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Should I get an ECU remap? Your questions answered

In this blog post, we have compiled a series of common questions we answer about our ECU remapping and engine tuning services.

should i get a remap

By reading this article, we hope to put your mind at rest around top topics such as:

What is remapping?

  • Is remapping safe?

  • Does a remap affect my warranty?

  • Should I inform my insuance company about a remap?

So let's get started...

Should I get an ECU remap? What is a remap?

A remap is a recalibration of key parameters that control the operation of your car's engine or gearbox, to optimise the performance, economy and driveability. These parameters are managed by computers called the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and Transmission Control Unit (TCU).

Should I get an ECU remap? How do you develop your maps, and how do you assure the gains?

Optimal Automotive is a sub-dealer of Topgear Tuning, who have remapped over 20,000 vehicles across their network. The mapping is developed by specialist tuners and file writers, using a dynamometer (rolling road). These custom maps are quality checked and the gains are validated on our dyno, before being released to our network of mobile tuners and garages to apply to customer vehicles. Because no two cars are identical (due to factors such as manufacturer tolerances and different levels of wear and tear, maintenance and mileage), gains will be unique to every car and may vary between cars. The gains we quote are based on our development and testing, but should be used as guidance. We can map your car on our dyno in Birmingham if you wish to have a before-after record of the gains.

Should I get an ECU remap? What should I expect when you remap my car?

The process typically takes two hours. We will advise you when scheduling, if we expect it to take longer. A remap comprises five steps: 1. Our Pre-Tuning Healthcheck and vehicle condition report. 2. Reading the original parameters from the ECU or TCU. 3. Modifying the parameters to tune the performance, economy and driveability. 4. Applying the new parameters to the car. 5. A final diagnostic check and test drive. Occasionally we find car manufacturers have used alternative components during assembly, so it may take us longer than expected. Rest assured we don't rush, and take the right amount of time to ensure the quality is high.

Should I get an ECU remap? Why don't manufacturers release car's that are optimally tuned?

Car manufacturers have to allow for a huge range of variation of use of their cars in the real world. Cars are typically sold globally, and each country has different regulations (such as emissions or noise) which have to be met, as well as different factors such as fuel quality, climate conditions, servicing regimes... the list is endless. To ensure cars are reliable, manufactuers have to be conservative with how they tune their cars, resulting in compromises that engine tuners can identify and optimise.

Should I get an ECU remap? Can't this be done at the factory?

Yes...and it already is! Manufactuers will develop an engine and use it across different trim levels and models, and they will often detune the engine to offer it for sale at different price points.

For example, the 2017 Ford Transit is available in three power outputs; 103bhp, 129bhp and 168bhp. So the same engine is capable of vastly different outputs, and Ford are tuning it in the factory.

Tuning companies like us, look for the remaining ineffeciences and compromises and develop solutions to safely extract additional performance without compromising the reliabaility or needing uprated parts. Our solution for the Transit produces 190bhp whilst maintaining the original servicing schedule!

Should I get an ECU remap? Is remapping safe? Will it damage my engine afterwards?

Provided your engine and transmission are in good condition, a performance remap or economy remap pose minimal risk of subsequent damage.

Our priority is to develop solutions that ensure your vehicle remains reliable. We don't chase the "headline" power and torque figures, and you may find cases where other tuners claim bigger gains. We always work within the capabilities of an engine, and don't push the limit's beyond what we consider safe.

Remeber, car manufacturers are already tuning their engines....we just safely take it a little bit further.

Should I get an ECU remap? If remapping is safe, why do you provide a warranty?

Our 12 or 24 month/up to 100k mile warranty is offered for your peace of mind, and in the rare event that a new fault develops after a remap, you can claim against the warranty (terms and conditions apply).

We perform a very thorough Pre-Tuning Healthcheck before commencing any remapping, but we don't have X-ray vision and can't assess everything. The warranty is there to give you the reassurance that your remap won't result in out of pocket expenses. Note, the warranty is not transferable if you sell the car.

Should I get an ECU remap? How do exisiting modifications affect the remap, and do I need a stage 2 remap?

The right modifications can help your engine develop more power and torque, and a remap can maximise these gains. Our stage 1 maps will work fine with performance panel filters and cat-back performance exhaust systems, but if you have added a cold air intake, uprated intercooler or sports cat/decat/DPF-delete downpipe, we can safely tune your car to stage 2. Please discuss your plans with us during the booking process, and we will tailor the mapping to suit your requirements.

Please advise us during booking of any modifications you have made to your car.

Should I get an ECU remap? What about fuel economy?

If you chose an Economy Remap, your ECU is specifically calibrated for better fuel economy. We have seen average gains up to +20% better miles-per-gallon (MPG). It is common to see improvements in fuel economy, on stage 1 and even stage 2 remaps. But it largely depends on how you use your right foot! After a month or so of enjoying the new performance, most people report up to a +10% improvement in average MPG. However every car and driving style is unique, so we cannot guarantee a specific value.

Should I get an ECU remap? How does a remap affect your car insurance policy?

Insurers clasify a remap as a modification, and they usually require the policyholder to disclose any modifications. It is your responsibility to provide accurate information to your insurer.

Should I get an ECU remap? Can a remap be detected and will it affect my warranty?

It depends... Some ECU's can count the number of updates (or reflashes) applied, and some dealers/service centers may have the capability to read this information. We find warranty terms vary from car manufacturer to car manufacturer. If you are concerned about any impact to your warranty, please check the terms before deciding to go ahead with a remap. Our work is discrete and any parts we remove are replaced using genuine articles wherever possible.

Should I get an ECU remap? What happens if my dealer updates the software during a service or recall?

We include a Software Guarantee with all our maps. If during your ownership, our remap gets overwritten by a dealer update or recall, we will reapply the mapping for you. Please note, this must be at our premises, or a fee will apply.

Should I get an ECU remap? Can I do anything to improve my automatic gearbox?

In many cases, yes! A recalibration of the transmission control unity (TCU) let's us improve shift speed, reduce kickdown lag, and fine-tune torque and rev limits of each gear, to massively improve the driveability of your car. A TCU remap complements a stage 1 or 2 ECU remap perfectly, and we offer a package price for both remaps in the same appointment. Ask for details!

Should I get an ECU remap? What's the difference between a remap and a tuning box?

A tuning box is usually a 'piggyback' device installed into the engine wiring harness. It works by intercepting the readings from the engine's sensors, then sends a new reading back to the ECU. Since this needs to happen many times per second, this isn't the most efficient way to optimise an engine.

Tuning boxes are convenient, since you can remove them whenver you wish, but what you gain in convenience, you lose in performance. A remap is a direct recalibration of the ECU, and will give you the best result in every case. There are many YouTube videos which make the comparison, and show the gains claimed by tuning box companies are often exaggerated and underperform vs a remap.

Should I get an ECU remap? Summary

We hope this blog answered some of your questions about car remapping, but if not, just send us a message and we'll be happy to help.

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