Car remapping – is it worth it and will it work for me? | money.co.uk (2023)

What are the engine remap risks?

A cheap remap can highlight existing problems with your engine. A rubbish remap will increase wear and tear on the components like brakes and clutch to an unacceptable level –and heighten the risk of you being left unexpectedly on the hard shoulder.

A bad remap can also:

  • Reduce the value of your vehicle

  • Void its warranty

  • Invalidate your lease contract if your car’s leased

All in, not great news.

What are the benefits of a good remap?

There are several improvement a remap can bring: better performance and fuel economy. Most modern cars can be ‘mapped’ whether they’re diesel or petrol. Done with care a remap is generally safe as a responsible specialist will ensure any ‘mods’ take place well within your car’s performance parameters.

A good quality remap can:

  • Cut your fuel bill and CO2 footprint

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  • Give you more overtaking power

  • Sharpen your car’s efficiency and driveability

How much money should I spend to get it right?

A good quality remap costs anything between £250-£400. Pay attention to the reputation and credibility of your supplier. Many remap specialists will have certification from The Institute of the Motor Industry. That means they are more likely to use the latest software subscription updates and rely on good quality tuning equipment.

Word-of-mouth recommendation can also be good. However a decent remap will always be a bespoke modification, designed specifically for your car, not ‘off the peg’.

A good quality supplier will often offer a lifetime software warranty.

Will a remap hit my car insurance costs?

Your insurance will almost certainly be effected, especially if you’re a younger driver or you’ve got a conviction. You have an obligation to let your insurer know if you’ve made any changes to your car. The remap or ‘modding’ industry has become much more mainstream during the last 20 years. Which means it’s seen as less risky by insurers, provided the job is done well.

Which also means premium hikes are generally reasonable. But some insurers will not cover you if you remap your vehicle. So check first.

Remember:

  • If you don’t tell your insurer you will invalidate your policy

  • If you’re determined to go ahead with a remap and your insurer won’t cover you, approach the many remap specialist insurance providers

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  • As part of the online underwriting process you may be asked if your vehicle has been remapped – don’t hold back

What does engine remapping do to a car, exactly?

In the same way TV shampoo and conditioner ads promise extra shine and control, a remap company promise more go and economy from your existing car, for a price.

The extra performance kick comes from changes made to a car’s engine control unit, known as the ECU. When your car left the factory it always had the potential to go faster and return better fuel economy. But car makers can’t tweak an engine for every market’s optimum atmospheric conditions. It’s too expensive.

Car makers also put a high priority on the longevity of their vehicles. So car manufacturers, sensibly, create a middle ‘de-tuned’ ground, opening the door for engineering technicians –aka the remap market – to exploit the space in-between.

Specifically, a remap will:

  • Change the fuel pressure and injection timings helping performance

  • Help you cover the ground faster with less effort

  • Potentially deliver better overall fuel economy

Can insurers tell if my own car’s had a remap?

No insurer is clairvoyant. Most insurers won’t demand a full probe of what’s under the bonnet for most minor accidents. But driving a ‘chipped’ car without telling your insurer remains high risk behaviour.

So play it safe

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  • Declare – you may well be surprised at how mild the insurance increase is

  • By shopping around you might even reduce your insurance quote – sometimes it pays to be ‘peak sensible’

  • Some insurers take advantage of social media platforms and artificial intelligence to ‘cross-check’ suspicious behaviour

Also, when you declare your modifications you should also be covered for any accidental damage the modifications suffer. It makes it harder for an insurer to say No to a legitimate claim.

What about car warranties – does a remap invalidate it?

It generally does. A remap exerts more power and strain on a vehicle’s drivetrain and no manufacturer can reasonably be responsible for that action. If the car is leased you are heightening risk again. Altering the engine’s performance could lead to a claim of devaluation.

Also, why spend money on a car that, for all intents and purposes, you’re renting? A leased vehicle, remember, remains the property of the finance funder. So read the lease contract very carefully if you’re tempted, as well as give some thought to the health of your credit card.

Bottom line: if a car goes faster it becomes higher risk for the party responsible for a) its manufacturing integrity or b) its legal cover. Most cars have got quite a bit more quicker and more economical in the last 10 years. So think, do you really need that remap, especially if it’s an extreme one?

Is remapping a car 100% safe?

That depends on how much or little you wish to spend and what condition your vehicle is in. Generally if you spend peanuts you get nuts. A garage mechanic or DIY-er working off an e-Bay CD will almost certainly be bypassing existing manufacturer engine updates your car might already have.

