REMAPS: Everything you need to know about remaps....
I have created this as a work in progress to hopefully act a a guide for those seeking remaps for their respective cars or assorted specifications.. Its a best first stab at capturing the main points and pitfalls and differences of the remap and tuning process and differing options out there.. It can be a minefield, and I hope this will in some way explain whats what. (as it is a work in progress, positive additions and comments will be welcomed and included into this guide)
REMAPS: Differences and Checks to make before them……..
Something to discuss here, as the topic raises itself frequently on the forums.
Custom Map vs Generics… which are best and why?
Common pitfalls and Issues Pre and Post remaps? Forewarned etc…
Firstly, some thing for Clarity.
What actually is a custom map?
There are many sellers of what they will refer to as “custom maps”. Many are neither custom, nor the actual map authors themselves... They are installers of someone else’s software map a lot of the time. A true custom map will be one tailored to the cars hardware, based on flashing or live emulating and logging/measuring output, and repeating this process iteration until the Tuner is satisfied with the optimisation of map is to the cars condition and specification and intended use. ( Done ideally on a dyno for safety in a controlled environment hooked up to external data loggers so measurable results are seen to gauge improvements although thorough road logging can achieve similar results to a lesser degree).
If you get a tuner who says he can do you a custom map, without the facilities to do so or tests what exactly is custom about it? Is he just installing a map from someone else he bought in and reselling it to you as custom.. How can it be custom without the code author being there, nor logs/dynos exchanged? Was it simply done on a laptop in a car park/driveway and told to be “custom” – Ask yourself how that’s possible?
If its as described above It’s very likely a generic map from somewhere and if not from a VAG tuner of decent reputation, inherently has high risks of being a % Tuner.. By % tuner I refer to the many who just add % increases across maps, and consider that actual tuning! You know who you are!
What is a Generic Map?
Well, for starters the original VW/Audi map is a generic one. It is very consistent and comes out of the factory in 100,000’s of cars… It’s a map to achieve a desired output (emissions driven these vs power target for that vehicle). After market remap from the big names in VW/Audi tuning, should be sound, as they know the brand and can build decent software maps which they will sell at different stages… with differing prices and some offering upgrade paths to ease the process of the car modding bug, or slippery slope as I call it. Be more wary of outfits which sell remaps for all vehicles of all makes.. Jack of all, master of none.. Brand Specialists have more experience of your VW/Audi.
Stage 1 Generic would suitable for a bog std car, or one with minimal modifications, and as such should be fine from the well know VAG tuners.. (not the % tuners)
What needs to be mentioned is the platform we’re talking about here, as 1.8t cars are 10+ years old now and have varied wear and tear and conditions. Thorough checks should be done on these cars, due to their age related gremlins. (vac leaks in the main). Would just installing a map onto one of these without checking be wise? Personally I think not. Thorough pre-checks and brand/car experience here can make a poorly performing car a good one even before a remaps applied.
Stage 2, 2+ etc Generic is where the Custom vs Generic debate begins to diverge in opinions from tuners. Those who sell only generic code will make the case for Generics obviously, as that’s what they offer.. They will sell them on the merits that its well developed, had many weeks of development time employed to refine the software to a stage 2 level. At this juncture I ask what is a stage 2 level of hardware modification.
This is a pertinent question as the generic stage 2 would have been done on a car with a level of hardware modifications… For example, a FMIC, free flowing induction, larger downpipe free flow cat and exhaust or decat. What size or make of FMIC was it? They are not all created equal are they.., same goes for downpipes, exhausts, cats, and induction kits.. and they will all have an effect on performance, be it positive or negative. How will a generic stage 2 accommodate the assorted upgrades that people fit?
If the stage 2 mods are to a prescribed list which replicate the test car the development was on, then you stand a good chance of it being ok, aside from any wear and tear differences. Listen to your tuner for their advised hardware mods to go with their Generic stage 2.
Common modifications which will cause issues to all generic maps will be those like Actuator upgrades & hybrid turbos. Generic maps will not control boost well where stiffer actuators are employed for example and will result in dangerous boost spikes and levels left unchecked. At times like this the Generic only providers may mention alternate boost control options as their suggested fix.. It is not a defacto required fix but probably the only one they are able to offer, as the generic map isn't something they can adjust, as they likely only install it, they don’t write it. Their only recourse to boost control is by external means…. Its not how it has to be, only what they are able to offer remember. N75 control can be told to do whatever you want of it. Boost spikes are entirely avoidable with suitable mapping methods.
Warning bells should be ringing at this point.. Is this a sales pitch for selling some additional hardware to accompany the fixed Generic software, then perhaps at this point you should consider a tailored, custom map. A Generic Stage 2 or above map, plus higher load actuator, plus external boost controller = more money.. Probably more money than a custom map by some degree too. EBCs are not cheap. Ask the right questions of the vendor in advance so your desired outcome can be achieved.
It is also the custom tune that allows you to remove emissions based components, of various deletes people do, instead of replacing them at huge costs, whilst still leaving safety based strategies still active within the ECU as the OEM intended albeit with adjusted values to suit the new custom hardware.
What about Hybrid turbos, Larger Framed turbos, larger injectors, larger MAF’s etc….
There is often only one solution and that is Custom map. Some will try and sell a Generic Stage 3 or 4 code, with a MAF size specification, a specific injector size specification, and no doubt advise boost control is done by other means… MBC, EBC etc.. Why this need for external boost control? Plain and simple is its not possible to create a single generic stage 3 code for the wide ranging setups folks have. It will be a compromise at best and no where near optimised. Custom remains the only practical answer.
Choose your tuner wisely, base it on them having experience of the car you have, and the modifications you desire. Listen to their advise and take what you read on the great “tinternet” with a huge pinch of salt. The web and the forums are a great resource for us all, but within this information are many armchair (keyboard) experts who have read it, and thereafter repost what they read as fact without any actual experience.
Pre-Remap Checks you can do to avoid Disappointment on the day.
1. Any known running faults must be fixed. Remaps do not fix an engine which has running issues before hand.
2. Look for leaks, especially under inlet manifolds associated with PCV breather system. Any of these pipes which look oily are oily because of a split close by more than likely. If you know of a local garage who have a smoke tester, get it checked.
3. Engine oil topped up, water levels topped up, tyres in good condition and at correct pressure and the engine in good overall service condition.
4. Make sure your choice of fuel is in the tank and you have half a tank or more. Tell your mapper the fuel grade you intend to run on. Stick to that fuel grade once mapped also. VPower 99 ftw!
5. Make sure vehicle ride height if lowered is compatible with the tuners dyno (where they have one). Ask in advance. Too low may result in not being able to run on the dyno.
6. Make sure wheels are fitted correctly, and if spacers are used they are correct for the vehicle and don’t create wheel wobble.
Post Remap issues which may Arise
1. Coil pack failure(s) If you get a misfire after remapping most frequent cause is a coil pack and weak spark. Peak boost/Torque and spark gets blown out. Ideally replace all 4 with New Coils.. If one is old and expired, they will all likely be weaker spark than they should be. Excessively worn and wide open gapped spark plugs will also cause this coil failure prematurely.
2. MAFs may be under reading un be known to you.. You may require a Fresh new Genuine Bosch MAF during the remap process. Airflows when logged will usually confirm health or not
3. Clutch slip can occur post remap if its near end of life before hand. If the clutch is at the top of the pedal on biting point, it may be at near end of life. A remap will increase torque and potentially clutch slip will then appear. Want more power and torque, expect worn out components to show themselves.