Most cars, manufactured since late 1980-s, have built-in complex electronic control and diagnostics system. This system consists of different sensors, actuators, microcontrollers and a central microcontroller which is called an electronic control unit (ECU). ECU collects data from different sensors, analyzes obtained information, compares it to pre-defined reference values, stored in ECU flash memory, and issues commands to dependent microcontrollers and actuators. When data from sensors indicate that there is a failure in some of the vehicle’s modules, ECU generates and displays a corresponding error message.
Sadly, most pre-defined engine operation modes, stored in ECU memory, are not efficient in terms of engine power, as they are optimized to ensure high fuel efficiency and least possible emissions. This means that most modern cars are equipped with engines that do not reach their full power and have at least 10% tuning potential. In order to achieve such power gain, special tools have to be used to edit the mode of engine. The process of manipulating vehicle’s electronics to achieve gain in performance characteristics is called chip-tuning.
Best solutions for chip-tuning of modern cars can be found at ECUTools online tuning store (see https://ecutools.eu/chip-tuning/).
The following types of chip-tuning solutions are widely used nowadays:
- Tuning boxes – these solutions realize “man in the middle” attack on on-boar electronics by intercepting signals that pass from sensors to ECU and making corrections to them in order to achieve power gain. These devices do not alter ECU memory content, but they do not allow obtaining maximal possible power increase.
- Adapters – these devices only provide the ability to connect external PC to the internal network of the car, so they must be used together with special software.
- Editors – these chip-tuning tools are software packages used to display and adjust the contents of ECU memory files. Some editors do not provide the ability to decode/encode these files and rely on additional software, while others require only the adapter.
- Flashers – these solutions are complex sets that consist of adapter and all necessary software.
Best Chip Tuning Tools
The following adapters are popular among chip-tuning experts:
- Dialink universal adapter for ISO-9141/ISO-14230 (K/L-Line), J1850 VPW/PWM and ISO-11898/ISO-15765 (CAN) protocols, which costs around 115$.
- Openport 2.0 universal adapter for CAN 2.0 (CAN/ISO15765), K-line (ISO9141/ISO14230(KWP2000)/dual K line) and J2534 protocols with a cost of around 190$.
- Mongoose Pro series of specialized adapters for American, Japanese and German cars. These adapters cost around 500$ and provide more chip-tuning options and less compatibility issues than universal models.