a flex-fuel kit—like he meant it wholeheartedly. “Basically if Cobb Tuning does it I can’t think of anything I haven’t bought other than [a] purge valve,” he said. “I never thought it would turn out like this.
Its construction is complete; it’s almost broken in and it just needs to be adjusted. After Cobb’s press release, however, he and his tuner aren’t sure what they’re up to. “It’s five days after being dropped off at the tuner,” he told me. “I have no idea how they’re going to grant it.” All he knows is that whatever solution comes his way, it will cost him more. “I’ll probably end up getting a standalone Motech ECU,” he said. And even if Cobb finds a solution, “I have such a bad taste in my mouth with Cobb right now…I don’t even want to deal with them.”
“It is what it is, but man, in my situation, it couldn’t be worse,” Shelton noted.
Another loyal Cobb customer, Joe Kirallah, mirrored what Shelton had to say. “I invested a lot of time and savings in building my dreams after years of waiting,” Kirallah told me. He spent tens of thousands of dollars building it, much of it with Cobb, buying many of the same parts as Shelton, including a flex-fuel kit. Now his 2005 Subaru WRX STI intended for time trials is more or less dead in the water.
Kirallah’s build isn’t even really a tram, but Cobb’s decision to cut the kit’s backing, whether it’s used on public roads or not, still affects it. The fact that the race cars are also integrated into this software update no good reason has been taken over by Pincura, who expressed concern the type of activity he can still do that with the competitive teams supports.
When asked how he would operate its construction now that Cobb had terminated the media kits, Kirallah replied: “I do not know I try to go to the dyno until next week, but the problem. is if I’m not working effectively after a first dyno, I’m out of luck and stuck with a piece that may not be effective for my car.”
Previously, these types of emission avoidance devices were in a legal gray area because enforcement was relatively weak. Now, however, the game has changed and people who have withdrawn the catalytic converters, Subaru tumble generator the valves of the air pumps and the EGR devices are caught between the hammer and the anvil. Not only do they get the end of Cobb’s stick, but they don’t get much sympathy on social media. “Go alone!” Shelton says people online keep telling her. “They give you all these options like it’s easy – do you know how much a standalone ECU costs? Five thousand dollars, minimum.”
And it really goes to the heart of the problem. As explained Pincura, stores will still get customers power figures they want. The setting as an industry is not going anywhere, but it becomes much harder to do what they do because of questionable responses to regulatory challenges companies like Cobb. A future where the government will further reduce vehicle emissions is obvious, it’s clear. How tuners and aftermarket sailing in this landscape is where the rubber hits the road.
On that front, an airtight solution to easily unlock performance that will pass various state inspection programs has not clearly emerged. Whether it’s open-source tuning, stand-alone ECUs like those offered by Haltech or Motech, or some other “future-proof” solution, no clear winner has presented itself. Ironically, one would easily expect an industry leader like Cobb to be the one to come up with something like this. It remains to be seen whether or how the manufacturer will.
Meanwhile, a trusted name in the aftermarket industry has made a lot of enemies, people around the world may have lost money on hardware that’s no longer supported by the company that made it, and the aftermarket tuning is worse than it was a few days ago. Modifying cars is getting harder and harder, and it’s unlikely to get any easier. Clearly, despite the enduring nature of the enthusiast scene, we can no longer take anything for granted in this hobby.
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