If you would like to drive more environmentally friendly, but there is no chance for you to switch to a hybrid, there is probably a way to make your used car burn less fuel and therefore reduce emission.
Have you ever heard about “remapping”? Although many people will associate the term with the modified car scene, it is actually becoming an increasingly common practice amongst mainstream motorists.
What is engine remapping?
Remapping refers to a process that alters a car’s standard ECU settings to gain more horsepower and torque, and, in some cases, to reduce fuel consumption. What’s more, remapping is a cost-effective modification that, when performed by a certified remapping specialist, can take as little as two hours to complete.
Those who own turbocharged cars will benefit from the greatest power gains, with up to 30 percent more horsepower and torque obtainable after a remap, whereas non-turbo engines typically give a 10 percent gain in these areas.
For example, the hugely popular BMW 320D, which boasts 163hp and 340Nm of torque in standard guise, will have its power rating boosted to around 190hp and 400Nm of torque after a remap. Similarly, a 1.6 TDCi Ford Focus, which only offers 109hp as standard, will gain almost 30hp after a professional remap.
Can remapping my car’s engine improve its fuel efficiency?
In many cases, yes. Although the remapping process won’t directly make your engine cleaner, it can increase its fuel efficiency rating, which will have a positive environmental effect, and benefit your wallet, too.
For example, in both the cars mentioned above, fuel consumption will drop by around 1mpg after remapping. In the case of the Volkswagen Golf GTi 1.8T, meanwhile there is a 2mpg improvement after remapping, which will add up to considerable savings over time, particularly for those doing high annual mileages. What’s more, you can achieve even greater fuel efficiency gains at the expense of power, if this is your priority.
Why would I want to change a car manufacturer’s standard map settings?
When car manufacturers launch new models, they usually map the car on standard settings to suit many markets around the world.
For example, Ireland has cold weather and Spain has warm weather, but car manufacturers usually apply a base map setting that suits both of these climates. A remap, however, exploits the car’s ECU to better suit a specific location.
Manufacturers also leave a possibility to upgrade the programme later to respond to market changes and customer demands, which leaves the opportunity for aftermarket tuning companies to offer after-sale remapping services.
How does the process work?
Many drivers talk about having their cars remapped, but most won’t be able to tell you what the process entails. Although it sounds like a highly complex procedure, it isn’t!
Unlike most car modifications, a remap doesn’t require any handheld tools such as screwdrivers and spanners. Instead, the mechanic simply plugs a diagnostics laptop into the car’s ECU and sets about introducing the new settings.
There are several ways to remap a car, but the popular method is to remap the car’s ECU by reading data on the car’s EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) chip. The easiest way to do this is by connecting a diagnostics machine to the car’s diagnostics socket, which allows the mechanic to both read and modify the car’s standard map settings. Once the data has been read, the mechanic can then choose to overwrite the EPROM file and replace it with a completely new file, which means they can apply different maps where appropriate, but also restore the original mapping settings should you need them again.
All drivers considering having their car remapped should be aware of any warranty implications – you need to know if the process will affect your manufacturer’s warranty or not, as it still counts as an aftermarket modification. For this reason, we would advise you to check with your local dealer before going ahead with the procedure.
Similarly, you should notify your insurer after having a remap carried out. Although it is almost impossible to visually trace a remap, authorised dealers will be able to tell the difference when driving the car. Most car mapping companies offer a service that allows you to have the ECU reset to the old settings for a small fee if you aren’t happy with the remap. Prices vary for each car and company, but in the UK, you can expect to shell out in the region of €350 for a remap, including labour and the required diagnostics.
This post was contributed by the Editorial Team at Car Buyers’ Guide. Car Buyers’ Guide is the publisher of Ireland’s leading motoring websites and magazines. CBG.ie is the only motoring website to have exclusive partnerships with the leading national newspaper websites (The Iris Times and Independent Newspapers). CBG.ie is visited by buyers over 450,000 times per month and users view over 11.5 million pages on the website per month.
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