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  #1  
Old 06-08-2011, 10:42 AM
Winston Smith Winston Smith is offline
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Automobile 'Performance Chips': real deal or snake oil?

I found an ad telling me that for $69.95 I can purchase a performance chip that will increase my horsepower (by up to 60%), increase my gas mileage (by 4-7 mpg) and lower my emissions. Seems like a good deal, AND it comes with a money-back guarantee. I've heard of these (dim recollections from my teen years) but I don't know if I've every actually known anyone that has one and can actually vouch.

The premise seems sound enough, but I'm skeptical.

So, what's the straight dope? Are these things for real? I'm not asking for anyone to vouch specifically for this web site or manufacturer, rather the chips themselves (in a more general sense).

Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by GFChips web site
What can GF Performance Chips do for you?

Our vehicle specific performance ECU chips are custom tuned, designed and tested per application, providing the absolute best performance, power, and fuel economy for your vehicle. They feature an easy "plug and play" installation to your car's factory harness and maintain the vehicle's warranty with absolutely no negative side effects. This is a "ZERO" risk installation, and is guaranteed not to interfere with your factory warranty on your vehicle.
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2011, 10:55 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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It looks scammy to me. I can't find a picture of the product anywhere, and that's probably because it's just a magnet.

Their FAQ says their device intercepts and modifies the signals between the engine management module and the devices it's controlling, and that it's 'non-intrusive'. Were I a betting man, my money would be firmly on this being a magnet in a box that does bugger all.
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  #3  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:06 AM
Gedd Gedd is offline
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I ditto the BS. There are too many difinitive words for my comfort:
"absolutely no negative side effects"
"a 'ZERO' risk installation, and is guaranteed not to interfere with your factory warranty on your vehicle."
"designed to work with any car in any weather condition and with any combination of different engine modifications"

I wonder how anything that will "reprogram your ECU" wouldn't void a warranty.
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  #4  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:07 AM
Profound Gibberish Profound Gibberish is offline
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I have one for my Dodge Ram 1500. It has improved the responsivness of the truck overall but actually lowered the fuel economy slighly. I knew this going into it that mileage would either stay the same or decease slighly and I am fine with that since the responsivness is much better. Most of the higher quality "chips" ($250-$450) do not guarantee any fuel economy improvment, but rather performance improvement, often at the cost of decreased mileage.

There is no free lunch. An engine with certain specs can be "improved" by computer code only so much. I would be leery of any cheap chip that boasts so much "improvment."
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:13 AM
Gedd Gedd is offline
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Oh, here's what I'm guessing is a picture.

Looks real special.
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  #6  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:14 AM
bump bump is offline
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Most ECUs don't actually dynamically calculate the spark advance, injector pulse width, etc... they simply look up a value based on the current inputs.

From what I understand, the performance chips don't "reprogram" anything; they just contain optimized lookup tables for performance as opposed to the usual tables optimized for fuel economy.

I think that there's some circuitry that tells the ECU to use the tables on the chip instead of in its own memory. Once you take the chip out, the ECU reverts back to normal. I suspect this is functionality for dealership/factory upgrading and testing that happens to be useful for aftermarket people as well.

The modules fit onto the ECU external data connector, or at least the one on my old Ford Ranger did.

It also made a noticeable difference in the driveability, at least as far as the butt dyno could read.
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  #7  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:15 AM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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There are real ones. GM Performance Parts (a branch of General Motors if it's not clear) for example, sells a "tune" for some GM vehicles that does everything it says, is installed by the dealer and keeps the warranty.

The one you post probably is a scam.
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  #8  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:15 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
Seems like a good deal, AND it comes with a money-back guarantee.
Note that scamers are quite willing to promise a money-back guarantee; that doesn't mean that you actually get your money back. What guarantee do you have beside the company promising you earnestly that totally they will give the money back and not vanish to the Bermudas laughing all the way?

Is there a real street adress for the company?

I'm not in any way an expert on cars, but I do know one thing: most major European and Japanese car makers are spending millions of Euros on Research to spend less fuel for years, because the gasoline price is so high in Europe that both consumers and lawmakers demand optimum effiency. We have 5 liter cars (47 mpg) and try to get to 3 liter (78 mpg), although the Auto Club caution that the rate the car makers get in the test lab is not the same as driving in a city.

