a camping trip of ridiculous proportions

Why No Diesel Performance Chip

last updated 30/01/2017

Diesel Performance chips are electronic devices that intercept and modify engine management signals to increase the power output of an engine. Some companies may call it a chip or a module or piggyback ECU or tuning box or something else, claiming theirs is superior. Some companies can re-program the factory engine management without needing to add any extra electronic hardware.

Whatever they’re called and whatever method is used, they all do the same thing – dump more fuel into the engine to generate more power. This article refers to “diesel performance chips” to cover all types and methods.

I don’t have a diesel chip on my Hilux because chips increase wear and reduce life. This article explains why.

Design Compromises

A universal feature of design is that you can’t get something for nothing. There’s no free lunch. Any design is a compromise. Change one variable to make something better and you invariably make something else worse. For an engine fuel map design, some of the compromises would be between performance, fuel efficiency, engine / drivetrain life and emissions. Vehicle manufacturers pick a balance between these parameters that they believe provides the best overall enjoyment / value to the customer for the life of the vehicle.

To increase power via a diesel performance chip requires the other parameters to be compromised. It is not a case that manufacturers aren’t skilled enough to design an engine fuel mapping with more power. They have more resources and better knowledge of the engine than any third party accessory vendor would. We know that one parameter can be made better only through sacrificing others. How much is engine life and drivetrain life compromised when a third party performance chip is installed in an engine? It’s very difficult to say. How can it be proven that an engine that lasted 300,000km with a performance chip would have lasted 500,000km without? It’s pretty difficult to do. All we know is that there is a trade-off involved in increasing engine power and the original manufacturers are not willing to tolerate it.

Maintaining Component Load Within Manufacturer’s Specification

What about the claim that diesel performance chips maintain all engine components within limits of manufacturer’s specification? Wear and tear is not a step function that suddenly kicks in when a limit is exceeded. More stress, whether it’s mechanical or thermal, means more wear, regardless of specification. Wear and tear is a continuous curve – a specification simply picks a point on the curve that the manufacturer calculates will provide a certain probability of failure over the life of the equipment. So more power means more stress and more stress means higher risk of failure, regardless of specified limits.

Whether an engine is purposely de-tuned by the manufacturer, and the reasons for the de-tuning, be it emissions, noise, regulations, catering for varying fuel quality, catering for varying driver habits, allowing for poor servicing schedules, allowing for higher powered engines in premium models, etc, are irrelevant. There is only one way to move on the failure curve when power is increased, and that’s up. This holds true for any starting point.

Some may claim diesel performance chips develop power in a way that does not hurt the engine. It’s not possible. If you trace back the origin of a power increase, it comes down to more torque at the driveshaft, which can only be obtained through more heat, more pressure and more force, which is more stress. The diesel performance chip puts more fuel into the engine and you get more power. Then the only way to get that extra power to the wheels is by transferring it through the rest of the drivetrain, increasing stress on your clutch, gearbox, shafts, joints, differential, etc. For a general article on how failure works and its relationship with load, click here.

Breaking Limits

Separate to the manufacturer’s specification, is there some other fundamental limit that a component is safe to operate under? A common misconception is that components have a breaking limit. A fundamental rating which should not be exceeded. Keeping below the limit ensures safety for the component. Actually there is no such limit. Probability of failure is a continuous curve. There is no fundamental limit, but the chances of failure increase as stress is increased. Understanding that probability of failure manifests as a smooth, continuous curve is critical in understanding why more power means higher risk of failure, regardless of any other conditions. There is no safe limit, all components will fail eventually, the higher the stress the sooner they will fail.

An Example: Diesel Generators

Consider diesel generators. Large generators worth hundreds of thousands of dollars come with several ratings depending on the duty they are being utilized for. The standard ratings are:

  • continuous
  • prime
  • standby

The exact same engine gets three different power ratings. Continuous is for when running all the time at full load and attracts the lowest power rating. Prime is for when running all the time but at varying loads, where full load is permitted only for restricted periods, and attracts an intermediate power rating. Standby is to supply backup power for limited durations and permits the highest power rating.

So, for a standby genset, the rating is increased and the generator is configured to deliver more power because the application is for short durations only – you can get away with a smaller generator than you otherwise would for continuous applications, even with the same load. The manufacturer is picking points on failure probability distributions for various loads and time periods so that overall the generator will be adequately reliable. Run a generator at its standby rating for continuous periods of time? Then your warranty is void and you’ll likely suffer premature failure. I guess the generator manufacturer is doing their own in house version of “chipping”, developing more power from the same engine, but it wears the engine out faster. Mechanically the engine is not changed, but the rating does change. Remember this is for an off the shelf genset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, where the manufacturer has a huge development budget, perfect understanding of their hardware and plenty of development time to tune and optimise their products.

So, for a generator worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the manufacturer doesn’t have the technology or capability to increase power without increasing failure rate. Why can’t they increase power in a way that doesn’t add stress to the engine, in the same way that some chip vendors suggest a chip works? It’s not possible. More power = more stress = increased risk of failure. There is no way to circumvent this. Increasing power in a genset from its continuous to its standby rating is the same as putting a chip in a vehicle’s engine. More fuel is dumped in, more power is developed, failure rate increases.

What if the increase in power yielded only an extremely small, insignificant increase in failure rate? Then genset manufacturer’s would always provide the standby rating. But they don’t. The difference in failure rate is significant enough for the different ratings to exist.

Lower RPM?

Some argue that a diesel performance chip allows lower rpm and thus offsets any additional engine wear caused by the chip. Almost all the time, with a chip installed, you’ll be doing the same rpm as without the chip installed. Some of the time with the chip you’d be doing higher rpm as you accelerate faster / drive up a hill faster / drive up the sand dune faster / overtake aggressively at high speed instead of waiting.

For a tiny fraction of the total operating time, having a chip may allow you to avoid changing back a gear. The chip allows more fuel to be dumped at lower rpm so that you can develop the power you need without the higher rpm necessary if the chip wasn’t installed. In either case the engine is generating roughly the same power but at different rpm. To develop the same power at lower rpm means more stress per power stroke. It means the engine is exceeding its designed torque rating. The reduced wear made available through reduced rpm is offset by increased torque and more stress per power stroke. In fact you could argue that in this case, higher rpm yields less wear, because the same power is spread across more power strokes and the engine torque is kept within design limits. Concentrating power usually increases wear in a non-linear fashion. However the dynamics of an engine generating power at various rpm are complicated – it’s a fight between increased combustion stresses vs reduced friction and acceleration stresses. A safe conclusion is that, since the operating time of such a situation is so minuscule relative to total operating time, and the overall energy delivered is the same in each case, it doesn’t make much difference. So for the same power (at varying rpm) a diesel performance chip will not significantly change overall wear and tear. But tap into any additional power, then wear and tear will be increased. So the net result is that a chip increases stress and therefore wear and tear and so reduces the life of components.

How Much Will Component Life Be Reduced?

How much does wear and tear increase when a diesel performance chip is fitted? It’s hard to say, but we can make some guesses. In terms of mean time between failure, mechanical components with metal sliding or rolling against metal often have a cubic relationship with load. So if your chip delivers 35% more power, then mean time between failure is reduced by a factor of 1.35^3 = 2.5. So, on average, components will fail around two-and-a-half times as often. The life is less than half standard. This is independent of initial conditions. It does not matter if the engine was originally de-tuned, and the reasons for the tuning. It does not matter if certain stress or temperature limits are not exceeded. It does not matter if the chip maintains exhaust gas temperatures and coolant temperatures below certain values. It even does not matter if you treat the engine like a princess, service the engine every week, use the best most expensive oil and tenderly rub the car down every night. Any 35% increase in power, from any starting point, under any conditions, will reduce mean time between failure by a factor of 2.5. This is the nature of how failure manifests. It’s physics. Failure is a continuous curve.

In reality you won’t always be using the extra power, so mean time between failure will be affected to a lesser extent. Lets say you use 35% extra power for 10% of the time, 15% extra power for 20% of the time, and no extra power for 70% of the time. Taking a weighted linear combination to approximate the change in mean time between failure, you get 1.35^3*0.1 + 1.15^3*0.2 + 1^3*0.7 = 1.25. So component life will on average be 25% less. You’ve lost a quarter of the life.

This calculation is very rough. I’m not trying to give an exact figure. The point I am making is:

A significant increase in power must result in a significant increase in failure rate

To increase power without significantly increasing failure rate is the equivalent of saying:

I’m going to significantly increase speed without significantly increasing wind resistance

The relationship between speed and wind resistance is fixed. Wind resistance is proportional to speed squared. There is no alternative. There is no range of speeds where wind resistance remains relatively constant. The relationship is the same all the time. The same applies to power vs failure rate.

You can’t get a significant increase in power without simultaneously increasing failure rate by a significant amount. You can’t use that extra power for a significant period of time without simultaneously increasing failure rate by a significant amount. If you want to increase power without significantly increasing failure rate, then you need to restrict the increase in power to be practically imperceivable, or restrict the time that you use the extra power to be almost never.

Circumventing Restrictive Emission Systems?

Chips dump more fuel into the engine. Dumping more fuel means a bigger bang and more stress. Yes the original manufacturer may restrict fuel injection quantity for emission reasons but that is irrelevant. If you dump more fuel you increase stress which increases failure rate. This is true for any starting point, independent of initial conditions, independent of the reasons behind those initial conditions.

Do chips circumvent some other restrictive emission system, like EGR valve, catalytic converter or diesel particulate filter, that frees up some hidden capacity in the engine? Two answers. Firstly, no, chips have absolutely no interface to these devices and cannot physically affect them. Secondly, if they did, why are you giving me acid rain, smog and cancer just for your selfish desire to have more power?

Part of the reason fuel quantity is restricted is to minimize the production of soot. Dumping more fuel will generate more soot. The extra soot is another way the engine wears out faster, in addition to the extra wear caused by increased combustion temperatures and pressure. With extra soot you can also expect your EGR valve, catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter to clog up faster than usual and require extra maintenance.

Check out this article for a discussion on emission systems

More Sophisticated Chips?

What about your top of the line super expensive chip that employs multi-point fuel adjustment, fuel mapping adjustment based on throttle position, boost adjustment, timing adjustment and exhaust gas temperature compensation? Unfortunately these chips can’t escape the laws of physics. More power means more stress and more stress means increased risk of failure. Different brands will use extravagant wording like “sophisticated mapping techniques,” “extensive research and development” and “optimized injection timing” etc but they are not special. Fancy chips simply dump more fuel into the motor, same as cheap chips. They just have more flexibility in the fuel mapping and have a few different ways of adding the extra fuel (and air). Fancy chips may also employ techniques to reduce the risk of limp mode, fault codes and engine check light. This is by adjusting inputs to the engine management system so it does not flag some sort of parameter correlation fault. It does not change how the chip develops more power nor does it change the affect on failure rate.

Whether a chip adds more fuel by increasing fuel rail pressure or whether it increases boost or whether it increases injector pulse time, it’s not really relevant. Each vendor will say their method is the best. Any method increases failure rate.

An expensive chip will probably reduce the risk of very large increases in failure rate if you are going for large power gains. For example the fancy chip may reduce how much extra fuel it adds when coolant temperature or exhaust gas temperature get dangerously high, or know to limit fuel addition at certain boost and rpm values where overfueling could be an issue. A cheap chip might keep adding more fuel until the engine suddenly fails.

What about piggy back ECUs or ECU remaps? Vendors will tell you these are far superior because they can manipulate many more parameters. The ECU uses many parameters to determine how much fuel to dump into the engine. Various look up tables, torque limits, air flow sensors, emission limits, oxygen sensors, temperature sensors and many more. When the factory system determines that more power is permitted and required it raises the rail pressure and / or extends the injector pulse width to get more fuel into the engine. Whether you go to the trouble of manipulating those variables to determine how much extra fuel to dump, or bypass all that and simply increase rail pressure and / or pulse width, doesn’t really matter. The end result is the same provided you’re dumping similar amounts of fuel and generating similar amounts of power. Engine wear is determined by how much work the engine does.


