Service & Repairs
ECU Remapping / Chip Tuning
What is an ECU?
As cars have progressed, so have the technologies that manage them. In previous decades, cars were almost purely mechanical (with the exception of the starter motors, headlights and so on), but today most of a modern production car’s functions are controlled by ECUs.
An ECU, or electronic control unit, is a ‘chip’ with software installed with default settings for those functions. A car might have up to 50 or more ECUs, which handle things like the driver interface, door locking systems, airbag systems and so on.
However, the ECU we’re specifically talking about here is the Engine Control Unit which controls things like fuel flow, gear ratios, engine speed, variable valve timing and so on.
What is ECU Remapping?
When a car rolls off the production line, its Engine Control Unit’s software is set to a default that works anywhere in the world, taking into account factors like different climates, road conditions, geographical conditions, varying fuel qualities and so on.
While these default settings might be the best generic setting for your vehicle overall, they might not be the most efficient settings for your particular requirements. For example, if you want more performance, an ECU remap can change the gear ratios, air/fuel ratios and fuel flow of your car’s powertrain to boost power, usually at a sacrifice of fuel efficiency.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is a working vehicle such as a van, truck or company fleet car that does a lot of miles, you might want to remap the ECU to boost fuel efficiency at a slight cost of performance.
What are the Rewards?
Well, as any gearhead would say, power is its own reward, and sure, if for example your Honda Civic suddenly shifts like hot shit off a shovel without any other modifications for a relatively inexpensive remap, then you’d think that was a pretty good deal. Also, if your car’s top speed is electronically limited, you can have that removed as well.
And for a workhorse, if you’re suddenly saving hundreds of pounds a year on fuel, an initial investment is a wise move.
How to Avoid the Risks
Predictably, the advice is: Steer clear of the cowboys. Go with reputable, well-established companies. They might be more expensive, but this is for a reason – they use well-trained technicians, and their hardware and software are licensed and up-to-date.
An initial investment with reputable company could save you thousands in the long run, so don’t take risks with your ride.