And some guys in a garage find a better solution for 70 bucks that works on all vehicles, despite the wide difference? Some have TDI, others have similar highly complicated electronics, developed by the carmaker for this particular model, to optimize explosion power.

So how could this chip work? Plug and play is for PCs, not for cars. It would need a huge database for all different models of carmakers to really work.

As for not interfering with the warranty - either they don't interfere because they don't do anything, or they are lying. Or both.

Oh, and another big problem: a chip might optimize the explosion point - that's what the electronics already in there by the car-makers do. But I see no way it could simoultanesly also reduce emission - that happens with a catalysator at the other end. No way can a chip cause the explosion/ burning of a complicated fossil hydrocarbon to happen cleaner to reduce emissions.
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  #9  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:17 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
I found an ad telling me that for $69.95 I can purchase a performance chip that will increase my horsepower (by up to 60%), increase my gas mileage (by 4-7 mpg) and lower my emissions.
It doesn't pass the smell test. If they really could do all of that, wouldn't you think they'd be selling the technology to the auto manufacturers wholesale rather than selling it retail? I mean, most auto manufacturers would sell their first-born child if they could improve the mileage of their cars by 4-7MPG while also reducing emissions and improving horsepower.
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  #10  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:21 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbx820 View Post
I have one for my Dodge Ram 1500. It has improved the responsivness of the truck overall but actually lowered the fuel economy slighly. I knew this going into it that mileage would either stay the same or decease slighly and I am fine with that since the responsivness is much better. Most of the higher quality "chips" ($250-$450) do not guarantee any fuel economy improvment, but rather performance improvement, often at the cost of decreased mileage.

There is no free lunch. An engine with certain specs can be "improved" by computer code only so much. I would be leery of any cheap chip that boasts so much "improvment."
How is it actually installed? Is it a box that you clip onto something (if so, does it run on batteries?), or do you plug something directly into a socket in the engine management hardware?
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  #11  
Old 06-08-2011, 11:37 AM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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That is definitely a scam, as it claims to improve both performance and economy. Engine Control Unit mapping values are a compromise between the two. The ECU checks a number of parameters before deciding how much fuel to inject into the engine. A more aggressive mapping increases performance, at the cost of burning more fuel. The figures given (60% power and 4-7 mpg) are completely unrealistic. The car makes test and tune the ECU carefully to give a good blend of performance and economy. I also think the claim that it would not invalidate your warranty is also false.

Often, car engines in different models are physically the same, but the higher performance models run different ECU values.

Last edited by Alka Seltzer; 06-08-2011 at 11:39 AM..
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  #12  
Old 06-08-2011, 12:05 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Avoid any product that relies exclusively on testimonials (rather than objective test data).

For a complete list of aftermarket fuel saving technologies (and an informed discussion regarding whether or not they are bullshit), click here; The specific subsection on "chipping" is here.

Last edited by Machine Elf; 06-08-2011 at 12:06 PM..
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  #13  
Old 06-08-2011, 12:32 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alka Seltzer View Post
That is definitely a scam, as it claims to improve both performance and economy.
And that's a BINGO! It's easy to claim one can do the impossible, a bit more difficult to actually do it.
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  #14  
Old 06-08-2011, 01:00 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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It's not going to improve performance and increase gas mileage but these thing do work to a limited extent depending upon what your expectations are.

I put one of Jet Performance's modules in a V6 Firebird I used to have that I had a custom free flowing exhaust put on. It changed the range of fuel air mixture some to take advantage of the better flow and changed the shift points in the automatic transmission. When you jumped on the gas the car would run right up to the yellow line before shifting where the stock setting shifted at a much lower RPM. Definately made for more fun, and probably worse gas mileage. This product was a module with matching pins on each side, you disconnected the wiring harness from the PCM, plugged the module in, and then screwed the harness back on top. It fit between the wiring harness and the PCM body.

The one I bought cost some $300+ dollars and I was happy with the limited results. Then I moved on to V-8s. What in the world you are going to get for $69 I don't know, not much. If you want performance you are better off to go to a local "tuner" who will run your car on a dyno and optimize settings based on your preferences. You can also buy a mail order "tune" that can be loaded onto a lap top computer and fed into your OBDII data port to program your PCM. As a general rule performance chips are laughed off the page of most car nut web sites in favor of a real tune by someone who knows what they are doing.

