How to increase horsepower without engine modification?
In recent years, there are many car tuning workshops set up around Malaysia.
How could this happen?
The car tuning market is booming or any other reasons?
In fact, car lovers nowadays tend to look for the ways to improve car performance without engine modification.
Assuming you have the two options
(1) Spending more than RM10k to modify engine?
(2) Spending few thousand ringgits (sometimes less than RM1K) to tune/modify ECU to get similar results.
Which one will you choose?
I guess most of the people would choose the second option.
ECU stands for Engine control unit (ECU) , is a small electronic box which controls and optimizes car ‘s operation and performance of engine, like the brain of human body. ECU monitors all parameters such as air, fuel, timing, valve, sensors and almost every functions of your car. It’s so important to control ECU properly. ECU tuning means to modify the parameters such as air-fuel ratio, ignition timing, turbo pressure and idle speed in order to reach the optimize performance. Theoretically, the ideal index of mixing ratio between oil and air is 14.7. After ECU is tuned, you might feel the “difference” right away when driving your car. More importantly, this cost of using ECU tuning is relatively low, comparing to the modification of engine. Undoubtedly, ECU tuning becomes a popular trend.
In this article, we listed out three options of ECU tuning:
1) Stand-alone ECU
Stand-alone ECU is usually installed in Japanese cars. By reading the words of “stand-alone” , you could easily notice the current ECU unit has to be completely replaced and use the full stand- alone ECU. Many popular brands like Greedy E-manage and LINK G4+ are selling stand-alone ECU. With the stand-alone ECU, you would be able to modify any parameters freely without boundaries at any situation. The most advantage by having a stand-alone ECU is to maximize your car performance according to your own needs.
2) Piggy Back ECU
Piggy back ECU are wired to work with the current ECU. It might not be working without attaching with current factory ECU. Normally, the Piggy Back ECU is used to intercept the signal from sensor before it goes to the current ECU, for example, the signal from MAF and O2 sensors. It can be sometimes “trick” the sensors by adding extra air/fuel in order to improve the power output efficiency.
3) Remap ECU
This option is to modify or re-program your original ECU. The modification parameters are similar to Stand-alone ECU and Piggy Back ECU, such as changing air/ fuel supply ratio, ignition timing and turbo pressure. Depends on your car models, there are many famous vendor’ brands available in the market such as Alientech, APR and Revo.
We interviewed a popular dyno and tuning shop Torque Racing Autoworks located in Johor Bahru - Permas Jaya. The boss Mr. Ah Chuan met up with us. Ah Chuan has years of experiences in car tuning. He has won several titles and awards in car and motorcycle’s racing. Talking about the ECU tuning topic, he was so excited. He emphasized that if you would like to have a perfect upgrade to improve car performance, matching all parameters are the key.
Standalone ECU and Piggy Back ECU are commonly used by Japanese cars. For the remap ECU, it is widely used by European cars. The main reason is because European cars have many extra functions like ABS, TCS and many sensors. If the ECU unit is completely replaced, there would be worries to have an issue of warning lights on. So, Remap ECU is more suitable to European cars. “Not every types of cars are suited for tuning.” He added. As today’s technology is so advanced, more assisting functions (e.g. Honda Sensing) are available, especially to the latest models. ECU tuning might not suit for those cars. Once the ECU is tuned, it's always good to test the actual horsepower on the Dyno machine. Notably, Dyno machine is rarely available at every workshop, but we saw two (for car and motorcycle) are in Ah Chuan’s workshop.
Image source: Torque Racing Workshop
Overall, we introduced few options of ECU tuning. Those options are somehow proven.
People tend to tune ECU, instead of engine modification.
Sometimes, you might not be able to tell which car is ECU modified, which car is not.
Finding an experienced expert to tune your car is the key to improve the car performance.
Never ask for too much. It might blow up your engine.