diesel remap

Introduction

Diesel tuning boxes or ‘black boxes’, as they are sometimes known, have been around since the mid nineties when diesel engines started using computerised electronic control units (ECUs) to precisely control fuel delivery. Tuning boxes are an alternative to a vehicle ECU remap and consist of a small electronic box which is either hard-wired or plugged into the vehicle’s fuel system circuitry.

Mechanical Throttle Linkage

Typical Mechanical Linkage

A simple test that can be performed on most vehicles, to check if a black box is a possible option, is to check for the presence of an electronic throttle. By depressing the accelerator pedal with the ignition off, while at the same time observing the engine bay for any movement of linkages or cables connected to the throttle body, it is possible to determine if the throttle control is mechanical or electronic. As a general rule, if there is any throttle body movement, the throttle is cable controlled. If not, then it’s likely the throttle is electronically controlled and therefore a tuning box can be fitted in most cases.

How a Diesel Tuning Box Works
Electronic Throttle Body

An Electronic Throttle Body

Unlike an ECU re-map, tuning boxes normally increase the engine’s fuel quantity only and in most instances do not increase the engine’s turbo boost pressure. However, due to the way the diesel engine works, each combustion usually takes place in the presence of excess oxygen, meaning that, under most engine speed and load conditions, there’s oxygen available to burn any extra fuel that may be introduced.

Diesel is a very difficult and slow fuel to burn and that’s why diesel engines tend to smoke excessively under hard and fast driving conditions. Adding more diesel into the cylinders does indeed create more power but there comes a point where the extra power also produces extra smoke, especially at high loads and higher engine speeds.

First and Second Generation Tuning Boxes

Van Aaken Smartbox There are many different makes and brands of Tuning Boxes available to fit most vehicles. Some of the first generation types are analogue and simply use a resistor to alter ECU signal voltages. The more expensive second generation boxes are normally digital and some even claim to be fully mappable (which can’t be true unless it monitors engine speed, fuel quantity and engine load).

Gerd Van Aaken at CRD Performance

Gerd Van Aaken at CRD Performance

The Pioneer of one of the first tuning boxes is Gerd Van Aaken, previously of Van Aaken Developments Limited, who is also the developer of the Smart Box, a second generation tuning box now marketed by Cybrand UK. Gerd’s expert advice and technical input has also been invaluable to us during development of our own third generation tuning box. Other popular brand names include The Original Tuning Box, Tunit, Chip Express, BHP Plus Speedhawk, DTUK CRD2 and CRD-T, Synergy, Spider, TDI Tuning, Racechip, TD Performance, to name but a few.

Tuning boxes are sometimes criticised because of how they work; most boxes fool the vehicle’s ECU into increasing diesel fuel rail pressure, with the exception of Steinbaur, whose tuning boxes electronically extend injector opening times, both allowing an increase in fuel quantity. These methods are not ideal since neither make adjustments in the same way a proper ECU re-map does, by taking reference from both engine speed and load.

At CRD Performance, Bolton, we can supply and fit any make and type of tuning box or, if a customer already has a tuning box, we’re more than happy to install that too. The cost of installation will largely depend on installation complexity and time, which in turn will depend on vehicle make, the type of tuning box, ease of installation and also whether or not a rolling road dyno setup is required.

Third Generation Tuning Box

Probably the most advanced third generation diesel tuning box available is The Select-A-Map; this common rail diesel control unit has been developed in-house for CRD Technology, of which Eddie Zyla is the Technical Director and a major shareholder. The main difference between the Select-A-Map unit and previous generation tuning boxes is the way in which it controls the diesel by creating a 3D map, using engine speed and load, replicating a proper ECU re-map.

BMW 5 Series GT F07 530d - Select-A-Map Installation BMW 5 Series GT F07 530d
The Select-A-Map installed on a BMW 5 Series GT F07 330d, with its proud owner (right).

The vehicle pictured utilises the later N57 engine, which can also be found in the BMW 3 Series E90/E91/E92/E93 325d/330d/330xd, the BMW 5 Series F10/F11 530d, the BMW X5 E70 xDrive30d, the BMW X6 E71 xDrive30d, the BMW X3 F25 X3 xDrive30d, the BMW 7 Series F01 740d/740d xDrive, the BMW M550d xDrive and numerous other vehicles. For many vehicles such these, the Select-A-Map presents a good alternative to a remap, especially for vehicles where a remap is impractical or problematic.

Technical Information

For those of you who are technically minded and would like to know more about how the system works, click the link below to either view or download the full operater manual of the Diesel Control ECU.