These things also depend upon whether your car's PCM can be reprogramed at all, some can, some can't. The OP didn't indicate the vehicle application.

Speed = Money, how fast do you want to go? is the saying. If you want good gas mileage leave the damn thing the way it came from the factory, those settings are usually optimized for fuel economy.
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  #15  
Old 06-08-2011, 01:15 PM
control-z control-z is offline
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Look around and you'll find that some are definitely the real deal. The engine computer constantly and dynamically adjusts spark, fuel, air, and a lot of other stuff. A chip can change the programming to give you more power but less efficiency. Where chips will really help is in conjunction with other aftermarket performance parts.

These guys are pretty popular with the WRX and Mazdaspeed crowd: http://www.cobbtuning.com/
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  #16  
Old 06-08-2011, 02:31 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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Actually, proper aftermarket engine programming will improve both horsepower and fuel economy. Most aftermarket tunes are simply a moderate increase in timing advance and a leaner fuel air mix (i.e. less fuel in injected). The compromise in engine programming is not between horsepower and fuel economy but between performance and reliability. Advancing ignition timing and a lean fuel mix improves power and economy but increases the possibility of detonation. Factory fuel and timing maps purposely have leave some "margin" in their timing and fuel, running lightly less timing and more fuel (richer mix) than optimal, to avoid detonation in the case of, say, variation in fuel octane, or intake temperature, or to control NOx emissions, or any number of other things. By reducing these safety margins, both power and fuel economy can be improved. That's essentially what the aftermarket stuff does.

Last edited by Throatwarbler Mangrove; 06-08-2011 at 02:32 PM..
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  #17  
Old 06-08-2011, 02:33 PM
rogerbox rogerbox is offline
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It's true that reprogramming the ECU can improve EITHER performance OR mileage, but not both. Increased performance comes with increased fuel useage. The fact that it's claiming both means that it's a scam.
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  #18  
Old 06-08-2011, 02:47 PM
steronz steronz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throatwarbler Mangrove View Post
Actually, proper aftermarket engine programming will improve both horsepower and fuel economy. Most aftermarket tunes are simply a moderate increase in timing advance and a leaner fuel air mix (i.e. less fuel in injected). The compromise in engine programming is not between horsepower and fuel economy but between performance and reliability. Advancing ignition timing and a lean fuel mix improves power and economy but increases the possibility of detonation. Factory fuel and timing maps purposely have leave some "margin" in their timing and fuel, running lightly less timing and more fuel (richer mix) than optimal, to avoid detonation in the case of, say, variation in fuel octane, or intake temperature, or to control NOx emissions, or any number of other things. By reducing these safety margins, both power and fuel economy can be improved. That's essentially what the aftermarket stuff does.
Ding. I'll add that most of these $70 generic chips do this by dickering with the sensor inputs rather than by overwriting the fuel and timing maps. They essentially trick the computer into being somewhere on the maps that leans out the mixture and/or advances the timing.

The thing you have to question is how much R&D did this company put into it? The automaker spent years and millions testing their cars in all environments, temperatures, pressures, altitudes, and engine loads. The chip company probably spent a couple days with the car, near sea level, probably at indoor room temperature. And once they figure out one variable (say, "we can reduce Toyota's MAF input signal by 5% and we get good results"), they may just say "and that'll probably work for all Toyota MAFs!" and not do any further testing.

So your butt dyno might feel great tooting around town, but when you load up the car with 500 lbs of extra junk and drive over the Rockies, the engine leans out and burns a up a valve or something.

That said, reputable tunes from reputable companies are usually designed to be paired with some other modifications (like Cobb) and/or for cars with turbos, where you can increase the boost pressure. And dollar for dollar, it's the best money you can spend on a performance car.

Last edited by steronz; 06-08-2011 at 02:49 PM..
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  #19  
Old 06-08-2011, 02:55 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Performance chips have been around for many years now. Some do add performance to your engine, however, the numbers the OP posted are far from accurate. These chips are most useful when other modifications have been made to the engine, and when premium fuel is used. I'd be real surprised to see any significant mileage improvement though, especially not anywhere near 4 to 7 mpg. Something that should be considered is that many times, increasing performance (horsepower) comes at the expense of driveability and reliability and potentially voiding a manufacturer warranty.