Some vendors, particularly those selling piggy back ECUs, will have you think that “tuning” is some sort of sophisticated optimisation process. It is implied that efficiency is improved through the tuning process. Actually tuning involves finding out exactly how much extra fuel can be dumped into the engine under various conditions. So if you want to really push the limits on what your engine is capable of then tuning is helpful. This doesn’t change how the extra power relates to failure rate. Using fancy programmable chips and tuning them on a dyno does not circumvent the laws of physics.

If you are after modest gains then any old chip from a reputable supplier will do. Plug it in, use it at a low setting and you should get acceptable results. If you want to push the limits then get a more fancy chip or piggy back ECU and tune it on a dyno. In either case you’ll suffer from increased failure rate. The higher the increase in power, the higher the increase in failure rate. Tuning at higher power gains will prevent high risk problems like over-fueling.

Is Your Engine Purposely De-Tuned?

To market their products, some chip vendors suggest your engine is de-tuned from the factory. De-tuned with respect to what?

There is no inherent or correct tuning level for an engine. No tune is more valid than any other tune. Any particular tune is simply picking a point on a continuous curve. No point on that curve is more special than any other point. Any tune is de-tuned with respect to a level of tuning higher up the curve. Similarly, any tune is over-tuned with respect to a level of tuning lower on the curve. It’s all relative. This means every tune is simultaneously de-tuned, over-tuned and perfectly tuned, depending on your reference. The chip vendor will label the factory tuning level as de-tuned to justify adding a chip. It’s irrelevant. If you crank up the power then you must increase failure rate. The starting point, and the reasons for it, are irrelevant.

Why Are Diesels So Easy To Chip?

Unlike petrol, diesel engines can run very lean (excess air). In fact, with modern diesel engines, they almost always run very lean. This encourages more complete combustion, improved fuel efficiency and less soot production. Running excess air means it’s a piece of cake to make more power – simply dump more fuel.

Although petrol engines are tuned to run as lean as possible to maximise engine efficiency, they cannot run as lean as diesel engines. They run close to stoichiometric ratio of 14.7:1. Running lean on petrol causes inconsistent burns (leading to engine knock or pinging) and excessively high combustion temperatures. So there is little to no excess air in a petrol engine. You can’t simply dump more fuel. You need to get more air in the engine too. This makes getting more power out of a petrol engine much more complicated compared to diesel.

If You Do Have A Failure

So if you have a mechanical failure with a chip installed, was it caused by the chip, and if so can you claim warranty? People will find reasons like “bad fuel” or “bad driving style” or “abused car” or “towed a heavy caravan” or “crappy design.” All those reasons might be valid, and could contribute to a failure. That doesn’t mean the chip didn’t contribute. As soon as the chip is installed it’s contributing to additional wear and tear and potentially contributing to an eventual failure. That extra wear and tear accumulates over time. People often relate a failure to a recent event or what the car was doing at the time. Actually failures develop over long periods with many contributing factors. Almost certainly a chip would contribute to a failure, because it is stressing out components more.

Your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty will be void, no question. And rightly so. You’ve overloaded the engine and science tells us this modification would certainly contribute to the failure. No investigation is necessary. Vehicle manufacturer’s warranty is void. It’s very easy for the manufacturer to legally void their warranty with this sort of modification and I 100% support them in this case. If you sold buckets rated at 20kg and someone put 30kg in the bucket and broke the handle would you provide warranty?

What about the chip manufacturer’s warranty? Some warrant their product against damaging your engine. However it’s very difficult to prove the chip was the main culprit. Normal wear and tear would have contributed. A defect in the vehicle could have contributed. I am yet to hear of a chip manufacturer footing the bill for an engine failure, despite many engines going bang. You would need to employ an engineer that specializes in engine failures to investigate the cause of the failure and produce a report that you can take to court. This could cost thousands of dollars and consume a lot of your time.

Essentially, if you get a diesel performance chip, you’re on your own. Use at your own risk. The vehicle manufacturer is freed of any responsibility because you’ve overloaded the engine and it’s difficult to pursue the chip manufacturer.

Will a Chip Save Fuel?

This is something that particularly annoys me – the dishonest marketing of chip vendors claiming that chips improve fuel economy. Some throw around ridiculous figures like 30% improvement. Where the hell is 30% of the fuel injected into the stock engine going?

I feel for people who buy a chip to save fuel. How can a device that dumps more fuel into an engine save fuel? Chips increase fuel consumption. This is true for practically all scenarios. Chips do not improve combustion efficiency, they dump more fuel into the engine.

Do not buy a chip if you want to save fuel.

With a chip you drive faster. This means without a chip you drive slower. Driving slower means:

  • lower RPM
  • less mechanical friction
  • less wheel friction
  • less wind resistance
  • less energy wasted accelerating towards conditions where you need to slow down

Every point above saves you fuel. This is without a chip.

Any device that claims “more complete burn” you can instantly dismiss as having any fuel saving ability. There simply isn’t any margin to exploit on a modern engine in terms of more complete combustion (for more details search the net for info debunking fuel saving devices). Fuel efficiency is mainly governed by the mechanical arrangement of the engine / vehicle and the laws of thermodynamics. A chip does not alter any of those. Some people report a small increase in fuel consumption when a chip is fitted. Some people report a minor improvement. Some report not much change. The small variation in fuel consumption is less than the accuracy of the test, given all the uncontrolled variables when testing fuel efficiency.

Many people who report a fuel saving would experience psychological effects such as selective perception and confirmation bias. Many people who report a fuel saving are looking at the trip computer rather than actually measuring fuel use. When a chip is installed, a trip computer will always report better than actual fuel usage, as the chip is injecting more fuel than that calculated by the trip computer. Some people are so addicted to spending money on gizmos that they are desperate to validate their spending and will confirm everything that the marketing has trained them to believe. You will sometimes hear “If I don’t use the extra power, fuel efficiency is improved.” The fact that the driver changes his driving habits, purposely driving more economically, makes the test results invalid. Use the extra power and you will definitely consume more fuel. The chip is putting more fuel into your motor. If there were ways to make a vehicle more economical through engine fuel mapping, the manufacturer would definitely exploit it. The manufacturer isn’t going to throw away fuel for nothing.

Some suggest that lower RPM afforded by a chip reduces fuel consumption. This is the only possible way that a chip could improve fuel consumption. For me this will never happen – I drive for efficiency and I am nearly always in top gear at any speed above 60km/h. I can easily take a corner in third gear. I can up change so that the engine is barely above idle and still accelerate away. My Hilux has 126kW. A Hilux of 20 years prior had around 60kW. A modern vehicle has a tonnes of power. More power than necessary. I can change gears as early as I want. Anyone can drive like this if they want to minimise fuel use, with or without a chip. Changing gears earlier means accelerating gently. Adding a chip allows you to accelerate more rapidly given the RPM you decide to change gears at.

You may have heard someone say something along the lines of “with a chip I can maintain 100km/h up a particular hill in my area. Without the chip I’d always slow down to 90”. This is what you’d expect – with a chip you go faster. Wind resistance and friction is higher and so fuel economy suffers.

It is true that lower RPM reduces engine friction and thus reduces fuel consumption. However, with a chip, for the vast majority of operating conditions, engine rpm would be the same or higher compared to without a chip (see “Lower RPM” section above). The time when a chip may afford lower rpm is when engine loading is increased beyond that capable of an unchipped engine, for example driving up a long hill, and you need to change back a gear. This is if you don’t simply keep it in top gear and allow the speed to fall a bit. But under higher loads, higher revs can actually be more efficient. At higher loads friction becomes less significant and the thermodynamic efficiency of the engine becomes more significant. Peak thermodynamic efficiency occurs at around peak torque, when compression reaches its maximum. So being in top gear and minimizing engine rpm doesn’t necessarily mean less fuel under high engine loads. You may have heard people who tow reporting improved fuel consumption by towing in a lower gear. This is because at high loads top gear may not be most efficient. Dropping back a gear may be more efficient, in which case the chipped engine will use more fuel. Either way, any difference in fuel consumption would be offset by being forced to go slower up the hill with the unchipped vehicle which means less wind resistance and less friction losses through the drivetrain and tyres. For all other scenarios, engine rpm is going to be the same (or less because you accelerate slower) when running without a chip so the rpm argument is not valid.

Another way that chips may increase fuel consumption is by encouraging less efficient driving habits. For example being able to accelerate faster means you’ll often approach a red light, slower traffic or an intersection faster than what you would have been able to without a chip. This means the extra fuel you burnt accelerating the car is a complete waste – you send all that kinetic energy off to waste heat through use of the brakes. People with chips might be more prone to drive aggressively, for example overtaking only to have to immediately slow down in traffic. Again fuel is wastefully consumed heating up the brakes. In general driving faster also means higher losses through wind resistance and mechanical friction.

For ways of reducing fuel consumption that actually work, check out this article.

Leaning Out to Save Fuel

Some vendors claim chips save fuel by making the mixture leaner. On a diesel engine this is impossible. Diesel engines are not throttled through the air intake and are always running with excess air. Any claim of leaning out a diesel you can immediately dismiss. Actually chips make diesel run richer which reduces fuel economy and increases combustion temperatures and soot production.

What about petrol engines? Maybe in the old days there was some scope to lean out an engine. There was a large safety margin since fuel metering and instrumentation was crude. In a modern engine, with its myriad of sensors, sophisticated control systems and precise fuel metering, it comes out of the factory already as close to the limits as what the engine can safely run at. The manufacturer will not throw fuel away for nothing, especially given their billion dollar development budgets. They will exploit a lean fuel mixture as a way of maximizing fuel efficiency as best as can safely be done given the error margins and tolerances that can be achieved with the vehicle’s control system.

Is a Chip Safer on the Road?

Any study I’ve seen published on engine power vs mortality indicates that mortality rate increases with engine power. Similarly studies have found incremental increases in speed to be associated with incremental increases in accidents and death. This is why, in some jurisdictions, young drivers have restricted licenses which prevent them from driving high powered vehicles. This is why more powerful vehicles attract higher insurance premiums. If you think getting a chip is safer, you should see if your insurance company will reduce your premiums when you tell them you have a chip. I doubt it! When have you heard of a motor vehicle accident or fatality that was attributed to insufficient engine power?

Don’t use safety as an excuse to justify a chip!

If you want to be safe then drive slowly and patiently. Wait for long straight roads with no oncoming traffic before overtaking. Or even better wait for an overtaking lane or dual carriageway. Or even better still, drive slow enough so you hardly ever have to overtake. Not only will you be extremely safe but you’ll get rich from fuel savings too! And the difference in travel time is not much at all.


Driving fast doesn’t make me happy. Camping, fishing and being free in the outback makes me happy. Not getting a chip increases my capability of doing the things that make me happy. Without a chip I save money on the initial purchase plus I save money on a longer lasting vehicle. Plus I drive slower and save even more money on fuel costs and vehicle wear. This means more camping, more fishing, more beer and less working to pay for gizmos that don’t make me happy. So no chip for me. Ever. Even if it was given to me for free. It detracts from my ability to achieve my goals by increasing transport costs and reducing the life of my vehicle. Why would I want it?

That doesn’t mean you should not consider a performance chip. They are good products and they definitely increase power – that is easy to measure and prove. They aren’t going to blow up your motor in 5 minutes – they wouldn’t exist if they did, and many people have experienced long living engines with performance chips installed. If more power makes you happy then get a chip and acknowledge that the happiness comes at a cost. To minimize that cost, service your vehicle regularly, drive it nicely, use the lowest tune you’re happy with, minimize rpm, avoid short trips with a cold engine, get a chip that can be easily turned off when not required, keep its use to a minimum, drive very gently when not up to operating temperature and only tap into the extra power when you need to. Then your chipped vehicle should last a long time, even if it lasts less than it would have without the chip.

