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Mar 17, 2020

ECU: Nissan Skyline GT-R 2020 Upgrades - Engine Control Unit : Engine Computer

Stock ECU with a NISTUNE board installed

ECU for Nissan Skyline GT-R : Engine Computer

ECU = Engine Control Unit
ECM = Engine Control Module

Your car just came over from Japan, and while checking it out you notice that your ECU has some kind of sticker or badge on it. What is it? What does it do? Is it OK to run on pump gas in the US? Do I need to tune my car? Can this ECU be retuned? The factory ECU is not OBD II.  It uses Nissan's proprietary diagnostic connector, known as Consult.

The R32 GT-R ECU pin out is the same as an R33 GT-R pin out. However there are some differences in the way the oxygen sensors work.

The R34 GT-R ECU has swapped pins for the CAS, and it has Nissan Anti Theft(NATS), so power goes to a different spot.  It is possible to use an R32 GT-R ECU in an R34 GT-R with modifications. Check the above Nistune document for more information.

Some of the popular ECU or ROM tunes that we have seen





They all are made for Japanese fuel, some are better than others at handling our fuel here in the US. Some are dangerous for your engine and turbo. Remember Japanese 98 RON or 100 RON is not 98 or 100 AKI like how we rate it in the US.  Much more information about octane, please read and understand the differences. You don't need 100 AKI to run your Japanese ECU.

The factory ECU has two maps in it, and knock control. So if you are knocking past a point, it will switch to the knock map. The car will make less power, and it may to help save the engine. If you knock excessively, you will 100% damage the engine. If you hear a noise that sounds like marbles in a can, get out of the throttle. Nothing good comes from staying in it.  With a 25 or 30 year old car there could be 100 different things wrong with the car.   Go through all the basics first. 

Way back when, you probably knew someone that had "chipped" a car. Some snake oil sellers out there, made huge claims into extra performance in chipping a car. Most of all those claims on a normally aspirated car are bullshit. However on a turbo car, there are pretty big gains in doing something like just raising the boost. For every increase of about 1 psi, you will usually see about 15 horsepower.

ECU Sensors and part numbers

Boost -  the factory ECU does NOT have a boost sensor in an R32/R33/R34.  The OEM sensor in the engine compartment, only drives a gauge. 

CAS- Crank angle sensors - Nissan CAS or crank angle sensor is a crankshaft position sensor driven from the exhaust cam. The CAS sometimes accidentally called a cam angle sensor, has an optical wheel inside that is driven at 1/2 crank speed.  It has two sets of slots inside. One set is 360 one for each degree. The other set of slots is 6 or one for every 120 degrees of crank rotation. You will often see the signals labeled as the 1 and 120 signals.   The CAS allows you to adjust base ignition timing on an RB engine.    There are several different part's and part numbers for them.  There are Mitsubishi and Hitachi sensors.  There even a couple of shapes of the R32/R33 sensor.  The late R32, and early R33 sensors had a slightly different shape than the early R32, and R33 later sensors that were all the same. R32/R33 - 23731-02U11

Coolant temperature sensor 2 wire and 1 wire
Two wire coolant temperature sensor for an RB engine. According to NZ EFI, this fits about 50 different Nissans. 

The 2 wire sensor, is the sensor that the ECU uses as an input. It is a very important sensor. It effects startup, and running of the car.  We often see the cooling system not bled right, and an airpocket forms at the sensor. When this happens, the sensor may show 250F-300F. When this happens, the ECU thinks the car is hot, and it may not fire the injectors, based on the tune. So if you have hot start problems, that go away once you crank for a bit, the CTS is a good thing to look at, then the bleeding.  This gets back to having a Consult datascanner, so you can see what the ECU is seeing. Makes troubleshooting much easier. 

The 1 wire sensor only drives the gauge in the dash.  A cool fact, R32 and R33 are different resistances. You find these things out later, when you start a car up, and have the wrong sensor in. Then about 2 minutes in, the gauge pegs, the car is fairly cool.  NZ EFI says that the R34 is also different, need to look that one up. 

Nissan Water Temp Gauge Sender – S13, Z32, R31, R32 from NZ EFI

Nissan Water Temp Gauge Sender – R33, R34, S14, S15

MAF - OEM part number:  22680-05U00 .The stock RB26 65mm(2.55 inches) MAF(Mass Air Flow) sensors are good for about 400 wheel horsepower. Above then they run out of range and max out their voltage . More MAF information, including 300ZX, and R35 MAF

Oxygen Sensors
The R32 sensors are smaller than the R33/R34 sensors. The sensors themselves are the same, just the connector is different between the front and rear sensor. They are easy to swap around if you need to.

R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R 02, Oxygen Sensors
22690-05U21 front
22690-05U22 rear

R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R 02, Oxygen Sensors
22690-24U02 front
22690-24U03. Rear

Fuel Pump Relay - 25230-C9965

Buy USA Legal R32 Skylines at! for Nissan Skyline GT-R and GT-R parts.

Aftermarket ECU Brands for Nissan Skylines

Over 30 years of tuning vehicles, we have a lot of experience with stock and aftermarket ECU's.  Over 20 years of the Nissan Skyline GT-R, we have tried a lot of different ECU's.  We have fixed a lot of issues, and seen a lot of things that make us shake our head.  The best ECU in the world sucks with a shitty tuner, and an improper tune.  The most basic ECU is great with a good tune, and people that understand its limitations.   If you buy the fanciest ECU, and don't set it up correctly, then don't buy the fanciest ECU.   Our normal recommendation these days, is use whatever your tuner recommends.  You don't want to pay for them to learn how to use the ECU. There may also be some tricks in setting it up, like Haltech, TPS, and ATTESA don't always get along.

