Costs and Benefits: The Numbers Behind Chip Tuning
When you’re considering engine chip tuning or remapping, it’s easy to run into conflicting and confusing information. It can be tough to track down concrete numbers for what it can and can’t do for your car. Believe it or not, there’s actually a good reason for that.
So Why the Ambiguity?
There are a couple reasons why chip tuning doesn’t always get the same results. The first is the variation of cars out there. For example, a 1997 Honda Civic has little in common with a 2007 Ford F-150 4×4. There’s also a large variety of environments where the cars are driven. Chip tuning for a steadily hot environment can give much more stable results than chip tuning for an environment that swings from cold and dry to hot and humid.
The other big reason is the chip tuners themselves. There’s a wide variety of ways to change your car computer’s software, everything from a cheap “plug and play” external chip module to having a professional remap the software or switch out the engine chip. As you can imagine, this produces a wide range of results.
By the Numbers
All of that being said, there are a few numbers that can be thrown out there. With upgrades like this, it’s a good idea to look at the upper ranges of what you can accomplish. Then you can adjust downwards depending on your budget or abilities.
Tuning for Performance:
Up to 30% more power and up to 25% more torque
To get these results, your best bet is to go to a professional. They’ll perform complete diagnostics and tuning with the car on a rolling road. Be prepared to answer questions about your driving habits, and be honest. A pro will tune the software to specifically give you the most power for those driving conditions, so the more accurate you are, the more power you’ll get.
Tuning for Efficiency:
Lower fuel consumption by up to 16%
This doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing engine power. In fact, many software remaps can actually increase your power and lower your fuel consumption at the same time. Again, the key here is to have the chip tuned to specifically fit your car, your driving conditions, and to have consistent driving behavior.
The Costs of Chip Tuning
This is another area where it can be tough to track down numbers, but here are a few rough ranges:
Performance Chips: $300-$700
This is for a chip or module that you plug into the diagnostic ports yourself. Performance chips or modules are the cheaper option, and pretty easy to install. That being said, they’re also not going to give you the best results. That cheaper price tag might only give you a tiny fraction of what you could get.
Professional Chip Tuning or Remapping: $400-$900
This price is really an incredibly broad estimate, since every situation is different. The more precisely you want the engine tuned, the more time it’s going to take, which means the more it’s going to cost. This also varies depending on the car. Some cars are capable of a lot more fine-tuning than others, and a pro can help you get the most out of them.
Chip tuning changes how your engine runs, and you should be prepared for a change in how you use your car. A great example is fuel costs. Chip tuning focuses your engine to the point where you have to be a lot more choosy when it comes to the gas you use. This can lead to increased fuel costs. That being said, those increase costs could be easily offset by the increase fuel economy.
Ultimately, chip tuning is like any other car upgrade: The more you put into the improvements, the more you’ll get out of them.