The purpose of this article is not to instruct people not to get performance chips. It’s to explain why more power means more wear and debunk the myth that extra power can be obtained risk free. You can’t get something for nothing. Chips do increase wear and run the risk of contributing to eventual failures. More power will be of greater value to some – for example those who enjoy fast acceleration or those that tow a heavy caravan. The benefits of a chip are greater under high load such as when towing, however the risks are greater too. Preferably you should have bought a car with a bigger engine or even better tow a smaller van or nothing at all. But it’s up to the individual to decide their vehicle setup and whether a performance chip is worth the risk. For me I am happy chugging away with my slow but hopefully long living 4WD.

Maxtrax recovering the hilux, devonport creek, south australia

Driving on soft sand is one area where a diesel performance chip may help. It can prevent you from losing revs and speed, giving you a chance to power through deep sand rather than getting bogged.

My Credentials

Prior to my illustrious career as a mechanic, engineer and leader, I knocked around a bit in the Australian outback. From shearin’ sheds to drillin’ rigs to sewers and shovelin’ shit. I’ve been there, seen it, done it all and sometimes I’ve done it twice. It was during this time that I honed my fine motor skills and extraordinary ability to find ingenious solutions to difficult problems. Growing tired of life in the bush and my uninspiring peers, I decided to join the Australian army. I completed my heavy duty diesel mechanic apprenticeship back in ‘nam in 1969. It was there that I earned my first honourable award, the Medal for Gallantry, for simultaneously disarming a bomb with a sharpened bamboo stick whilst using pho noodle soup to replace coolant on a vehicle I used to rescue women and children from an ensuing attack from the viet cong. From that point I rapidly accelerated up the military ranking system, proving that I’m successful, capable and deserving respect. I served a further 17 years as a distinguished major in the armed forces before deciding to return to the far less dramatic life of an ordinary civilian, where I obtained my mechanical engineering degree at one of the most prestigious education institutions in the world. During my academic career I was awarded the noble prize for physics for finding a way to make diesel exhaust smell like bacon whilst improving fuel efficiency 400%. More recently I was inducted into the Order of Australia for my efforts on educating children on the importance of installing after market accessories on diesel engines.

More Credentials

“If you need to invoke your academic pedigree or job title for people to believe what you say, then you need a better argument” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Originally I didn’t have a credentials section in this article even though people asked for it. To me it’s a stupid left over from ancient hierarchical systems where people inherited status and respect based on their position in the hierarchy. Eventually I obliged and put in a credentials section. Later I thought I shouldn’t be playing this dumbass game of credential badminton. I considered removing the section completely. Instead I decided to have some fun and leave it in. I guess its ok sharing credentials if people don’t take it too seriously or expect special allowances for dumb arguments. Here is the original section:

In my personal experience within science and engineering, it’s rare to ask for someone’s credentials when discussing a topic. It’s unusual to start a discussion advertising what your credentials are. Logic and science are used to substantiate one’s position, rather than some story of working in the field for xx years or some other rambling anecdote. However in some circles it seems credentials are important so I added this bit to the article. This is not an invitation to start an unprovable argument on whether my credentials are valid. It is for your information only. I’m an electrical / process control engineer with experience in process control design and optimisation. This involves designing control systems to control processes and optimising control systems to make processes perform better. By processes I mean physical and chemical processes and not those so called processes to do with running and managing a business. My expertise is in industrial process control (for example gold or iron ore processing facilities) and not in engine control. However the theory and philosophies related to process control and control system design are the same for any control system. The design process and concept of design tradeoff / compromise is also similar. I face the problem of design compromise every day and understand its universal prevalence in all facets of design. Often plant optimisation involves cranking up rate setpoints on equipment and therefore load which is equivalent to cranking up power in an engine.

Notice on commenting

I encourage free and unrestrained commenting. However this article has attracted some silly comments. I have said my bit and will try not to respond to new comments unless something new is brought to the table. I will delete comments that subscribe to any of these points:

  • Insults.
  • Personal attacks.
  • Unsubstantiated claims of a magical chip that can simultaneously improve reliability, reduce failure rate, reduce fuel consumption, improve power output, reduce emissions, make the exhaust smell like roses and solve world hunger. I will not leave obviously misleading information on this blog. Claims backed by explanation whilst adequately addressing areas in conflict with this article will be permitted. Pleasantly expressed comments regarding personal experience will be permitted. Jokes about the dumb arguments that some people post will be permitted.

See also:

How Failure Works

Emission Systems – Worth Tinkering?

Design Compromise

Exhaust Pipes: Is Bigger Better?

Sprint Booster – Is It Worth It?

How to Drive on Sand

How to Improve Fuel Efficiency

How Often Should I Service My Car?

Diff Locker vs Traction Control

The Problem With Soccer

back to 4WD, Touring and Camping

more articles by outbackjoe


379 thoughts on “Why No Diesel Performance Chip

  1. Thanks for the great explanation. Helped me make the decision to NOT install a power chip into my Turbo Diesel Engine. You are right in the sense that “There is nothing for free”. Great advice and great in depth article.

  2. spot on, if your being offered all gain and no loss turn and run. One major detail against a chip is in regard to common rail diesels is the fuel rail pressure being extremely high from the factory which is true to all CRD’s, Any more increase in rail pressure can and has caused major injector dramas. The effect can turn the fuel”mist” into a hydro jet. If you want to play it safe focus on airflow rather than fuel flow i.e intake and exhaust efficiency. Get cold air in faster ,get hot gas out faster!

    • Yeah I see talk about injector failure all the time. Some people stay completely away from modern diesels because of the horror stories they hear about injectors. I am sure some injectors fail even with stock setup but I think we’re getting a disproportionate injector failure rate in common rail diesels due to the prolific use of performance chips. Many people do enjoy long living injectors in common rail diesels.

  3. Not all chips and modules are created equal. Steinbauer Modules do not increase rail pressure, do not turn off any engine safety features and still maintain environmental requirements put out by the government. Our modules only kick in when the engine is under 70% load or higher so we don’t need a fancy switch on the dash that you need to turn on or off. Yes, we aren’t a $200 module either but I suggest you give us a try. We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and we back that up with a full 3 year warranty on our product. We sold over 2200 modules in Canada alone, mostly for ag applications. There is a difference and my customers agree the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. I have dealers calling me, Volkswagen already has approved us for aftermarket use in their vehicles, one of the major tractor manufacturers are installing our modules in their tractors at the factory to improve fuel efficiency. If you want to run that engine for 500K and you could improve your fuel economy by 6-10%, at today’s fuel prices how long will it really take before your investment is recovered?
    Pressure boxes will wreck your engine, on that point I will wholeheartedly agree.
    Thanks for your time. Be safe and happy travels!!
    Duane Arndt
    Manitoba, Canada

    • Hey Duane I understand you are in the business of selling chips so we are always going to disagree! Yeah each vendor says their way of making more power is better. Doesn’t matter how it’s done, it increases failure rate. Although I agree that not increasing fuel rail pressure does help minimize the impact on the fuel system, the compromise is a less flexible system that can’t produce as much extra power. But I’d go with something like Steinbauer if I was to get a chip to reduce the risk on injectors and fuel pump etc. I’d still get the on / off switch. I’d want to be certain that, no matter what I do with the throttle, I’d have the factory arrangement activated according to my desire.

      I don’t believe chips improve fuel economy. For example, when driving to minimize fuel consumption, your chip won’t even be activated since you say it requires 70% load or higher. So no change to fuel economy. When using the extra power it dumps more fuel in the engine. Dumping more fuel means using more fuel (no shit!). So the chip either makes no difference or uses more fuel. Further, if there was a way to improve fuel efficiency through fuel mapping why wouldn’t it be exploited by the vehicle manufacturer? Suggesting to install a chip to save money is misleading in my opinion. Fuel efficiency arguments aside, component failure rate will be increased. There is no way to circumvent this. Overall cost of ownership will increase. Chips are for when you want more power, not when you want to save money.

      Yes a dealer might approve the use of a chip. They want to market their vehicle to people who want more power. I doubt the manufacturer ever would. If they thought it was a good idea they’d implement the same thing in the factory ECU. It’s a pretty convoluted solution to be putting chips on top of chips.

      • Did someone say Volkswagen approved the use of chips for use in their vehicles?……. of course they did. My 1981 Toyota Corona uses less fuel than millions of Volkswagen owners who would benefit from this chip in their cars…LMAO

  4. I have a farmer that bought 11 modules because they improve fuel economy. He didn’t buy them for power. If needed power he’d buy bigger tractors. Tractors running our modules are consistently improving fuel economy by 2-4GPH. Pick Ups are also routinely improving by 3-4mpg.
    Manufacturers don’t improve fuel economy because they don’t have to. They make the engine run just good enough to meet emissions & mileage standards set out by the government and make it universal enough to be put into various applications without needing to alter it for each one.
    As for component failure, you’ll never be able to prove they do because there are too many variables that could affect the life of a component, chipped or not. I had a truck diesel engine blow a camshaft & crankshaft in under 200,000 miles and there was no chip on that engine. Chips become the excuse for poor quality components.
    You’re not convinced but refuse to try one. I’m used to that but in the past 8 months I’ve got a list of customers that will tell you they didn’t believe me either. You’re out in the mountains, that engine is working harder then you may think. Take the 30 day challenge, you might change your mind.
    Hate to bust your bubble but some manufacturers DO approve of our product.

    [useless link to marketing material removed]

    • Yo Duane that link you posted is just some marketing crap. I’m not here to promote your chips. Where does it specifically refer to a certain manufacturer approving use of your chip? And can you please link to that manufacturer’s actual article where it states such approval, on the manufacturer’s website?

      Manufacturers spend billions of dollars developing new engines to improve fuel efficiency yet they won’t exploit solutions in software because “they don’t have to.” Please don’t post this sort of rubbish. It’s embarrassing. Don’t be ridiculous. Can you explain why a vehicle manufacturer would not benefit from improved power and fuel economy? Fuel economy is a major parameter used heavily in marketing. Performance is a major attribute used heavily in marketing. Actually apart from styling / fashion etc, I’d suggest performance and fuel economy are the most important features for any vehicle yet you say vehicle manufacturers do not need to worry about it? Don’t waste everyone’s time.

      Yes people have bought chips to save fuel. They believed the marketing. Nothing to do with whether chips actually save fuel, which for various reasons that you fail to address, I believe they don’t.

      Failure is probabilistic in nature. Refer to this article on how failure works. An isolated case of failure means nothing. I’m happy to discuss the theory in that article if you dispute it, but it’s common sense physics. Yes it’s hard to prove for a specific case whether a chip contributed to a failure. But, in general, chips increase failure rate. That is easy to prove.

      I don’t want to use a chip. I know they offer more power. Better fuel economy unlikely. But independent of these reasons, I don’t want a chip because I don’t believe there is any correlation between engine power and happiness. And I don’t want to suffer an increase in failure rate. I don’t need to try a chip to know that they increase failure rate. It’s common sense physics!

      From every experience I’ve read or heard about, vehicle manufacturers will not honour warranty when a chip has been installed. Even the law rules in favour of the manufacturers. Why would vehicle manufacturers dishonour warranties and why would the law support this decision if it were not possible to prove that a chip increases the risk of failure? It’s common sense physics!

      • Glad i drive my old hj60,good on fuel down on power and reliable.

      • Not to burst anyones bubble here but i have a chip (not a Steinbauer one) and i am very skeptical by nature and i was when i first got it but thought what the hell lets give it a go. Now i agree more power = more damage but i do disagree that chips cant improve economy. When a manufacturer makes a car the tune it world wide it has to accept the worstfuel in the world and as such tolerances are widened way up. (South Africa for example and Europe aren’t even in the same league but if the car is sold in both it must run on the worst fuel and is tuned accordingly from factory to do so)

        I have a property that is exactly 100km from where i live which is very convenient when it comes to testing something like this. I did instantaneous testing with and without the chip installed at 60, 80 and 100km/h using my cars inbuilt fuel computer and that output from scanguage. at ALL speeds there was a significant reduction in fuel consumption especially at 80km/h it dropped from 7.5 to 6.2 L/100km not sure why but 80kmh seems to be by far the most economical. (my module engages when the accelerator is pressed not when the car uses over 70% power)

        Driving from my house to my property the first time i used the engine as delivered from factory scanguage reported i used 9L of fuel on the trip measuring and topping up the tank confirmed this.

