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Tuning Box or Remap - help please.

Discussion in 'Motoring' started by theophilus, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. theophilus

    theophilus Member

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    I cant make up my mind which to get. Ive been offered a decent Tuning Box for £140 but am wondering if it would be better to get a Remap which costs about £300 and which some people say is better.

    My car is a BMW 320D.

    My friend who is an electronics engineer says a good Tuning Box is almost as good as a remap and at £160 less i'm inclined to go for it. I would appreciate some advice here.
  2. p5yco

    p5yco Member

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    I would say go for a custom remap personally, that way the car is setup according to your cars exact requirements and parameters which will optimise the best performance suitable for your car.
    I knew someone who had a tuning box on an anniversary golf tdi....they now have a remapped ecu and offers better performance and running are are more than happy with it!:thumbsup:
  3. t72bogie

    t72bogie Active Member

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    custom remap every time - no 2 engines are the same, im always wary of generic tuning boxes ....
  4. theophilus

    theophilus Member

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    I just checked the cost of Comprehensive Insurance for a Modified (ie remapped) car against an untouched one. The difference was quite large, it was £450 against £250. This is off-putting. And its quite different from the information ive seen elsewhere, that Admiral simply charge an extra £20 for a remapped car.

    Any comments?
  5. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP Well-Known Member

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    I've seen £25 boxes off ebay work well.
    The ones that are basically just a resistor and simply pump more fuel in.
    I wouldn't use one myself, as they are a tad basic, but no denying they work.
    I've also seen favourable reports from fellow Alpina owners saying +£100 tuning boxes sourced from Germany worked well on their 320D-based cars.
    No harm in trying one.
    Especially if, like me, the nearest remap company is hundreds of miles away.

    One thing to note though.
    Whether yours is a 163bhp 320D or a 177bhp one, the turbo is allegedly not really up to increased horsepower.
    This is why Alpina, when turning a 320D into a D3, used a different turbo unit altogether.

    With regard to insurance.
    In my years on Audi and BMW/Alpina forums, I've seen loads of variations in response to remaps/boxes.
    The general consensus of opinion seems to be that they shouldn't charge you much extra.
    If they are, change companies to someone who doesn't.
  6. markymark34

    markymark34 Active Member

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    tuning boxes that dump more fuel in can work but they arent a great idea, your fuel consumption will suffer. Bluefin allows you to put the map on and off the car as and when you like just by plugging the device in. You will also find that many remappers just use a standard map so your not getting anything more than something like the box from bluefin. However a proper custom map is by far the best. Both of my 330ds have been done and after ive taken then for a test drive i had one of them altered slightly. Company like DMS will charge an arm and a leg for the service, try emaps or if your close to NI torquetronics in kells are very very good and affordable £200+vat. He is also working on putting your custom map onto a hand held device so you can take it off and on when you like.

    DO NOT BUY A £15 thing off ebay.
  7. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP Well-Known Member

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    People often say this, but never give a proper explanation why not.
    Would you care to enlighten me/us:confused:

    As far as I can ascertain, the cheap boxes contain a resistor that 'fools' your engine into providing more fuel.
    Which, depending on who you listen to/what you read, is more or less exactly the same as the expensive boxes.:confused:

    A remap is different.

    But, as I said, I've yet to see anyone properly explain the difference between an expensive plug-in box and a cheap one.
  8. DVD-Man

    DVD-Man Active Member

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    The cheap one from Ebay usually made for petrol cars and now often sold with an 80's chrome hifi volume know is utter bull for the following reason:-

    The resistor fools the engine into thinking it is always cold thus giving slightly more fuel, it won't give any noticeable gains in my book and is damaging the engine!

    Quite simple really if they were so good why are all the remappers still out there charging huge prices?

    The answer, you get what you pay for.

    Liam
  9. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP Well-Known Member

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    The role of any tuning is to get more fuel/air into the engine.
    That's it, full stop, end of.
    There's really no more to it than it, in its most basic sense.
    I'm not undermining remaps, as I am aware they do more for their money.
    No argument there, or any problem with it.
    But there appears to be a lot of unfounded/baseless 'snobbery' surrounding the cheap boxes.
    I recall several Audi Tdi owners, on an Audi forum, saying they were delighted with the results.
  10. Fizzoid

    Fizzoid Member

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    I suggest checking with Admiral. There are many insurance companies that generally won't cover modified cars. Insurance can get quite expensive once you start modifying, so it really does pay to shop around.
  11. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    You must be younger than me...although so many are these days!