Bear in mind:

  • Low quality remaps cost you time, expense and stress if your car’s ECU – your car’s brain – is inadvertently immobilised. Or the software is crawling with bugs. Or your car keeps defaulting to ‘limp mode’

  • Give some thought to your car’s condition. If there’s existing engine issues a remap may highlight these further, even if you spend your cash responsibly

  • Far better to spend money sorting the issue if there are problems. Or replace the car entirely if you can afford to

(Video) 3+ years of running a ECU remap. Final thoughts...

Good quality remaps, on the other hand, should pose few safety or reliability issues if carried out responsibly on a well-maintained vehicle

How do I know my car isn’t already chipped or remapped?

Is your car suspiciously frisky? Does it emit clouds of black soot under hard acceleration? Is the engine management light permanently lit? Frankly it can be difficult to tell if a vehicle has been ‘done’.

You might check your car’s ECU (go online to find out where it’s located). Some re-mappers leave a sticker on the ‘black box’ to advise of any changes, though many won’t.

Another reasonable option is to ask your local garage to check, using a diagnostic tool. Has there been any tampering, visible or otherwise? If you bought your vehicle through an approved used warranty scheme the garage will be obliged to make close checks before it sells the car on – though not every dealer will check every car ECU pre-sale.

You have no such protection if you bought your used car privately.

Is chipping an engine the same as remapping one?

Up to a point. The word ‘chipping’ belongs to a time – specifically the 1980s and 1990s – when tuning boxes were often bolted to the inside of an engine bay, or larger engines simply shoehorned in. Think stripes, spoilers and bad boy cheap thrills.

However, car remapping or ‘chipping’ has had a makeover. Modern engine tolerances are far more precise as technology and algorithmic computing power has soared. With less room for a bolt-on lash-up job and more need for deeper engineering skill, particularly on the computing side, the industry has evolved.

Which means smarter business premises, closer industry scrutiny and higher standards. Mankind just can’t stop fiddling.

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FAQs

Is remapping worth the money? ›

Remapping the software and fine-tuning the engine can increase a car's power and torque output, and maximise its overall performance by as much as 35%. We strongly recommend that you only let a qualified specialist remap your car, otherwise you risk damaging the engine.

What is the downside to remapping? ›

Overall, the disadvantages of remapping a car include: Remapping only really benefits turbo engines. There are serious diminishing returns when remapping a non-turbo engine. Engine strain from remapped cars is significantly greater, given the greater speed, power and performance of an engine.

What damage can a remap do? ›

Remapping does put extra strain on an engine, but not a dangerous amount if it's done properly. Remapping companies will carefully monitor the temperatures and pressures that remaps put the engine through when developing their products.

Can insurers tell if remapped? ›

Motorists often ask, “can insurance tell if a car is remapped?” The answer is no, but they may find out. Insurers don't inspect cars before giving them cover, so, in reality, your insurer won't randomly check your car for remapping even though some policies may say the insurer can inspect a vehicle if they want to.

Will a remap damage my clutch? ›

A rubbish remap will increase wear and tear on the components like brakes and clutch to an unacceptable level – and heighten the risk of you being left unexpectedly on the hard shoulder. A bad remap can also: Reduce the value of your vehicle. Void its warranty.

Does remapping use more fuel? ›

As the result of ECU remapping, a car usually sees an increase in power, which can come at the expense of higher fuel consumption.

Can a remap be undone? ›

In many cases, a car's remap can be reversed. So, if you decide you'd rather have the original software installed back on your car, it's easily done. That said, this won't bring back the warranty you've voided.

Is a remap better than a chip? ›

So, if you're wanting to increase your car's performance and efficiency, and you're driving a car built before 2000 then you will need a chip tune. If you're driving a car after 2000, then you need ECU remapping.

Does remapping a car devalue it? ›

To sum up, a remap will not negatively affect the resale value of your car. It is up to you to advertise your car as tuned or to disclose this fact when you sell the vehicle; if a potential buyer asks about it, it's best to be honest though and come clean.

Does remapping reduce engine life? ›

To answer the question at the beginning, you can rest assured that a car remapping doesn't necessarily affect the engine's longevity; it is simply improving its power and torque outputs. However, it is actually your driving style and maintenance that will ultimately determine how long your engine can last.

How long does it take for a remap to kick in? ›

Depending on the vehicle, the remap normally takes less than 1 hour to complete. 2. IS IT SAFE FOR THE VEHICLE? Our Quantum re-mapping process enhances and optimises the power of the engine within safe limits, not beyond them.

Why does a remap cost so much? ›

It's a skilled job, and it can take months of training before somebody is able to go anywhere near an ECU. As such, it isn't a job for DIYers', which means tuners are always in high demand. This demand and supply, along with a lack of high quality tuners, means tuning companies can charge high prices for their service.