Most people insist on a MAP sensor, when a MAF actually does a better job of measuring actual airflow into the engine than a MAP.  However blow off valves, old style MAF, and a few other limitations mean that most people go to MAP.

MAP= Manifold absolute pressure
MAF= Mass air flow

Strengths of Mass Air Flow

  • Extremely accurate fueling and spark delivery across a diverse range of engine conditions (at least while in steady-states): the holy grail for engine management. A properly set-up MAF system can adapt to changes in weather and altitude with ease.
  • Minor changes to engine equipment (i.e. headers, minor camshaft changes, intakes that do not significantly alter the placement of the MAF) do not require recalibration of the ECM.

Weaknesses of Mass Air Flow

  • MAF systems are extremely intolerant of vacuum leaks. Any leaks between MAF sensor and engine generally cause all manner of odd problems, running lean in most cases due to un-metered air making it into the engine.
  • MAF sensors can be extremely sensitive to how they are “clocked” – merely rotating the sensor at a given spot in the intake tract can be sufficient to significantly change its output.
  • MAF sensors require laminar flow to read 100% accurately. True laminar fluids do not exist so this introduces some degree of inaccuracy to MAF sensor readings. Placing MAF sensors near bends, size transitions or obstructions where flow is less laminar greatly magnifies this issue.
  • A MAF sensor can be a flow restriction in cases where the MAF housing is the smallest portion of the intake system.
  • Hot-wire MAF elements are very fragile. Debris can destroy delicate wires easily. Dirt and oil deposits can build up on the sensor element, adversely affecting readings.
  • MAF systems have a relatively poor response to transient conditions, such as sudden throttle changes. This is explained by the time it takes air to move from the MAF sensor where it is measured to the cylinder where it can be involved in combustion.
  • MAF sensors are not “one-way” sensors – reversion from a camshaft with large amounts of overlap can cause air to be metered on its way in to the engine and then again on its way out resulting in an artificially high MAF reading. This can almost always be fixed by placing the MAF sensor sufficiently far from the throttle body, however doing so comes at the expense of making transient response even worse.

It may seem like there are a lot of weaknesses of MAF systems, but it is truly hard to emphasize just how amazing and important the strengths are. It is no secret that the majority of OEMs today are implementing MAF systems as the primary control strategy. There is a good reason for this, namely that engines can be controlled much more precisely (with the goal of meeting stricter and stricter emissions standards) with a MAF system than any other type of control strategy.

TPS and MAP sensor tuning. Aka Alpha N.  

Adaptronic eMod004
Adaptronic e420c


We did a lot of the initial development work of the RB26 V1 with AEM. They were local in LA, and we loaned them a stock car to dyno, and to install an ECU and tune. A few things they found were related to the CAS.  The stock CAS has a 360 wheel in it, and the ECU can have a hard time reading it.  They make a modified wheel to minimize errors.  The V1 also runs the coils in waste spark, which works fine, but I still don't like the idea of it.  If you run it on the R34, you have to check out the load for the TPS, for the ATTESA system to work correctly.

AEM Infiniti

Apex Power FC

OLED Display on the FC Commander for a Power FC. This car is set to Z32 MAF. 

The Power FC has been around many years, and is a well supported and documented ECU. With a hand commander, you can monitor and tune your own car. Its a little unwieldy to make changes with a commander, but it is possible.  Companies like FC-Datalogit make aftermarket boxes that allow laptop tuning and datalogging of a Power FC.  The one thing I don't like about the Power FC, is that it has no actual knock control. It will flash the check engine light at you, but it will not knock back timing or boost.  Some good things are integrated boost control, options to run many MAF and even MAP with the DJetro.  Some cool features in some of the special boxes they make, like launch control in some of the Power FC pro.

D Jetro map sensors hooked to the balance tube, not to each individual runner as the instructions say

Apex Power FC D Jetro
      Do not hook the MAP sensors up how they tell you.  Do not drill and tap the plenum. You have a very erratic map signal, and the cars never seem to run right.  Tap the sensors off the balance tube. These seems to make them pretty happy.

Apex Power FC L Jetro
   This is the normal Power FC version.  It will run a number of MAF right out of the box. Works

Apex Power FC Pro
   There are a number of versions of this, and there are even some other special ones. However they normally have launch control built in.


ECU Master Black

Emtron KV8
Emtron KV12

Haltech Platinum Pro
Haltech Elite 2500

HKS Vpro

Link G4+

Microtech LT12




Nistune is a real-time tuning suite designed especially for Nissans which provides the ability to:

• Retune factory Nissan Engine Control Units (ECU)
• Monitor gauges and map tracing on your ECU
• Data log from your ECU using consult, wideband and auxiliary inputs
• Perform playback using graphs, gauges and map tracing

Our System Provides:
• Connectivity for up to two emulators simultaneously
• Loads and Saves files in regular and odd/even formats for chip burning (EPROM/FLASH)

• Real time tuning, map tracing, logging and playback
• Full Log Recording for all Nistune ECUs
• Wideband can also be recorded inline with consult data and played back.
• Map and table copy feature
• Completely editable multi window grid map/table views
• Resize injectors and change AFM capabilities
• AFR and auxillary input trace against RPM and load
• Consult display capabilities with real time diagnostic information in separate windows
• Dual channel Wide Band support
• Edit five ROM images simultaneously, with comparison capabilities
• Intelligent display tables decoded for easy modification
• Hardware and software installation guides, videos and manuals provided

Megasquirt MS3Pro


R32 GT-R ECU pinout

Defeating the speed limiter on an R32/R33/R34 ECU. 

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