A Quick Guide to Engine Chipping for Students In Automotive Training Programs

‘Chipping’ an engine, or modifying your car’s engine control unit (ECU) by swapping or altering the control chip, is an automotive tuning method that is surrounded by lots of ambiguities. Basically, an ECU chip modification changes the way that fuel is used in the engine by telling the engine to use its highest performance setting and extract more horsepower.
There is lots of conflicting information about whether or not altering the ECU is good or bad for an automobile, rendering the ECU chip modification one of the most misunderstood modifications in the automotive world. From a debate over whether or not decreased fuel efficiency is worth extra power, to competing views on whether the alteration damages the factory warranty of the vehicle, ECU modification chips have been the source of a lot of controversy in the automotive industry. As a student thinking of attending automotive training school, the following factors should be considered when thinking about the pros and cons of modifying engine chips.
Read on to discover what benefits and disadvantages engine chipping offers.

Students in Automotive Training Schools Should Keep in Mind Chips Void Car Warranties

The general rule around the automotive world is that modifying an engine chip will immediately void your car’s warranty. That is a huge price to pay for a 10-15% gain in horsepower. A chip installation will completely change all the auto manufacturers’ variables that they have set for the car, such as knock correlation, fuel values, and ignition timing, and therefore the warranty of the car will be erased. If you ever speak with a client about chipping a vehicle, keep this information in mind and really stress the possible dangers of chipping a vehicle. Students in automotive training programs should know that if engine damage happens after a vehicle has been chipped, clients, and not the auto manufacturer, will be stuck with 100% of the bill. With that said, you should also always make the insurance company is aware that the car is being chipped.

Insurance and risk on blue road sign with blue sky
A new ECU chip will usually void a car’s warranty

Pros With an Automotive Mechanic Career Know Performance Is Key

Car owners love vehicles that can perform well, and an ECU modification can often give modest increases in horsepower. However, it can also throw off other parts of the engine’s performance—you don’t always get something for nothing. For example, the increase in horsepower may be accompanied by a ‘glitch’ in how the engine operates. In automotive training schools, you’ll learn that a ‘power band’ is a range of operating speeds for a car. After ECU modification, portions of this power band may become flat or unresponsive. There is some definite risk in this modification, as you can’t be absolutely certain of the chip’s performance and how the engine will respond before pressing down on the gas.

Engine Chipping Can Increase Emissions

Although chipping a car may bring considerable horsepower gains, it can also increase emissions outputs. One of the purposes of the ECU is to regulate the emissions of automobile’s engine. When a new engine chip is put into a car, it changes the way that the engine regulates emissions, which can lead to higher outputs of exhaust fumes. Sometimes, poor emissions controls can even lead to cars being illegal—another reason to be wary of chipping cars.

Chipped engines can end up producing increased emissions
Chipped engines can end up producing increased emissions

Although chipping a car can bring about some horsepower gains, the drawbacks—voiding the cars warranty, changing the cars’ power band, and possibly increasing emissions outputs—seem to outweigh the positives.
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