ECU reflashing basics: restoring power and efficiency

Posted by Phineas Gray on November, 2016

The ECU

The vehicle electronic control unit, or ECU is the on board computer, tasked with the control of various engine functions like turbocharger boost pressure, fuelling and the timing of the ignition. Just like any other computer system, it has software with different settings that can be changed to vary the performance and driving characteristics of a vehicle. This process is known as reflashing or remapping.

Why Reflashing

When the manufacturer makes vehicles, the ECUs are programmed to a certain default setting. However, in many cases, these will not be the optimal performance settings. The reason for this is that they have built-in safeguards that protect the engine from, say, the effects of leaving it too long between servicing. Some manufacturers might also restrict the vehicle performance to make sure they fit into a certain class or category, in order to suit the demands of the market. Generally, the ECU settings the vehicle comes with tend to hinder the optimal performance of the vehicle.

Types of Reflash

When you sign up for ECU reflash in Seattle, it will likely be for economy, performance or both. Reflashing for economy is mostly sought by vehicle owners who have a large fleet, or those who simply want to reduce the running cost of their vehicles. ECU reflashing can significantly improve the vehicle fuel economy, keeping the bills to a minimum. In some cases, remapping can deliver fuel efficiency improvements of up to 10 percent.

Remapping for performance is mainly for driving enthusiasts looking for a more engaging drive, or performance buffs who want to enjoy every last bit of the power their vehicle has. Performance remapping or reflashing improves the drivability and responsiveness of the vehicle. Performance remapping has been known to improve the BHP of the vehicle, increasing both the acceleration and the top speed.

These two seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but it is possible to improve both the performance and the fuel economy of the vehicle. ECU settings can be balanced to give the vehicle owner and driver the best of both performance and economy worlds.

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