Q/ What do you guys actually do?
A/ We reprogram the vehicle’s factory engine control unit (ECU); more to the point, we optimize the power and torque tune settings in the ECU to make the engine as efficient as possible, basically this is done by strategically increasing the amount of fuel and turbo boost (air) that is added into the engine when power is required to increase the vehicle’s torque. Additionally, we alter throttle mapping to reduce throttle lag, smooth out flat spots in the power band and increase the vehicles responsiveness.
Q/How do you do this?
A/ In most cases we can write directly to the vehicle’s ECU, via the on board diagnostics ports (OBD), in some cases the ECU needs to be removed from the vehicle and set up in a jig to access the required wiring plugs, but for the most part we reprogram the vehicle’s ECU in the same way that your new car dealer uploads software updates to the factory vehicles ECU. This process is called ECU Flash tuning.
Q/ How safe if this for my engine?
A/ We have a set of tuning guideline’s in place that ensures we do not exceed predetermined SAFE air / fuel ratio & boost level parameters, in some cases (think D40 Navara 2.5) the air fuel ratio is the same as standard. This guideline is in place to provide you with the safest and most reliable result and instead of chasing a desired power figure, we tune your engine to these SAFE parameters and the increased power is a result of that. The last thing you the customer, and us the service provider need, is a break down. Additionally, each car is given a thorough health check on the dyno prior to tuning and as each car is individually tuned on the dyno, the final outcome has been scrutinized and road tested prior to being returned to the customer.
Q/ Why change from the factory settings?
A/ For the most part, diesel 4×4’s are bought and employed to do a job, it may be towing a caravan or trailer, carting heavy loads or used as daily transport with the odd trip off-road. Whatever is it, chances are that the vehicle may struggle to do that job in one area or another, maybe the vehicle struggles to pull the van or it uses too much fuel or it has annoying flat spots or a delay in the throttle response, no car is perfect. But by reprogramming the vehicles factory ECU, we can iron out those flat spots, increase the vehicle’s torque output and increase the general enjoyment of driving your diesel to get your car closer to perfect and help it to do the job you employed it to do.
Q/ Why did the manufacturer not optimize the Tune in the vehicle in the first place?
A/ There is no single one answer to this question, different market and global pressures dictate to the manufacturer what power and torque figures are set. In some cases, the manufacturer has no direct competition so they take the road of least resistance and give the buying public the absolute minimum (think 70 series V8 Landcruiser). In other cases its exhaust emission requirements (think recent VW emission scandal). In the later years, manufacturers are finding that they can no longer get away with this as the vehicles are used for such a wide purpose and the modern buyer demands at least some level of performance, but in all cases, the manufacturer will give you the least power and torque that you will be happy with for you to hand over your money.
Q/ What makes ‘Flash tuning’ different to a chip?
A/ A ‘chip’ or ‘module’ is a device that plugs into one or a few of the engines sensors in order to alter the signal either into, or out of, the vehicles ECU, these changes to the signals are basically designed to trick or lie to the vehicle’s ECU to convince it to make changes to engine fueling. In some cases the chip works after the ECU, crudely taking control of fueling and sometimes boost, all the while the ECU is none the wiser and pretty much just along for the ride. Additionally, some chips or modules can sometimes cost 3 times the cost (or more) of reprogramming the vehicle’s ECU because you are purchasing additional hardware, wiring and then you may need to pay to have it installed or sometimes ‘tuned’. As discussed above, an ECU Flash tune reprograms the vehicle’s factory ECU so no tricks or lies are taking place and the ECU is still in total control.
Q/ Is all ECU Flash tuning the same?
A/ Simply, no! This is where the skill of the Tuner comes into play. If you supply me some paint and canvas, I will draw you a fantastic stick figure, by contrast, hand the same paint and canvas to an artist and you may one day make millions. The skill of the artist or the Tuner in this case makes all the difference. Additionally, In most cases the Tuner may not be present at the workshop of your selection, in fact he may not even be in the same hemisphere as the workshop of your selection, and the workshop is simply uploading a generic tune file using a ‘Slave device’ into your vehicle purchased from overseas and if you’re lucky, it may even get checked on the dyno. We do it different. Our Tuners are here every single day, they personally custom tune every single car using a ‘Master device’ and it all happens on the dyno where every change can be strictly monitored and tailored for the safest and most effective result.
Q/ If your increasing my vehicles power and torque, how can it use less fuel?
A/ By re-calibrating the vehicles ECU and strategically increasing fuel and boost, we are in fact making the engine more efficient, the result being extra power and torque across the board. After the tune, the vehicle’s engine will now be making more power and torque than before but with less fuel, at less RPM, with much less throttle position and it can do its intended job much easier. You may have been using 80% throttle to tow the van up the hill coming into your favorite holiday destination, now with 100nm extra torque you may only require 40% throttle to do the same job. Additionally, the harder the vehicle is working to do its job, the more fuel you can expect to save after the tune. Conversely, you reasonably can’t expect a fuel savings cruising down the Hwy with minimal load.
