I'll warn you now, this article might require a couple of reads and it will only skim the surface of aftermarket chip tuning. Most of the information here will be fairly general as every car; engine management system is significantly different. Hopefully you can at least have a better understanding of what chip tuners need to do to develop a product and how they go about modifying a standard ECU to create more power & torque
As many of you might point out the term "chip tuning" is now more or less obsolete. The days of manually pulling and replacing EPROM chips from a factory electronic control unit (ECU) are long over although there are still some that might require this method. This route is required as the memory type that the ECU uses is non-reprogrammable…very much like a negative film, and so a fresh blank chip is needed for the revised file to be put on. Chances are, a "chip" for your car is a software upgrade that's reflashed onto your ECU's memory via the onboard diagnostic (OBD-II) port. This is sometimes referred to as serial programming Many times, just like with video games, there are patches or software updates that manufacturers send out to their dealers to ensure the vehicles are operating optimally. Serial flashing is the reason it takes a lot less time to get your car chipped nowadays than it did for your Mk II Jetta.
How is this done?
On most vehicles the data is downloaded and edited via the OBD (diagnostic) port. On some vehicles the ecu needs to be removed from the vehicle to be successfully programmed.
What is a custom Remap?
There is a lot of confusion and speculation on what a custom remap is. As the word generic remap seems to be used a lot in this field. All our software is edited from where possible the original firmware with the coding etc in place for that vehicle.
Chip Tuning or Remapping?
There is a lot of confusion on what a "chip" or "remap" is… in the public domain anyway. As the word ‘chipped' seems to be refered to a lot in this field. In the late 1980′s and early 90′s automotive ECU's still used standard UV or even bi-polar EPROMs/ROMs. To tune these early generation ECU's the chip (EPROM) would have to be removed and the data within read then modified / transferred to a virgin chip hence the word chip change… that lead to the word ‘chipped' or "chip tuning". The term ‘Remap' evolved into the public domain later as more informed people in the car tuning industry began to understand some of the technical terms used in electronic/data modification. Later ECU's and semi conductor technology with the advent of OBDII and EOBD platforms (you can read more about on board diagnostics by following the link) saw remote jack flashing ‘serial programming', becoming common place allowing quick and easy firmware updates to occur. Remapping data within the chip or EPROM is one of the same thing as ecu remapping, it's just how and the name of the process that is performed which differs.
Can all vehicles be chipped/remapped?
No, not all vehicles can be remapped. However, most post '96 vehicles can be remapped if your application is not shown on this site please contact us. Some pre '96 vehicles can be chipped (programmed) in the same way as a remap but the extraction of ECU will have to be done. Around the year 2000 vehicles started to appear with "reflashable memeory" hence the term reflash.
Can my chip be returned to standard by the dealer?
Yes. The vehicle dealership has the ability to return your vehicle to stock settings by ‘re-flashing' your ECU through the OBD-II port. However, this is uncommon.
Will the life of my engine be affected after the software upgrade has been fitted?
No. The sofware upgrade has been designed to run the optimum ignition timing and perfect air fuel ratio for maximum power. Damage occurs when the vehicles air/fuel ratio is too lean. This means that the cars piston is detonating because there is not enough fuel in comparison to the air in the cylinder. This results in valve wear and the possible breaking of pistons.
When you flash your ECU with GIAC or Malone Tuning software can feel safe in the knowledge that the upgrade for your vehicle has been through extensive testing and development.
Does GIAC and Malone Tuning dyno develop vehicles?
Our software engineers test all vehicles during the development phase to ensure full throttle power and response. Because all models carry identical software, it means that by dynoing our development cars, we are saving YOU time and money.
We can, however, dynamometer test your own car, for an additional cost , and we also require the car for a full day.
How does GIAC and Malone Tuning develop their upgrades?
Our chosen software engineers spend endless hours tuning each models of car to meet extremely high standards. They spend their time tuning the car real time live and on a Dynamometer and real road. Real time tuning involves the tuner modifying the computers program via laptop whilst the pilot (driver) puts the vehicle through its paces. Dyno development involves the car being put onto a Dynamometer and tuning the car whilst under varying loads. In effect, the up-rated remap is maximizing the cars potential at all throttle positions at all load and RPM points, thus giving your car the optimum performance and providing you with the ultimate driving experience.
