RE-MAPPING 101

Want more from your 4WD? We know just the thing

Re-mapping in the old days often required us to crack open the ECU and alter it, now most 4x4s can be tuned straight through the diagnostic port

ECU Remapping 101

The internet is exploding with talk of 4×4 power-ups these days, chips vs tunes vs remaps vs whatever the latest gizmo you can buy off FleaBay. It’s enough to drive a bloke bonkers just trying to make heads or tails of it. Now, it’s no secret around Roo HQ that we’re big on re-mapping, and there’s a couple of very good reasons why; but before we can get into the nitty gritty of how a re-map will make your 4×4 better in every conceivable way it’s probably pretty important to nut out exactly what a re-map is, and how it differs from your other options. After all, an informed decision almost always gives you a better result.

Dyno testing allows us to(accurately measure the enhancments after the remap and test that all factory sensors are operating as they should) to make sure things are working safely before the tyres hit the black-top

WHAT IS A RE-MAP

Some eMechanics might try and make it sound complicated, but the reality is a re-map is one of the simplest modifications you can make to your 4×4, if you know what you’re doing that is. Y’see it’s actually in the name, re – map. Controlling your engine (and just about everything else in your 4×4) is an ECU, it does this by referencing hundreds of specific maps it stores. If sensor X does Y then I’ll do Z sorta thing. A re-map is simply re-doing these maps with a few tweaks here and there(by trained remapping technicians) to make the engine perform how we want it to, which means more power. The factory maps might have normal operation at 80% with a max level of 100% to save things before they go pear-shaped. We read the map, do real world testing of the 4×4, then change that map and say you can safely push to 91% in normal operating conditions without affecting that 100% cap. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that to get it right, and we take all sorts of things into consideration like boost pressures, timing, injector duration, fuel pressure etc, but the principal remains the same – more power, without affecting reliability, and using the same tools the factory uses.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR MY 4WD?

If you’re doing any serious towing, or lugging around your lug-head mates, a re-map is an absolute must

ECU Remapping 101

Sounds great and all, but it’s a 4×4, not a drag car, why would you want more power? The actual horsepower figures are more or less irrelevant, for us the big win is torque and a nice smooth curve.

The factory designs these things incredibly lazy so they can handle all sorts of abuse, terrible fuel quality, and provide wriggle room if they want to increase power in later models. It’s not really an issue when you’re lugging around a boot full of groceries either. Hitch up a camper or caravan, or head off-road for serious work and that’s where a re-map comes into its own. The extra power and low-down grunt mean your 4×4 can cope with the extra load of a week or two’s camping gear, has enough power to lug a camper or caravan around the bush, and plenty of mumbo when you need to overtake someone or get yourself out of strife.

So how does this differ from a chip or a tune? A tune is easy, that’s just a loose name for a re-map anyway, but chips are a little different. Just like phones are getting more and more complicated so are our 4x4s and the computers that control them. With an older 4×4 with simple electronics a chip was all that was needed to alter a few signals and trick the ECU into doing what you want it to. Newer 4x4s control details never thought possible, and by altering the stock maps themselves we’re able to make changes you couldn’t dream of in an old oiler.

WHAT’RE THE DOWNSIDES?

More power and better throttle response can transform the way a 4×4 works off-road

Tampering with your engines brain at this level has got to have some pretty serious repercussions, right? Well yes and no. It might seem like brain surgery but the reality is it’s more like cooking up a BBQ. For the bloke who’s been there and done that it’s second nature, they know when and where to push things, and where they need to be a bit conservative. Hand the tongs to your 14yo nephew without the experience backing him up and chances are you’ll be staring down the mean end of some burnt sangas and dry steaks. Re-mapping an ECU is no different, well in theory anyway. Rushing in half-cocked without fully understanding what you’re doing is a recipe for disaster that could see your engine turn itself inside out. But the right knowledge, with the right tools, and you’re onto a winner.

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