        During drive 2 i installed the chip and measured again this time i used 8L of fuel confirmed by both scanguage and manual measurement.

        I have repeated this test 3 times now and i can confirm that the chip DOES make a difference. I have had it installed for 3 years now and haven’t had a problem with the car. The other thing i tested was around town use i could only ever get 730km out of a tank without it and with it installed i can get approximately 800km, sometimes even more.

        More power does = more damage you dont have to explain that to me im a fully qualified mechanical engineer and i did my thesis on dual fuel combustion (diesel included) so im not exactly new to the whole combustion process and mechanical wear. But there are however economy gains to be had due to the nature that manufactures do a generic world wide tune and this can be adapted to your country for better performance.

        I can also see how the Steinbauer module can offer better economy on a tractor because when you are working a tractor hard its never less than 70%

      • Hey Matthew when you put in a chip the trip computer will always under report fuel consumption because the chip is dumping in more fuel than what the computer calculates. It’s covered in the article. Actual fuel consumption is the trip computer value + the extra fuel that the chip is injecting. All other things equal, there is no change in fuel economy, unless you tap into extra power, then more wind resistance, poorer combustion efficiency due richer mixture, more mechanical friction etc means more fuel used with the chip. Looking at the trip computer proves nothing and I think too much variability in testing, confirmation bias etc causes your measured results to be skewed. You saw the trip computer and your mind was made up, then you seek results that confirm it. Having a chip is the equivalent of being able to go above 100% throttle. Either the injector pulse width is extended, or fuel pressure extended, or both. What’s that got to do with exploiting generic factory tuning? It dumps more fuel. How can having above 100% throttle save fuel?

    • Duane, I understand your point, here your just posting to guys who just don’t understand, or are plain ‘one eyed’ about tuning chips.

      They only know what they read and there are many who put up points that make sense, but don’t actually exist to the extent stated in real life, almost all engines have a failure rate that can’t be explained, what about the Nissan ‘hand grenade’ engine, how is that explained in a brand new engine, and yes it was fixed but had nothing to do with a tuning chip.

      Any guy who fitted a quality tuning chip for a trial 1,000 Km would keep it and not be so negative.

      I don’t support the saving of fuel idea, but I definitely believe there is no disadvantage with the quality built chips, reasoning is you tend to use them because you need the extra torque and horsepower, not because you drive like your Nanna!!

      To ask the non-supporters to point to just one (1) engine, that can be proven beyond any doubt, to have been damaged by a quality tuning chip, (not a $49 chip) would be very interesting and I await that information.

      • I believe the grenade engine had a problem with one of its sensors that caused consistent over-fuelling. Similar to what a chip does.

        Dude this article is not for supporters or non-supporters. It’s for thinkers. It’s for people interested in physics. It’s for people who understand that there is always compromise. It’s for people who want to be able to pick the compromise that best suits what they are trying to achieve. Your unconditional love for chips and denial of basic physics does not fit with this article or this website. It is time for you to accept that and move on. You’ve had your say.

  5. Hi, I do not really have time to read all and reply to all I see it is wrong here, but remapping ECU or adding chip between ECU and engine can do what it promises… It is not only about dumping more fuel to engine, even if yes, ti would still could lower consumption.

    I guess you wrote this article without trying one or at least getting into this problem deeper… It is not that expensive to get devices needed to read engines program, software ( e.g. http://www.evc.de/en/product/ols/software/default.asp) and after many hours of getting into remapping yourself you will see its limits and possibilities.

    So what I say it is true you can yourself easily damage your engine, but you can not that easy program ECU to improve engines performance…

    And one more thing, in case you buy stuff needed to read ECUs content… Try to read ECUs content of cars that have exactly the same engine but from manufacturer different ECU map… It is common to buy e.g. kind of cheap BMW 1.8 and remap it to 2.0 🙂 With no worrys that it would damage engine in any way… 😉 – Sometimes it is marketing only from manufacturers side, also it is cheaper to make x engines instead of y + z engines that would represent amount of x…

    You also can get chipboxes tahat are able to turn of or on as you need. Or make it yourself…


    • Hey Simon are you able to refer to the article and make specific cases against any of the points? You haven’t really explained anything, just repeated some marketing mumbo jumbo. Even if manufacturers apply two different ratings to identical engines, it’s irrelevant. The engine with the higher rating will suffer a higher failure rate. There is no way to circumvent this. The manufacturer accepts the higher failure rate because they are still able to make more money compared to developing an all new engine to compete in that market. Exactly the same as genset manufacturers applying different ratings depending on the duty the genset is intended to operate in. In any case, the engines are almost always different. They are usually not exactly the same. Some components are different to combat the otherwise higher failure rate that would develop from the increased load. In the example you give there is a clear physical difference in the engines – they are of different displacement.

      Have a read of the how failure works article to understand more:


  6. Here’s my OEM links and explanations for Steinbauer:

    As for the previous comments that higher HP rated engines that use the same blocks automatically have a higher failure rate I find hard to believe. Dealers tell me straight up that these engines that share the same blocks usually have only one difference, the chip in the ecm. The manufacturers want to sell the big HP because that makes them the most money with no real difference in the base cost to them. They want you to believe they’ve done all these different modifications but in reality, they haven’t. That’s why our modules cover so many different HP’s under one module, because the fact is they aren’t different.
    I don’t deny that engines fail. Blanket statements that performance modules increase failure rates seems hard to prove.
    Safe travels.

    • Hey Duane. So if you hit yourself with a hammer, then hit yourself a bit harder, would you find it hard to believe that the second time would hurt more? I’m amazed that people can seriously deny something that is common sense. Put something under more stress and it wont fail more? What if you massively increase the power output of an engine, lets say 300% increase. Then I am sure you will admit, as with other chip vendors I’ve had this conversation with, that failure rate must increase. But then what is the cutoff below which there is no increase in failure rate? Any and all increases in power output are governed by the same laws of physics. So assuming you’ll agree that tripling the power output increases failure rate, are you telling me there is an amount that you can increase power by that doesn’t increase failure rate even though if you continue on that spectrum you admit that failure rate does increase? It’s like agreeing that 20 + 40 = 60 but then stating 20 + 3 = 20. There is a contradiction. It’s like saying because you are adding a smaller number the laws of addition change.

      Every time anything is loaded, no matter the magnitude of the load, damage is done. The higher the load the more the damage. Calling the physics behind failure a blanket statement is tantamount to labeling the theory of relativity a blanket statement.

      So according to your company’s marketing, some dealers are selling accessories that make more power. How is this relevant? I guess it demonstrates that reliability is still reasonable with the accessory fitted. But whether reliability remains reasonable or not is not the argument. The engines delivering more power will endure a higher failure rate. It’s independent of the fact that failure rate may remain low enough to last the warranty period most of the time.

      Yes manufacturers can choose different parameters that yield different levels of performance. What’s your point? Read the article on how failure works which describes how specifications are built. It’s simply a compromise between performance and failure rate. It’s a continuous sliding scale. Actually it’s like everything in engineering. Every engineering decision involves compromise. You can’t make something better without making something else worse. Engineering involves choosing a solution that is the best compromise for the application.

      Care to address any of the points on the how failure works page rather than repeating the same marketing stuff that I hear time and time again?

      • I must agree with outbackjoe… I’ve had a RaceChip installed in my Bmw 330d for a year now and is very happy with the result in power difference, but agree that it must come at a cost.

        Nothing is for free! more power must eventually lead to failure. i do however think if you are someone per say, who only drives a car for 4 years maybe form NEW! The amount of extra power a chip offer would not damage your car in the time you would be using it..

        But buying a second hand vehicle lets say a 2008 model, making it already 8 years old, with lets say 200 000km on the clock, and you plan to drive it for another 4 years i would not recommend getting a chip. i think its unwise to putt 25% extra power (as they claim) on the motor and drive train.

      • Ive just started having a read through of this. Outbackjoe, it seems you are making an assumption that the vehicle is currently being run right on its break point and to add more power, fuel whatever to the drive train’/engine etc then it will wear out quicker and it will fail quicker. You are asking people to read your article and think for themselves but straight out disregard what anyone else says. I don’t currently have a chip in my diesels but you need to weigh them up on merit.
        I wanted to ask something from the original article. how does driving slower make the coefficient of friction different compared to driving fast?

      • The coefficient of friction is not changed. The friction is changed. Friction is proportional to velocity squared.

        There is no such thing as a “break point”. How can you just read the article and then suggest that?

  7. Hi Joe

    I read this article and don’t agree with some of your claims. I have a 2011 Nissan Navara D22 with the 2.5 L common rail engine and I have fitted 3 inch exhaust and a performance chip – fitted after 50,000 kms. As you stated there is a significant increase in power but your statements about no saving in fuel consumption is incorrect! I consistently check my fuel consumption and there is with out a doubt a % 15 decrease in my fuel usage going from a regular average of 9.8L/100km to a consistent 8.3 L/100k citi driving. (12.5 L.100 when towing a one tonne camper trailer gross weight). I have checked this using my odometer and a gps just for good measure and check my fuel consumption every time I fill up. So my data is ongoing and quite accurate.

    I am on 75,000 kms now with no problems what so ever, apart from the extra power and decreased fuel consumption, however I must say that I drop the oil every 5000 km as well as before and after every long trip with the camper as well as sending it to my mechanic every 10,000 km so he can do all the regular checks – specialist 4×4 mechanic. So I do take care of the vehicle. I use Nulon 5W30 fully synthetic oil.

    I have not changed my driving style perhaps I do occasionally get lead foot syndrome but only occasionally. What I can report from my own experience is that due to the increase in power I do not have to rev the engine as I would have prior to fitting the exhaust and chip, this difference is on uphills where I dont have to press the pedal in as much.

    I not and engineer, and I certainly don’t have the technical knowledge you have when it comes electronics. all I have is a science degree in renewable energy, but I make sure that when I make a claim that it is backed up by evidence a lot of evidence. Now I don’t know if you have used a performance chip and had a bad experience. If you are going to make all these claims at least back t up with evidence even if it is your own personal experience. I have experience with a vehicle without a chip and with a chip, I can with out a doubt say that I will always put a performance chip on my diesel vehicles. But as usual I always spend a considerable amount of time doing the necessary research before I do this.

    If I do find that the chip does decreases the engine life, I will let you know, and just for my own piece of mind I will have a chat with my mechanic to see if he has noticed any changes in my vehicle in terms of excess ware and tare – so far all reports is that the ute is performing flawlessly.

    Most of the forums I have read have indicated that just about every driver with a performance chip is happy with the product, I have yet to come across anyone whose engine has blown or had some catastrophic malfunction due to a chip or module.

    This is just one point of view with someone who has a chip and exhaust with positive results.

    Keep on exploring our great country and be safe on the roads.


    • Hey Blayne thanks for your comment, interesting info. To be honest, I do not believe your reported 15% improvement in fuel economy.

      I agree many people running chips report that they are happy with their purchase (although I do not believe they are actually happier than before getting the chip, since I don’t think there is any correlation between engine power and happiness), but I have also heard of many fuel system issues and a few blown up engines from those running chips, particularly on vehicle specific forums. Also lots of people unhappy with engine lights and limp mode being triggered by their chips.

      Maybe I don’t have data proving chips don’t improve fuel efficiency but to me it’s comparing common sense well documented physics and engineering to very unreliable anecdotal evidence suffering from placebo, confirmation bias and poor experimental method. A good example of how unreliable anecdotal evidence is, is people who have cleaned their EGR valve after it became blocked with soot report improved power and fuel efficiency. At the same time people who block their EGR valve with a blanking plate also report improved power and fuel efficiency. They substantiate their claims with data similar to you but the conclusion is both blocking and unblocking improves power and fuel efficiency. Clearly there is a problem with the data. Do you believe that blocking and unblocking the EGR can simultaneously improve power and fuel economy? I don’t, and I also don’t believe that a chip improves fuel economy.

      Similarly practically everyone reports improved fuel efficiency with bigger exhaust yet universally accepted exhaust physics predict poorer fuel efficiency with a bigger exhaust (but improved high end power output). All this data suffers from poor experimental method, lack of control of variables, inaccurate measurement methods, confirmation bias and placebo.