Diesel Control ECU – Operator Manual

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View Manual Online
(Opens in a new window)
Download Manual
(PDF format – 1,950 KB)

Select-A-Map Retail Brochure
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View Brochure Online
(Opens in a new window)
Download Brochure
(PDF format – 1,562 KB)
Printer-friendly version
(PDF format – 923 KB)

There are many discussions on internet forums centred on what’s best; an ECU re-map or a diesel tuning box. As a supplier of both tuning boxes and ECU remaps, we have little to gain by arguing for or against either technology, preferring instead that the customer makes an informed decision that best suits his/her application and budget.

A good explanation and source of information on the pros and cons of both remaps and tuning boxes can be found on the website of our sister company, CRD Technology Ltd (see link below), information which can be further supplemented by searching the internet. Additionally, customers are welcome to contact us to discuss the options available.

CRD Technology Link: Diesel Engine Remap or Diesel Tuning Box?

Price Guide

First generation tuning box (from) £85.00 +VAT

Second generation tuning box (from) £295.00 +VAT

Fitting cost between 1 & 2 hours (approx) £70.00 – £140.00 +VAT

Select-A-Map (from) £499.00 +VAT

Rolling Road Dyno Charge (from) £40.00 +VAT

Removing a Blocked Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

Removing Common Rail Diesel DPFs can be a labour intensive job as some particulate filters are part of the catalyst and therefore part of the exhaust manifold or front pipe assembly. These are often fitted as close to the engine as possible to help maintain a high temperature and to assist fast warm up. V6 and V8 engined vehicles may have two DPFs and are often even more difficult to work on due to obstructions like steering racks, sub frames and turbochargers etc., restricting access to exhaust manifold nuts or bolts. Older vehicles can present even more problems due to corrosion or seizure, in some extreme cases making it necessary for the garage to use oxy-acetylene burning equipment to remove the DPF.

DPF Core Removal – Before

DPF Core Removal – Before

DPF Core Removal - After

DPF Core Removal – After

After removing the DPF it will be necessary to either fabricate or purchase a replacement by-pass pipe ensuring that any exhaust pressure and temperature sensor take-off points are retained.

DPF - Core removed

Eyeing-up the job – Refitting

Where possible, CRD Performance will remove the DPF assembly, empty its contents and seam weld it back together so that it still appears fully intact.

With the DPF now removed the engine management system still monitors its DPF pressure and temperature sensors to check they are present and working.

Without this, the ECU will detect an error, switch on the engine management light and enter ‘limp’ mode, rendering the vehicle almost undriveable.

Software Upgrade (aka DPF Deletion)

If the Diesel Particulate Filter is physically removed from the exhaust system and the ECU not remapped to accept the changes, then sooner or later the engine management system will go into ‘limp’ mode, or LOS (Limited Operating Strategy). When in limp mode the vehicle may have restricted power and, if fitted with an automatic transmission, it may even lock into top gear to limit acceleration.

While monitoring ‘pre’, and on some vehicles ‘post’, DPF differential pressures, the vehicles’ management system monitors the current state of the DPFs and detects if one or more are present. Software DPF removal involves reprogramming the vehicle’s ECU to ignore any abnormally high or low readings from either the pre or post DPF differential pressure sensors. As previously mentioned, it is still necessary for all DPF pressure sensors to be present and working. Software changes can only be made to open up pressure monitoring parameters, preventing regeneration, not to ignore the sensors altogether.

Software Power Upgrades

Some customers, while having their ECUs re-programmed to delete the DPF, take the opportunity to have their engine re-mapped for additional power, better driveability and better fuel economy. CRD Performance use several engine remapping companies for this purpose, who offer a discount if both programmes are carried out at the same time at our workshop in Bolton.

DPF Emulators

On some vehicles, software DPF deletion is not possible; this is especially true for some Japanese and Asian vehicles. CRD Performance now have available a full range of emulators which are programmed specifically for each vehicle make and model. Installing these does not involve interfering with the vehicle’s ECU since the emulator is instead wired into several of the engine sensors. These units work by fooling the cars ECU into believing that the DPF is still present and maintained in a clean condition, therefore not requiring any regenerating, even though it has in fact been removed.

Beware of cheap DPF Removals

We frequently have vehicles brought to us in Bolton to correct a previous attempt to remove a DPF that has gone horribly wrong. Often the vehicles are in an undriveable condition, stuck in ‘limp’ mode, with the engine management light on, yet no fault codes present.
Be very aware of cheap quotes – you have been warned! “Cheap today, dear tomorrow”.

