Electronic Engine Tuning Guide
Why tune your engine? What’s the best method to tune your car? What are the overall benefits?
Electronic engine tuning is the modern method of obtaining more horsepower from the engine without replacing any parts. Many years ago, tuning a petrol engine was carried out by replacing Carburettors, Exhaust and Inlet Manifolds and tweaking the Distributor in order to liberate more power. This of course led to a variety of problems that maybe you didn’t have previously, including having to ‘tune the engine’ on a regular basis, reliability, poor starting, difficult to drive in traffic and on occasions resulting in destruction of the engine.
The problem that existed with tuning an engine with traditional methods was that the engines were very rarely able to generate, and handle much more power beyond standard and generally involved having much more involvement with strengthening the mechanical components within the bottom end and also lightening components to get it rev higher. Additionally, Diesel engines were not able to be tuned apart from maybe adding a larger turbo and water injection.
Nowadays, engines are designed to handle more power than they sent out of the factory with. Vehicles in standard form are produced with a specified power output in order to comply with strict production, emissions and tax regulations and also to enhance reliability and durability.
There is however, a potential ‘window of opportunity’ provided by the manufacturers, allowing the owner the potential to squeeze out some additional horsepower with no resulting damage to the engine, and in most cases allowing the improved torque to enhance the overall driving experience.
It’s not all about horsepower increase, it’s the torque benefits that allow improved driveability and provide more flexible gear changes. Torque increase can also lead to improved towing capabilities and load carrying without necessarily putting excess strain on the turbocharger. The more torque, the more pulling power!
Will you get your money back and how long will it take? Economy is an important factor to consider with the decision to spend money in order to save money. With increased torque, more flexible gear changes and increase pulling power should all lead to less throttle required and therefore better economy figures. With up to 20% fuel economy increase claimed for the DTUK system, it shouldn’t take too long to reclaim the financial outlay if the annual mileage is quite high.
Are there any downsides? With electronic tuning (or fine tuning) of the engine, there are no mechanical parts to wear, drift out of calibration and all of which should contribute to maintaining overall vehicle reliability.
What methods are there for achieving more power from your engine? Remapping the ECU – where a computer is connected to the vehicle ECU and a programme is downloaded which overrides the original ‘map’ with a revised one to increase the power/torque. Another method is to install an electronic chip (EPROM) inside the ECU which overrides the original ‘map’ to provide more power/torque. And yet another method is to plug in a Tuning Box which is interfaced with the injector wiring to fine tune the fuel injection to allow additional fuel into the engine. All of these methods have their benefits and drawbacks with considerations such as cost, transferability of the tuning enhancement to another vehicle and ensuring validity of any manufacturer warranty.
Will it affect my Insurance or Warranty? It is advisable to contact your insurance company to advise them of any modifications, but more than likely with the popularity of performance enhancements to vehicles nowadays, a moderate upgrade would be recognised and quite easily listed on the policy. Failure to inform the insurers could lead to a claim being invalid in the event of an accident.
Manufacturer warranty is I suppose down to individual vehicle brands but some do promote their preferred after-market Tuning specialists and accept that it is becoming a more popular trend. However, if a failure occurs with any component and that it could be remotely linked to a modification by the owner, I’m sure that could lead to a claim being declined.
Tuning Box DTUK® manufacture a Tuning Box that refines the injection process by altering the injection pulse width modulation to fine tune the fuel quantity to gain more power and torque.
Using a new multi-channel with dyno proven software written and developed in-house by DTUK®
The system is fully adjustable for both Petrol and Diesel and can deliver up to 40% gains in power, torque and up to 20% improvement in fuel economy.
Lower emissions are also promised as the engine is running smoother and more efficient, therefore, lower CO2 output.
An improved throttle response should lead to a smoother drive and an improved low rev range torque and provide a smoother drive especially when towing.
The system is suitable for vehicles with Automatic Transmissions and those equipped with a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter).
The DTUK® Tuning Box takes around 10 minutes to fit with minimal tools and is also transferable to another car if required.
Installation All DTUK Systems have been designed to be compact and easy to fit they are supplied complete with the correct OEM wiring loom and connectors for the vehicle application and can be installed with the minimal of mechanical ability thus making it an ideal DIY project, most units can be fitted in around 10 minutes and they come complete with full support.
Once the engine cover is removed, it is easy to then gain access to the fuel injector electrical connections.
It is then necessary to remove the connectors and interface with the Tuning Box wiring loom, ensuring the connections are in sequence and not crossing over. Also, be careful not to position the wiring over the fuel injector pipes or any other wiring loom as electrical interference may occur.
Connect the Tuning Box to the wiring loom connection and then connect to the vehicle Battery (ensure positive lead is securely routed away from earth points, unlike in the photo!)
Ensure the Tuning Box is secured in a dry area within the engine bay and away from any electrical units that may cause electrical interference. Place inside the waterproof bag supplied with the kit.
Review of DTUK Tuning Box
How did it perform? Once installed, I never want to remove it! Not that I ever had much of an issue with the performance from the Honda in the standard form, but since driving it with the Tuning Box installed, I would categorically state that I could never go back to how it was in standard form.
The increase is from 103Kw (140PS) to 128 Kw (175PS) and torque has changed from 340 Nm to 420 Nm, which is a very noticeable increase.
The performance was instantly noticeable from the moment of installation with improved acceleration but also more importantly, the smoothness of torque delivery has dramatically changed the way the car drives. Longer gear changes are a result of the improved torque curve along with the decreased fuel consumption. On average, it has improved in the short term by around 10-12 %. I say in the short term, because the CR-V has a defective clutch that occasionally slips when put under too much load (common fault with Honda diesels). Once the clutch is replaced, then the consumption should decrease even further.
On one end of the Tuning Box are some serial jumpers which you can move around to increase or decrease the power output. I have personally left it ‘out of the box’ as the settings appear to be more than adequate for my requirements. However, it does allow you to alter the settings to achieve the desired output to suit both the car and driver.