      Can you explain why a manufacturer would not exploit software changes that would yield a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency? Software changes are cheap relative to re-designing hardware. Manufacturers spend millions re-designing hardware to improve fuel efficiency but won’t exploit relatively cheap software changes for the sake of a few hours software engineering? To me this is a massive hurdle for the pro chip advocates and any attempt to explain it has been complete rubbish. A chip dumps more fuel into an engine by increasing rail pressure and / or increasing injector pulse width. The task a chip performs is so simple and so easy to implement in the standard ECU program. A chip is not an ingenious device that cleverly manipulates the engine control system. It’s so easy to replicate out of the factory yet it’s not done. Why?

      ECU software is a form of process control. I don’t do ecu software but I work in process control. I know that time is constantly invested in bottleneck analysis, optimization and enhancements because the returns on the investment are good since there is no hardware design or capital investment required. Can you explain why automotive industry would be any different to every other process control design? Manufacturers have vastly greater expertise and resources compared to some small company making chips that trick the ecu into dumping more fuel.

      Why haven’t chip manufacturers paid the people who do ADR fuel efficiency ratings to do it with a chipped vehicle? This is typical of after market vendors. They lack clarity in any claims. Instead there’s ambiguous claims with no performance guarantees. You’ll see the phrase “up to xxxx improvement” used a lot. To me this indicates the claims are exaggerated or non-existent.

      There’s no doubt that a chip reduces engine life. Data is not required to prove this. Read the article on how failure works to see why. I did put in some maths of how failure relates to load (cubic). This is well established science and can be verified with some googling.

      I’m not here to poo-poo chips. They’re a reasonable product to consider. However people need to be aware that you can’t get something for nothing. Any design involves tradeoffs and any change to any design also involves tradeoffs.

      • Great site and great articles Joe…

        Why don’t you believe the 15% reduction in fuel consumption? Assuming the poster was not lying, you can’t question their method of tracking consumption. It’s legit, accurate and the numbers don’t lie. I’m just curious as to why you’ve dismissed it?

        I also understand the physics behind failure etc. and the probabilities behind it. However how does this modelling relate to eg. a Hilux engine?

        Let’s use tensile strength as an example. Say a particular material has an arbitrary tensile strength of 100 N/m2. If you apply 0.01 N/m2 how much wear does this do? Or how much time has this stress reduced the ‘life’ of that material? Has this stress increased the rate of failure? Or what about 0.02 N/m2? Twice the stress must have some effect surely?

        What I’m trying to get here is that the entire integrity of the engine needs to be modelled as a whole which would involve complex physics and mathematics. Has anyone done this?
        What if the risk of increasing the rate of failure was so insignificantly small until you got to a stress of 30 N/m2?

        Basically how much ‘over engineering’ is the engine built with? It’s fine to state the science (which is all accurate) but how does it specifically apply, including the probabilities, to a D4D engine?

        I’m not stating either way whether it’s bad or not but you haven’t applied the science to the engine. I know I couldn’t work it out so therefore I wouldn’t base my argument on it.

        Anyway… interesting stuff as always Joe.


      • Hey Adam a few good reasons why I doubt the reported improvement in efficiency: poor experimental method, placebo and confirmation bias. Plus I know original manufacturers aren’t going to throw away 15% of fuel. And I know dumping more fuel doesn’t save fuel. How can you confirm his results are accurate? Are you making shit up or have you reviewed his experimental method and data? Can you explain how he measured fuel consumption and distance and accounted for variables like ambient conditions, traffic, load, speed etc? Can you explain what method he used to isolate the human element from the experiment?

        We know engines aren’t over-engineered because they only last a few hundred thousand km. The specifics of what fails and how are irrelevant. If you significantly increase power then you significantly increase failure rate. There’s no way around it. The engine will last significantly less than a few hundred thousand km.

        The only group in the world who have modeled failure and done countless hours of real world testing are the original manufacturers. They’ve already chosen a power level that is their best compromise between power and reliability. They’ve determined that more power wouldn’t be worth the sacrifice in reliability.

    • Hey Blayne, I’ve got a Nissan Navara D22 2.5 2014 and am looking at a chip exhaust combo. Who did you go through if you don’t mind me asking?

      Thanks mate

    • Is yours a manual or auto transmission? Presumably, you can up shift sooner with a more powerful engine and save on fuel through the gears? Also, what was your consumption with the camper trailer before your modifications?

  8. Hello outbackjoe
    Just wondering if you have a background in diesel engine design, diesel engine service or anything of the sort. You make a lot of statement regarding chips here many true but some that are not. As any blog one is free to say what they please however I would be interested in understanding your background so I understand how technical I could get with things. FYI I have been in the diesel engine, turbocharger and diesel fuel injection business for more than 35 years. Thanks

    • Yo Cam nah I don’t have a background in diesel engine design. My background is electrical and process control design. Whether you’re trying to crank up load on an electrical motor or gearbox or diesel genset in an industrial processing plant or a diesel engine in a car, the same laws of physics apply. Part of my study involved statistics and the relationship of load with failure rate. Apart from that it’s common sense that increasing load increases failure rate. What bits aren’t true?

  9. Hello
    Thanks for that. Just a little FYI I am past president and current board member of the Association of Diesel Specialists. As well as I sit service chair of the Bosch Diesel Service Council, chair of the ag and heavy duty technician board at the Lethbridge College (a trade college here in Canada). I have owned and managed my Taber Diesel Services Ltd in Canada for the past 29 years prior to that I spent 6 years at both John Deere, General Motors and Case IH dealerships as a mechanic. I lived and breathed diesel engines for more than 35 years and have a great passion for technology.
    To your question yes you are correct to a certain degree however I would like to add some points. This may take several submissions since I am currently in Europe having just completed several days of Bosch Service Council meetings.
    The first point I would like to make is that engine design, manufacturing and production has changed a huge amount in the past 15 years. The change in my mind is greater in the past 10 years than in the past 50+ years.
    In the past the manufacturers would make say 5 different power output for a particular displacement engine. As the power output went up many components within the engine were changed, pistons, injector nozzle hole size, turbocharger A/R ratio’s, camshaft profiles etc. This was all done in an effort to meet emission standards of the particular power output of the engine when still using mechanical fuel injections systems.
    Then 15 year ago the electronic pumps and then 10 years ago common rail fuel injection came alone in an effort to reduce emission output. This all happened over time called tiers. Tier 1, 2 ….to the current Tier 4F meaning final. The reduction in emissions has really been astonishing. T4F European and Asian diesel pass car engines are now considered Near Zero Emission in the state of California, the toughest emission standard region in the world. These engine are much cleaner than the petrol counterparts. This has mostly been accomplished with incredibly fast injections systems with precise control and with the exhaust treatments. The treatment being first the filter for the soot or carbon particles and second the urea dosing unit to reduce nitrous oxide or NOX.
    The manufactures spent billions developing these engines and one of the benefits of all this development is they are now able to product a range of power outputs without changing any hard parts in the engine. They simply can modify the engine management system and get a range of outputs.
    I would like to speak about industrial and ag engines first. When you buy a piece of equipment today you are buying something to do some work. The more work the machine can do the more the manufacturers charge for the machine. In years past the manufacture charged a price based on several factors. Material, manufacturing, labor, warranty, distribution, support and parts supply for 25+ years in some cases etc etc.
    That formula is gone. The manufactures now charge based as I said earlier on what the machine can accomplish in a given time for the task it was designed for. You pay for how much work a machine can do. If it can do more in a hour, day or week you pay more. Sometimes much more.
    With farm tractor, harvester, wheel loader, track dozer, let’s take John Deere for example. They make machines that have 50 hp to 690 hp. In over 100 different models of various machines they use 4 engines 4.5, 6.8, 9 and 13.5L Within each of these engine families there are 4 to 6 power outputs.
    Let take the 9L for example. Power output from 220 to 450 hp (I know I am from Canada we are still dealing with horses) We have studied these engines at length. From 220 to 450 output not one single hard part in these engines change!!! Not one. The only thing that is different is the software that operates the systems, fuel, air (turbo controls) and exhaust after treatment.
    This is very important for the manufacturer, less parts to make and stock. Better quality control because you are building the same thing in more volume and much lower costs. Build 1 million of the same widgets rather than 100000 of 10 different widgets.
    However when it comes to selling the machine with the engine they charge much more for more power. 3 different harvesters, with the same engine, 4 different tractors with the same engine. Sometimes there is as much as $35000 dollars for an addition 50 hp in one of these machines. The cost to build the 2 different machines???? Exactly the same. When a potential customer wants to buy one of these machines, which ones do the manufactures try to sell??? The highest output/most expensive. WAY more profit because the cost is the same.
    As stated before in the past each of these machines were quite different, today identical except for the decal on the side with the model and the software. Some will say “the transmission is beefed up” “the frame is beefed up” No they are the same. How do I know this. You can simply go to the manufactures parts websites and look up a machine and compare one with another to see the different parts. NOTHING! It is much cheaper to manufacture them all the same to withstand the highest output then to make a bunch of different parts. The other way you can tell if a machine is different is the weight. Again you can go onto any manufacture website today and “build” a machine. Build a tractor with 220 hp out put and build one with 330 output in the same family with the same wheels tries etc. They have identical shipping weights. If anything were beefed up they would weight more.
    When you buy a lower output tractor these days it really is very overbuilt for the output.
    The other issue is emissions. Believe it or not the manufactures only have to certify the highest output of an engine displacement family. The theory is that all the lower output engines will be cleaner than the highest since there is less fuel being burned. This again is not true but somehow the manufacturers get away with it.
    We have documented proof from the Emission testing department of both the German and Austrian governments that show with a module installed on a low and mid output tractor engine from several manufacturers the engine produces less harmful emissions than from factory. Further we have documented government testing done on the C15 Caterpillar that shows the same thing less emissions with more output. I know the engineer personally that was present at the testing with Cat and he said there was some real “red faced Cat engineers” when they saw the results.
    To your comment regarding the higher the output causing increased failures. The answer is yes and no. If you increase the output on the low and mid output engine and take them to the level of the highest output the failure rates will be no greater than the highest output engine, gearbox etc etc. If you increase the output of the highest output engine by a large amount then yes you will most likely be outside the parameters of the design of some of the hard part components. I tell our customers all the time. There is so much work output in a machine. With more power you can do more work faster but in most cases the amount of work that can be accomplished over the life of the machine is very close to the same. With let power it will just take longer.
    I have pleanty more to explain but I will leave this with you for now.

    • Hi Cam

      Your example of the John Deere 9L engine having various ratings is exactly what I’ve described under the section “An Example: Diesel Generators“. I’m looking at the John Deere specifications right now. Intermittent: 350-425hp; Heavy Duty: 325-350hp; Continuous: 250-325hp. The engines are specified for different duties. Duty is a massive factor in rating an engine or any component. Read my article on how failure works. What John Deere are saying is if you use the engine in an application where most of the time it’s lightly loaded then we can give you more power since the increased failure rate yielded from the higher power is offset by the lower average load. So they can deliver a product with more power but still be within the constraints of their target failure rates. If you have an application where the engine encounters frequent high loading then the engine is rated lower. If you have an application where the engine is fully loaded all the time then the engine is rated even lower again. If you use the light duty rated engine with higher power output in a continuous loading application then your warranty is void and the engine will fail prematurely. Yes, the manufacturer does conform to the laws of physics. John Deere are doing the equivalent of in house chipping but they are taking into account duty to ensure adequate reliability. Whatever the duty, if you then put a chip in to get more power you’ll suffer from a higher failure rate. This occurs from any starting point, from any rated engine and for any duty. You can’t increase power on the continuous duty engine and say the failure rate doesn’t increase because the light duty engine has a higher rating. The light duty engine has a higher rating because the increased failure rate is offset by a lighter duty.

      So you’re point on same engine different power rating has already been covered in the article and it’s irrelevant. Put a chip in and you suffer higher failure rates. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We do it in industry all the time. Production is so valuable that you accept the loss of warranty and increased failure rate. The extra production covers the increased failure rate plus some left over for extra profit. But the point is you can’t get that extra production for nothing. You need to accept an increased failure rate.

