What is engine stage 1 tuning?
Engine software upgrade or stage 1 tuning means replacing the default software of the engine control unit with new software, programmed to optimize the performance of the car.
What are the benefits of engine stage 1 tuning?
Is it possible to improve the engine’s performance without resorting to physical changes? If your answer is yes, it means that you are familiar with an engine software upgrade. If the answer is no, you will still find out all about this process.
Modern vehicles are equipped with ECU (electronic control unit) that have a wide range of responsibilities, controlling functions such as fuel injection, sensors, airflow and more. By overwriting this program with new software, you can customize the features and improve the car’s performance. In the following, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the engine software tuning, and how this process can affect the evolution of your car.
Why is it necessary to upgrade the engine’s software?
Nowadays, the power and performance of most cars are reduced, not necessarily by mechanical factors, but by the software that controls the engine computer. When your car has left the factory, chances are its performance has been reduced. It is a known fact that car manufacturers program the control units so that they do not reach maximum performance, a reason being that they have to comply with pollution regulation.
One of the reasons is the desire to meet the objectives and efficiency targets set at the beginning of the production process.
Lowering the performance allows manufacturers to launch a sportier model with a more efficient engine, by simply reprogramming the central control unit, to which small design changes can be added.
Another reason is that manufacturers want to sell cars all over the world, which means that the control unit settings must take into account all types of climate, laws/restrictions, but also the varied quality of fuels.
How does stage 1 engine tuning work?
The software upgrade process is simple: the new software is introduced in the OBD port of the car, and this overwrites the default version that improves engine performance.
Upgrading does not involve any physical intervention/modification on the engine, the whole process being realized by modifying only the software. That is why this process is called soft stage 1. So, only parameters such as turbo pressure, injection pressure and injection quantity are changed.
The software upgrade can dramatically improve engine power and torque, provide more responsive acceleration, no delays, and, in general, a nicer car to drive. Removing unnecessary engine restrictions can drastically improve the car’s performance, without the need for additional modifications.
Is it worth doing an engine software upgrade?
Many reasons can lead you to choose this. First of all, you will notice that the engine of your car will respond better when you press the gas pedal. The power and torque will also be visibly improved. Driving safety will also increase due to these improvements. Upgrading is the most efficient in the case of propulsion engines, whether they are on petrol or diesel.
It is important to keep in mind that not all cars can get a stage 1 tuning, the reason being usually old age. In general, cars produced before 2000 are too old to be for this to work.
How does stage 1 affect fuel consumption?
In many circles of car enthusiasts, the idea is that software upgrades do not affect fuel consumption. In reality, it is not true. Upgrading the software gives the car more power, which can come with more fuel consumption.
Many drivers tend to drive their cars more enthusiastically after the engine has been improved. They will accelerate more often and faster, to enjoy the difference in performance. All of these things can lead to increased consumption. Faster change of gears, high-speed driving, acceleration, and braking are factors that can increase consumption by up to 40%, after this tuning.
On the other hand, if, besides the electronic control unit, you choose to improve your driving style to suit the new features of the car, you can keep fuel consumption within the same limits. A happy combination between driving and a smooth and car-friendly driving style will be positively reflected in consumption.
The driving style following the software upgrade can also affect the engine’s reliability. As I said, this engine tuning will increase its power. If you drive more aggressively, you can expect a serious drop in the engine’s life. However, inappropriate driving will have the same effects even without this upgrade. The bottom line is that this engine tuning itself is not the one that affects the engine’s life, but rather the driving style.
Risks and disadvantages of engine stage 1 tuning
Even if you generally make improvements to your car, the software upgrade comes with several disadvantages. If you own a new car, it is most likely that this engine tuning will invalidate the warranty. Here it is up to you whether you choose to do the upgrade immediately after the warranty expires or you risk doing it before.
There is also the possibility of causing damage to the engine as a result of the upgrade. But you don’t have to worry too much, chances are extremely low. However, most of those who carry out these engine software upgrades give a lifetime warranty for the installed software.
After tuning, you might feel the car drive differently. Most drivers need a few trips to get used to the newly modified car, while other drivers may never drive it as comfortable as before.
Fortunately, this engine tuning is reversible. If you do not feel good about driving, you can return to the factory settings at any time. It is important to consider the maximum speed of your car because it is limited for a reason. If you try to overcome this speed limit, you will risk the car flying off the road. ?
The same applies to the braking system, tires, and suspensions. All of these are designed based on the power of the vehicle and may not cope with the extra horsepower.
The power increase that the engine will have at stage 1 tuning
- naturally-aspirated petrol engines, 5-10%
- turbo petrol engines, 15-25%
- naturally-aspired diesel engines, 10-15%
- turbo diesel engines, 20-35%
How much does engine stage 1 costs?
Overall, a software upgrade for a slight increase in engine performance costs between $200 and $400
Considerations before engine stage 1 software upgrade
Before deciding to upgrade the engine power, it is good to consider some aspects.
First of all, there is no point in upgrading the car if it is not in good condition. Therefore, we recommend you do a thorough check of the car before making the decision.
Another aspect that you should consider is your driver skills. It is good to be aware of your driving style, how it can be affected by the changes made to the car, but also vice versa, as well as how many “you can handle”, regarding the car’s performance.