Q/ Can the ‘flash tune’ be removed?
A/ It can, the same way we Flash tuned the vehicle in the first place; we can upload the vehicles standard tune file, and as there is no tuning to be done, in most cases it can be done in under half an hour. In some cases it takes a little longer. Additionally, your new car dealer can also over right the performance tune with a factory tune.
Q/ If my car goes in for servicing with my Dealer, can the ‘flash tune’ by wiped out?
A/ The new car dealer can over write the tune as part of a software upgrade, this happens occasionally but it’s not the end of the world and you have not done your dough. All you need to do is return the vehicle to your Diesel Tune dealer for a simple upload of the performance tune. In most cases, there is no cost for this upload but some vehicles require the ECU to be removed from the vehicle or a revised tune to be made based on the new software loaded in by the dealer in which case, a small fee may be required depending on the application. We also offer you to have the vehicle tested back on the dyno to confirm all is well, the cost is $165 for the dyno run.
Q/ How will this affect my factory New car Warranty?
A/ No vehicle manufacturer is going to be happy about us increasing the power and torque of their warranted car no matter how big or small the gain. In fact, any modification made to your vehicle may affect your manufacturer’s warranty. If in the remote chance a failure was to occur and the dealer could directly find and prove the tune to be the cause, the dealer may decide to deny a warranty claim. However, we tune for safety and reliability as the number 1 priority, so by keeping the tune safe we avoid failures and warranty dealer claims, Additionally, there is very little to give away that a tune has been done, except for the increased power and torque, there are no additional boxes or wiring changes and normal diagnostic scan tools can not pick up that any changes have been made to the program. In some cases it’s entirely invisible.
Q/ How does the ‘tune’ affect servicing?
A/ Serving continues as per normal. Dealer diagnostic devices still work as before. As per the factory handbook, we recommend dropping service intervals to 10,000km in vehicles driven in harsh conditions or under constant high load and we always recommend using premium quality engine oil. Refer to your hand book for actual specific manufacturer recommendations.
Q/ Do you have a switch where the car can be returned to the stock tune?
A/ We do not have this as an option. As normal servicing can be performed with normal servicing scan tools and the like, diagnosis of any faults can be performed by your choice of general servicing agent or dealer. How often do you drive around and think to yourself “Gee, I could really do with less power now”? The vehicle can be returned to the standard tune file by your DTA dealer if required.
Q/ Are any other upgrades required?
A/ No other upgrades are generally required, the power and torque figures quoted on our website and advertising are made with no other hardware changes unless otherwise stated. The dyno graphs listed should mention other modifications where applicable. Talk to your DTA sales agent for advise on your particular application (i.e. Towing) for recommendations for your vehicle.
Q/ Do I need to do an exhaust?
A/ Contrary to popular belief, fitment of a high flowing exhaust to most diesel vehicles is not a worthwhile investment, typical gains from fitting even the most expensive exhaust is between 0kw and 5kw measured at the wheels. You may notice better engine response which cannot be verified on a dyno but for the most part the power gain will be minimal.
Q/ Will a ‘High Performance’ exhaust help to lower Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT)?
Freeing up the exhaust on most late model Common Rail vehicles shows no real gain on the dyno therefore no additional air/fuel is burnt with a high flow exhaust. The high flow exhaust may help lower the EGT’s slightly but this greatly depends on where your measuring it, but the real issue of ‘High EGT’s’ is in the cylinder itself, where the air/fuel ratio (AFR) has a direct impact on the temperature created and ultimately, the longevity of the engine. Another thing that will have a direct impact on EGT’s is the restriction of the turbocharger itself, typically, on a well set up system, the pressure build up in the exhaust manifold between the engine and the turbocharger is around twice the boost pressure that the turbocharger is feeding into the inlet of your engine, this ‘back pressure’ can effect the ability of the engine to empty the cylinder after each power stroke, leaving hot, burnt, pressurized exhaust gas in the combustion chamber, this ‘dirty air’ limits the amount of ‘clean’ air & fuel that can be fitted into the cylinder ready for the next power-making burn cycle, this will limit power and raise EGT’s in the process. The temperature in the exhaust manifold between the engine and the turbocharger is the ideal point to measure EGT’s and as you might see from the above, measuring EGT’s in the exhaust system after the turbocharger is indicative only and fitting an exhaust after the turbocharger will help very little in effecting EGT’s. A turbo back exhaust may help the turbocharger to ‘spool’ up faster and give you slightly increased throttle response but that is typically not going to effect EGT’s.
Q/ What about fitting a snorkel?
A/ Contrary to popular belief, fitment of a ‘high flowing’ snorkel to 90% of all diesel vehicles is not a performance upgrade. The longer and the more restrictive path the air has to travel, the less the air will want to travel. A snorkel should only really be considered for water crossing or high dust areas.
Q/ What warranty do you provide?
A/ We offer a 12 months warranty on our workmanship, we offer a lifetime warranty on the tune and we back all of this up with a 90 day satisfaction guarantee.