My vote, not snake oil, however, claims are highly exaggerated as to results.
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  #20  
Old 06-08-2011, 03:12 PM
Profound Gibberish Profound Gibberish is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
How is it actually installed? Is it a box that you clip onto something (if so, does it run on batteries?), or do you plug something directly into a socket in the engine management hardware?
It plugs into the ECU and writes over the factory settings. Takes about 10 minutes to install it. Factory settings can be restored in the same amount of time. Dodge Hemi engines do not allow a lot of "play" with their codes as much as Ford and Chevy do (so I have been told).
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  #21  
Old 06-08-2011, 03:18 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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Originally Posted by dbx820 View Post
It plugs into the ECU and writes over the factory settings. Takes about 10 minutes to install it.
So is the claim in the ad that it doesn't interfere with the warranty a lie, then? Because I have a hard time believing that a normal car maker would not void the warranty if unapproved gadgets tinker with their specialized, tested, settings that are optimized for the engine. Maybe you get more perfomance at the cost of damages to the engine.
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  #22  
Old 06-08-2011, 04:24 PM
Busy Scissors Busy Scissors is offline
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Just to add to the consensus that engine re-mapping is quite well established here in the UK amongst enthusiasts. Not that expensive, either - it's not $70, probably a few hundred.
I have a VAG group 1.9 TDI engine in my car that is a common substrate for a remap. Sticking an extra 70 bhp on top sounds like it might be good for a laugh, until you think that I'd be driving a powerful car around with the brakes, tyres, suspension, transmission etc of a basic family hatchback. Doesn't strike me as such a good idea unless you're really into maxing out the performance of your car in toto.

Also insurance implications - I believe there would be consequences to your coverage if you were in a crash and it became apparent that your engine had been re-mapped. No idea how likely it would be for this to be discovered.
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  #23  
Old 06-08-2011, 04:32 PM
Philster Philster is offline
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Legit remapping is legit, and non-legit remapping isn't. Good chips are expensive, and so is custom reprogramming by an engine shop.

One need only enter a professional engine shop and watch an engine -- maybe their engine -- be dynoed and tuned electronically. Often, you creep out a few HP. Peak HP ain't the whole story. There are things called power curves and drivability and what not. Yeah, that's right... things... like that.

Seriously... I've just had a marine engine rebuilt... all 8.2L/502 cubic inches of it. Chevy/Mercruiser engine. Dynoed. Tweaking the engine computer put up HP from 415 to 425... but that was the end/foot notes to the day. The issue at hand was about power curve, and one that put torque where it was wanted/needed. Sucker could smack down 450-500 HP like it was nothing, but the wrong mapping would push torque too far up in the curve. She's better with lower numbers overall, but a beast of a power curve: Power everywhere in the RPM range.

Good intake, cams, exhaust... they all feed into, and off of, reprogramming.
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  #24  
Old 06-08-2011, 04:53 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Wait, they're "custom tuned, designed and tested per application", but they're also "designed to work with any car in any weather condition and with any combination of different engine modifications"? Which is it?
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  #25  
Old 06-08-2011, 05:08 PM
Absolute Absolute is offline
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The chip you posted is a scam (the fact that they advertise a chip for the $1,200,000 Bugatti Veyron is a dead giveaway). However, there are many "performance" chips/reprogrammers out there that are not. They are all targeted towards specific engines in specific cars, and include revised programming designed to deliver higher performance at the expense of fuel economy and/or long-term durability.

The most well-known chip for my car (2003 BMW 325Ci) seems to do little more than tweak the throttle response and increase the RPM limit to 7000 from 6500.

Turbocharged engines are especially amenable to aftermarket reprogramming. Most turbochargers now use electronic systems to control the boost pressure delivered to the engine. Increasing the boost is often just a matter of reprogramming the ECU - instant horsepower.

This is especially popular for engines that operate at low boost to begin with, in which case increasing the boost slightly can result in huge performance gains, with (hopefully) little effect on engine durability. My friend's BMW 335i came from the factory with 300 hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque. 20 minutes in the shop for a reprogram and it leaves with 380 hp and 400 ft-lbs of torque. Freaking nuts.

