ECU is the brain of the car
Much like your average phone, which has a Central Processing Unit (CPU) as its “brain”, modern cars have an Engine Control Unit (ECU) as its brain. And just like how you can jailbreak your phone to give yourself more control and functions, you can hack into your car’s computer to give you more power, better efficiency and better performance.
For an engine to make power, it needs air, fuel, and a spark. Car manufacturers design the car to follow a certain air-fuel-ratio (AFR) that complies with current emission standards, meaning, a factory standard or setting might not be suitable for all drivers. Hence, if you want to achieve more power and efficiency, or even change the way the car drives, you might have to give your car a different set of instructions, by remapping the parameters of the ECU.
This is where tuners come in.. They help remap the parameters of the ECU safely, while achieving the needs and wants of the driver.
Pros of ECU tuning
- Increased Power: A remapped ECU increases the overall power output significantly. By remapping the ECU, the peak power and torque outputs are notably increased, improving the car’s acceleration capabilities.
- Better Driveability: While tuning a car, the tuner will focus on the engine’s overall power delivery. A more efficient power delivery makes for a much better driving experience. Imagine a sluggish slow reacting car versus a torque-y fast reacting car. The former isn’t as pleasant to drive.
- Better In-Gear Acceleration: An improved power delivery boosts power output at different RPMs, thus improving the overall performance and in-gear acceleration. Strong in-gear acceleration helps in performing quick overtakes.
- No Flat Spots: A remapped ECU controls the engine in such a manner that the power and torque output from the engine spread across the available RPM range, thus eliminating flat spots and weak spots in the operating range of your engine.
Cons of ECU tuning
- Warranty May Be Voided: If the tuning is done and only if authorised dealer runs a full diagnostic log, it can trigger a tampered flag thus affecting your warranty. This means the authorised dealer will be aware that your car has been tampered, and might void the warranty depending on the terms and conditions.
How to avoid warranty being voided?
- Flash ECU/TCU back to factory map before going back to authorised dealer if you know they are going to run a full diagnostic log. By connecting the diagnostic tools and not running the complete logging procedure it will not trigger the tampered flag.
Regardless, ECU tuning increases the overall performance of the vehicle and significantly improves the driving experience. It is important to know what you want to achieve through tuning or get a tuner you trust to explain the differences to you.