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Remapping your car

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Last updated: 27/07/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

When you buy a car, you might find that you want to change some of the settings to tailor it to your driving style. You can do this by ‘remapping’ your car, where you essentially unlock the full potential of the car which is limited partially by the manufacturer. Although this sounds like a good idea, the manufacturer will have limited the car so as not to damage the engine - therefore it should not be done without being well thought through. This guide will explain what remapping is, where to do it, and whether or not it’s a good idea.

In This Guide:

What is remapping?

Every modern car, whether it's a diesel or petrol car, has an ECU, or ‘Engine Control Unit’, which will have manufacturer settings when you buy it new. These settings will be designed to limit the vehicle's performance in order to make sure the car has a long life. ECU remapping is simply the process of changing these settings to fine-tune your car engine to your specific requirements. It must be stressed at this point that the car can only be remapped to stay within legal limitations.

How does car remapping work?

First and foremost, to remap your car you need to contact a qualified professional so that you avoid any damage to your engine. Engine remapping works very simply by overwriting your car's ECU software and loading the new software into your vehicle's serial port, or OBD port. The entire process shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes and you will notice an almost immediate improvement. Typically, ECU tuning can maximise the overall performance of the car by as much as 35%.

How much does remapping cost?

It entirely depends on what make and model your car is as the software to remap it will be different for each one. Mechanics will charge between £150 and £300 to remap your car.

How much will it improve my car?

If the remapping service is successful, there will be an increase in the speed and power of your car. How much it improves depends entirely on your own specific car and how much you are willing to remap it. Some general improvements will be that your car's engine is more responsive, so it will be easier to overtake other cars, and you could lower your fuel consumption as you won’t have to change gear as frequently.

Do I need to tell my insurer?

Yes, you will definitely have to tell your insurer if you have a remapped car. Remapping is considered a modification and is, therefore, a change in what you had originally insured with the insurance provider. If you do not tell them, at the very least you may invalidate your policy, but you could also be in trouble legally for hiding information from your car insurance provider. Ultimately, your insurance company may increase your premium or even refuse you cover altogether.

Advantages of remapping

  • Improved fuel economy: In theory, if you go easy on the accelerator then you should get better mpg when driving. However, most people remap to not go easy on the accelerator so in practice you may actually have a worse mpg.
  • Towing: Should you need to use your vehicle in order to tow something it will be easier because of the extra power and torque.
  • Control: The main reason that people remap their car is that it gives you better control over how the car operates. Once you remap you will instantly be able to feel a smoother and easier drive experience.

Disadvantages of remapping

  • Higher insurance premiums: As mentioned previously, you could see a rise in your car insurance premium, or your insurance company voiding your policy altogether.
  • Turbo-powered: Unless your car is turbo-powered, you will most likely not see an increase in brake horsepower (BHP).
  • Servicing: Ultimately, the reason car manufacturers limit their vehicles is to make them last longer. Remapping will mean you will have to get your car serviced more often.
  • Fuel: Once you remap your car you may have to buy higher octane fuel which means you will be spending more money to fill up your car.

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