Chiptuning, also referred to as chip tuning, engine tuning, or engine mapping, is the process of modifying a vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU) with the intention of varying the performance from the manufacturer’s default settings. Often, this intention is to gain increased performance, whether this is in terms of acceleration or maximum speed, but by the same token, it’s also possible to tune in the other direction, with the intent of gaining better fuel consumption or enhanced emission control.
Prior to the introduction of electronic control systems in the 1970s, purely mechanical means were used to control engine operations, and any modification required manual solutions. The earliest attempts at after-market tuning, which emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, centred on replacement of the core chip within the ECU, merely replacing one chip with another, the two having different characteristics. As technology moved on, and personal computer use became more widespread, the techniques progressed to the point where it became possible to directly access the software on the ECU chip, and rewrite that directly.
The latest techniques involve fitment of a separate control unit, which modifies the control signals to and from the manufacturer’s ECU. This type of system, as supplied by Racechip Chiptuning, requires no specialist installation skills, and can easily be fitted by the vehicle owner in minutes. Further advantages of this system include easily-accessible control dials, allowing the owner to modify their own performance parameters with ease, and easy restoration of the vehicle back to the manufacturer’s original specification. The original ECU and its software remain unaltered by fitment of the separate control unit, which simply plugs in between the existing ECU and the car’s wiring harness, and hence the car appears to any subsequent buyer to have been totally unmodified.