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Modern cars are becoming more and more like computers these days, almost everything from climate control to exhaust emissions are monitored and controlled via a bus to a central computer. The computer has two functions, to keep everything operating smoothly, and if a fault should occur, to create a log of it and unless life threatening attempt to bypass it to keep you on the road. This introduces a whole new dimension for modification and performance upgrades. Not only can the physical aspects of the vehicle (exhaust systems, turbo chargers, steering, suspension, and brakes) be upgraded and changed, but the governing software can also be edited.
Some OEM manufacturers make it very difficult to change the stock software that the vehicle ships with. This is understandable as modification by anyone other than the dealer network could result in damage to the vehicle’s systems and possibly even loss of life. This does however pose a huge irritation to performance shops and tuners who are skilled and understand the mechanics of the system but want to increase the performance.
The Dos and Don’ts of Software Performance Upgrades
So, if you are thinking of upgrading your car’s performance via software, this article will provide you with some of the dos and don’ts.
- DO – Get someone with experience to advise you. Changing the coding on your car’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) should not be taken lightly. It could possibly void your warrantee and cause damage to the engine or worse, affect crucial safety systems leading to your physical harm. That is why it is best to consult an expert such as the team at Foreign Affairs Motorsports. With over 30 years collective experience in different marques, and ASE certification, your vehicle could not be in better hands.
- DO – Consider all the periphery effects of changing your vehicle’s performance. Ultimately software tuning is done with one main goal – to increase your vehicle’s power output, handling and speed. This does come with some caveats, and you need to ask yourself if you have performed appropriate external modifications to deal with the performance increase. Steering, braking, and suspension components need to deal with the extra strain of more power and faster cornering, so make sure that you have upgraded the physical parts of these systems to deal with your new performance boost.
- DON’T – Only modify the software. Any performance shop worth its salt will in addition perform the necessary engine component upgrades. If this is not properly done you can easily exceed the OEM engine design specifications and cause permanent damage to the engine components. Common upgrades include new crankshafts, pulleys and gaskets. In some cases, increasing the size of the oil cooler is also important. These changes vary from vehicle to vehicle and depend on the manufacturer.
- DON’T – Try to save money. This is one type of performance modification that you do not want to economize on. If you are planning on fitting an entire new management system make sure that you don’t skimp on some unknown company from offshore. Rather choose to fit components and software from trusted companies such as Cobb tuning and Dinan Motorsport. The benefits are two-fold, firstly your vehicle will start reliably (important if it’s your daily driver) and if anything should go wrong, there is locally available support from shops such as Foreign Affairs Motorsports.
Hopefully you are now aware of some of the things that software performance modification entails. With modern cars that include adaptive suspension the sky is really the limit as to what you can tweak; everything from ride suppleness to torque distribution is accessible through software. If you’re not happy with the stock engine management system, several companies sell custom systems for the sporting marques.
Ready to unlock your car’s true potential? Why not visit our Pompano Beach shop for some friendly advice as to what key will work best.