CRD Performance is the North West’s leading DPF removal specialist, providing DPF removal services for all Lancashire and Greater Manchester districts, including Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Blackpool, Bolton, Stockport, Preston, Blackburn, Oldham, St Helens, Chester, Rochdale, Southport, Birkenhead, Wigan, Burnley, Salford, Crewe, Wythenshawe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Bury, Bootle, Wallasey, Huyton, Widnes, Sale, Macclesfield, Lancaster, Middleton, Stretford, Ashton-under-Lyne, Leigh, Swinton, Urmston, Walkden, Altrincham, Leyland, Skelmersdale, Eccles, Accrington, Darwen, Denton, Radcliffe, Tyldesley, Chorley, Chadderton, Prestwich, Hyde, Wilmslow, Winsford, Reddish, Northwich, Nelson, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Heywood, Fleetwood, Kendal, Whitehaven, Farnworth, South Turton, Workington, Formby, Saddleworth, Marple, Hindley, Ormskirk, Whitefield, Droylsden, Golborne, Westhoughton, Congleton, Stalybridge, Clitheroe, Rawtenstall, Penwortham, Royton, Failsworth, Colne, Little Lever, Little Hulton, Great Lever, Kearsley, Horwich and Worsley.

Evolution Chips

Evolution Chips – Authorised Dealer

CRD Performance Bolton are privileged dealers for Evolution Chips and are fully equipped with the latest New Genius serial OBD Dealer handset and new BDM Trasdata  ECU reading and writing interface.

Evolution Chips are without doubt one of the leaders (if not the leaders) in petrol and diesel engine remapping; don’t take our word for it, just ‘Google’ them. Not only do they offer performance remapping for all types of engines including direct injection petrol GDI and FSI but for diesel DPF and EGR removal also.

Evolution Chips remaps are expertly developed and optimised individually for each vehicle. As an Evolution Chips dealer, we are provided with these maps, in the form of a data file, which we use to reprogram the vehicle’s ECU, usually in one of two ways; Genius or Trasdata.

The Evolution Genius

One of our Geniuses at work

Evolution via Genius

The car’s engine control unit (ECU) can sometimes be programmed through the on board diagnostic (OBD) socket which is usually located near to the driver’s seat. For this we use the Genius.

The Genius is a hand-held, stand-alone unit that allows the remap to be transferred to the vehicle’s ECU via the OBD socket without the need to remove the ECU or gain access to it.

Evolution via Trasdata

Trasdata

Trasdata System

On some vehicles it is necessary to remove the ECU and to programme it on the bench using Trasdata. This is a very expensive piece of kit that most dealers haven’t invested in. The Trasdata interface reads and writes data directly off of the main processor rather than through the OBD. This method is often referred to as BDM – Back Door Mode.

While looking for a software re-mapping and DPF deletion company to partner with, CRD Performance spoke to and checked out many who claimed to be either the best or even cheapest. We soon decided to contact Evolution Chips and after lengthy technical discussions with both the owners, Kenny and Stuart, realised that they clearly know what they’re doing and were from a motorsport background.

Scan Tool

Scan Tool

Scan Tool

When customers bring a vehicle to us for re-mapping we normally carry out a road test and fault code read using a scan tool, any relevant concerns will be brought to the customer’s attention. The original file is then read and E-mailed to Evolution Chips who then use some of the vehicles identity and security data to create a modified file from their vehicle database and return it to us. The modified file is then installed and the vehicle road tested, a copy of the original file is retained by us and for additional security a copy held in the archives at Evolution Chips.

 

DPF Removal & Deletion

As diesel specialists, we frequently have vehicles brought to us for DPF rectification that are still within their manufacturer’s warranty period, often because the Main Dealer has refused to rectify the fault under warranty, blaming the owner’s driving style or vehicle usage. As well as fixing many DPF problems we are often asked to remove the diesel particulate filter completely from the exhaust system and to carry out any re-programming of the vehicles computer that this procedure requires.

DPF Core Removal

DPF Core Removal

DPF Core Removal

DPF Core Removal

More DPF removal information and a price guide can found in our DPF section:
Click here to go to the DPF section

 

To find out if your vehicle can be Evolution Chipped click on the link below.

Evolution Chips – Vehicle Search & Prices


 

Recommended Reading:

The hidden dangers of diesel tuning and remapping:
A few things to consider before purchasing a remap.

The cheap remapping file fitters normally install files with no immobiliser software and no factory bug fixes so at best you get a car with more power and a lot of bugs, or at worst one with an immobilised ECU that nobody can access or even one that does run but a thief can take from you in under 10 seconds. (We are not suggesting they tell thieves the address and registration of the car’s this was done to of course…)

 

Click here to read the entire article.

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