    I was quoted a small 2 figure sum from Direct Line for increasing the power of my Audi by about 30%.

    As for remaps Vs tuning boxes,as has been said above,it depends very much on what you want,and how much you want to spend.

    A box will give you "plug and play" simplicity,and ease of removal when required,but will not give you the maximum,or neccessarily the equivalent flexibility,torque and smoothness of response that a full remap can.

    That said,many of the boxes work well and have good reputations,and as bowfer has said,there is a lot of snobbery directed against them,but they do what they do pretty well.

    If looking to a remap,or at least deciding on one way Vs the other,you could do a lot worse than having a chat with Shaun at AMD,whose advice and help has been very useful to me.

    www.amdessex.com
  12. markymark34

    markymark34 Active Member

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    not exactly. Take it to the extreme, lets say you put a litre of petrol into an engine every second, clearly this isnt going to make your car faster all it will do is flood the engine. Manufacturers spend months working out fuel/air mixtures and boost pressures, so to just up the fuel may give you marginal gains if the engine runs lean as standard but its not a proper solution. A remaper on say a leon cupra will up the boost that the turbo produces very slighly which will give a much better gains and not at the expense of fuel as you dont need to stick your foot to the floor to get the same benifit.

    Again DO NOT BUY £15 boxes from ebay.

    ps the plug in units im talking about are like http://www.mybluefin.co.uk/
    i see they are doing - improve your fuel consumption or your money back.
  13. markonline1

    markonline1 Member

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    I've got a DTUK tuning box on my Astra and can't fault it. The boxes are digital although I suppose all its still doing is feeding more fuel into the engine, but then essentially isn't that what a remap is going to do. I'm no expert, but I was lead to believe that the cheap resistor style boxes just trick the engine into thinking its cold. Certainly the DTUK boxes actually contain different maps so that you can choose one to suit your style. Andy who runs DTUK had just bought a 335D and placed one of his tuning boxes on the car and is loving it. Certainly, the Astra site of which I'm a member has loads of people running tuning boxes, and so far I have yet to see anyone complain about them.
    I would say, if you've been quoted 300 quid for a remap, that sounds awfully cheap.
  14. theophilus

    theophilus Member

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    The comp insurance quote of £450 v. £250 for a Modified (ie Remapped) v. Unmodified Engine was from Gocompare.com, the site which trawls lots of different insurance companies for quotes. I assumed it was fairly representative of what is out there. I dont think Admiral was amongst them. Wouldnt mind some more advice on this.
  15. theophilus

    theophilus Member

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    The tuning box my friend is offering to me for £140 is a Speed-buster (from Germany). He says its a good one and it certainly improves performance considerably and there might also be a slight improvement in mpg. On the other hand, c-mapping may be better! I cant make up my mind
  16. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    For insurance,the best thing to do is a bit of phoning around,as what is quoted on a website is often not the best deal that can be had with a real person on the phone.
    If you are under 30 then you should expect a fair increase once you mention the magic word "tuning".

    On your other point,you could try the demo version of something like Revo's remap software.

    Revo Technik Free Trial Software

    This will at least give you an idea of what a remap will feel like to drive in your car.

    Revo and GIAC remaps are not the cheapest,but are competitive,and the backup from Revo is also excellent.
  17. theophilus

    theophilus Member

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    I am 44 years old, my driving history is excellent, no claims or convictions ever apart from one sp30 (speeding) a year ago. i live in a very low risk area.

    Going through moneysupermarket.com Admiral was an unbelievable £600

    What are other people paying for fully comp on their 'car with a remapped engine'?
  18. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    I'm a few years older,but not too far over the hill,and I pay about £600 for a heavily modified S3 with over 330bhp,so I would say that you should expect to pay somewhat less.

    You could try a few of the specialists such as Adrian Flux and Sennocke...the latter managed to insure me driving a 370bhp ex-rally Escort with more mods than standard parts a few years ago for about £800,at a time when most of the mainstream companies wouldn't quote at all.

