Modern car and van engines have an electronic management system. This system controls the parameters of the engine. The ECU (Engine Control Unit) the brain of the engine runs this system. When you put your foot down, the ECU decides how much fuel and air to mix, input into the cylinder and ignite. The ECU also controls the boost of the turbo (if you have one) and how long the injectors remain open.
Remapping your engine changes the ECU parameters, giving more performance— more economy and improving emissions.
The most common is to connect to the vehicle diagnostic port. Then down load a copy of the software complete the modification and re-flash the software on the ECU. This does need special equipment.
The second way, which will get you better results but costs more, is to have a custom remap for your vehicle.
By modifying the car or van fitting a bigger turbo, bigger injectors, modified air intake and exhaust.
Modifying the ECU parameters using a dynamometer, tweaking the parameters.
It is also possible a piggyback device that attaches to the ECU with some vehicles. There are lots of devices on the market. A lot of them are very cheap and you can often fit them yourself. Usually they just make the vehicle run richer and aren’t really any use.
The best option is to have your car or van remapped by someone who knows what they are doing.
If It’s That Easy, Why Don’t the Manufacturers Do It?
This is a common question. There are several reasons that manufacturers don’t supply the car or van already maximised as far as performance and economy go.
The first is that manufacturers focus mainly on reliability. Some people look after their cars, regularly servicing them and taking good care of them. Some don’t do anything other than put fuel in. There are also different grades of fuel, depending where you are.
In an ideal world, everybody would look after their car and fuel would be good quality everywhere you go. Since this isn’t the world we live in, then if manufacturers err on the side of safety and supply their vehicle at a less than optimal tune, then there’s a higher chance of it lasting longer. This means that the manufacturer gets a reputation for reliability as their cars are less likely to break down.
If you service your car, use good fuel, remapping the engine will be a benefit.
The other issue is that manufacturers often have a range of vehicles, and the most powerful vehicles in the range are usually the most expensive. Manufacturers often stifle the performance of engines to make sure there is a clear difference in power as you step up the range. In some cases, you can buy a cheaper version of the car or van and then remap it to equal or beat the next model in the range. This is an very inexpensive way to own a more powerful model.
Extra Performance? But I’m Not a Boy / Girl Racer…
While there is extra performance available from the engine, this isn’t the only benefit. As long as you’re willing to drive normally, then you can also get an increase in MPG. It depends on the vehicle, but some people report up to 5 MPG more after remapping, so if you do enough miles then you can recoup the money that the remap costs. Remember a heavy right foot will use fuel.
The other thing is that if you have a van and carry heavy loads, then sometimes a remap can really help the drive ability of the vehicle, giving you more oomph so you can zoom rather than crawl up hills.
So Should I Get My Car or Van Remapped?
There are several things you need to bear in mind when thinking about getting your car or van remapped.
The first thing is to think about what sort of an engine you have in there. The best gains can usually be had from turbocharged vehicles, both petrol or diesel. Remapping these can lead to big performance gains as the boost from the turbo can be increased. Naturally aspirated (NA) engines will not give you the same performance gains. If you are running a small NA engine, then remapping may increase the drive ability and give you a small performance boost, but you’ll have to weigh up the cost and think about whether a small increase in performance will be worth the money. The larger and more powerful the engine is in the first place, the more gains you’ll get from remapping.
Extra performance is not the only thing you can get from a remap. The economy of the car can often be increased as well, but this depends on how the car is driven. In an ideal world, you won’t drive any faster than before and you’ll see better fuel economy. Of course what tends to happen is that you have more performance from the remap, so you use the extra performance and end up using more fuel than before. Once you get used to the power and start driving normally again, you’ll see better economy. It is also possible to get a remap that is specifically designed to increase economy. Performance is compromised at the cost of economy with these sort of maps, but this is something some people, cab drivers for example, are happy since they don’t care about performance and just want more MPG.
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