If you decide to get one of these chips, buy one from a well-known company that makes chips specifically for your brand of vehicle (most aftermarket tuners specialize in just one or two makes exclusively). It takes a lot of work to do better than the factory when programming these things, and you want someone who knows what they're doing and has a reputation in the market to protect.

Last edited by Absolute; 06-08-2011 at 05:12 PM..
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  #26  
Old 06-08-2011, 05:09 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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you can see significant power gains with a chip under the following conditions:

1) you have forced induction (turbo/supercharging)
2) the chip is able to increase the amount of boost,
2a) without exceeding the limits of the related sensors (MAP,TIP, etc.)
3) you use a fuel with an octane rating that precludes pre-ignition or detonation.

Most chips for naturally aspirated engines aren't worth the bother.
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:15 PM
Absolute Absolute is offline
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I'll also add that all of these modifications will void your warranty, no question. However, certain aftermarket companies will provide their own warranty and guarantee to match the factory warranty coverage if such coverage is denied because of the modification.

Dinan does this for BMWs. I don't know about other tuners for other brands, but I'm sure there are some.
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  #28  
Old 06-08-2011, 08:45 PM
Philster Philster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
you can see significant power gains with a chip under the following conditions:

1) you have forced induction (turbo/supercharging)
2) the chip is able to increase the amount of boost,
2a) without exceeding the limits of the related sensors (MAP,TIP, etc.)
3) you use a fuel with an octane rating that precludes pre-ignition or detonation.

Most chips for naturally aspirated engines aren't worth the bother.
Provided no other work was done to the engine.
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  #29  
Old 06-08-2011, 08:57 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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With a spark ignition engine, you can't get very much more power out without drawing in more air, and it is pretty hard to improve a normally aspirated engine using software. One thing that can help the car accelerate better is to delay the up-shifts so the engine revs higher. Not good for fuel economy, but impresses the butt dyno.

Turbo charged engines often limit boost, and as mentioned above, you can push the boost higher with high octane fuel, water injection, or improved charge cooling. (intercooling)

Diesels can benefit a great deal. Many pickup truck diesels are de-tuned to help the transmission survive longer. If you don't mind tearing up your transmission, it is possible to gain a LOT of power. No only are they turbocharged, but diesels are lean burn engines, so there is normally plenty of air just waiting for more fuel to burn. It is also possible to burn up your exhaust valves if you don't keep an eye on EGT.
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  #30  
Old 06-09-2011, 06:36 AM
pullin pullin is offline
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
So is the claim in the ad that it doesn't interfere with the warranty a lie, then? Because I have a hard time believing that a normal car maker would not void the warranty if unapproved gadgets tinker with their specialized, tested, settings that are optimized for the engine. Maybe you get more perfomance at the cost of damages to the engine.

Bought a new truck in March (Dodge Quad-cab, Hemi). Summarizing the fine print* on my warranty: "If you chip it, don't ever call us 'cause you're on your own. It ain't our problem anymore.". They used fancier language, but that sums it up pretty well.

*Yes. I read every page of the warranty, and the entire owner's manual, cover to cover. I do a lot of trailering and didn't want to invalidate any warranties.
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  #31  
Old 06-09-2011, 06:42 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
One thing that can help the car accelerate better is to delay the up-shifts so the engine revs higher.
They do this anyway. Just about every car I've ever been in, if you hold the accelerator to the floor, it'll wait on each upshift until the engine RPM's hit the redline.

Or are you talking about tweaking the shift points so that it delays shifts until the engine exceeds redline? That would require chipping the engine (to overcome the rev limiter) as well as the transmission control unit (unless those two computers are integrated these days, which would mean a single chip could conceivably do the job).

The problem is that engine torque and power fall off rapidly once the engine gets much past redline, so there really isn't much to be gained by doing any of this.
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  #32  
Old 06-09-2011, 01:28 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
They do this anyway. Just about every car I've ever been in, if you hold the accelerator to the floor, it'll wait on each upshift until the engine RPM's hit the redline.

Or are you talking about tweaking the shift points so that it delays shifts until the engine exceeds redline? That would require chipping the engine (to overcome the rev limiter) as well as the transmission control unit (unless those two computers are integrated these days, which would mean a single chip could conceivably do the job).

