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'08 Civic "Connector Tamper"

Daughter took the car for Maryland emissions inspection. Failed for “Connector Tamper”. Took car to nearby indy shop on the list of approved emission repair shops. They said it’s a common problem with Civic, and fixed it for free(!).

That sounds like some kind of don’t-mess-with-this feature on the OBD-II test connector. Can somebody please tell me what it means and how it gets fixed? I’m not having much luck with Google.

The inspector should have been able to explain what the term “connector tamper” means.

In my area the vehicle cannot have a device plugged into the OBDII connector, some are intended to modify the PCM software.

DON’T take the vehicle in for a test if you have a device that monitors your driving habits plugged in to the connector below the dashboard. You must remove the device and replace it after the test. Emission stations are required to fail the vehicle if such a device is plugged in.


Why not just call the shop for an accurate description of what they did.

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That’s very good advice. I never would have thought of it.

To the OP, ask the shop!

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This might be helpful. Explains that “tampering” could just be a damaged or melted OBD II connector. Or an aftermarket radio shop has spliced into the OBD II harness for powering the radio or something.

I have never thought of installing one of those intrusive devices even though I have nothing to hide.

Daughter took the car to that indy shop for an oil change the next day (Thursday), and I arranged some other errands so that I could be there and ask about “Connector Tamper”. (Thanks for the enlightening suggestions.) The guy said that the connector sometimes gets dislodged if somebody bumps it with a knee … or if somebody plugs in the OBD cable too hard.

From there we scooted over to emissions testing, where I hoped to see the connector. However, it’s in a hard-to-see place, behind the dashboard by the driver’s right knee. The emissions tech plugged in by feel(!), and I did not get a look at it yet.

But the oil change is done, and the emissions test is done, and peeking at the connector can wait.

Thanks again.

Use a mirror…much easier.

Thanks for the update OP. Good to know things are under control there. Best of luck.

After accidentally stepping on and breaking a few dollar-store mirrors, I bought a stick on mirror at the auto parts store. It’s large (designed to be cut to size with scissors) and unbreakable. Worth every penny. And yes, it makes seeing the OBD connector really, really easy. Especially for me, who cannot bend over. I keep it in the box with my scanner.

The data link connector is plastic, and is secured with small screws or sometimes rivets

If you unintentionally bump it, it can easily get damaged

I wouldn’t necessarily call that “tampering”

Some cars are known for weak female pin connectors in the OBDII connector resulting in a no connection condition, I don’t see this as tampering. I use a pick to add tension to the female connector to restore the connection.

If the OBDII connector is near your knee it should be easy to see but be a hazard in a collision. They are normally located below the instrument panel above your ankle.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call that ‘tampering’”

“…I don’t see this as tampering.”

That’s the official term used by the emissions inspectors. (In Maryland the inspection is done by State facilities, operated by contractors.) I suspect it covers anything out of the ordinary about the connector. Maybe they couldn’t spell “anomaly.”

I do smogs in California

And we have many terms, such as


A smart guy can recognize the difference between tampered and damaged

Perhaps in OP’s state, if something is not up to snuff, it is considered “tampered” . . . pretty narrow minded, in my opinion