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TUNING & REMAPPING

WHAT IS ECU REMAPPING?

Some Light Reading

WHAT IS AN ECU?

The engine's electronic control unit (ECU) is your car's main brain, and is connected to many others within the vehicle's electrical system. Each ECU reports back information to the main brain - certain parameters - required for the engine to make informed decisions, ensuring the correct and safe operation of the vehicle.

For example, petrol engines require, among other things, a perfect ratio of air to fuel to operate efficiently. The huge amount of data that is processed by the engine's ECU determines the decision on how much air and fuel is released and adjusts the ignition ('spark') timing accordingly, allowing for optimum performance.

HOW CAN I BENEFIT FROM REMAPPING?

A 'map' refers to the file (or 'calibration file') that is stored within the engine's ECU. This provides the engine with reference data while it's running. Large car manufacturers produce vehicles that are distributed to various continents, with different drivers, environments, rules and conditions. As a result, the cars are 'mapped' to a happy medium; a standardised design that takes into account all of these different factors. Inevitably, power is sacrificed in the process.

By reading the map in your car, and carrying out a professional assessment, I'm able to customise it and create a bespoke version, which compliments your exact driving style. This process not only improves performance, but extracts the full potential from each component of your engine, ensuring they work more efficiently together.

As a result, you'll achieve the same level of power without having to fully compress the throttle. Increased torque at lower engine revs could see up to 15% better fuel economy, sharper throttle response, better towing capabilities and a clear improvement on your over-taking manoeuvres, where you no longer have to change down a gear.

Vehicle manufacturers commonly use the same engine in various models, detuned and capable of more power. In most cases even using the same ECU, just with modified software. In this situation, the car's power on a lower specification vehicle can improve to above the standard figures of its more costly higher performance model.

Forced induction engines such as those fitted with turbo chargers or superchargers tend to see the most noticeable improvement in power, due to the increase of boost pressure. However, other vehicles can benefit a great deal from ironing out flat spots within the rev range, increasing torque and providing an all-round more responsive, lively and fuel-efficient drive.

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THE PROCESS OF REMAPPING

What To Expect

Before I start working on your vehicle, you’ll receive a free consultation, where we’ll discuss your individual requirements. I pride myself in offering a bespoke service and will ensure you are getting the correct tuning option for your specific needs.

Your vehicle with then have a basic pre-tuning health check. This will include a road test and a free diagnosis check of your engine's ECU, to ensure there are no underlying faults with your vehicle before any software has been installed. At this point I will have a good insight into the engine's condition and whether it is a good candidate for custom software. From here I will, if necessary, check the ECU type for compatibility of 'On Board Diagnosis' (OBD) communication or bench communication and will provide you with an upfront and transparent quote for the service.

Once this quote has been agreed, I’ll safely remove your engine’s original file for customisation. I’ll either do this by OBD communication or by removing the ECU for bench read. In some cases, the ECU may be locked or have an anti-tuning software, but I can usually overcome this by using specialist equipment. In the unlikely event that I am unable to overcome this, I will advise you immediately and you will not be charged for any work carried out. Once the file is successfully removed, it will be sent for customisation at the Topgear Tuning office by their dedicated file calibration team. At this point I will include your specific requests, for example, whether you require better fuel economy, performance or any other software extra available.

Your modified file will be sent back to me and this normally takes approximately thirty minutes, depending on your vehicle and requirements. I will then safely write it back to your engine's ECU. The time for the writing process will vary with different ECU types but this usually takes between x and X.

Having installed your modified software, we will carry out a post-map road test and a final diagnosis check of the engine's ECU to ensure you are happy with the service.

Upon completion and payment, you will receive this pack, certifying that your vehicle has been successfully remapped by Horsham Tuning.

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ECU COMMUNICATION

ODB & BENCH Explained

Most vehicles have an 'On Board Diagnosis' (OBD) port which will allow me to access the engine's ECU and read its unique mapping file. This is the cheapest and most direct approach to reading your vehicle's configuration and installing the modified software.

However, with modern vehicles, typically from 2008 onwards, accessing this information can be difficult due to a 'locked' ECU, a tri-core processor or other restrictions. This means I have to remove, unlock and “bench” communicate with the ECU. This is a longer process with additional labour involved but I will always advise you before proceeding with the service, to ensure you’re happy with the price. You can be assured that I will always attempt to carry out the process using the OBD port first to provide you with the most cost and time effective option where possible.

All software is developed from unique hand-picked rolling road and tuning operators from around the world to ensure safe and reliable adaptions are made. These are then further adapted to be custom-suited and adapted to your vehicle, its modifications and your requirements. Power figures are provided from initial power runs on a like-for-like engine.

Every vehicle receives a pre-tune road test to check parameter readings and a health check to ensure optimum but safe improvements.

WHAT ABOUT ROLLING ROAD REMAPS?

There is a common misconception that having a custom 'rolling road' remap is the only option but most standard car ECU's cannot be live-mapped. Top Gear Tuning have developed their files on the rolling road in the UK so I'm able to provide customers with the same high-quality result, at a reduced price. With a 'rolling road' map, you're charged an additional cost, which is for the power run time before and after on a rolling road. Not only is this a more expensive option, but the figures may vary depending on the current conditions and your location. Please take this into account when choosing your tuning option.

