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ECU tuning – Beginners guide

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September 2, 2022
ECU tuning – Beginners guide

ECU tuning is the best way out when it comes to increasing automobile capabilities. I’m sure you are one of them who is constantly searching for ways to upgrade your car. There are many options for tuning, including visual change, interior tuning, suspension, and replacing the computer. Hence, you need to decide which one will work for you and estimate the risks and potential results. You should also check the mileage of your vehicle. No one denies that the most obvious results come from ECU programming. This is a method that allows motorists to enhance their cars in different ways as long as it is possible. Let me guess, you’ve heard about it a million times but never go for it. I suppose you need a step by step guide to realize what it is and what to consider if you are going to do it anytime soon.  

So, if you are ready, let’s get started and discuss everything you need to know.

What is ECU tuning?

It implies replacing microchips in a car’s ECU by overwriting the existing settings with third-party software. ECU is a type of electronic control unit and the heart of the engine management system that is responsible for controlling the fuel supply, airflow, fuel injection, and, ignition. It may also affect the odometer functioning. So, reprogramming allows enhancing the car’s power, improves performance and comfort. motorists have two options, namely mechanical tuning and electronic tuning. Mechanical tuning involves mechanical interference in the automobile, such as replacing components. So, you should think twice before mechanical interference because it is quite risky.

What are the benefits and downsides of ECU reprogramming?

Before you decide to go for it, you should weigh all weighing all of your risks and possible benefits. Firstly, you should be sure that you are the one who ultimately needs this modification. A lot of people tries to reprogram their vehicles to simply artificially change the mileage. For example, if you own a turbo model you can be sure that it is a reasonable decision. Another reason that justifies your decision is adding high-performance automotive parts to your auto. So, if you have already found a good argument for tuning, you would be interested in the potential benefits you should expect. The major advantages are the following: improved horsepower and torque, better control and drivability, improved throttle response, enhanced rev range. Some may try to persuade you that you get a fuel economy but do not trust them. After upgrading you will need better quality fuel which results in increased costs.

The main reason why manufacturers limit the capabilities of stock automobiles is to protect key components of it, ensure safety, follow legal regulations and make them cost-efficient. When you interfere in the internal system, manufacturers are not eager to take responsibility for your automobile and they may invalidate your warranty. Moreover, this kind of modification may become a reason for increasing insurance premiums. Insurance companies always take several factors (such as mileage) into consideration that changes insurance rate. So, think twice if it is worth it.

As you can see, you can enjoy benefits and consider the potential impact. If you need more information about it read about the pros and cons of this modification.

Can I do ECU chip tuning,  myself? 

Yes, it is possible. You can have access to many programs that allow this. However, keep in mind that it is quite a tricky process, and make sure that you are capable of doing it. If you don’t feel confident about your abilities, you can use numerous possibilities to develop necessary skills via video tutorials. YouTube is jammed with lots of videos on that topic, you can choose one tutorial for beginners and follow step by step. 

If you are planning to become a pro tuner and search for courses, there is a wide variety on the internet. I can suggest one of them, for example, HP Academy –  internationally recognized online courses that promise to teach you how to make your automobile go (much) faster. 84,848 students from 175 countries trust them to improve their skills in the automotive industry.

Bear in mind that if you are not sure of your abilities, trust a specialist in this field. Unprofessional, incorrect and poorly executed modifications can have a destructive effect on reliability.

Is ECU chip tuning possible?

Is piggyback tuning a better alternative?

When it comes to  ECU coding you should consider several things. One of the most important things is to make an informed choice. Which one works for you best- piggybacks also known as tuning boxes or flash tuning. 

A piggyback tuning box is an electronic device that intercepts sensor signals and alters them before sending the signal to the ECU. It does not rewrite the factory ECU settings. As it seems it is different from the ECU tuning we mentioned before. Most automotive experts claim that it is not as effective as ECU programming. Moreover, you don’t get tuning which is particular for your automobile. However, it has some advantages that are worth mentioning. For example, piggyback tuning allows you to do it yourself confidently because it is easy to install. What’s more important is that you can remove it anytime you want. Another good news is that if you were worried about your warranty, in this case, you can be sure that it won’t affect it. Moreover, it’s a cheaper alternative.

According to the above-mentioned facts, it’s obvious that piggyback tuning has its advantages, but it is not superior to its counterfeits in terms of effectiveness. In addition to this, it implies fewer risks when it comes to tuning.

Is ECU reprogramming legal?

Many countries have legal requirements which govern vehicle modifications. For example, all vehicles in Victoria, Australia, must meet construction standards to ensure safety. In short, chip tuning is legal but, you should meet legal requirements and pass MOT testing.  However, sometimes it is not possible without factory specs.

There are smog regulations in some places, which means that such modifications, which result in increased emissions, are prohibited. The best illustration of this is California. In California, a biennial smog check is compulsory for any vehicles that are eight years old or older. Did California ban ECU chip tuning? You may hear this news and need to claim it. The short answer is – yes, they did.  Road & Track (R&T) talked to Peter Treydte, the director of emissions compliance at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA). He says:

It shines a spotlight on certain modifications that make our industry look bad …. We’re trying to educate our industry that these things can not only be detrimental to air quality, but also to our reputation.” 

Automotive enthusiasts in California started to worry about the new regulation, they were interested in what to expect if they had tuned automobiles.

So far in the two weeks that have transpired, we have seen zero instances of concern,” Treydte told R&T. “I really don’t think that this is problematic.

So, if you don’t live in California, you don’t break the law. Just make sure that you will pass the inspection. 

Is ECU reprogramming against the law?

How do people test tuned automobiles?

Now, imagine you have finished tuning. It’s time to know the results and enjoy them. Testing your automobile is necessary to measure what you have achieved. When it comes to selling the automobile, testing is a more enjoyable experience when you have a guarantee that it won’t add miles, so you don’t have to justify your high mileage. For this purpose, manufacturers designed a premium quality product, which is the best solution when you want to avoid recording miles. The module is called a mileage blocker.

Mileage blocker

Mileage blocker is already a famous tool among car enthusiasts. It is superior to other mileage correction tools for its ability to halt recording mileage-related information from all control units untraceably. Fortunately, you can purchase it online. Great thing is that it includes easy DIY installation instruction. Hence, people try to use it unethically, they use it to deceive other people. Beware of illegal usage, because the module is created for only ethical purposes. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact the support team anytime.

Takeaway

Thus you have a comprehensive guide to ECU chip tuning. You know what it is and why it matters. Just think about it carefully, determine what works for you. something beneficial for others may be harmful to you. So, don’t act blindly and always make an informed choice. If you are planning ECU coding, consider all the above-mentioned factors and stay safe. Also, remember that there is a great device – Mileage blocker that helps people in tuning. In case you need any additional information, do not hesitate to reach out.

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