Diesel ECU Remapping - What you MUST know
ECU Remapping, Flash Tuning, ECU Re-flash, whatever you would like to refer to it as, is becoming more mainstream, but believe me there is a difference between these terms.
As more and more businesses attempt to join this industry, it is alarming at some of the work, and rework that we have been seeing lately. Petrol performance tuners, are now jumping on-board the Diesel Tuning bandwagon and are increasingly becoming more common in their scope (some of which can do a reasonable job, whilst others you wouldn't let touch your lawn mower if you saw what we see), and even some who have no mechanical qualification or formal training are now performing "Flash Tunes" at a scary rate, in an attempt to make a quick cash grab. Some even drive around performing "carpark tunes" for as little as $500.
There's a lot of mystery and a lot of questions around this topic as it becomes more mainstream to the general population. Let's not beat on for hours but give you a quick rundown;
An ECU Remap is not a simple "Flash Tune" - "Flashing" is simply the action of loading a file to the ECU EEPROM or Flash Memory generally via the OBD2 (Onboard Diagnostic Plug) in the vehicle.
There is now A LOT of workshops and individuals claiming to perform "ECU Remaps" who simply flash a file to your ECU that is most often purchased from a file provider from a library somewhere, whether it be Europe, or in rare cases, even Australia. They will market by using terms such as "Developed in Australia for Australian Conditions"... Yes it was probably developed in Australia... on ONE vehicle, possibly in ANOTHER STATE, under DIFFERENT CONDITIONS. It is important to note that NO TWO VEHICLES ARE THE SAME, so there is NO TWO TUNES THE SAME.
Flashing a file usually takes anywhere from 5, to 15 minutes, requiring someone to press enter on their keypad, and turn the ignition key on and off two or three times. Your $1500 doesn't seem so well worth it when you think of it in that respect right? Of course not!
We'll outline a few points below for your visual understanding. In this case, we'll showcase it in AlienTech software as it is easier to comprehend than some other suites available.
Seen this screen before in advertising for ECU Remapping? Read on...
Of course you have. This is the screen that leads to the Flashing Protocols for loading files to your ECU via the OBD2 Port, or direct to the PCB contained within your ECU. Virtually anybody can be trained to select the vehicle type, select a file and press the enter button as we mentioned. Perhaps 20 minutes worth of work for your hard earned cash? Sounds terrible does it not?
Seen this screen before in advertising for ECU Remapping? We'll bet not, so read on...
Of course you haven't. Why? Because most of your tuning providers cant even see this, as they are simply, and blindly, loading a file into your ECU, seeing only the screen we showed you before.
This image shows a map within the ECU of a late model Toyota Landcruiser representing Turbo Boost Pressure and what we refer to as "Wastegate Duty Cycle". If you don't understand those terms, don't stress, some "tuners" probably don't understand how they work either. Take particular notice of the waves, dips and peaks in the little squares, noticing how inconsistent they are. Here you have a "Flash Tune" bough right from a library somewhere and loaded in - nasty!
We saw this vehicle after it had been to another provider nearby, who offers "ECU Remap software developed in Australia for Australian conditions". Now let's get one thing straight - NONE of this software is developed in Australia. The map displayed had had an increase of 10% applied to it in all areas; Not always bad in some cases, but in this one, far from ideal;
Little did they take into consideration that at 90% Duty Cycle, with the Wastegate Actuator being 90% closed, they'd actually closed it off, potentially entirely. Not only was it terrible to drive, causing hesitations and Turbo "Flutter", but given time, the nozzles that operate the VGT system would've potentially caught and caused a turbo failure in the future; not ideal when you're towing your caravan to Alice Springs, have no phone reception to call a tow truck, then add the bill and the inconvenience - what a nightmare.
Here is the same map, in a corrected form, displayed in 3D for visual understanding. You will notice that is much smoother in it's progression, ridding all the divets, drops and peaks. Here you have the difference between a simple "Flash Tune" and a professional ECU Remap, tuned on-site, by a certified technician, with formal training, to suit THAT vehicle.
This displays just one Map from the ECU. There are many, many more, so imagine what else is floating around inside there, and what other little goblins will decide to cause havoc later!
Let's be clear here; we haven't gone to the effort of writing this to take a swipe at a competitor, although we do get a bit passionate about doing the right thing for people. What we've done is try to educate you on what we see as a major problem, where we would prefer you at least speak to us before you fall victim to one of these providers. We feel if you're going to charge a client $1500 or more, at least provide what you claim to, and do it in a professional manner.
This client of ours, has now paid twice, and as much as we'd love to do it for free, we too have families to feed and bills to pay, so the 3.5 hours spent on this vehicle does incur a charge. The positive of the situation is that this family won't be pushing their Toyota and caravan to the nearest rest spot on the way to Alice, and it's now nice and smooth to drive, still with plenty of pulling power for the trip ahead.
If you have questions, or would like to know more about our tuning services, don't hesitate to pick up the phone and give one of our technicians a call, or simply drop us a message and we'll get in touch right away. We're hopeful that this has educated you some more, and potentially answers a few questions that might've been lingering in the back of your mind.
Until next time – The Tune-Tech Team