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Answering the tuning box vs remapping argument


When it comes to engine performance, the age-old argument of tuning boxes or ECU remapping rears its head. Tuners and the like have long discussed the best solution for improving engine performance, and many are still unsure what route to take. Luckily, we are answering the argument once and for all. Prepare to settle in…   

tuning boxes vs remapping bmw

How can I improve car performance?

Since the days of Pimp My Ride and Max Power magazine, petrol heads have been looking for ways to modify their cars. There are two basic routes you can take to improve the ECU - a petrol or diesel tuning box or ECU remapping. The tuning box is a device that changes the signal between the ECU and fuel injection system, allowing it to increase the injected fuel quantity and boost pressure, resulting in more torque and power. However, car remapping directly alters the ECU. While the former is a temporary improvement, the latter is permanent - many dealerships will see the car has been modified. For those with cars under warranty, you may want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both before going ahead.

Why choose tuning boxes over remapping?

Today, the number of cars on lease in the UK is at its highest, with the business sector growing to 1.343 million. The increase of 8,000 - a growth of 0.6% year on year - suggests a car tuning box is a more suitable option than remapping. If your car is under lease, remapping, if detected by the dealer or manufacturer could result in your lease being terminated. Here, we finally provide an answer to the tuning box vs remap debate…

DIY tuning

When it comes to a diesel or petrol tuning box, you can install it yourself. As long as you’ve got the box - from a trusted seller, no less - that’s all you need. While you can go to a professional to get the box fitted, the box should be supplied with good instructions for the DIY enthusiast. However, try and modify the ECU yourself, and you could end up causing more damage than good. In some cases, car remapping can cause irreparable damage to your engine - most definitely voiding your warranty.


Speaking of warranty, all new cars come with them. Most car warranties last for an average of three years, covering the whole vehicle. The overall objective of a warranty is to ensure the vehicle mechanicals (the likes of the engine, gearbox, electrical system etc.) work as they should for the amount of time you have the car. The engine is covered in the warranty, but remapping software works by reprogramming the ECU - controlling how the engine works. When your car is remapped, the engine map is overwritten to enhance torque and power. As the values in the map are re-written, undeniable evidence is left on the ECU that the car has been modified. Many manufacturers now have systems that can pick this up automatically on the dealer diagnostic tool and inform HQ, without the input of the dealership themselves. The manufacturer can see this information and subsequently, void your warranty.

With a tuning box, so long as it is removed before a dealer visit, there should be no trace that the unit was ever installed.

Some newer models don’t allow remapping

Most manufacturers encrypt their ECUs to stop people from altering the maps. This is similar to putting a password on the engine control unit. Until this is cracked, the ECU tables cannot be edited, and a remap is not possible. For this reason, depending upon your ECU, a remap may not be possible on your vehicle.  


As mentioned above, remapping the ECU is evident, and manufacturers can see that you have done so. On the other hand, a tuning box is, quite literally, a box fitted to the vehicle that changes the signal between ECU, fuel injection system and boost sensor(s). It can be removed once you change cars. Once the box is no longer there, the vehicle returns to standard and the manufacturer is none the wiser.

Petrol tuning boxes

Tuning chips are not only available for diesel vehicles, but petrol too. Modern turbo petrol engines are an ideal candidate for tuning, responding extremely well to the tech.

Ultimately, a tuning box is a temporary car modification while the remapping software will make notable changes to the ECU. For those that don’t own their car, have a vehicle under warranty or want something that is straightforward to install and remove, we suggest weighing up options before improving the power. You can also read more on our tuning box products and get in touch with our team today.