Diesel Performance Chips – The Truth!
Most companies in South Africa selling so called performance chips, tuning boxes, plug & play chips or performance modules do not tell you that these are simple electronic devices that intercept the common rail pressure signal and reducing it by a certain percentage depending on the selected setting. As soon as these units are installed, the ECU is fooled into thinking that the common rail pressure is too low and instructs the diesel pump to increase fuel.
Not only is this dangerous for the engine, this is a poor way of tuning an engine. Some of them spice these units up by adding apps so you can adjust settings from your mobile phone. You will most probably think that this is a nice gadget to have and that you should get one. The point is, it is still the same poor and dangerous way to increase the power of your vehicle. The sellers will tell you it is the most advanced chip out there and the marketing, of course, is in your face all the time so naturally, you will assume it is.
I have lost count of how many of these performance chips from all brands we have removed from vehicles of unsatisfied customers. According to some the sellers of these performance chips, you can expect a power increase of between 20-40%.
Take for example the Isuzu KB300 DTEQ 130kw, according to the distributors of these chips, your vehicle will gain as much as 30% in power. That is supposed to up the power with 39kw & 114nm. A gentleman called me and said that he is very disappointed in the “Most Advanced Chip” in the world and if we are able to assist him. We did a dyno run without the chip, after which we reinstalled the so-called “Most Advanced Chip” and did several after runs with different settings and found that the gains were a mere 3kw & 40nm tops. No matter which setting was selected, no more could be gained. The gentleman paid almost R8000 for this specific chip. After confirming that this supposed “Most Advanced Chip” is just a money making scheme, we did proper tuning (ECU Remapping) on the Isuzu KB300 and we gained a safe but reasonable 27kw & 101nm.
Another example is the Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCi. This was just a joke, no matter what setting was used, the vehicle ended up with LESS power than standard. What made things worse, is that the vehicle frequently went into limp mode and the engine was noisy. The best results we ever saw with these kinds of plug & play units were a shocking 4kw & 15nm with a price tag of R6500 and above. With ECU Remapping we easily added 30kw & 100nm at almost half the price.
Next up was a Mercedes C320 CDI, this poor gentleman was told his vehicle would gain a spectacular 40kw & 100nm. We again did a dyno test as we did previously on the Isuzu and the results were that the “Most Advanced Chip” in the world added only 1kw & 3nm. And the cost for these poor gains was in the region of R8000.
The list can go on forever and I would probably type my life away if I have to mention all the cases that I was directly involved with. So let me rather stop here…I am sure you get the picture by now.
What amazes me is that most of the sellers of these chips will refuse refunds. So you buy a product that does not even remotely deliver what is promised and you will be refused a refund. Secondly, how do they get away with selling you gains of only 1, 2 or 3kw for a stupidly high amount of money like R4000-R8000? I will tell you how… firstly, most all of these companies do not own a dynamometer, so they can’t prove how much power the units are truly adding. So you simply have to go with what they tell you, which 99.9% of the time is NOT TRUE. Unfortunately, a lot of the general public is very gullible. Take for instance the well-known placebo effect… the power that the brain can convince the body that a fake treatment is the real thing. This is exactly how these companies are able to convince you of the incredible gains without ever having to prove it.
Recently, I have noticed that you can also buy these units for few hundred rands or some just above R1200. I will not even waste your or my time going into that except for saying STAY AWAY, FAR AWAY!!! The trick here is that the unit will most probably not work and sending the unit back for a refund will probably cost more than the initial cost of the unit. This is where you no longer bother with returning the unit and the supplier never has to refund you, which leaves you with a unit that doesn’t work and money well wasted.
The best performance chip is definitely not anything that just increases the common rail pressure. Some of these sellers will claim their unit will also adjust the boost pressure as well, the fact is 99% of the time the vehicle will boost later, so the vehicle will perform worse in the lower RPMs, and when you do an actual boost pressure test, there will be no increase at all.
The question you should ask is, what is the BEST way of tuning, NOT what is the BEST performance chip. The short and simple answer will always be ECU Remapping, also known as a Software Upgrade. There are lots of myths here in South Africa about ECU Remapping. For example: I received a call from a customer telling me that these companies selling these plug & play units, claim that if you remap an engine the turbo will blow up. How ridiculous is that? If the boost pressure is too high, the turbo will be damaged, however, if a tuner does this, he is simply not a good tuner. ECU Remapping can be bad for your engine BUT ONLY if it is done by someone with little or no experience. When ECU Remapping is done by a professional with many years of experience, nothing can compare to it. The key is you should always opt for the MAX-SAFE power. There should always be a good balance between power and reliability. Any good tuner knows this. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good tuners out there and this is what gave ECU Remapping a bad name with some people, or rather why there are all sorts of myths surrounding ECU Remapping.
Take it from a professional that has dealt with, designed and developed all kinds of tuning solutions for many years. If you want the best optimisation for your vehicle, you start by staying WELL CLEAR from any performance chip, tuning box or module that will increase common rail pressure. If you still do not understand exactly what you need to watch out for, give us a call and I will gladly assist you. Secondly, do not listen to sales talk and stories. What is written here is the truth. Anyone telling you anything else does not know what they are talking about or trying to trick you into a sale.
We are diesel tuning specialists and we do diesel optimization the honest and professional way, the only way you should ever consider! We do tuning according to how your vehicle’s engine responds and based on that a calculated decision is made as to what a SAFE amount of power is to add.