A.Kahn Design\'s guide to engine performance chips and ECU remapping
11th Oct 2011
And although we leave the majority of our engine tuning to legendary tuners such as Cosworth and in some cases, Brabus, the very idea of tuning cars comes with a certain amount of negativity. For some it conjures images of boy racers or DIY mechanics.
However, the reality is that car tuning is far more commonplace than you\'d think because the latest technology can boost a car after only a few minutes plugged into a laptop in most cases.
So allow Kahnnews to enlighten you, you never know, you may actually end up with a Cosworth RS600 Vogue; read this review to see just how commonplace it actually is!
What is car tuning?
Ensuring your car was faster than everyone else\'s was once very, very risky. It basically involved making painstaking mechanical changes to the engine by replacing your standard car parts with more high performance ones. Now this could both be great fun but also tricky if you didn\'t know what you were doing, not to mention the time it took to actually finish the process.
However, computers were introduced to the automotive world and more and more manufacturers found it was much easier to use microchips in car management systems in order to actually control the way engines worked and work out the balance between the sometimes conflicting needs for performance, fuel economy, fuel economy and reliability to name but a few.
Nowadays however, most cars you see now have an ecu or engine control unit - and by changing the parameters of these computers it\'s possible to improve a car\'s power, torque, throttle response, fuel economy and in some cases, all of them simultaneously.
This can usually be done in a matter of minutes by plugging in a replacement microchip or directly altering the ECU\'s software with a laptop connected into the car\'s diagnostic port.
So in short, most people prefer getting their car chipped by a man with a laptop and no oil under his finger in a short space of time as opposed to someone getting all bothered whilst attempting to modify your engine – we know what the most attractive proposition is!
For most people, getting their car chipped by a man with a laptop and no oil under his finger nails is a far more attractive prospect.
Today, the term remapping is more apt for the sophisticated tuning procedures that the leading companies employ.
A remap is basically an adjustment of engine management software. This ensures there are no physical changes to
A remap is all about adjusting the engine management software so there are no physical changes to the car itself. It\'s even possible to buy handheld units that plug into the car and allow owners to alter the ECU settings themselves, choosing a high performance mode when they feel like it, an economy optimised map if they don\'t or reverting to the factory settings.
Are there any benefits?
The question you need answering here is: \'Just how better can the car get with the aid of a chip\'?
You\'ll see some outlandish claims by some companies about their ability to improve an engine\'s performance. Exactly how much extra oomph they\'ll be able to dial in, however, depends on the type of car.
As a guide, read this review, and you\'ll get a fair idea, Cosworth worked on our 5.0 litre V8 supercharger and control unit to boost power from 500bhp to 555bhp. It\'s not the power hike that really counts though, rather the boost in tourque, with the 600 in the Kahn Range Rover\'s name referring to the 600lb.ft of twisting force it produces. In short, that mighty amount is what makes the 4.5 –second 0-60mph time sound credible, even if it doesn\'t feel quite as fast on the road.
Could you save fuel too?
Some of the cost of a chip could even be offset by an improvement in fuel economy - a happy side effect that often accompanies chipping modifications on turbo diesel cars.
Research suggests performance technology can bring fuel economy savings of up to 7% on diesel models and some companies have anecdotal evidence of small improvements on petrol cars too.
You have been warned (or you\'re about to be)
Companies who actually provide these services point out that they work on large numbers of vehicles, many of them still under manufacturer warranty, and disputes are rare.
Furthermore, the likes of Kahn provide a back-up warranty of their own that\'s designed to fill any gaps in manufacturer cover relating to the chip and related parts. And once installed, chipping technology can\'t be detected by staff in service centres making warranty problems even less likely to arise.
Car modification was once a pastime for committed petrol heads with a bit too much time on their hands but the coming of computer engine remapping has ensured it is now mainstream with the likes of celebrities, premier league footballers to name but a few who are often associated with such an expensive pastime.
The process is no longer seen as a dark art and ordinary motorists are increasingly turning to chipping as a route to extra hustle with minimum hassle and expense. As long as you keep your insurance company in the picture, there\'s no real reason why you shouldn\'t too, especially with the likes of Cosworth joining forces with the Kahn brand – you can potentially have any quality car you wish, with an engine to match.
For more information visit telephone: + 44 (0) 1274 74 99 99