      The emission tests you refer to are covered below where you link to them. They are misleading, which is typical of after market equipment. The comparison is not done at the same engine load. At the same load your chip does not reduce emissions.

      • Joe
        I know all about diesel generators and understand standby and prime power applications.
        However you have not addressed my comment about installing a module on a for example Continuous rating in your example of 250 to 325. We install a module on a 250 and take it up 20 % to 300, yet the manufacture does the same thing and goes to 325. Your theory is that the engine with a module will have a higher failure at 300 than the factory has at 325?

      • Yes the engine with the module will have a higher failure rate because it’s used in a continuous application. It’s run at higher loads for longer. When the manufacturter cranks up the power it’s for less severe duties. This is completely obvious, it’s the definition of duty and why they have different ratings for different duties. Failure rate is determined by both the engine’s rating and the duty.

      • Luck has nothing to do with the emission testing. Do you know what TUV is in Europe? Look it up if you do not. Every module Steinbauer sells in Europe for on highway vehicles has a TUV certificate. This is not LUCK as you would suggest. The product is tested stringently and when installed meets or exceeds all Euro Bin5 emission standards. Not some isolated lucky test!!! The dealers would not sell it if they cars would not meet the stringent standards now in force.

        You make the blanket statement “the point is you can’t get that extra production for nothing” This is simply not true! We see it all the time.

        Lets take an Iveco engine 12.9L for example. In a truck application at 500 hp it is geared to make max torque at approx 1300 rpm. When these trucks are running down the road pulling max GVW they are running at 1250 to 1400 rpm. Yet in an industrial application with the same engine we see the manufactures set the operating RPM at 1800 or 1900. Way more failures at higher piston speed. That piston has to stop and start going the other direction 25 to 50 % more times per minute than the truck engine. The truck guys have pushed the manufactures to get more power with less fuel more than the industrial customers and to do this the manufacturers have slowed the engines down.

        The other thing we see all the time is someone buys a 500hp 15L engine to do a 400hp 12L job. “oh I might need that power sometimes” “I might get a bigger seeder of plow in the future” The 500hp 15L engine is not efficient at partial loads. Big pistons going up and down, friction losses on big parts. In may cases we see higher failure rates on these engines.
        We see this particularly in generator applications if the gen is only under 40 of 50% load. A customer buys a 400KVA unit and 95% of the time the electrical load is only 225. The engine does not make enough heat to make the systems operate efficiently. The exhaust after treatment systems get clogged because there is not enough heat in the catalyst system to burn off the particulates.
        In these situations you can get something for nothing. In fact you can get something for less. The smaller engine working to 80 to 90% of its designed capacity is more efficient over its life cycle. This includes original cost, (smaller is usually cheaper, fuel consumption, repair costs.

      • Yes generators designed for continuous duty don’t operate efficiently at low loads. This is where we need to be careful how we define load. The exhaust treatment system for example is loaded by combustion particles not by the electrical output of the generator. So at low electrical outputs the exhaust treatment system is experiencing a high load and the associated increase in failure rate.

        Luck has got something to do with your emission results. Do you think increasing pulse width is a clever idea that the manufacturer’s engineers have never thought of? You explain the emission story as if the chip performs some ingenious manipulation of the engine management system. Actually it just extends pulse width and dumps in more fuel. The goal of the chip is to dump in more fuel and get more power. Your experiment compares the emissions with a chip at a higher power output than the test without the chip. The results are invalid and misleading.

  10. Hello again Joe
    With regard to Duane’s comments about warranty. Steinbauer has for more than 10 years been selling modules directly to VW corporate in Europe as well they do a private label product for AC Schnizer from Germany. AC Schnizer is the performance division of the largest BMW dealer group in the world.
    With regard to VW. At any VW, Porsche, Audi, Bentley dealership though west and eastern Europe you can buy a module have it dealer installed and have full manufacturer warranty. If you care to look at the “marketing fluff” regarding AutoZ (since brought completely into the dealer parts system rather than a separate division) you will see the comment “success is also selecting the right partner” VW and their various brands (BTW the largest producer of diesel engines in the world) test 1000’s of products that they can sell as accessories to their customers. After their extensive testing they select certain products that pass. Steinbauer is one of those products. In many cases the sale of accessories is more profitable than selling the the car. As you can see from the list there are a number of product listed. All these products are sold and installed at the dealer level at every dealer in Europe with full warranty.
    With regard to AC Schnizer this product is sold an many BMW dealers though out the world. Here in Canada we can go to any BMW dealer and buy a module, have it dealer installed and have full warranty from BMW Canada. When I look on their website I see in Aus the product is sold by a specialty German car service company however it is sold with full warranty through BMW New Zealand.
    I will comment some more later, headed to diner now in Ljubljana Slovenia. Cheers

    • Hi Cam. Again this point is irrelevant. If the dealer sells a chip then they are accepting the higher failure rate and increase in warranty claims. You are giving them money to give you more power and they are taking on risk in return for the money. This is the definition of business. The dealer is making money to cover the increased failure rate plus some money left over for profit. The slow accumulation of extra wear with the chip installed has a small enough probability of manifesting as a failure during the warranty period that the dealer can sell chips and be profitable. Once the warranty expires the customer is left to deal with the ever increasing probability of failure as the extra wear accumulates over the life of the engine. Again, dealers can’t circumvent the laws of physics. Putting chips in increases the failure rate. Increased failure rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The customer gets a faster car and the dealer makes some extra money. But the point is you can’t get that extra power for nothing. Just like you can’t make more money without taking on more risk.

      If you buy a chip from a third party distributor then the dealer has not agreed to take on extra risk for you. You’re warranty is void. This is common sense business. And it’s irrelevant to the failure debate.

      • Hello Joe
        The dealer is accepting nothing. The manufacturer in this case VW has extensively tested the product and has found that they have no higher warranty rate than without. VW buys the product sells it to their dealership group through the parts system and the dealers sell them.
        You keep talking about increased failures, with increased power. What kind of failure are you talking about. We see vehicles in our shop every day. Our market is primarily the north American diesel pickup truck market, Ford GM/Chev and Dodge. The number one failure we see in engines these days is piston damage related to injector failures. The filtration system on these vehicles are not adequate for the modern CR fuel system. The injector ends up with ball seat erosion which causes increased fuel delivery to one of more cylinders than the others. This cause temperature issues with these individual pistons and they fail.
        We see this all the time, piston failed must be a piston problem. NO not the piston at all, the problem is not even with the injector. The issue is the filter.
        However your theory would suggest that if a module was installed on one of these engines then the module would be to blame. The module has nothing to do with injector failure.
        Again I ask Joe what failures do you see with the installations of a “chip” as you call them??
        FYI we have a customer in California that is in the business of renting tractors. In fact they are the largest in North America with more than 1000 rental tractors in their fleet.
        The reason I mention these guys is because they put on more engine hours than anyone I know. In most cased as many as 3500 hours per year. These are all 200 to 500 hp tractors being rented to customers for large corporate farms.
        These guys run all there units to 12000 hours before replacing them. If you convert that to Kms on the road we are talking in the range of 700,000 kms at an average of 60 kmph.
        They have installed more than 100 of the Steinbauer units on 200 to 250 hp JD tractors 6.8 and 9.0 L engine and love them. They rent by the horse power hour so with more power they get more rent.
        In 4 years of use now they have seen NO increase in failure rates.
        So one more time Joe what failures have you seen attributed to “chipping”??

      • Hi Cam failure occurs over the accumulation of a components life. Everything the component has experienced over it’s lifetime has contributed to the eventual failure. So yes if you have a chip installed and an injector fails then the chip would have contributed to the failure. That doesn’t mean the chip was the biggest contributing factor or that the failure would not have occurred without the chip.

        Every component in the engine and drivetrain that experiences extra load as a result of a chip would experience a higher failure rate. More specifically I know of engines that have blown up with chips installed, the manufacturer not honoring warranty, the customer challenging the manufacturer and the result of the challenge is confirmation that the chip was a contributing factor to the failure. In fact in Australia there is a law that completely exempts manufacturers of responsibility when power is increased above a certain percentage, I think maybe 30%. The relationship between load and increased failure rate is so clear that a law has been introduced to save wasting time arguing about whether the increase in load contributed to the failure. But I don’t really care about isolated examples of failure. What this article is about is load and its relationship with failure and the fact that you can’t get something for nothing.

        Where is the data that indicates no increase in failure rate when load is increased? It’s like saying you can increase current through a cable of fixed resistance without increasing voltage drop across that cable. The laws of physics are pretty clear. So either you don’t have any data and you’re just making stuff up or the data is inaccurate or biased or the experimental method was flawed. You’d need some pretty good data to change our understanding of the laws of physics.

      • Hi Cam

        A few things I’d like to clarify to help make this discussion more productive:

        1. Warranties and their relationship to chip installation tells us nothing about failure and it’s relationship with load. Let’s not talk about this any more.
        2. Manufacturers cranking up power for different reasons tells us nothing about failure and it’s relationship with load. Let’s not talk about this any more.
        3. Emissions tells us nothing about failure rate and it’s relationship with load. Let’s not talk about this anymore.
        4. Anecdotes of customers being happy with their chips tells us nothing about failure rate and it’s relationship with load. Let’s not talk about this any more.
        5. Descriptions of frequent failure modes tells us nothing about failure and it’s relationship with load. Let’s not talk about this any more.
        What we want to talk about is load vs failure rate. Nothing else.

        Cam I don’t want to be a party pooper but you’ve just repeated the same flawed arguments that I’ve already been through. I feel this does not add any value to this article. I invite you to read the page on how failure works and discuss how this relates to increasing power by dumping more fuel into an engine. I would like you to explain how load can be increased without increasing failure rate. You must do this without resorting to the points I mention above. We want to get to the physics of failure and how it relates to increasing load. If you repeat the same stuff I’ll remove it because it adds no value.

        I design stuff and I know that every design is a compromise. If you change a design to make something better then you also make something else worse. This is universal. You could say an engineer’s role in life is to pick out of the infinitely many solutions the best solution for the problem at hand. The solution that is the best compromise. No solution is perfect but the engineer’s role is to find the solution that is the best compromise for the problem at hand. I invite you to explain what compromise is being made by extending the pulse width on injectors. What is the compromise that manufacturer’s refuse to tolerate? Something is made worse by extending the pulse width that the manufacturer’s are not happy to accept. What is it? If extending the pulse width was universally better then it would be like that out of the factory. Something must be compromised by changing the design in this way. What is it?

  11. OK
    lets talk about injectors. <waffle on injectors removed>

    • Hi Cam

      You resorted to item 5 above so I removed your post like I said I would. I don’t want to fill these comments with non-value adding discussions. Explanation of what a solenoid is? Explanation of surface area and it’s relationship with reaction rate? This is typical of people who don’t have a good answer – just waffle off some facts that you’ve remembered and don’t worry about addressing the topic. Keep on topic please. Try to focus on the concept of load vs failure rate rather than on your lengthy stories. Regarding design compromise, on an engine the compromises would involve power, reliability, emissions, noise, complexity, cost, low end torque, high end torque, fuel efficiency, vibration, weight, size, quality control, manufacturing tolerances and probably other things that I don’t know about. To change anything in a design changes all those parameters. The parameters are competing against each other, in conflict with each other. To change the design to make one parameter better invariably makes other parameters worse. For example you make it less weight then you make it weaker (weight vs reliability). You use exotic alloy to compensate but make it more expensive (reliability vs cost). You make it more powerful but make it less reliable (power vs reliability). This is common sense. Increasing pulse width on injectors can be done for zero cost. It’s just a software change. So we know cost isn’t the compromise that manufacturers aren’t willing to tolerate when it comes to increasing injector pulse width. I invite you to answer what is being compromised by increasing pulse width? Regarding failure, for you to have a comment that doesn’t get deleted you must explain how load can be increased without increasing failure rate as it relates to the theory described on the how failure works page. Or you can explain what is being compromised by increasing pulse width.

