Today, more and more are looking to improve their car performance. As a result, the tuning box and remapping industry have experienced a surge in popularity. Petrol and diesel tuning boxes are certainly making waves, but are they worth the hype?
What is a tuning box?
A tuning box is designed to improve a vehicle’s performance. A car tuning box works by altering the signal between the ECU (Engine Control Unit) and fuel injection system. The box changes that signal and, essentially, ‘fools’ the system into injecting more fuel – diesel or petrol – in the cylinders. Therefore, you are enhancing the torque and power of the vehicle. In order to boost your car, the ECU calculates how much diesel or petrol to inject from the map tables, as well as the engine speed, airflow and torque required. The ECU software is completely untouched, as the tuning box is plugged into the car’s wiring loom. The tuner piggybacks the existing sensors to boost power, while remapping permanently alters the computer software.
You should also consider the difference between tuning boxes found online and sold relatively cheap, and those manufactured by professionals. Many cheap boxes are poor, resistor based analogue units, with little to no testing. Essentially, your car is left vulnerable as over fueling can cause lasting damage in the long-term. There have even been some instances where people have bought the box, opened it and seen only a few wires that will certainly not affect anything within the vehicle.
What should you consider with a tuning box?
In practice and theory, a diesel tuning box is ideal for those that lease their car and are looking to improve and modify their car, without permanently changing the software and possibly voiding the warranty. However, you should always consider the effects of both – such as voiding your warranty – and speak to a professional before acting on your needs. You can talk to manufacturers or even post a question on vehicle forums asking for any ideas or tips. Basically, you want to avoid a bad job, and you can tell a faulty tuning box due to an increase in exhaust smoke. Plus, the sooty gases could also be illegal, while still damaging your car. Your DPF (diesel particulate filter) could also fail with a ‘dodgy’ box, potentially costing thousands to rectify.
What are the benefits?
All cars are different, so the benefits can vary enormously with different models and also petrol or diesel engines. One of the major benefits to a tuning box, however, is the ease with installation. Your average enthusiast can install the box, meaning your car is not out of action for long. Likewise, you are then guaranteed more power.
Another major plus to a tuning box is that they are, effectively, ‘untraceable’. Should you want to remove the box – especially if returning the car to the manufacturer – you can do so quickly. The box will not leave any lasting effects, but remapping will. Also, when you return the car to a dealer after remapping, they will immediately find evidence the car has been modified.
It’s also been noted that cars do run better with the aid of a tuning box. The box controls boost pressure and fuel delivery, thus making the engine slightly more efficient.
Tuning box vs remapping
While tuning boxes and car remapping are similar – as is the end goal – you’ll often find a tuning box is a much more cost friendly option. While you should certainly never go for the ‘cheap’ option, installing a box is much less in both price and hassle, as you will have to get professionals to remap the ECU. Similarly, you can tell when a car has been remapped, and you likely void your warranty and end up paying more in the future.
How do I find a quality box?
You need to do your research when looking for a box. Ultimately, not all are the same – as with remapping – but when installed properly, they will increase power and fuel economy. Look for:
- Suppliers and read reviews – always be wary of companies that don’t offer testimonials.
- Look for companies that produce the boxes in-house, as they will likely boast significant experience and knowledge.
- Read forums specifically on your vehicle and the effects of a tuning box.