Is it worth to do chip tuning?

The answer to the question of whether chip tuning makes sense and whether it pays off requires my impartiality, and yet I am a party in this debate.

After being asked the above, an average self-taught tuner-garagist would exclaim: “Sure thing! I’m surprised you even have to ask!” The only problem is that if that guy were selling combs, he would try to palm them off to the bald arguing that ultimately you can play them, and after all, as it is commonly known, music is medicine for the soul.

You have probably already found your car in a chip tuning catalogue and are wondering if it is worth doing.

It turns out that usually, it is. The investment in the car that chip tuning or eco-tuning undoubtedly is demands asking a few questions:

What do you expect from chip tuning your car?

If it is to boost the power and the torque of your vehicle and help overtake other road users safely while adding a little bit more driving pleasure due to slightly higher overload when starting after standstill, and generally giving a bit more fun while driving, then the answer is yes. As long as you use the power and the torque in moderation and reasonably, and the modification does not go against the possibilities and the structural strength of the car, then why not?

You should know that after chip tuning the engine tuning does not have to be less stable, and if the tuning was performed by a professional, there is nothing to worry about. However, you need to realise that after chip tuning you do not have more efficient brakes, more adhesive tires or lower centre of gravity. Your reflexes and skills were not “chip tuned” either. The engine will not be the weakest link. If you discover that in your soul you have always been a skid artist, the brakes, the tires and the transmission may have to pay for it. The key here is not to bite off more than you can chew and take care of the pads, discs, tires, but above all: not to go all cowboy, especially while getting into corners.

What will chip tuning give you?

Apart from a boost of adrenaline caused by higher acceleration and better speed, chip tuning can result in some positive changes in your car. These changes include better starting up when the engine is warm, more suited lower revs cancelling vibrations, lower fuel consumption, sometimes removing the DPF or FAP, the particulate filter. Saving fuel after the chip tuning is particularly pleasing to every car owner. Initially, you can look at it in disbelief, as it is hardly possible that a car which has more power uses less fuel. The explanation is trivial. Professional customised chip tuning consists in setting the ECU in a manner that enables the optimal and most efficient performance of the engine of that vehicle. Manufacturing any brand of car is allowing for a series of massive compromises, and customised chip tuning simply cancels them. Post-chip-tuning increase of combustion efficiency and the flexibility result in smaller fuel consumption. Nevertheless, the savings will occur only if you drive sensibly.

When to do chip tuning?

If chip tuning is to pay off, and not be merely a source of pleasure, it is good to do it in the car which you plan to use at least for the next two years. If a modification is to be done only for a short while and the car will be sold, then what’s the point? Fuel savings will not compensate for the expenses incurred for chip tuning. Under such circumstances, the powerbox seems a more sensible solution. It lacks the performance chip tuning gives, but it can always be removed from the car before the sale and reinstalled in a new one. Sometimes it may require ordering another wire harness for the powerbox system and reprogramming the maps for the new car.

Tuning in cars with high mileage that have been considerably used should be employed with caution, even if the engine is still efficient. Larger power means a greater strain on the drive system. If you decide to perform chip tuning, it is a good idea to have full servicing beforehand and (for example) replace the brakes, the timing belt, and possibly restore or replace the turbochargers as well as check and tighten all air pipe clamps. Additionally, you could also replace or clear the flowmeter, replace the air and oil filters, and finally the oil itself.

If the car covers very large mileages (taxis, couriers, deliveries and/or forwarding goods) the most sensible solution seems to be eco tuning, focused strictly on the reduction of combustion and saving fuel. Eco tuning can also limit the maximum speed, limit the revs, and in general level the impact of “flooring it” without reducing the engine power.

There are also the unique cases, e.g. chip tuning a car towing a heavy trailer or chip tuning and optimisation of the trucks and tractors when the expectations are quite clearly defined and need to be carefully implemented. It is all about the best ratio of performance to fuel consumption and working time.

As you can see, there is no simple answer to the question whether you need chip tuning or not. You need to consider many factors realistically. Regardless of the absence of any hazards and assuming a personalized approach and professional performance of chip tuning using a dyno, evaluating tuning profitability requires an assessment of the objectives and the expectations of the car’s user.