Chip tuning: the pro’s and con’s

One of the most popular ways of tuning an engine is chip tuning. By changing the settings in the engine chip, the car’s performance can change drastically. But besides the obvious improvements one can achieve with this kind of tuning, there are also a couple of risks attached to chip tuning. What is chip tuning exactly? And what are the advantages, but also the disadvantages of changing the chip settings on car? Read on to find out.

What is chip tuning exactly?
Modern turbo-engines are powered by a ECU (Electronic Control Unit). Car tuners can adjust the settings in the software of this ECU which regulate the amount of fuel, turbo pressure, and injection. By changing the way the engine performs, engines can gain up to 30 percent of their original performance. Besides gaining quite sizeable amount of power, the engine can also run more efficiently (up to 10 percent), although this is often negated by faster driving.

Different kinds of chip tuning
There are two main ways of actually achieving chip tuning. The most popular way is to read and adjust the software on the ECU by so called ‘ODB tuning’. Using the ODB-interface is quite easy, and does not require a lot of work: new settings are simply ‘flashed’ into the ECU. In some modern ECU’s, however, using the ODB-portal is disabled. In that case, BDM tuning is used to crack the ECU and allow for software adjusting – a more risky and labor-intensive process.

The dangers of chip tuning
As can be expected, chip tuning comes with a set of risks. This type of tuning is basically putting more stress on the engine than the producer of the car feels is safe. That means that in extreme circumstances, there is a higher risk of damage to the car, or even of engine failure. The higher fuel injection and engine power puts more stress on other parts of the car as well, such as the wheels and the gears. And remember – tuning a car foregoes the factory guarantee, so problems with the engine or the car might become more expensive to solve.