    Sennocke - Home Page
  19. Fizzoid

    Fizzoid Member

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    That does seem a lot. I pay not a great deal more for my Skyline, with all mods declared, but it also depends on where you live.
  20. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP Well-Known Member

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    That's not what I'd call a plug-in unit.
    That's a remap, as it changes the ECU software via the OBD.
    The bluefin unit just takes the place of the Superchips man and his laptop.
    A plug-in unit, to me, is one that is installed under the bonnet, has to stay there and doesn't actually change the ECU software.
    It just 'interferes' with it.
    If you unplug it, the car goes back to standard.
    Bluefin doesn't do that.
    You have to 'flash' the car back to standard, IIRC.
  21. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    In most ways,the Bluefin is an off the shelf remap,with a very handy method of loading and unloading.

    It offers many of the benefits of a bespoke remap,if not the maximum that can be obtained by spending time on a rolling road with a laptop,adjusting the settings to the individual car,and to the owner's requirements.

    As an example,the quoted gains for a Superchips/Bluefin remap for my own car are quite conservative by comparison with custom remaps.

    Whilst Superchips can provide some of that,the bigger players in that market are companies such as Revo,GIAC,DMS etc.
  22. markymark34

    markymark34 Active Member

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    yes sorry i know, i was showing the bluefin as a alternative to a remap, so you have the flexibilty to put it on and off when you like.
  23. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP Well-Known Member

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    Yup, that's a good way of putting it.
    It's a generic remap, but still a remap.
  24. DVD-Man

    DVD-Man Active Member

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    These are the cheap ones that I was referring too

    +20 BHP HONDA PRELUDE,CIVIC,ACCORD,JAZZ,CRX+20BHP on eBay (end time 01-Jul-09 16:29:57 BST)

    A few pounds, these are vastly different to the boxes you can get from £99 upwards that also live in the engine bay.

    Felt I just had to illustrate it better for any unsuspecting parties reading this and thinking yum yum, don't wrap it I'll eat it here LOL

    DO NOT BUY THE ABOVE unless you hate your car, they have been going around Ebay for years and are little more than a 2p Maplin resistor and some crappy wiring, hell even fitting it on some models could cause damage.

    I think everyone gets the picture now.

    Liam
  25. niceguy235uk

    niceguy235uk Member

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    What a lot of people are missing is the fact that tuning boxes can and do cause significant wear to the drive train, ie gearbox and clutch.

    Give it 10K and swift driving with a box and you will need a new clutch.:smashin:

    As has been said before, a remap is by far a better alternative as the engine is tuned to within its parameters.
  26. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    In fact,a remap can cause just as many drivetrain problems as a tuning box,as both siginificantly increase power,and more importantly,torque.

    Torque is the factor that loads the clutch and gearbox most heavily,and many remaps will increase torque by 20-30% even on the first stages of a remap.

    As an example,the torque on mine was measured at a peak of 270lbs before being remapped,and over 360lbs after.

    Like all of these things,when you significantly increase the performance of one aspect of a car,you may well have to attend to the others,in order to use the increased performance long term,and safely.
  27. Stoofa

    Stoofa Member

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    You can be surprised how little a remap adds to insurance.

    I'm driving an Ocvtavia vRS - currently at standard, so 200bhp.
    Once it is out of warranty (January 2010) then I'll be looking at a remap.

    The Bluefin should take my vehicle to around the 240bhp (the 2.0 TFSI engine is apparently a nice block to remap).

    I've spoken to 3 insurance companies about this and the increase in premium I'm looking at has ranged from £30 - £70.
  28. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP Well-Known Member

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    Why wait?
    It's been proven time and time again, on umpteen forums, that remaps don't affect your warranty.
    Some VAG dealers are even offering remaps as part of their services, these days.
    If they thought it made the cars into grenades, they'd surely shy away from anything to do with them.
    No offence, but it's an old-fashioned attitude to worry about the warranty, IMO.
  29. BAN5HEE

    BAN5HEE Active Member

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    I had my A6 V6 2.5 TDi remapped and it it's made a massive difference. I told the insurance and they asked if it was a physical change to the car IE added a part and said no just calibrated the ECU and they said fine no change to insurance. :thumbsup:
  30. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    Quite a number of dealers still tell customers that remaps will invalidate the engine warranty,and my own dealer has said on a number of occasions that ANY mods(even down to the exhaust and induction piping) will also invalidate the warranty.

    This of course would be questionable,given that they would have to prove that my exhaust and induction system were responsible for any failures in the engine.

    In any case,there are still a lot of dealers around the place who take a very dim view of any mods.
    What's perhaps more surprising is that within the same company(and VAG is a perfect example of this),some dealers are fine with mods,and others aren't.

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