      To help with your response don’t refer to individual components. For example you can say adding a chip doesn’t increase the failure rate of the door handle. This is irrelevant. Increasing power output increases combustion pressure and torque loading. We know some components are experiencing an increase in load since pressure and torque are increased. What those parts actually are is irrelevant. The same as the parts that don’t experience an increase in load are irrelevant. What I want is an explanation using the theory on the how failure works page on how you can increase load without increasing failure rate. It’s possible, for example by making the engine bigger and stronger. But how do you do it when you install a chip?

      I noticed on your website a video on increasing power on a tractor. You use the engine management’s fuel usage indication to validate the chip is saving fuel. This is misleading and I’d even go as far as to say dishonest. You should know better than that. Some credibility was lost when I watched that video. The chip is dumping more fuel than what the engine management is calculating. The engine management’s fuel usage will always under report when a chip is installed. I don’t want to target your brand Cam but this is typical of chip vendors. Misleading info, exaggerated claims, lack of performance guarantees, ambiguous performance claims. Let me know when that video is removed so some credibility can be recovered.

      Please be concise in your response. Keep on topic.

      • Well Joe
        That is fine, it is your blog and you can control what you want printed here. I get frustrated when someone with an education and general knowledge of a subject makes blanket statements though. Like “There is less than 1% improvement to be had in a modern engine in terms of more complete burn” Please back this up with some facts.
        Or statements like “you got lucky on a couple of emissions tests” As I said before luck had nothing to do with passing these tests. They are required by law in Europe. Or if a “chip is installed and you have a failure your warranty is void” This is simply a misleading statement. In fact here in NA consumers are protected by a very strong Magnuson-Moss
        Warranty Act. This has been in place since 1975 to protect consumers from companies playing games with warranty. It would not have been put in place if many of the manufacturers did not bring it upon themselves by mistreating people.
        With regard to your question “what is being compromised by increasing pulse width” With regard to the injector nothing is being compromised. Increasing the pulse width from 3 to 4 ms does nothing to the injector that will increase the failure rate of the injector. Of course there is more fuel being injected. According to your “theory on failure” this increase in fuel will lead to an increase in failure of other components. Joe I agree with your theory I just do not accept the premise that the increased failure will manifest itself in the life cycle of the vehicle.
        Most vehicles come off the road and are no longer used because their value is so low that even minor service issues do not make economic sense.
        I have a car from my mother in-law that is 12 years old with 120kms on it. The car is pristine always garaged, always serviced and runs perfect. The auto transmission failed when a cooler line cracked and it ran out of oil. The car is worth $1500 running the trans is $2500 installed. So this pristine car is headed to the scrap.
        I can conceptualize just fine, however some of your theory on failure does not apply to the owner of a modern diesel vehicle. Your math says the life of the vehicle will be reduced by X% yet you do not say what the life expectancy is. You comment about my video being misleading. I submit these kinds of comments are misleading as well insomuch as your followers are convinced they will have a failure because a “chip” is installed. Yet most people, (no data here just experience) do not keep their vehicle to the point of failure. In our market we see virtually no 15 plus year old vehicles on the road.
        Regarding your comments on the video. These $500,000 tractors use Pierburg flow meters for their fuel consumption. In fact they have 2, one for the supply side and one on the return side. They measure fuel flow not calculate it based on some inputs. These tractors also have a torque sensor in the gearbox. At very high power outputs 500+ and very high torque a lot of damage can be done to gear boxes and drive train especially at low speed. Engine power is reduced depending on what gear is selected and on the torque input in the various gear selected to prevent damage caused by high torque low speed situations. No offense taken.

      • Heya Cam this latest post of yours is a bit better. So you admit it increases failure rate but you suggest not by much. This is better than denying the laws of physics. It’s hard to say how much failure rate is increased but in the article I suggest it’s significant. I base this on text book relationships between load and failure rate (cubic) and based on my experience of seeing chaps with blown up engines and being denied warranty. Look at typical S-N curves (search the web). Increasing load by some amount increases failure rate by a larger amount. The manufacturer is already picking a spot on the curve that they believe offers the best compromise between power and engine life.

        Yes modern engines are efficient and there isn’t much room to improve, especially the ridiculous 20% improvement that chip vendors suggest. There’s references, one that springs to mind are websites related to debunking fuel saving devices. Try google. Basically if something suggests “more complete burn” then steer clear.

        Yes there are laws that protect consumers from being denied warranty. But if you modify something and the modification contributes to failure then your warranty is void. That’s common sense. The manufacturer is not accountable for overloading their products. Putting a chip in is overloading the engine. Warranty is void, it’s a very clear case. Unless the entity providing the warranty agrees to the overload.

        Your video is dishonest. To move an object of a certain mass up a certain incline at a certain speed requires a fixed power output. Load is power output. But in your video apparently you keep the tractor running in the same conditions but at reduced load. Our old mate “the laws of physics” suggest otherwise. In your video, load and fuel consumption change by the same amount. This is proof that the chip is dumping more fuel than the ECU reports on that interface.

        In a higher gear the engine rpm is lower but the torque must be higher and the power output is the same. Power output has to be the same to move the same mass up the same incline at the same speed. Both the load indication and fuel consumption in your video are scaled down by the same amount that the injector pulse width is scaled up.

        Increasing the pulse width on the injectors is tantamount to changing a value in an excel spreadsheet from 3 to 4. This is further evidence that the fuel saving is not true. Are you suggesting that manufacturers will spend millions of dollars developing new engines but won’t exploit a 20% improvement in fuel efficiency for the sake of a few hours of engineering for software modifications to the master ECU program? To match your chip all they have to do is change a number in a program from 3 to 4 but they won’t do it? Cam I am involved in software design for process control. It’s my expertise. I know what’s involved in optimising software. I know what’s involved in designing new hardware. It is preposterous to suggest manufacturers wouldn’t exploit such substantial gains for the sake of changing a number in some software. Can you please explain?

        There are three reasons why we know there is a compromise in increasing injector pulse width. Firstly you admit it! You finally admit that failure rate increases when more fuel is dumped in (but you believe not by much). Secondly changing one thing in any design invariably makes something else worse. This is common sense for anyone involved in design. Thirdly the manufacturer does not do it out of the factory. If it was universally better it would be done already. Can you explain that for the sake of a few hours of software engineering the manufacturer refuses to exploit longer injector pulse width which according to your video would improve fuel consumption by 20%?

  12. Hello Joe
    With regard to your last paragraph about injector pulse width from the factory. The factory does change pulse width from one rating of a given engine to the next high output. That is the only thing they change. For 4 different outputs of the 9.0L Deere the only change is pulse width. As you have stated a number of times, increased fuel injected creates more power output and ultimately reduced the life of the engine. Again as you have said, Deere is accepting the fact that if they sell a 9L with 350 output versus 300 they are accepting the warranty risk that this extra output could cause.
    We have seen many industrial engines with a lot of hours and have not seen this manifest yet in 6 years (the time we have been selling this product) In fact we have not seen a single engine failure with more than 4000 sales over that time.
    Back to the video. I think a little more explanation is needed. We have never said 20% increase is fuel savings. We talk 3 to 6% average over time on these high output engines in the right conditions.
    In the case of this video customer, he called us because this 550HP tractor could not pull the load up the hills. He would be down to 4th gear (3.8mph) with 16 to 20% slippage on the tracks. FYI these guys want to pull these seeders at a very specific speed to place the seed and fertilizer in the ground in the proper location. Depending on the soil openers on the seeders faster or slower (just by 1/2 mph) affects the seed placement. I was not at this location when the video was done but I think these guys want 5mph. So when they are on the hills and they have to gear down because they have exceeded the max output of the engine seed placement is affected. Further to this at 20% slip they are wasting a lot of fuel to slip the tracks on top of this they are causing a lot of extra wear on the track surfaces. These particular machines are weighing in at 68000lbs and when these tracks are slipping like this over the soil little stones etc gouge the hell out of the track surface.
    Joe these are massive machines and with the huge power they have if you gear down the torque multiplication that happens in very low gears is insane. That is why they have the torque sensor now so as to not damage mostly the differentials.
    A few years ago these older machines came without the low gear/torque sensing. We have seen this units pulling dirt scrapers and the the operator shifted down to 2nd gear (1 mph) and 535HP Cummins 15L in front (no module) tear the teeth right off the pinion shaft. Low speed and super high torque is the enemy of the diffs in these machines.
    So back to this tractor. FYI the identical tractor is available in 600HP, like my Deere example same engine same everything. On the oscilloscope we see .3 to .4 MS increase in PW on the 600 versus the 550.
    Again the customer called us because he could not do the job he wanted in the hills. So with the module on the machine he was producing approx 700 hp. Now this allowed him as you can see maintain the speed and reduce the slip. I am sure you are aware the speed versus slip situation from some of your stuck in the sand pictures.
    Are we injecting more fuel into this engine….of course and unlike some manufactures we never claim we do not. However when we reduce RPM because we can with the increased torque available we reduce friction losses, but mostly we are reducing slippage because they are able to carry the speed. This customer just finished planting 70000 acres with 6 of these machines. They installed a module on all of them. Some of the machines were working mostly on flat ground and some in the hills almost the entire time. From the time of install to completing their work they kept track of every liter of fuel that went into the machines on a liter per acres basis. They just reported yesterday an average reduction of fuel burned of just under 4%. You might argue this is nothing and in automotive applications you would be right. However at 100L per hour max times 6 machines this is significant. However it was not the fuel they were even concerned about but the ability to maintain speed very accurately.
    Joe we get calls all the time from customers “we want a chip to reduce our fuel consumption” After 6 years and some disappointed customers we will not sell a product without “interrogating the customer” about his application. If he is only under 60% load and the engine is not working we can not help him. However our experience has shown that if the customer has high duty cycle loads we most of the time can provide some improvement.
    Harvesters are really where we see some significant number. If you are interested I will explain.

    • Yes manufacturers do change pulse width. Let me rephrase the question. Why don’t manufacturers increase pulse width to the same extent that a chip does so as to make the chip redundant? There’s a compromise and that compromise is failure rate. The manufacturer has already picked a point that is the best compromise between power and failure rate based on their understanding of duty and their accumulated knowledge of failures and warranty claims that they’ve experienced. But they don’t take into account specific production requirements. Yes overloading equipment can be profitable if the extra production more than offsets the increase in failure rate. However chip vendors only tell one side of the story – the increase in production or increase in performance. It’s misleading, especially to you’re average Joe in 4WD car.

      So that I understand correctly, the chip saves fuel on a harvester because it prevents a gear change and the gear change causes wheel spin? How does gear selection impact wheel traction? I could believe a 4% fuel saving on a very specific scenario with a harvester and incline and load and speed and rpm were just perfect for the amount of fuel that the chip dumps in. It’s a pretty specific scenario though. Under ideal conditions you’ve got a 4% improvement yet the harvester video indicates an instantaneous fuel saving of 20%. How do you explain that?

