What is tuning an engine and how is it done? (updated 2022)

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Tuning an engine

The power output of modern automobile engines is generally about average when they leave the factory.

Engine tuning is a sensible measure to take for those who want a car that is both more fuel efficient and more powerful. There is a wide range of options available here.

Tuning an engine

The calibration allows manufacturers to find a happy medium between performance and service life, requiring as little maintenance as possible.

In addition to this, engineers are required to take into account every conceivable climate scenario.

However, because temperatures as low as Siberia or as high as the Sahara are highly uncommon in Europe, many factory settings are pointless and waste energy that can be put back into the vehicle with the assistance of a trained professional.

Various methods for tuning an engine

The term “tuning” does not refer solely to applying mechanical adjustments to the engine.

Even though everything started with the retrofitting of turbochargers, compressors, and nitrous oxide injectors, technological advancement created new possibilities for increasing a car’s performance. These new possibilities include:

In modern parlance, “engine tuning” almost always refers to adjusting the engine’s electronic control system.

The car’s performance can be significantly improved in the quickest, most painless, and least expensive way possible by doing.

However, motorists who want to tune their vehicles still have access to many other tuning options.

The following categories are currently available:

1. Chiptuning

2. Engine tuning via remodels

3. Tuning through the use of various parts of the body


“Chip tuning” generally refers to two distinct methods to improve an engine’s performance.

Chiptuning refers to the addition of a new control device and the process of supposedly “optimizing the characteristic diagram.” Both of these processes are included in the definition of the chip tuning.

Both the amount of work involved and the cost are significantly different.

An additional control device can be assembled in a matter of minutes for a fee that ranges from approximately three hundred dollars up to that amount.

The assembly process takes a few minutes. Characteristic diagram optimization is a process that can only be carried out in a specialized workshop by trained professionals.

It will cost you approximately 600$ and will take several hours to complete. The price will increase from there.

Tuning an engine

Be on the lookout for supplementary control devices

There is a significant amount of demand for additional control devices on the market. However, one should pay careful attention to the brand’s quality.

There are a lot of manufacturers located in other countries who guarantee incredibly high levels of performance at very reasonable prices.

On the other hand, the construction of these low-cost control units is always fraught with a significant degree of danger.

The power development that results from applying these solutions is frequently excessive and inaccurate.

In addition, a complete motor breakdown is typically just a matter of time for the control units found on online auction websites.

Products with a name brand can be purchased for a price starting at 300 dollars and going up from there.

They are consistently provided with a general operating permit upon delivery. On the other hand, it is required that this power increase be reported to the MOT.

The insurance company must also be informed of the modification, which is a requirement. In that case, it has the right to refuse the benefit entirely or partly in the event of damage.

Installation of supplementary command and control units

The structure of a control device can be completed with little effort.

They are connected to the motor wiring harness with the cables and plugs provided, and that is all that is required of them to complete the connection.

The immediate availability of improved performance is guaranteed. First and foremost, one of the most appealing aspects of these control devices for enthusiasts of tuning is how easy it is to install.

The Optimization of the Characteristic Diagram Carried Out in a Trained Workplace

Optimizing the characteristic diagram makes things much easier for the user, but it comes at a high financial cost.

In this step, the control system already in place is reprogrammed to function at its highest possible level.

The cost of labor and expertise is factored into the pricing of specialized workshops. If you choose to use this method of chip tuning, you should prepare to spend approximately 600$.

The result is in no way unsatisfactory at all. It is possible to achieve a power increase of 30 to 35 horsepower.

This additional power can be put to use for driving that is more athletic. However, while keeping the same driving style, there is a noticeable decrease in fuel consumed.

Another advantage is that specialized workshops frequently take care of the tedious paperwork, which is a significant time saver.

Most suppliers in this class include a notation in the vehicle documents as part of their service.

Does the combination improve performance even further?

There is, of course, the temptation to use a combination of both electronic tuning measures to extract even more power from the engine.

However, before taking this step, you must ensure you have ample opportunity to receive comprehensive advice.

An engine can’t continue to gain power indefinitely. In addition, the rest of the car is customized at the factory to perform as it did when it was first manufactured.

If the optimization of the characteristic diagram has already increased 30 horsepower, the brakes and chassis may need to be adjusted for another power increase to achieve the desired result.

To get straight to the point:

Classic engine tuning: To function correctly, an engine requires the following three things: air, fuel, and an ignition source.

Because it contains oxygen, breathing air is essential to life. This causes the flame to consume the fuel in the combustion chamber.

The combustion chamber is considered to be in better condition when there is a greater volume of air present. In the past, an additional turbocharger or compressors would be mounted on the vehicle.

This is no longer possible in such a straightforward fashion with modern engines: The use of a sports air filter is the only method available for enhancing the quality of the air supplied to the engine.

Because of this, the total surface area is significantly increased. As a result, more air enters the combustion chamber, which may increase power.

More performance is not the be-all and end-all

A car’s performance can be improved in several ways besides adding more horsepower to the engine.

Weight and aerodynamics are two additional aspects that affect the vehicle’s maneuverability and the fuel it uses. Both of these aspects are just as significant as the engine’s performance.

The lighter the vehicle, the less mass it needs to move to move it. In this case, saving even one kilogram already results in a reduction in fuel consumption and an increase in agility.

Some options can save you weight, but they are typically quite pricey: Using CFRP in a vehicle’s hood, fenders, or even doors and tailgates can cut the vehicle’s weight by up to forty percent.

However, due to the labor-intensive nature of their production, these components come at a premium price.

The interior provides additional opportunities to cut out excess weight where it is unnecessary. A weight reduction of more than one hundred and five kilograms can be accomplished by removing the rear seats, replacing the front seats with a lightweight sports model, and switching out the spare tire for a repair kit.

However, having an empty interior has the following unwelcome consequences: It generates a significant amount of sound.

One method that is still effective despite its apparent antiquity is the use of body tuning. Even the traditional method of lowering the suspension can help reduce air resistance.

There is a noticeable change in how a vehicle drives after having front, rear, and side spoilers installed to enhance road holding and lower air resistance.

However, these procedures must also be documented; failing to do so may result in additional fees at the subsequent vehicle inspection.

Is it tuning an engine to be more environmentally friendly or to increase its power?

Others want to decrease their fuel needs, while others want to increase their power output. The tuning measures discussed earlier are adequate for accomplishing either of these aims.

However, under the label “green tuning,” one can also find various nonsensical options.

To begin with: No accessories, super oils, or fuel additives available can reduce the amount of fuel used.

Therefore, you should not put your faith in the various magnets, tank pads, additives, and other miraculous cures on the internet.

The best opportunities for eco-driving optimization can still be found through moderate engine tuning, fuel-efficient driving style, and weight reduction.

The requirements that are placed on vehicle engines have evolved. The “emissions” factor is now more critical than ever, in contrast to just a few short years ago when all engine development goals were to achieve maximum performance while maintaining the lowest possible weight.

This places a significant restriction on tuning. The higher the power demand on an engine, the higher the combustion temperature.

On the other hand, more heat in the combustion process produces a greater quantity of nitric oxide.

Because of this, excessive tuning can almost immediately result in a ban on driving in that area.

Additionally, hot exhaust gases are not ideal for the gas cleaning process. Damage will be done to the catalytic converter, particularly to the thin layer of platinum covering its surface.

Therefore, tuning an engine can be beneficial, but the process should never go beyond what is considered safe or reasonable. You will have the most fun this way, and in the long run, you will save money.

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