Auto Express - Remapping Review (Auto express)


Apr 24, 2009
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Just having a look around the web and found a press review by autoexpress on remapping and saving the enviroment.

Here is the link

GCL Tuning - Want to improve your fuel economy? Chipping/Remapping cars is the latest idea. We tried it, and the results were great!
It wasn’t long ago that tuning engines was seen as a black art: the preserve of boy racers. Today it’s a different story. Chipping/Remapping your motor is no longer simply about boosting power. Some kits claim they can significantly improve fuel economy, too!

And Auto Express has put these eco-chips to the test, by fitting one in our long-term Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCi. The results were impressive to say the least!

We devised a 68-mile round trip, covering both urban and motorway driving, and travelled it before and after the engine tweaks. We recorded a 14 per cent mpg improvement - enough to slash our annual fuel bill by £184, if we covered 12,000 miles a year.

The work was done by GCL Tuning, which offers a fully custom remap solution that doesn’t alter your car’s ECU just the software. With such a non-invasive’ technique, you plug a black box, programmed specifically for your model, into an underbonnet sensor and it starts working straight away.
It was this simplicity and flexability and custom tune plus the fact GCL offers software designed for economy, that led us to choose it ahead of all the others. It told us to expect mpg improvements of 10-16 per cent. We were intrigued.

We set off from Bury st edmunds to cambridge. Our destination was Alfa Sport LTD, an official GCL Tuning dealer which had agreed to fit the upgrade to our S-MAX and talk us through the process. But, of course, the journey wasn’t just about reaching cambridge on time; we were setting a benchmark mpg figure - one with which we could compare our return trip economy and so judge the effectiveness of GCL's product. After driving as economically as possible we reached our destination. The trip computer was reading 45.8mpg, bettering even Ford’s official combined economy figure of 45.6mpg.

Managing director Gary Leverett immediately led us downstairs to show off his pride and joy… one of the most advanced rolling roads money can buy. The £85,000 kit was shipped over from Australia earlier this year.

It presented too good an opportunity to miss, so we decided to test the car’s power output before and after fitting the box. Although we weren’t looking to boost the bhp, increasing this is a side effect of economy chipping, as Busby told us: With an engine such as this, we usually see a 6-10bhp improvement. If you go for the performance chip, however, that can be as much as 55bhp.

Once the S-MAX had been backed into the garage and on to the rolling road, it was tied down securely. These straps can take up to five tonnes, so we should be safe, said Tony Parker, technical manager at GCL. After three runs in third gear and two runs in fourth, the computer read-out informed us our S-MAX was producing a maximum of 151.8bhp.

That’s 15.8bhp more than the Ford’s official figure of 136bhp. This can be put down to the natural variation from engine to engine - and we must have had a particularly good one! Then it was time for the installation.

If you thought this was the point when laptops and heavy-duty diagnostic kit would be strapped all over the car, you’d be wrong. The procedure is very simple - so much so that you could even do it yourself at home. .

“With the economy chip, the power hike is simply a side effect of improving the engine’s efficiency,†explained Dowd. “Maximum torque moves lower down the rev range, so the car is easier to drive smoothly at lower rpm - which in turn improves fuel returns.â€

And he wasn’t wrong. On the trip home, changes in the motor’s torque characteristics were immediately apparent. Put simply, it made the car easier to drive in an economical way, letting us confidently cruise at 30mph in fourth gear. On arriving home, the average economy icon on the dash read 52.3mpg - a 6.5mpg improvement over the journey earlier in the day, on the same roads, with virtually identical traffic conditions.

So how can you squeeze this extra mileage from a motor that’s already noted for its efficiency? And if these engine settings are better, why didn’t the maker produce them this way in the first place? Dowd unravelled the mystery: “Production cars are designed to work anywhere in the world. Huge built-in tolerances allow for poor maintenance, low-grade fuel and ambient temperatures of -40oC to 50oC. In Turkey, for instance, the diesel is watered down by 10 per cent. But in the UK we have high-quality fuel, and temperatures that never get close to these extremes. So all we’re doing is tightening up the tolerances, shifting the torque characteristics and improving efficiency.

We’ve proved GCL's product works, but are there any other advantages over rival engine upgrades? Well No!

However, there are always two sides to a coin - and economy chips do have their drawbacks. The biggest reservation motorists have about this technology is assuming that it will invalidate their car’s warranty, However unlike others GCL Tuning have fully backed warranty and we have product liability insurance in place up to the value of £2,000,000.

Another stumbling block is insuring a modified car. Often companies will void policies if they know the engine has been tinkered with - and only specialist outfits such as Adrian Flux will agree to offer you cover. and usually if it’s an economy chip rather than a performance one that’s fitted, it won’t affect your premium.

The popularity of these economy chips is growing as the price of fuel increases. A handful of franchised Mercedes dealers in Holland are now offering GCL Products as an optional extra, and Dowd expects a similar pattern to emerge in the UK - once the product becomes more established.

GAD was founded in 2009 where we developed bespoke ECU Remapping software for motorsport clients, moving forward, we have extended to road vehicles for both performance and economy,
contact GAD Tuning discuss your requirements.
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