Sunday, 11 October 2009

Can i have chips with that?

The elusive world of 'chipping' now theres a hot bed of discussion that arises each and every day on car forums.

Mine is a car equipped with an OBD-II port much like a lot of cars from the early naughties onwards and it provides you with a means to diagnose and also interestingly,to tune.

Ive spent a lot of time (like i always do),researching facts and figures,opinions and then weighing up all the facts omitted,to conclude what option to take when it came to flashing a new map onto the 220.

Now despite the fact the dreamscience unit seems to be a very comprehensive blighter you cant ignore a couple of key facts.
It costs £500 delivered,its gone out of production from now onwards so future support is limited to non existent,its still generic.

Ive tuned a few cars now to various stages but always emphasised them to be fastroad cars rather than mind shaking track weapons.Mainly cos my budget has never allowed for the mega cash sums required for such toys,but i also appreciate the confine of what its supposed to achieve in every day terms of what the limits of said track car can be too.

I tuned a couple of escorts and on both occasions used a datek unichip to dish out more precise orders.This time round i have taken the plunge into the world of handheld ECU flashing and opted for a bluefin by superchips.

But why use a generic map over custom like a unichip?

Well what i found is you need substancial mods to make sense of a custom map and when you literally bolt on a couple of very low key mods like filters and exhausts,this rarely demands anything so specific.

The only complete worrying variable everyone seems to overlook is the engine build and possible losses thru the build and/or running losses elsewhere.

Hence the time honoured exclamation 'my car made XXX but my mates made XXX' and we are both running the same setup,how come?

So once you have factored in build losses which can be easily explained by the smallest variation in piston size for example,clutch and box condition,binding brakes etc,you can see why a generic map might not cater for all and for some its an actual power loss to s significant degree.

We started our quest many months back by having the cars power measured and compared it with cars on the day that had rolling road runs elsewhere and were making the same power on the day we ran.
Seemed a good 'control' to use and it seems to be as solid as you will get.
We used a hub dyno which obviously doesnt suffer from idiosynchrocies a traditional rolling road does,ie:tyre pressure and strapping pressure.

You can still manipulate a run with braking and a few other little tricks but for the sake of argument,it felt like it was going to be the most accurate figure i will get imo.
And we achieved 240bhp and 217lbs torque.Not a DTC in sight and fuelling was pretty good all the way thru with a minor dip up high and slight rise down below.

So after having this info i have installed the bluefin and tried to take it as objectively as i could.It cost me £234 versus £300 for a lot of flash installs and DS charge £500 for the unit as said above or £300 for a flash install at there HQ in Hull.

It feels lively low down and by god you feel the smoothness of this map across the range.midrange pickup is notable and it generally feels like its shaken off a cold you never knew it had in the first place.

So ok,it was favourable for me but i have heard numerous feedback comments suggesting it hasnt done a damn thing for some others and i still believe this game of chance is down to the above.build losses and anomalies related to mileage,fuel type and quality,mechanical failure etc.

i have yet to roll this car to see how the power has changed but im fully expecting the biggest gain to be the maps delivery of which as said,is stunning.
well worth the £234 but for someone else?? who knows.
It is a game of chance without doubt as generic mapping will always remain hit and miss.

Im not a firm believer that a panel filter and a off the shelf exhaust pulls a decent figure.i think fully enclosed breathing one way or another is the only way to go.
standard box restriction plays a key part as does exhaust systems that arent sufficiently tested for the car as a few milltek owners will tell you on rolling road day.
a decent set of new plugs and leads and no fault codes is a good starting point.
knowing your car completely is also a key way to understand whats happening when you change something too.

I think a custom map on the trusty unichip may well have found a more pinpoint figure but i now weigh up the overall costs and balance whats a sensible outlay and what i will actually get in return.More so than every before as i have spent a crazy amount over the years buying many different filters,exhausts,boost valves....you name it i tried it lol.

had over a dozen rolling road runs with various cars and attended a lot of rolling road club days with different cars and models.Enough to say i can see a pattern forming when it comes to power modifications on naturally aspirated cars.

ie:go get yourself a turbo if you want gains lol

We have seen before and after figures for decats,chips,systems and manifold mods,flowed heads,wild as you can cams,balanced bottom ends complete with lighter flywheels and uprated clutchs and ATB's and you would be very surprised at how dissappointing these figures have been for the large part.

So all i can say is whata i said earlier.know your own car and dont be too upset if it doesnt respond like one in a magazine or your mates car.1/1000 is the going belief to hit a blueprint build by sheer accident lol so no major shock if one engine runs so far under another

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