Is the upgrade effective as soon as it is installed, or does it take time to ‘learn'?
These control units must conform to the government regulations for OBDII diagnostics. Part of the regulations require that the car measures the feedback from the air fuel ratio's using the oxygen sensors. The values as a result of the feedback are then stored in maps called ‘long term fuel trim' and ‘short term fuel trim'. These results are held in ‘volatile' memory, and are lost when the software or chip is changed, or when power to the ECU is lost when the battery is drained or disconnected.
In addition to the fuel values above, the ignition is also monitored by the ECU, and the car has the ability to ‘adapt' to changes in fuel quality by building a ‘maximum allowable' ignition advance. Again, this data is stored in maps that are ‘zeroed' back to neutral when the car is programmed with new software or the battery is disconnected.
In addition, the idle speed is also adaptive. The car stores the values to make idle speed adjustments in a map. Again, this information is lost when the software is installed.
The values that are stored in these maps take time to build, and they need to build these maps over different loads, and different RPM's. In the case of the idle maps, it requires both cold starts and hot starts to build.
Maximum power will not be achieved until the ignition and fuel maps are ‘rebuilt' from driving, and this generally takes at least 5 hours of varied driving.
Cars that have significant modifications will require more time to learn, and will improve in performance after the car has fully adapted. Examples of modifications that have a significant effect on adaptation are modified air intakes and sports exhausts.
Do I have to use a higher grade of fuel, or can I run regular fuel?
For most car remaps, so long as your car is equipped with a knock sensor you can run regular fuel. However, to reach the maximum potential of the remap, premium grades of fuel must be used. For some vehicles we do not have a remap available for lower grades of fuel.
Older models may have performance left in them running regular fuel, however the improvements aren't as great as running a remap suited to Premium grade fuels.
The advantage of having a knock sensor is that it stops the car from pinging/ detonating. This means that if you have a remap set up for Premium fuel but for some reason can't access it, you can safely run standard unleaded without damaging your vehicle.
What will happen with fuel consumption after GAIC or Malone Tuning software has been installed?
This totally depends on your driving style. In most cases at full throttle you will use more fuel - that is a trade off for getting the maximum power. However, at part throttle, many models can achieve better fuel economy. This results because some models run rich at part throttle. When we tune the car, the optimum air/fuel ratio and spark at part throttle results in not only better response but better fuel economy as well. This means that you can enjoy the benefits of the software and feel safe in the knowledge that your fuel bill is not going to sky-rocket
A FEW THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
We really love this one, many companies are claiming to be different because they offer live mapping for their customers, making them some what special! this is where they will connect a laptop up to your car's diagnostic connector and drive the car while another person "live map's the car", or should i say pretends to map the car. LIVE MAPPING CAN NOT BE DONE THROUGH THE DIAGNOSTIC CONNECTOR OF ANY CAR! The data cannot be extracted at a fast enough rate to be able to carry out a live map. The only correct way is to open the vehicle's ecu and connect an emulator, so you can transfer the data from the ecu in REAL TIME. along side this certain diagnostic tools and analysers are needed like air fuel ratio meter and det detect equipment if need be.
Ok so lets say after all that a company is able to live map, who says they are any good at it? You have to remember that a HIGHLY DEVELOPED custon map is going to be miles better than a POOR live map. It takes years of experience to be able to live map successfully! Lastly somebody cannot live map modern cars 100% unless of course they have original manufacturer tooling to do so. These tools are specific to the manufacturer only, and is not possible to purchase. So dont fall for it!
A dyno is certainly not needed to remap a car, all software should be developed on a dyno to start with, so for a company to say that they remap on a dyno? what does this mean? The software should all ready have been developed and tested! the only changes that one may need to make is slight changes because of software variations across the model range and you certainly do not need a dyno for this reason. If one would like to check air/fuel ratio while the engine is under load this can be done while driving on the road with the relevant test equipment connected to the vehicle. some would argue that this would be the most accurate way to test, as you can not simulate real road conditions on a dyno properly.
The other problem is people with dyno's claiming they can tune when they can't and the one's that do fiddle with readings, also it's worth mentioning that peak figures can be a bad example of the quality of a re map , one would need to also consider how the engine performs everywhere else in the rev range as your engine does not only run at 6000rpm after all.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss anything with us feel free to give us a call. we would be more than happy to assist you,