What is Chiptuning?
The engines in all modern cars are controlled by an electronic control unit or ECU. Within this unit there is a memory chip with data that has been provided by the vehicle manufacturer. The ECU uses this data to directs the operation of the engine – ignition timing, air to fuel ratio, turbo boost and more.
Chiptuning refers to the different methods that can be used to alter the data that the ECU uses; it can refer to replacing the memory chip, reprogramming the chip, or adding an additional ECU. Altering or replacing the typically conservative data programmed by the manufacturer can result in greater power output and economy, provided it is carried out properly.
The different approaches
The data which is used to govern the engine can simply be completely replaced by simply exchanging the memory chip that is in the ECU for a chip with data which allows for different ignition timing, fuel ignition etc.
Another approach, and one which has become more popular than replacing the chip, is getting the existing chip reprogrammed (or ‘remapped’). The individual carrying out the chiptuning in this way would usually reprogram the chip by using the onboard diagnostics interface (OBD). He plugs a computer into the vehicle’s OBD port and introduces the new data. These two methods can result in greater power than the third option (see below) but there are disadvantages, risk of engine damage and inability to carry out diagnostic tests.
The third way to change the data is to add another ECU (sometimes referred to as a tuning box) which acts in the same way that the manufacturer’s ECU but uses a set of data which increases power and performance. This method offers significant advantages as it can easily be removed, allowing the original ECU to take over engine control. This is useful when it time for the vehicle to be sold. In addition, with the right setup the original engine protection program that the manufacturer installed is retained, so you good a boost in power and economy without the risk of engine damage.
RaceChip are a chiptuning company based in Germany; they have been in operation for over 18 years. RaceChip only use the the third option outlined above – that of adding an additional ECU. Their systems always leave the original engine protection data in place, so there is no risk to your motor. The ECU is easy to install (you can do it yourself in 15 minutes) and there are no structural modifications to the vehicle or the existing ECU.
Their basic system – which costs a mere €129 – can give you the following benefits: up to 25% more performance, up to 20%more torque, up to 1l / 100km less consumption. Those are very impressive figures indeed. True, you may get a greater output by replacing or reprogramming the chip, but is it worth the risk when RaceChip’s inexpensive system offers so much?
Chiptuning that is not carried out properly can actually result in poor performance and economy, and even engine damage. Therefore, it is advisable to only tune an engine by use of an additional ECU, one which allows the engine to be governed by the engine protection data programmed by the engine manufacturer. RaceChip systems certainly are the way to go.