The Pros and Cons of Engine Control Module Tuning
The engine control module, also known as the engine control unit, is the computer that controls key functions of your engine. By hooking a chip tuner or performance chip into the system, the parameters from the computer can be altered. This can change key factors in the engine, such as the fuel/air ratio or the spark timing.
Here are a few pros and cons of ECU tuning.
Vehicle manufacturers tend to be conservative with the settings on their ECM to account for changes in elevation, temperature, fuel, and maintenance schedules. Chip tuning can change the settings to get more power from the engine, adding a good chunk of HP to the car.
The main goal of chip tuning for a long time was power, but today’s higher gas prices and environmental goals have changed that. Modern chip tuning can help your engine run more efficiently, and can give boosts of 5-10 mpg.
If you’ve shopped around for custom car parts, then you know how much they can run you, and how much they can cost to get installed. It’s best to get your chip tuning down by a pro, but even then it’s still less than getting a new custom exhaust system.
More Wear & Stress:
That extra horsepower translates to more force and heat being generate. Along those lines, a higher red line translates into thousands of more revolutions. All that force, heat, and revolutions translate to a lot more wear and stress on your engine.
Easy to Make Mistakes:
It might seem like chip tuning is as simple as plugging the chip into the right port, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Use the wrong chip or the wrong chip settings and you can easily cause your engine to seize up or break down. And the damage can often be irreparable. This danger can be avoided by having the chip tuner installed by a pro.
Increased Maintenance & Care:
One of the big reasons manufacturers are so conservative with their chip settings is that they expect people to perform infrequent maintenance or use lower quality gasoline. When your engine has a chip tuner installed, you’ll need to make sure that you perform more rigorous maintenance, and be choosy about the kind of fuel you put it.
Also, it’s important to note that better replacements parts will help you get the most out of your chip tuning. This isn’t really a con, since many people who get chip tuners are planning to customize their ride anyway. But it is something to take into account.