ECU Remaps : About Tools, Software & Tuners! (2023)

ECU Remaps have become very popular everywhere. There are many tuners in India now who do ECU remaps. I was very curious and interested in ECU tuning. I have got my diesel cars remapped from various tuners. I wanted to know more and was doing research since a year. I joined few ECU forums / groups and got lot of information. I wish to share everything here by writing in detail.

How do you start ECU remaps?

ECU tuning Tools

There are many tools available in the market to read and write different kinds of Engine Control Units (ECU). I would be discussing here only about genuine tools and not the cheap Chinese clones.

Alientech Italy :
Most of the tuners across the globe use tools from Alientech. Alientech has large dealer network and known for fast support. They even conduct ECU tuning courses. The tools are expensive compared to the competition. Alientech has still not come up with protocols for few cars while the competitors already have it.

K-TAG ( for Bench flash)

KESS (for OBD flash)

CMD Flash
This tool is also very good. Their support for VAG cars are brilliant. CMD tool can do PCR 2.1 ECU (1.5 /1.6 TDI VAG) fully by OBD now. The development team is also very enthusiastic and they have even cracked the protocol for Indian New Figo diesel.

Magic Motorsports
They are getting very popular since last few years. MMS were the first to crack protocols for many ECU. I have heard that the support is also good. Even this tool can do 1.5 / 1.6 TDI VAG fully by OBD.

Mag Pro2 XL17

Most of the tuners in Europe use this as secondary tool. The tool supports many cars and the main advantage is free updates. There are no yearly subscription charges and lifetime support is free.

I do not have much knowledge about this company. They have a fancy touch screen tool for OBD flash ECU Remaps : About Tools, Software & Tuners! (6)
ECU Remaps : About Tools, Software & Tuners! (7)

There are few more companies who provide the tools. They are not well known and hence I am not posting it here. All the tools listed above come with OBD and Bench flash protocols. The tuner has to pay for tools, protocols and yearly subscription. Most of the tuners get OBD and Bench flash tools with car & bike protocols. There is no point in investing on protocols for Tractors, Boats and Cranes in India lol. I will post the approximate price in INR for the tools listed above with car and bike protocols. This doesn't include shipping and custom duty.

KESS V2 (Master Version) : 3.5 lakhs
K-Tag (Master Version) : 3 lakhs
Total : 6.5 lakhs

OBD + Bench flash (Master) : 5.25 lakhs

Magic Motorsports :
Mag Pro2 XL 17 : OBD + Bench (Master) : 4 lakhs

OBD + Bench (Master) : 2.65 lakhs ( This is super VFM for master tool)

New Genius (OBD Master) : 4 lakhs
New Transdata (Bench flash Master) : 3 lakhs
Total : 7 lakhs
This tool is very expensive and not that famous too. I would not recommend this.

Check out this site for shopping!!

All the tools and pricing mentioned above are for Master tools. The Master tools have total control and non encrypted files are read from the ECU. The tuner can buy any of these tools to safely read and write files. A good tuner would never depend on only one tool. Most of the tuners have at least 2 tools from different companies to support more cars.

What Next??

Now the tuner with master tool is able to read and write files safely. After getting the read of stock file, the tuner has to flash MOD file. What are his options? The tuner can invest on tuning software and make a custom remap. Another option is to buy the MOD file from suppliers. There are many file suppliers and the pricing is cheap. It ranges from just 50 Euros to 150 Euros. The tuner has to just upload the stock file and MOD file would be available within 1 hour. The tuner with master tool can use the same MOD file n number of times for that particular car. It is just one time investment for a car.

Few examples for file suppliers :

There are many file suppliers globally. Just search "ECU file service" in Google.

Message for customers

: Do not believe that tuner with Master tool always does custom remaps. Do check if the tuner in question emails the file to somebody else, if so we don't know where is the file going.

ECU Tuning Software :
This is applicable only for tuners with Master tools who wants to remap on their own. There are many software available in the market which allows the tuner to identify various maps, make changes, correct the checksum etc.

