When it comes to getting more out of your engine, two of your big options are chip tuning and performance tuning. These are both types of engine tuning, each with their own benefits, and their own costs.
Originally, chip tuning meant that the chips in the ECU (Engine Control Unit) were removed and replaced with chips that had different software. The introduction of diagnostic ports to car computer systems opened the door for engine remapping, or rewriting the software without having to replace the chip. When a lot of people refer to chip tuning today, they actually mean remapping.
On the low end, you can simply buy a chip module that plugs into the diagnostic port to change the programming. This can have unpredictable results, since the module isn’t specifically made for your car and driving conditions. For the best results, chip tuning should be done by a professional. After installing a high quality chip, they’ll often put your car on a rolling road. They’ll run a series of diagnostic tests using precise machinery while the car’s running, then adjust the software accordingly.
While chip tuning deals exclusively with the software, performance tuning mostly concentrates on the physical parts of the engine. The vast majority of these hardware modifications or improvements concentrate on the powertrain, such as the cylinders, exhaust, transmission, and more. Performance tuning is almost always focused on getting more power out of the engine.
Performance tuning can be done by car owners in their garages, but they really have to know what they’re doing. Actions like boring out the pistons, installing a custom exhaust system and changing the compression chamber size are very complicated procedures that have to be done to very narrow margins. Owners will often find that they get the best results when they have the performance tuning done by a professional shop.
Combine the Tunings
If you really want to get the most performance possible out of your car’s engine, then you’ll probably want to combine both performance tuning and chip tuning. Performance tuning will allow you to switch out parts and tweak engine parameters to get as much as possible out of the engine.
Once you’ve got all of the physical parts fine-tuned, chip tuning will allow you to make sure that the software is lined up to get you the best response possible out of your upgraded engine. In fact, many of the pro shops that can help with performance tuning can also help with any chip tuning or remapping that needs to be done.