Chip tuning in simple words
What is chip tuning?
Chip tuning is a procedure to alter and modify some parameters in your engine control unit (ECU) or transmission control unit (TCU) in order to achieve more perfomance and “unhide” true potential of your engine or gearbox.
why cars are not “chip tuned” on a factory?
Main reason is taxation in different countries, for example in Germany and France road tax calculated, based on engine output power and in Finland car tax calculated, based on exhaust emissions. In this way, for a manufacture is much cheaper to produce the same engine for different markets, but limit it by software calibrations.
Other reason is “marketing”. For example, popular OM642, 3 liter diesen engine, produced by mercedes output from 181 HP to 265 HP, depends on car market and car model. Mechanically it’s absolutelly the same engine, the only difference is software.
how much is the gain?
It’s solely depends on your car overal condition, engine model and purpose. Average gain on diesel engine is about 20% gain with all safety limiters kept and no hardware modifications. For turbo petrol engines average gain is 25-30 percent with no hardware modifications. Of course, there’s always an exception, for example Mercedes ML450 / GL450 with 4.7 petrol M278 engine: stock HP is 362 and on stage1 you can get up to 45%, which results in fantastic 525 HP!
How chip tunning is made?
Well… in short words, we read the original software from your ECU, modify it and write it back.
who is writing your software? how do i know it’s reliable?
Different options available: we are official partners for Top Gear Tuning, Quantum Tuning, MODS and some others. For custom requests(specific requirements for RPMs, limiters, turbo pressure etc) we write software ourself, thanks to more than 10 years of experience and original engineering software. Of course, we take full responsibility for all mechanical and software works in one place.
what equipment you use? will you damage my ecu?
We respect our customers and our reputation and for all chip tuning procedures we are using ONLY original equipment from Alientech and Magic Motorsport. No chinese clones or cheap files from EBAY! All cars are being tested BEFORE and AFTER any modifications. That’s why we do not do chip tuning on parking lots, on customer’s garage or somewhere else. Yes, we prefer to remove ECU from your car and do all modifications on a table, but it’s quite rare need to open an ECU. Usually it’s needed for some old modules, used in Japan or French cars. Most of the ECU can be readed and written by connecting to pins, thanks to original, constantly updating, equipment.
why do you need to take out my ecu? my friend said it can be done with obd2 socket!
Yes, many cars can be done via OBD2 socket, but for a few reasons we prefer to do it on a table. First, on a table you always have stable power supply. You can easily imagine what will happen to ECU if it fails to write due to power blackout. So “table mode” is just safer. Second, with OBD2 you can read only “maps”, not a full image. With reading on a bench, you always have a full image of the actual software. Third, most of the modern cars has TP (tuning protection) from a factory, which prevents OBD2 readings. In that case, with OBD2 connection, you get a file from “virtual read”, which is basically NOT your actual file, but a one, which just match to your ECU idents. Althought, usually “virtual reads” are quite accurate, there’s always a chance that an actual software could be in different version. That’s mostly happens on Audi, VW and Skoda cars with previously modified or dealer upgraded software, but nobody can be 100% sure, that all other car models are not affected. So, once again: working on bench with an ECU removed from a car is just much much much safer.
okay! how much is the fish?
Prices for plain chip tuning starts from 450 euroa for a Stage 1 tune. This price is for most ECUs. Some ECUs, which require opening and connecting in a boot mode would cause additional expenses 50-100 euroa, depends on ECU. Some additional options like “pop and bang”, “popcorn”, “hard cut limiter” would cost another 50-150 euroa, depends on a car model. On some ECUs “hard cut” is not possible at all. Other options, like “cold start fix” on Audi or sport gauges on BMW would not cost anything and can be activated during chip tuning procedures upon customer’s request.
why it soooooo expensive??!! neighbors garage do the same for 50 euroa!
Good question! First, WE DO NOT DO THE SAME. Most of the selfmade “chip tuners” use chines clones of an equipment and cheap unverified files from Ebay or Aliexpress. One custom made file for one car usually takes from 1 to 3 hours of a working time for a skilled programmer. How much it should cost? At least 3 times a week we have cars, “chip tuned” by… hmm… we call them “cowboys”. 🙂 Most of them just remove “error mask” from a software, so car will not illuminate “check engine” lamp. Some of them remove all temperature limiters, others increase turbo pressure by 20% or increase rail pressure without increasing air supply and so on. Check our “cowboy chips” section to find out more! Do you really want your car to be done in such way? Needless to say, that in case of any problem with your ECU, caused by “parking lot tuner” you will not get any compensation or repair. A person, who earn 10-20 euroa from you will not buy you a new ECU for a few thousands. Do you still want to risk?
i’M FAR AWAY FROM YOU, BUT I NEED A CHIPTUNING URGENTLY. hOW DO i CHOOSE A GOOD WORKSHOP?
Well… ask a person or workshop who will do a chip tuning for your car a few simple questions. For example, which equipment they are using? Which safety limiters would be kept and which are going to be removed? What strategy they will use for a diesel fuel supply increase? How big is air charge increase in petrol cars? Will they alter a treshold for EGT limiter? If a person could answer without any problem, at least you can be sure, that he undestand what he is doing. If not – think again do you really want to trust your car’s ECU to them?
Ok, but what is “pop corn” or “hard cut”?
Initially it came from a rally. On sport cars, injectors and ignition angle adjusted in a different way, compared to “civil” cars. Basically that bang sound is produced by fuel, which burns not inside a cylinders, but inside an exhaust pipe. Most factory tuned cars, like M version of BMW or AMG version of Mercedes has it by default. This feature can be enabled on almost any petrol car and on most diesel cars(here it called “hard cust limiter”, which emulate true “pop and bang”. Pop and bang sounds really good and sporty, but outcome is extensive wear of a catalyc converter on petrol cars. That’s why pop and bang recommended on a cars with customs exhaust – full decat or sport catalyc converters. For more information have a look our ECOLOGY page.