• Brian Keene

CANBus Part 2 - CAN Bus and your Subaru Swap

Updated: Jan 26



If you missed it, check out our Part 1 CAN bus post that explains what CAN bus means and which cars are CAN bus equipped. In this post we discuss how CAN bus will effect your Subaru swap and ways to work with it.

Non CAN bus Engine into a Non CAN Bus Car

These swaps are our specialty and are very simple to complete. There are some engines that are easier to swap but from a wiring perspective, we can tackle these easily. For those on a budget we recommend doing this swap over a CAN Bus equipped swap.

Non CAN bus Engine into a CAN Bus Car

These swaps depend on the model of the car. One option is to gut the wiring harness and turn it into a race car and effectively eliminate the CAN Bus system. The other way to do it is to use a standalone ECU like Haltech that has the ability to communicate with the Subaru CAN Bus system up to 2014 as well as run the new engine. This will keep the CAN system happy on the car side and allow for more options on types of engines to run.

CAN Bus Engine into a Non CAN Bus Car

For this type of swap a standalone ECU can be utilized or depending on the model of engine the CAN bus ECU can be replaced wit ha non CAN Bus equivalent. An example of this would be a 2010 WRX engine that could be run on a 2007 WRX ECU.

Another option is something called a CAN Bus emulator. This is a module that would go onto the CAN line and recreate the ID's the ECU needs from the missing modules. We've have some prototype CAN Bus emulators working in a 15 WRX swapped 99 OBS (picture at top) and a few other cars including an 08 STi powered 02 WRX and a 3.6 6 cylinder in a 98 RS, but we're still working out some issues so we'll keep everyone posted on developments.

The other piece to consider when doing these swaps is the immobilizer system since the gauge cluster is part of the immobilizer circuit on CAN Bus equipped cars. We can wire the cluster up for this but the fitment isn't great and there are a lot of features you won't be able to use because the rest of the CAN Bus features of the original car are not communicating with the cluster. This is also something we plan to address with the CAN Bus emulator.

CAN Bus Engine into a CAN Bus Car

As of right now these swaps are purely a case by case basis because other than using a standalone ECU and treating the engine much like a non CAN Bus engine in a CAN Bus car (see section above), there really isn't a good option. The only viable option to run an OEM ECU at this point is to transfer the entire turbo car over in parts and modify the harness where it meets the original non turbo chassis. As a byproduct of these issues, we currently do not recommend this swap.


Note - We no longer build harnesses for standalone ECUs but there are plenty of companies that do.

#CANBus #SubaruSwap

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