Engine Management & Tuning

What is Engine Management and Tuning?

Management and tuning can describe a huge variety of modifications and adjustments, from routine adjustment of the ignition system and carburetor to major engine overhauls. At the other end of the spectrum performance tuning of an engine can include modifying even the core design of the engine. Adjusting the air-fuel ratio, idling speed, distributor point and spark plug gaps, ignition timing and carburetor balance were basic maintenance tasks with older engines, but in modern engines fitted with fuel injection and electronic ignition many of these tasks are automated - although they can be calibrated if the car is to be used for non-standard purposes such as drag racing.


Engine tuning This term refers to adjusting or modifying the engine or its control unit, usually referred to as the Engine Control Unit or ECU. The aim of the adjustment is to improve performance, economy, power output or durability. There is often a trade-off when trying to achieve these goals: an engine that has been optimally tuned for fuel consumption might suffer performance loss, while an engine tuned for optimum performance might use more fuel.

Chip tuning Modern car engines are fitted with an EMS or Engine Management System which can be adjusted to various settings, all of which produce different performance and fuel consumption outcomes. Manufacturers often make a limited number of engines which are then used in a variety of platforms and models. This enables these manufacturers to sell cars in different countries and to different groups of buyers without having to build different engines for all these markets. This allows for one engine to be used by all these people, because the engine can be tuned to suit their specific requirements. In this regard chip tuning refers to modifying a programmable, erasable ROM chip in a car's ECU (electronic control unit) to improve power, fuel efficiency or emissions.

Remapping Remapping is a fairly new and very simple form of tuning. It is most often performed on turbocharged engines that are fitted with modern ECUs. The majority of new cars have ECUs, most of which are supplied by Delphi Technologies or Bosch. These are fitted with firmware that controls a variety of settings for the fuel injection system and engine to operate. The factory develops its standard firmware to achieve a balance between power, fuel consumption, fuel emissions, torque, service levels and reliability. This means that standard factory firmware never uses the engine's maximum performance potential because they are 'under-tuned' to strike a balance between the various factors mentioned above. This is where remapping comes in. Having a remap installed simply means installing new software (map) on the ECU that re-calibrates the system for optimum performance. The 'map' software unlocks the existing, but unused potential of the car's engine and can increase both torque and BHP across the whole rev range. In most cases this simply means an expert plugging a computer into your car's OBD2 port and loading the new software. The map can be custom-configured and the technician will normally take the car for a drive to tweak the computer system until it's exactly right for the purpose you want to use it for. If your vehicle is still under warranty and you do not want to lose that protection, using an EPC tuning box will enable you or a technician to remap the car's ECU without leaving behind any trace.

Performance powerpacks

For those car owners who really want to get every ounce of performance from their cars, the performance powerpack is a great option. A good powerpack will include a variety of maps (see above for explanation) so the various ECU settings can be adjusted or re-adjusted depending on the driver's specific needs at the time. Apart from that these packs also normally include a high flow air filter, which combined with the different maps offer even more performance benefits. The air flow directly affects the amount of fuel that can be added, and anything that restricts the airways through the engine limits the maximum amount of air and therefore the maximum amount of fuel. A high flow air filter catches a high percentage of particles that might not only hinder airflow, but could also damage the engine. Such a filter reduces the resistance to airflow and thus enables more air to pass. It therefore also enables the fuel system to add more fuel to the mix, which in turn boosts engine power.


Whatever your reasons, if vehicle performance is one of your top priorities then modern technology has the answer in the form of re-calibrating the software that controls your car's engine to unlock its true power potential. Add the right kind of air filter and you have the ultimate performance package.





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