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SOFTWARE EXTRA’S

A few more software options

HARD CUT LIMITER

Hard Cut Limiter programs the ECU to cut fuelling at a set RPM (normally 4300rpm) making the revs bounce off the limiter! This is normally available for cars from VAG Group but can be considered for other vehicles once I analyse relevant diagnostic data.

HOT START FIX

If a PD diesel engine starts easily and quickly when cold but struggles to start when hot, this is described as a Hot Start Problem. These diesel engines are started by an ECU and not by the driver. Pressing the accelerator pedal has no effect during a starting procedure. Starting is actually controlled by a ‘starting map’ in the ECU and is based on starter/engine speed (rpm) and injected fuel quantity. Generally, the ECU will not allow the start of fuel injection until the engine rpm is above a fixed map value. Such problems can occur from low battery charge, engine coolant temperature sensor faults or the starter motor itself. However, the problem may be the actual Hot Start Map within the ECU.

O2/LAMBDA OFF (DECAT)

O2 off remaps are for those who have fitted either sports­cats or de­cat pipes within their exhaust system and are subsequently having problems with the engine light being triggered due to emissions faults for error codes P0420 and P0430 (Cat efficiency). I can solve this problem by disabling these checks within the ECU map.

LAUNCH CONTROL

Launch control Software manages the amount of power to the wheels for optimum traction. From 2-4 MPH, the RPM is limited to 2500-2750rpm. Once the predetermined speed is reached the RPM Limiter will automatically move to normal RPM and from that point, maximum power is allowed.

MAF DELETE (MAF TO MAP SWITCH)

MAF deactivation is not recommended as it is a very important sensor for fuel regulation, but sometimes (normally on high powered tuned cars with bigger turbo/injector modifications) the MAF reading hits its maximum value and touches the maximum allowed voltage read by the sensor making a fault code in the ECU and places the vehicle into a safe mode (limp mode). On vehicles equipped, this alternative involves the use of a manifold absolute pressure sensor (MAP). The MAP sensor measures pressure in an engine’s inlet manifold. When coupled with RPM data, and a table of volumetric efficiency over the operating range of the engine, the MAP sensor can be used by the engine management computer to calculate fuel requirements.

SPEED LIMITER REMOVAL Many vehicles are programmed with a top speed limiter. Speed limiter removal software allows the vehicle to reach its top speed. However, I am mindful of international road and highway laws and take the opportunity to stress this service is intended for off road use.

START/STOP DISABLE

Many people do not like modern Start/Stop systems (which turns off the engine every ­time they stop), but it’s becoming increasingly common on new vehicles. Normally, there is a disable button, but this has to be re­set every ­time the engine is restarted. With a Start/Stop Disabled in an ECU remap, the function is disabled permanently. This is intended for offroad use

SWIRL FLAP REMOVAL

Intake manifold flap failures are common on certain groups of cars and are expensive to replace and even more so if they have failed and damaged the engine internally. My software can be used as part of a flap removal operation without causing fault codes or engine management lights and risks.

ADBLUE REMOVAL

Used in a process called selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to reduce emissions of nitrogen from the exhaust of diesel engines but it has been known to produce very high operating costs. If you wish to reduce or completely eliminate the consumption of AdBlue in your vehicle I can reprogram the ECU to allow this. This will not illuminate dashboard error lights but intending for off road use.

EGR DELETE

Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) is a nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions reduction technique used in petrol and diesel engines.EGR works by recirculating a portion of an engine’s exhaust gas back to the engine cylinders. This dilutes the O2 within the incoming air stream and provides gases, inert to combustion, to act as absorbents of combustion heat in order to reduce peak in-cylinder temperatures. NOx is produced in a narrow band of high cylinder temperatures and pressures. However, the valves can become clogged with carbon deposits, causing them to fail or stick, thereby causing error codes and the vehicle to not run correctly. Our solution is a simple and effective method of improving the efficiency. Disabling the EGR valve electronically and physically this results in lowered engine temperatures, improved throttle response and better economy. It can also increase engine life by reducing oil contamination and carbon deposits.

DPF DELETE

DPF systems are designed to reduce emissions. They collect excess soot from diesel engines in a filter fitted in the exhaust system. This is then burnt off in a regeneration process when the required vehicle parameters are met. In theory, this system is good, but in practice is a very expensive problem for diesel vehicle owners. Most vehicles never meet the required parameters to regenerate and cause the filter to block causing the engine to go into limp mode thus, long term, causing possible component failure. A forced regeneration can be carried out, but when not successful, a replacement unit will be required normally at a very high price. The alternative is to remove the system. By removing the internals of the filter (maintaining its external appearance) or fitting with a delete pipe, the control unit can then be adjusted to remove this system electronically and make use of the improved exhaust flow for performance/economy enhancement. This is intended for off road use.

OTHER SERVICES

Other services can be carried out on various cars but contact me for more information. Such as control unit cloning, OEM fitted 'sports' buttons to hide the performance map on a switch, fault code permanent removal etc but will be based on reading the vehicles file and confirming if it can be done. Note: Removal of the AdBlue system (or similar), EGR, DPF or any of the other services, in some cases, should only be carried out on vehicles for off-road use only. Using a vehicle on public roads with such a system disabled is at the owner/operators risk.

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