Engine Chip Tuning: What It Does, How Much it Costs and Why It’s Risky
Engine chip tuning is a process where the electronic control unit is reprogrammed, making the engine work within different parameters. The ECU chip is located in the injection system and regulates the amount of air and fuel mixture that takes place. When you reprogram this, you can tell the chip what you want to happen with this mixture. The cost of this can depend on how you have it done.
An engine tuning chip is a crucial part of your car's electrical and computer systems. The chip in your vehicle controls a number of different systems, regulating and ensuring they're properly powered at all times.
Systems the Chip Controls
Depending on your car type and year, the ECU may control a wide variety of different systems. Among these are the automatic transmissions system, the vehicle stabilization system, the fuel injection, the valve support systems, the timing and ignition systems, and the speed governance system. All of these are crucial to the functioning of your vehicle. The chip responds to stimuli from the vehicle in order to boost pressure to the valves and fuel injection systems, to regulate the top speed and acceleration of the vehicle, and more.
Other Things to Know about the Chip
The ECU in your vehicle is typically located within the dashboard controls. It is accessed through a port called the diagnostic port. In most cases, it is best to leave the handling of the chip to professionals. Interfering with the systems that it operates by accidentally adjusting some of the settings on the chip or by tampering it without knowing exactly what you're doing can cause your vehicle to lose performance quality and even to break down entirely. Some of this damage may be irreparable and to the engine.
Tuning for Performance
The problem from the factory’s point of view is that changes to the ECU tuning all have a potentially negative impact on reliability. Leaner fuel maps mean more power but are far more vulnerable to a bad tank of gas or higher air temperatures. If tuned improperly, it can cause immediate and serious engine damage.
Advancing timing can mean more power but also a higher chance of potential detonation. Should this detonation occur, the knock sensor may not be able pull out enough timing to protect the engine. In the case of a higher redline, the engine may very well be capable of performing at a higher engine speed, though this also means higher levels of wear and a far higher risk of catastrophic engine failure if pushed too far. This is why chip tuning will almost certainly void your car’s power train warranty.
While the regular DIY mechanic can install the new ECU chip, there are some potential problems that can occur. Not getting the chip installed correctly can lead to very harmful effects to the engine, which will result in costly repairs down the road. Professional installation can cost anywhere from $400 to $700 depending on the type of car that you have.
If you believe that you can install the chip yourself, a new chip can cost $300 to $600 depending on the type of vehicle you are tuning.
After the initial cost of the installation of the ECU chip, and tuning your engine to its optimal performance, you will eventually begin to see some great savings. When you change the chip you will be saving a lot of gas consumption and make the engine run smoother. There are less running costs associated with engine chip tuning than without it.
Reprogramming the chip in the injection system will give your vehicle much better performance than it had previously. This means that as a side effect, other parts will also need to be replaced. Spark plugs, distributor, wires, valves and other parts that work directly with the running of the vehicle will all benefit by the chip tuning. They should be replaced in order for the full benefits to be felt.