Diesel Chips and ECU Mapping Explained

There are now plenty of options to get more power out of your 4×4 vehicle. Depending on how permanent you want your upgrade to be, however, or how much you want to turn your engine over to a professional mechanic, might determine whether you choose to use a diesel chip or ECU remapping to get all the power you’re carving out of your engine.

Whatever you do to your vehicle, it’s important to know what you’re choosing and why.

Diesel Chips – The Lowdown

Diesel chips often come with claims of bringing up to 20% more power to your engine, and increasing fuel efficiency to boot. This is a great option because usually, aftermarket additions to your engine that add extra power have to get that power from fuel, decreasing efficiency. Using a diesel chip can also up your towing capacity.

However, there are plenty of cheap, low-quality diesel chips on the market that don’t deliver what they promise and also cause reliability and warranty issues that you can’t go back from. Diesel chips used to be the only real option, though, to get more than the manufacturer-intended power from your engine.

Diesel chips are still the easiest option, especially if you’re remapping a vehicle for the first time and want to do it yourself. You can purchase chip kits that come with a wiring harness that piggybacks off of the original engine control unit. The chips and kits are available through online retailers or specialty auto shops, usually coming with simple directions that can be followed by any car enthusiast.

When you get your basic diesel chip, you’ll plug it into the fuel pressure sensor. The chip makes the fuel pressure sensor show a less-than-ideal fuel pressure, which means that the ECU will increase pressure, delivering increased diesel to the engine.

There are most sophisticated models, though, that go through a few more steps in the engine to increase power in a more reliable method. The more plugs or connections your chip comes with, the more engine parameters it will work through, thus achieving a better power result. Look for a kit that comes with connections for not only the diesel injector timing, but pressure boost control, and injection quantity, too. They do this by sending false signals to the manufacturer ECU to overcompensate and increase performance. This is just like the basic fuel pressure mechanism in the lower-quality chips, but more systems increase the places power is pulled from.

Anything you add to your engine is going to lower the reliability. For example, the wiring could be less resistant to dust or water compared to the original engine parts. Most aftermarket products just aren’t up to manufacturer standards, which voids the warranty. Problems with diesel chips aren’t common; just make sure you’re purchasing a high-quality product that is a good fit for your car. You’ll also want to have your engine checked out before you install anything as well as afterwards to make sure that everything is running as it should.

ECU Remapping – The New Player

ECU (engine control unit) remapping has come onto the scene with a bang. This refers to the process of giving your engine new software to run in a different path, pulling energy and power from alternate places and resulting in more torque.

Remapping itself isn’t a new concept as much as it’s newly available for 4×4 engines. In the past, diesel computers didn’t allow for reflashing, or remapping, but that code has been cracked and now the 4×4 operating systems have free access to go in for alterations.

Within each ECU is a selection of maps that tells the engine what to do and when. ECU remapping, or reflashing, switches up the software information to take power from different sections of the engine. There aren’t any changes to the sensors or data, as with a diesel chip. It simply reworks the engine to perform differently. With remapping, you can also choose to customize certain settings such as DPF burn frequency and EGR efficiency. This is a pure tuning, altering how your ECU responds to certain signals, rather than changing the signals themselves.

This is all done using a computer and interface cables connected to the internal map of your engine. Think about what happens when you update your phone or upgrade your computer’s operating system. It’s the same idea, just for your vehicle engine. You don’t purchase a new piece of equipment or add anything to the engine, you just update it to work on a different level.

The decision with remapping, then, is choosing the appropriate tuning system. Just as with diesel chips, there are lower- and higher-end versions that will deliver varying results. You do have the option to create the software yourself, but the programs and equipment are very expensive and aren’t worth the investment unless you’re creating a business out of it yourself. Instead, the best option is to go with a trusted, experienced technician who will spend the detailed time and attention to getting your engine running at its full potential power.

ECU remapping doesn’t have very many drawbacks unless you choose to go with the fastest and least expensive option. However, altering your engine in this way can mean that your factory warranty is no longer valid (if, that is, the dealership notices that your engine has been remapped). You should always ensure that that technician keeps your original ECU map on file, too, in case you decide that you aren’t happy with the result or if something goes awry and you need to bring it back to the factory settings.  


The choice of which power addition to use on your engine is fully up to you. Educating yourself about the options and knowing why you’re going with one or the other is going to keep you in control of what happens in your car. Diesel chips and ECU remapping have both been shown to effectively add 4×4 engine power. Weigh the pros and cons and go forward knowing that you’ve done your homework.




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Say one thing about Noman, say he loves cars. Say two things about Noman, say that he likes to speak in the 3rd person.

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