The problem is that engine torque and power fall off rapidly once the engine gets much past redline, so there really isn't much to be gained by doing any of this.

If you make it so that less than full throttle is required for the delayed upshifts, then the driver well sense that he is getting "high performance" and not even having to floor it. Essentially you are making the throttle more sensitive, which will be perceived as extra power.

This is actually VERY useful when towing a trailer uphill, where the engine does not have enough power in high gear. Normally it shifts back and forth, but the chipped ECU will hold the lower gear without shifting constantly. Yes you can manually shift the transmission down, but so few drivers are willing to do that the lower gears were discribed as "useless feature" in a recent IMHO thread.
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  #33  
Old 06-09-2011, 01:46 PM
Philster Philster is offline
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Some chip makers whose products offer little real-world benefits can legally claim they boost peak H.P., especially if the programming allows the engine to spin past redline (which is sometimes the practical limit set by the manufacturer, rather than a technical engine limit that risks valve float, performance drops, oil starvation, etc).

A certain engine/trans combo might be chipped for the health of the trans, limiting engine RPM at wide open throttle so the tranny can deal with it. A given 330 HP engine might be capable of 360 HP at 6500 RPMs, but shifts at 6000 RPMs because this works better with the transmission and helps the longevity of said tranny.

If a chip maker can unlock a few hundred RPM, they might not not exceed the technical limits of the engine, and easily uncork some peak HP (they are usually up there near redline). Meanwhile, the trans life is shortened and they advertise 'almost 10% more horsepower!'. In the real world, it gets you just about nuttin'.

...except for grief.

.

Last edited by Philster; 06-09-2011 at 01:47 PM..
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  #34  
Old 06-11-2011, 09:16 PM
SpinningBK SpinningBK is offline
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Haha, this looks like a SCAM website with NO product after you pay them. I checked it out for one of my cars, an LS1 Trans Am and it's listed at $69 with the same picture of a chip that looks like it belongs in a 1980's computer. There are power programmers for my car, but they plug into the OBDII test port. I've had a Hypertech programmer and it was $300 new (bought it for $160 used, sold it for $150 later on when I bought a better tuner for $600, HP Tuners).

But chips & power programmer usually do work. Sometimes they don't. The Hypertech did work for a little while in terms of better throttle response and noticeable power increase...but then it tripped the knock sensor, which caused the PCM to go to the low timing table, which cuts timing to prevent possible, serious motor damage but it also caused a lost of significant power over stock.

In general, a chip or a plug in programmer with canned tunes, will increase timing to raise power and also gain fuel efficiency. The factory setting is very conservative. The air/fuel ratio is rich, to stay safe and the timing is at a medium, safe level, so the car is not operating at it's peak fuel efficiency nor power...in order to lessen under warranty repairs. Often, dealers will cut even more timing after they've sold you the car. The demo might be badass though, with jacked up timing.

A chip alone will not do much on a wimpy Civic with wimpy base power. On forced induction cars, they will though. Same thing, the factory will tune down supercharged & turboed cars (even more so) to a safe setting, leaving lots to be gained with a chip. Some, but not all b/c a canned chip can't account for all cars being different, different climate where it's driven, different driver's habits, etc. so the canned chip can't go too radical as it will very dangerous on an FI car.

The best tuning is the custom dyno tunes done by performance shops. For older cars, they custom burn a chip that piggybacks onto your computer. Or they reprogram through the OBDII test port for newer cars. The car is put on a dyno, and ran through the RPMs while the tuner sets the air/fuel ratio, etc. at the level of your choice (street tune, race tune, or w/e) while accounting for air temp, fuel type, etc. Cost for my 530 HP Cobra was $1100 (parts/labor). Retunes after the first initial setup is $300-600 depending on how much more modifications I put on later. The chip was mandatory since I spent $6k on the built motor, $8k on the S/C, $2k misc parts, etc. But on a wimpy, econocar, a $300 chip might gain 3-5 BHP (not the BS that they advertise) and a custom dynotune, 5-10 BHP.

The best thing is to research for enthusiast forums for your type of car and do a search on what others think, which chip to get or none at all. If you have a very popular car, there will be tons of input & advice. Usually, money is better spent on other mods, such as exhaust (if it's not done yet). Some cars you can just crank up the timing with a timing light and net the same gains of a chips or even better.
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