This is the best software to make changes in the file read from ECU. The tuner has total control here. But this software is not for newbies and for those who love spoon feeding. The tuner has to use his "brain" most of the times here. There are many options and features in this software and all the pro tuners use only WinOLS.

The tuner can buy DAMOS file (this has full definition of that particular ECU), Map packs etc from OLS resellers and develop a good tune on his own. A good tuner would invest on these files for each ECU than experimenting on customer cars.

The demo version is available for free download in their website. I have been using it since last few months, studying the stock file of S-Cross 1.6.. It's fun!!

This is a tuning software by Alientech. It is good for newbies and lazy tuners haha. The software has drivers for each ECU which shows few maps to tune. The options are very limited and most of the pro tuners hate this software. There are many cases where the maps were wrongly defined etc

Most of the tuners in Europe use this as secondary tuning software. Swiftec has modules to disable EGR, Torque monitoring etc for most of the ECU. It just makes life easier.

There are few more tuning softwares which are not popular and I am not discussing it here.

Next Question : How to Tune??
To name some of the maps which are basically changed during remap are :

1. Drivers wish map : Changes made to this map improves "throttle response". This is the main advantage for tuners and also one of the easiest way to fool the customer. Yes, I said fool the customer. If the tuner makes changes only in this map, customer would feel that the car is more faster and be very very happy with the results. It would act like a sprint booster / pedal tune box.

Quoting few lines from a tuning / remap document:


Firstly we can fool the car owner into thinking his car is much faster. If we make the map so that our 100% throttle settings are at 50% throttle we will have changed what is called “throttle response”

What you need to consider is not many people actually put their foot flat down on the throttle, and if they do it is for a very short period of time. Make it so that it happens at only 50% and the car will respond quicker, the brain will think the car is faster because it is used to how far we press the pedal and how much acceleration we feel. Additionally when we do accelerate in our standard car we are used to the acceleration feeling falling away the faster we go, our driver will not be able to separate these 2 known pre-existing feelings (i.e. before we changed the throttle settings) because our brain learns over time how to alter pressure on our foot and the feedback it gets.

I had experienced the same on my S-Cross 1.6 with Tune O Tronics remap. The first map by TOT had torque monitoring error codes. So they gave me a second map which felt faster but did not have any errors. I drove on this map for almost one month and luckily I found out that 0--100, in gear figures were as good as stock map. I did raise this issue with TOT way back in September 2016 and they gave me another map later which had real gains on V box.

So guys, please be very careful and don't let your butt dyno fool you . Easiest way to check gains is to do 40-120 kmph run in 3rd / 4 th gear.

2. Smoke limiter maps : This is like a limiter map. It limits the fuel by looking at amount of air going into the engine.

3. Torque limiter maps : There are many torque limiters maps in ECU based on atmospheric pressure, gear based, engine coolant temperature etc

4. Injection maps ( SOI / duration) : Injector duration maps define the amount of time for the injectors to remain open to inject X quantity of fuel. Start of injection (SOI) is the timing of when fuel is injected into cylinder. It is based on degrees of crank rotation.

5. Turbo boost pressure / limiters maps : These maps define the turbo boost and the amount of air going into the engine.

I have mentioned only few major maps which are mostly changed during a good remap.

Now the Challenges :

There are different ECUs and the maps are not the same. It takes lot of effort for a tuner to identify all maps on his own. Basically the tuners depend on Map packs / DAMOS /A2L files to identify the various maps in ECU. These are sold for each ECU type and makes the work lot more easier. If the tuner is able to identify the required maps, half job is done!!

But, what I have seen is most of these custom remap tuners in India don't invest on these small things and get over confident. They develop the tune by experimenting on customer cars.

Few examples of remap going wrong :

My Grand I10 :

Suraj's Abarth Punto :

I hope everyone understands how difficult / complex it is to tailor a good map. Tuning box looks like much simpler and easy power. But, a remap if done rightly has better control and you can extract more power across the revv band.

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