Can a main dealer detect remap? ›

Essentially, it is possible to detect remapping but this does not mean that your car manufacturer will check for it when you take your vehicle in to have it serviced or MOT'd.

What should I check before remapping? ›

Vehicle Remapping Checklist
  1. No major oil or water leaks.
  2. Engine is in a sound mechanical condition has good oil pressure.
  3. Please advise if the engine is a new build if it has been run in.
  4. Please advise a full specification of the engine and installed components.

Is a remap traceable? ›

Whilst the remap is undetectable to dealer equipment, you should notify your insurance company of any modification to your vehicle.

Does remapping affect gearbox? ›

Whilst a remap will add a small amount of extra strain to the vehicle, all of our files are well within the safe parameters of the vehicle's components (such as the engine & transmission/drivetrain) capabilities.

How much speed does a remap add? ›

You can expect a 20-30% increase in bhp and torque after a remap. This extra performance is accessible across the rev range, particularly at low revs and in the mid-range. A typical 30-70mph run will be reduced by 1.5-2 seconds, and your car will pull better at higher speeds.

Does remap affect service? ›

Quite simply, yes. A car remap will void your engine's warranty (including the turbo or supercharger), and it may also void your clutch and gearbox warranty too.

Does remapping affect mot? ›

If you have your vehicle professionally remapped, then you should be in no danger of failing your MOT. The only potential risk is the fuel emission changes; however, a professional will know about this and will be able to ensure your car's security better.

How much HP does a remap add? ›

A vehicle that has benefited from an economy remap can expect to anywhere between 10-20% improvement. Also power gains from standard too, around 15-20% increase. Typical example: BMW 118d 140bhp/300nm torque. Economy remap: 165bhp/345nm torque.

Does a Stage 1 remap make a difference? ›

Depending on your engine you could see a nice increase in power. Potentially up to around 50bhp for a turbo engine from a stage 1 remap. Now that the vehicle has more power, you may want to use it, but then you're less likely to see the benefits of better fuel economy.

Can a car be remapped twice? ›

How many times can my vehicle be remapped ? Simply there is no limit the ECU can be "Flashed" as many times as you wish regardless of file format.

Does a remap delete DPF? ›

Once the physical filter removal has been completed the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) is reprogrammed (Remapped) and any DPF related structures removed from the vehicles software. This will prevent the vehicle from sensing the missing filter and will prevent future DPF regeneration and DPF related warning lights.

Does a remap increase noise? ›

Will remapping my car make it louder? No remapping a car does not make it louder. The car's engine may act differently producing more RPM (Revs per minute) at different and producing more power but does not make it louder.

Is a remap permanent? ›

In contrastingly, an ECU remap may only take 30 minutes or so to carry out, but the effects are permanent and can only be removed by specialists who know how to use specialised remapping software.

Does remap increase bhp? ›

But by modifying behaviour through engine remapping, you can boost your vehicle's brake horsepower (bhp) by as much as 35% – in under two hours.

Does remapping affect tax? ›

“Any post-registration remapping by a third party may (or may not) have fuel economy benefits but will not result in a changed rate of benefit-in-kind taxation.”

How much fuel does a remap save? ›

Most diesel vehicles will see between 8-15% fuel saving from the remap alone.

How much does insurance go up after Stage 1 remap? ›

You must know that even a stage 1 remap could lead to a 20% increase of your car insurance premium.

Is it better to chip or remap? ›

So, if you're wanting to increase your car's performance and efficiency, and you're driving a car built before 2000 then you will need a chip tune. If you're driving a car after 2000, then you need ECU remapping.

Does ECU remapping damage your engine? ›

An obvious question that most people ask about our ECU remapping service is “Will it damage my engine?” The short answer is No!

Is a Stage 2 remap worth it? ›

Importance: Stage 2 remap is one of the most favourable modifications for a vehicle. It is because it lies in the mid of Stage 1 and 3; it means that you will not regret getting small lower gains after getting stage 1 remap and will not worry if you do not want to take a risk of stage 3 to remap.

Can you reverse a remap? ›

CAN THE REMAP BE REVERSED? The beauty of the remap is that this process is completely reversible without any trace; therefore if within 14 days you want it changed back, we will carry it out free of charge with a full refund.

How safe is engine remapping? ›

It can affect your car's reliability

Though you'll get more performance, a remap will put more stress on your engine too. This can have an adverse effect on the reliability of your car and components could fail earlier than expected from the factory.

Does remapping affect service? ›

Quite simply, yes. A car remap will void your engine's warranty (including the turbo or supercharger), and it may also void your clutch and gearbox warranty too.

Do you have to declare a remap on insurance? ›

Yes, you will definitely have to tell your insurer if you have a remapped car.

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