TUNING

Perfect Power Articles.

 

Tuning a cars engine means changing its behavior under certain circumstances. The behavior changes can mean different things: Performance tuning, Car tuning, Auto tuning, Chip tuning, Re-mapping, Computer tuning, Dyno tuning, Fuel consumption tuning, and so on.

In essence it is the desire to get the best out of the car’s engine. When it is applied to modern road cars (as opposed to racing cars) then the question is “Why would one want tune a car”. Modern cars are almost perfect, most of the time. This alone gives some tuning incentive. But, as it is human nature, we ‘tinker’ with cars. This can be a change in the inlet or exhaust system or adding a supercharger, this definitely requires some tuning.

So – we have a need to tune the engine. Then what options are there? The answer at a first glance may be confusing, but bear with me. Let’s first restrict the cars range: We are talking of street legal cars, not performance sports cars. Most sports car manufacturers allow you to tune the car and you can purchase the modifications and tuning tools from the manufacturers. Then there are the very expensive cars with a sporty image. You can tune them, but achieve nothing, because they are perfect. This leaves the bulk of streetcars as you see them on the road.

All of these cars have an OBD (On Board Diagnostic) port somewhere underneath the dashboard and an ‘engine light’ warning indication in the dash display. The different tuning systems available are:

RE-FLASH TUNING

Also known as ECU re-flashing or computer re-flash. In essence, someone has ‘hacked’ the ECU maps, modified them, and sold you a copy for downloading into the ECU via the OBD port or some other access. It works most of the time, until the manufacturer gets wind of it, and re-flashes the ECU at every service with re-located maps. The system is clean, most of the time successful, but you can’t change a map.

 

OBD PORT TUNING

Also known as serial port tuners or diagnostic OBD port tuning. It uses the OBD port to gain access to the maps via an interface. It applies only to engines were the manufacturer has allowed you to change some settings. This is ideal for small changes, very inexpensive, but not successful in the long run.

 

ECU SOLDER TUNING

You, or your agent, are soldering a new processor into the ECU. Not very attractive, very expensive, but can be changed by you.

 

PIGGYBACK TUNING

This requires a little electronic box, which is piggybacked onto the original ECU. It changes the signal to or from the ECU and when plugged into a PC achieves the desired tuning ability. But, it requires extensive engineering (which wire goes where), and may cause your engine light to come on. This is so because the ECU protects itself against ‘tampering’. It is the cheapest method!

 

TWO SUBGROUPS EXIST IN PIGGYBACKS:

 

PRE-ECU SIGNAL TUNING

This refers to modifying the signals, which go IN to the ECU. The SMT6, SMT8, SMT8L, SMT8T are qualifying here.

 

POST-ECU SIGNAL TUNING

This refers to modifying the signals, which go OUT of the ECU. The SMT8_FT, E4E_B, and E-Tune are qualifying here. This system lends itself to:

 

PIGGYBACK PLUG-AND-PLAY TUNING

It can be applied to all of the above systems. It means that you need no engineering just plug it in. It is very expensive when applied to PRE-ECU, but cheap for POST-ECU tuning.

The piggyback systems are an economical solution to tuning when the engineering requirements can be controlled. Within the piggyback systems the Lambda/AFR tuning is very popular, because the engineering is very easy and the tuning is relative simple. AFR TUNING can be performed by the SMT8, SMT8L, and SMT8T.

 

SUMMARY

It is confusing when it comes to what to choose. The choices are between no engineering, expensive systems, to engineering required cheap systems. Of course, we promote the piggyback systems. We see great potential in plug-and-play post-ECU tuning, which is somewhere in the middle of the range.