While improved performance is the common draw for performance chips, improved fuel mileage can be an unexpected, and easily noticeable benefit to having a chip installed. To understand how exactly this works, some basic knowledge on the nature of performance chips is essential.
How a Chip Improves Performance
A performance chip refers to alterations done to a chip inside your vehicle’s computer that dictates fuel mapping and ignition timing. Because the factory cannot know the climates, weather and gas quality a vehicle may be used in once it has been sold, they program in a safety margin to fuel and ignition values. By running fuel ratios that are more on the rich side of the scale, and ignition timing that is more towards the off side of things, should the vehicle experience a tank of poor quality fuel or excessively hot weather, the engine will remain unharmed. By leaning out the fuel ratios and advancing ignition timing, more power and improved response can be found, though this comes at the cost of having to run a higher octane fuel to prevent any damage to the engine. The unexpected side effect of leaner fuel ratios is better fuel economy, which can often times be quite substantial.
While performance chips may yield better gas mileage, this doesn’t necessarily mean a chip will reduce operating costs. For owners who normally use lower octane fuel to save money, a chip will almost certainly require a step up in octane, which in turn will cost more money per gallon to run your vehicle. For those who already run higher octane fuel, an additional octane booster may be required on some tunes, which drive costs up even further.