What is Chip Tuning and is it the same as ECU Remapping?
Updated: Jun 21
Introduction to What is Chip Tuning and is it the same as ECU Remapping?
ECU tuning, sometimes referred to as chip tuning, is the system of modifying the software that controls your car's engine. This may be done to improve performance, fuel economy, or a mix of both.
The Evolution of ECU Tuning
This is a question that we get asked regularly and is a simple one to answer but we'll take a moment to explain it in more detail here.
When Electronic Control Units or ECUs become common place in vehicles, any tuning to the software they contained was achieved by physically swapping EPROM memory chips with ones modified with different software. This gave way to the term "Chip Tuning" as it was the chip that was tuned independently and fitted to the ECU.
The History of ECU Tuning
ECU tuning has come a long way from the early days. In the past, modifications were rather crude and involved physically replacing the chip within the ECU with a modified version. This was a labour intensive and potentially unstable method that might harm the ECU if not done correctly.
OBD: A Game-Changer in ECU Tuning
As technology improved further, in the early 2000s, Onboard Diagnostics or OBD became the standard that vehicle manufacturers adopted. This provided, not only as the name suggests, the opportunity to connect directly to the vehicles ECU for diagnostic purposes but also opened up a new way of tuning a vehicle by accessing the ECU via the OBD port and uploading tuned software directly, without the need the physically open or otherwise interfere with the ECU itself.
Simplified Tuning Process and Reduced Risk
This not only simplified the operation and allowed a tune to be carried out in less time, but removed virtually all risk which might otherwise be associated with having to remove and open an ECU and replace delicate electronic components.
The Benefits of ECU Tuning
There are many benefits to ECU tuning. For example, it can:
Increase horsepower and torque
Improve throttle response
Reduce fuel consumption
Smooth out the power delivery
Remove speed limiters
Fuel Maps and Remapping
On a modern engine, many sensors are contributing data hundreds of times a second to ensure the ECU knows exactly what state everything is in and although the actual process is slightly more complex, in simple terms for a given engine RPM and load, the ECU knows exactly how much fuel, boost and ignition it needs to deliver by referencing a table of figures. This table is more correctly called a Fuel Map.
The Definition of Remapping
The term Remap comes simply from the replacement of the standard map with a modified version.
At Taytec Tuning, we access the standard map currently installed on a vehicles ECU and it is this software which is adjusted to optimise performance and economy when transferred back to the ECU.
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