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The Hidden Dangers of Diesel Tuning and Remapping

12th December 2014

A few things to consider before purchasing a remap

Having been in the business of recalibrating O.E. Engine management systems for over fifteen years, we have been watching the market change with a mixture of disappointment and dismay. It is an unfortunate fact of life now that there are many products on the market that give anyone with a little computer knowledge access to the engine run calibration stored within a vehicle’s ECU.

This was always going to happen as all manufacturers now allow ECU recalibrating via computer so that faults can be ironed out at dealer level and options can be added to the car without factory intervention.

The problem is, you can easily go online and buy yourself a relatively cheap tuning and remapping programmer that will both read and write the file in your engine management system, which means if you had the means and know how to edit it, you could alter the way the engine runs. This is where the problems have started to arise as not only can you buy the hardware, you can also buy files on a CD that claim to offer the same as the professionals do. These CD’s often have some 10,000 modified ECU files on them and all for only £4. Does that sound like a professional has made them to you?

Generally speaking, these files have been stolen from one company or another over the years and been compiled onto CD/DVD. Are the files good? Nobody knows. Will they kill your engine? Well, we sure won’t be finding out as we wouldn’t dare use one on your expensive engine! Sadly, other people have done and due to demand, manufacturers are selling ECU’s, engine’s and transmissions like hot cakes as a result!

We feel it was worth writing this page to make you aware that the reason for the sudden drop in market price of this product is owing to the number of companies that have suddenly popped up, claiming to be experts at remapping engine management systems! It is usually quite easy to spot them – just start asking some searching questions about how the maps work and you will soon find out if you are talking to a man who knows a little bit about computers, or if you are talking to an industry professional. The former will change the file in your ECU for one found on a CD purchased online. An industry professional will calibrate the file for your particular car and as a result can tweak it to perfection, ensuring all security and chassis coding is retained.

Some so called “calibrators” couldn’t even tell you the correct AFR for full load use, let alone how a torque limiting map actually works and why you should just maximise all values within it… why these people think its acceptable to just increase calibration tables to max without knowing what they do just because they read it on the internet is anyone’s guess, but every industry is the same really, if people can make an easy buck, they will and its always at the end users cost.

At the end of the day, this is a high technology industry that requires constant re-investment in tooling and skills due to the sheer pace of the technology utilised on modern vehicles. Anyone diesel tuning or remapping at O. E. level as we are needs to be constantly retraining and have access to the best tooling and software that money can buy, and it cannot be bought with mere thousands, you need to invest tens and ultimately hundreds of thousands.

Bear this in mind:

15 years ago your average car like a Sierra Cosworth had a mere 40 tables of interest to calibrators and around 50 calibration switch points for equipment and parameter coding. Today, your average family diesel has in excess of 1000 calibration tables and tens of thousands of data switch points. How do these fly by nights know which tables need changing, and by how much? How do they know what the tables do and what the effect will be? Will the increased boost cause turbo problems? Excessive EGT’s? Premature head gasket failure? Will the increased rail pressure cause problems with the injectors? (Especially on Ford TDCI’s) The Pumps? The lines? We have seen ruptured fuel lines here caused by some idiot raising a common rail pressure by an extra 100bar because he thought it was an extra 1.00 bar of boost. Incredible!

When a professional does the work he will start with your OWN original file and modify a carbon copy of that one so that all immobiliser and chassis information is retained, as well as any updates that you have had installed from the factory such as personality settings and bug fixes etc. You end up with your own file, tweaked for more power/economy etc and access to your unaltered original calibration at any time if and when you need it. This is the ONLY way vehicles should be tuned.

The cheap remapping file fitters normally install files from release date cars with the immobiliser software removed and of course no factory bug fixes so they can quickly and easily flash the same file into hundreds of cars. At best you get a car with more power and a lot of bugs, or at worst one with an immobilised ECU that nobody can access or even one that does run which a thief can take from you in under 10 seconds – (We are not suggesting they tell thieves the address and registration of the cars this was done to of course…).

In conclusion, the safest way to get your car remapped is by professionals. We offer a reliable service ran by professionals in the field. Trust us, and not something that could potentially permanently damage your vehicle.

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