  13. Joe, your article has as much or if not more crap in it than all the chip companys in australia put together. The great thing about it all is that no proof or evidence from either side is needed before all the advertising bs goes out. Without a doubt there is chip companys selling them and fitting them with no knowledge of how a crd engine works, let alone diagnose a failure of a component. Now i know you are only giving your opinion but from what area of expertice are you coming from. What field experience do you have in regards to fixing and recovering all these vehicles that you say fail and break. So many vehicles are released every year with new engine management updates to fix up the problems that the model before had and always with an extra 5% or so of power and torque yet they have the same chassis, drive shafts etc,etc. Some vehicles have exactly the same chassis and suspension ,gearbox materials and drive train as they did nearly 20 years ago but there current paired engine puts out 10 times the power and torque. Major marketing campaigns from leading 4×4 magazines stating the chips come tuned to the exhaust (impossible) or that we dont raise fuel pressure or blah blah blah, i could go on. More cars fail due to manufacturer faults every year than any piggy back chip systems so i do not know why you would argue that if it was better that the manufacturer would do it. I like a good debate and i only offer facts and am happy to be corrected when wrong, something i believe you are not. Are you telling people to also not put oil/air catch cans on modern engines, extra fuel filters, suspension suited to their application , upgraded cooling systems for vehicles towing or not to change the dual mass fly wheel and clutch assy out for a heavy duty solid conversion if they are doing more than dropping the kids at school. CRD injectors are built for high pressure so even if a chip is only intercepting rail pressure and manipulating the signal the mechanical plunger in the end of the rail releases, so any raised pressure under that through the rev range would be fine according to your theory that manufacturers get it right?. I would think that longer inj pulse width would be more damaging to an injector due to the fact that electrical load would be more. But to sell there chip some chip sellers attacked rail chips as bad things and it caught on with the public( i call it bbq talk), and rail was out ,but now we see chips with both and the argument is ,oh its just dangerous by itself. The world has just seen the start of diesel tuning and we are going to see massive fuel pressures unheard of ,injectors firing 12-20 times a combustion stroke and power and torque unimaginable and guess what they will still have the same engine bottom ends , same chassis and pump up tyres. I base all my writing on facts that i have seen myself , fixed myself not bbq talk! I own my own workshop , repairing crd vehicles ,tuning them, upgrading them but do not only stand behind one brand. I fit what works , whats safe and upgrade a system of a vehicle not just one part of it, and that is how chipping a vehicle can be done safe with long lasting performance and reliability. And i am happy to tell people that they dont need any upgrade and have many times so i come from both sides! So i really hope that anybody that has not up upgraded there vehicle based on your article goes and gets all the real facts from someone that has experience and understanding of their requirements. I really hope any grey nomads on here have not head off towing a caravan with a stock engine. All of your wear and tear theory is so irrelevant and i am yet to have a vehicle towed in with a damaged drive train that a chip has been the cause, but have had under powered stock vehicles with insufficient cooling systems towed in because the engine could not safely tow what the manufacturer claimed. There is alot more to be said on the matter so i look forward to your reply. Cheers

    • Hey Rhys. Too much repetitive waffle is cramming up this article, it’s getting boring. You’ve just repeated the same old stuff and added no value. You say you enjoy a good debate but to have a good debate you actually need to address what’s being discussed. You need to refer to specifics and explain why they are wrong. For example you could say “diesel gensets get higher ratings depending on duty which reflects the higher failure rate of more power. This doesn’t apply to diesels engines in vehicles because…” Or you could refer to the how failure works article and use the theory to explain how an increase in power can occur without increasing failure rate. Manufacturers changing power ratings does not explain the physics of failure. Manufacturers cannot circumvent the laws of physics. If they crank up the power without changing anything then failure rate increases. I’m really tired of people repeating the same old “manufacturer’s do it” argument. It’s not valid. What we want to discuss is how increasing power relates to failure rate. Which organisation provides the increase in power is irrelevant.

      You state “More cars fail due to manufacturer faults every year than any piggy back chip systems so i do not know why you would argue that if it was better that the manufacturer would do it”. This doesn’t make sense. Can you explain why manufacturers wouldn’t exploit an extremely cheap and simple improvement? The improvement can be made in software only. It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. They don’t do it because there are other failure modes? So no improvement can ever be made when there are other failure modes? Why would they invest millions of dollars developing new engines if they could exploit all these gains without compromise for the sake of a few hours of software engineering?

      A component’s mean time between failure is a function of all failure modes. Whatever the mean time between failure, if you put in a chip you make it less. It doesn’t matter that there are failure modes related to manufacturing defects. Put in a chip and mean time between failure reduces and failure rate increases. Installing a chip may exacerbate design flaws and cause premature failure. The fact that the flaw is there in the first place is irrelevant. The difference in failure rate between not having the chip and having the chip is the compromise you make for having a chip installed.

      You say power has increased by 10 times in the last 20 years? Are you saying there’s examples of diesel engines from 1995 that were say 80kW or something and now they are producing 800kW? Rhys your credibility goes out the window with statements like this. Don’t waffle crap. I may not have hard data. I may not have conducted a study on failure rate on vehicles with and without chips. No one has. But at least I substantiate my claims with some science, explanation and logic. You fail to do that. Can you provide the data showing the 80kW and 800kW engines? What manufacturer? Can you provide data of manufacturers increasing power whilst keeping the mechanicals exactly the same? How do you verify “exactly the same”? The current series hilux has gone through heaps of upgrades since its introduction, particularly in the fuel delivery system, injectors etc. But power rating has not changed. So actually the exact opposite of what you suggest is occurring. Mechanicals are changing to improve reliability whilst power is staying the same.

      Rhys I don’t care about your experience. You can’t discredit the science of this article with your anecdotal evidence. This article isn’t about telling stories. Your experience doesn’t explain how failure works and your experience is offset by other experiences. For example there’s a case that just happened where a guy with a chip had his engine blow up. It was a pretty new car still under warranty and Toyota denied warranty. Chip manufacturer convinced him that the chip did not cause the failure so he took Toyota to court. The judge ruled that the chip caused the failure. Now he can’t pursue the chip manufacturer because they have gone bankrupt. So he’s left with a blown up engine and a big legal bill because of his chip. I’ve heard heaps about engines failing with chips. I don’t sell chips so maybe that explains why your experience is different.

      I don’t care if you think increasing rail pressure is better than increasing pulse width. Each vendor claims their method is best. It’s irrelevant. Seems like you sell the one that increases rail pressure. In any case it doesn’t explain how failure works. The way you dump more fuel in the engine is irrelevant.

      Every design is a compromise. The manufacturer’s design is not perfect. To pick one of your examples, yes modifying suspension can be a benefit. For example if your application involves constant heavy loads then go for it. But you’ll suffer a very firm and bouncy ride when unloaded. This is the compromise. Putting a chip in is also good. It makes the car more fun to drive, better for towing and safer for overtaking. But there are compromises involved. Same as everything in design. Run away from anyone who suggests all benefit no compromise.

      I’m not going to accept the same waffle. If it comes it will get deleted. Address something specific related to my explanations on how chips relate to failure. Or explain the physics behind how power can be increased without increasing failure rate. Otherwise save your time.

  14. Joe,

    I’ve read through this whole debate. Very long and somewhat redundant, but very interesting. Although I see the theoretical merit of your argument, any good scientist knows that a theory without predictable, empirical data to back it up is just…well, a theory. You don’t have verifiable, predictable data, just anecdotes of folks with chipped engines having problems. That doesn’t prove much.

    The problem I have with your theory is that you say, “dumping more fuel into an engine will necessarily cause more wear and tear and parts failures”. But you don’t know the rate of such predicted failure (as Cam pointed out), nor do you know which part(s) will experience more wear and tear than others. The parts that experience the most wear and tear may very well be the parts that can best tolerate wear and tear (since that’s how engines are designed if kept within certain tolerances). If that happens to be the case the rate of failure will be less than you have generically predicted in your “theory of failure,” and/or the time required for failure will have increased.

    The theory you are putting forth is no doubt true in some generic way, but nobody (including you) has any idea if the truth of your theory has any relevance or bearing on actual engines that have actually received tuning upgrades. In other words, your theory of failure can be true and irrelevant at the same time. You choose to believe the “true” perspective so you won’t buy a chip for your engine. Until I see the data to prove the theory I believe the theory is operationally irrelevant.

    • Hi Steve

      Thanks for your comment. This is not my theory. It’s well established and documented reliability theory. It’s straight out of the book. It’s been developed to explain observed data.

      Yes the increase in failure rate can exist but not be relevant for the application or user. I haven’t conducted experiments on vehicle failure rates with or without chips. No one has. I do have some pretty good evidence:

      -original manufacturers do not exploit this ridiculously simple, cheap and easy to implement solution to increase power and improve fuel efficiency. They do invest hundreds of millions developing new engines. This suggests there’s a significant compromise involved in doing what chips do. We know failure rate must increase according to well established theory. I’m assuming it’s failure rate that is the significant compromise. The vehicle manufacturer can implement exactly what a chip does through a very minor software change yet they chose not to due to some compromise which can be reasonably attributed to failure rate because that’s what the theory tells us.

      -generally, in engineering and design, if a solution is simple, cheap, effective and with little compromise then it will be universally adopted. A chip is simple, cheap and effective (at increasing power) yet the solution is not universally adopted. The problem is with compromise.

      -manufacturers of large diesel engines (CAT, cummins) universally have 3 different ratings for the same engine – standby, prime and continuous. I know this is due to the significant impact of failure rate vs load from my experience as an electrical engineer specifiying and purchasing large diesel engines for power stations. I’m assuming the same thing applies for engines in cars, since those engines exist in the same universe as the gensets. What is your reasoning to suggest it doesn’t?

      -well published typical relationships between load and failure rate (S-N curves, probability distributions) all reflect the same thing – failure rate increases disproportionately for any increase in load from any starting point.

      You agree the theory is true. What is your evidence to suggest the impact is not significant? Apart from stories of people not having issues which can be countered by stories of people having issues. You can’t discredit the science of this article with anecdotal evidence!


      • hi Joe,

        So sorry for the delayed reply, but I didn’t bookmark your blog and couldn’t remember its name! I’ve stumbled upon it once again while researching diesel tuners, so I will bookmark it this time.

        Your argument stated in your August 12th reply to me is flawed logically and is economically naive.

        First, logic: I disagree with your characterization of all piggyback tuners as “ridiculously simple and cheap”: That was true of the crudest analog circuit breakers that are still being marketed, but it is definitely not true of tuning modules made by companies like AC Schnitzer, Hartge, Steinbauer Peformance, etc. Because of the mode of operation of their tuning modules stress and strain on engine components is greatly reduced. These boxes cost anywhere from $1500-4500 for passenger cars and are fairly sophisticated in their operation, basically acting as a complement ECU to the car’s ECU. They are neither cheap or simple. If you choose to deny that these modules are any different than the $90 “chip” prevalent 25 years ago “because they basically all work the same way,” then you do not know whereof you speak. Once your assumption of “ridiculously simple and cheap” is taken away, then the logic behind your first two points crumbles in a flash.

        Second, economics: Manufacturers choose not to add in performance enhancements beyond a certain point because it doesn’t make economic sense. You want to have enough OEM performance to keep up with the competition in your car’s class. That level of enhancement will be OEM. Some of that enhancement technology is relatively cheap and straightforward, some of it is more expensive and complex but less reliable. So far, so good–keeping up with the competition is important. But in order to pad your bottom line to the greatest extent possible you want to be able to ALSO sell power enhancements as extra upgrades, either as trim levels for your OEM products or as manufacturer’s aftermarket products. How much does a electronic tweak to a car’s ECU really cost the manufacturer to produce once the original powertrain research has been done? Not much–but they still sell it for an arm and a leg. These manufacturer’s optional upgrades are expensive not because of the technology involved, but because even these upgrades fall prey to the load/failure curve you mention and the sales proceeds are needed to pay for the increased failure rate of cars under warranty. But of course most of the failures from manufacturers’ power upgrades will come after the warranty expires.

        It’s not that manufacturers’ endogenous power upgrades are not risky and exogenous upgrades are–they are all risky because of the S-N curve you describe. Auto manufacturers use these upgrades to increase market share and profit margins. Many consumers will pay more for manufacturers’ upgrades–but nobody knows if there is enough added value there to justify the cost differential (where there is one).

        I see your method of argument as being to assert an accepted generic theory about load and failure rates, then try to reverse engineer the empirical world of automobile manufacturing and engine dynamics to provide support for the theory. But that’s not how scientific theory works: Theory is supposed to PREDICT empirical data–data that you don’t have.

        You said: “You agree the theory is true. What is your evidence to suggest the impact is not significant? Apart from stories of people not having issues which can be countered by stories of people having issues.”

        My main source of confidence (I won’t call it proof, because neither you or I have anything resembling proof) is the marketplace. Companies like Steinbauer Performance operate all around the world and sell thousands upon thousands of tuning modules to corporations (agricultural, trucking, mining etc.) and to individuals. SP (for example) has been doing so for over twenty years. Many of these international corporations have put millions of dollars of expensive machinery at risk by using these tuning modules. It’s beyond my level of comprehension as to why these hardheaded, smart and very successful businessmen and women would put their companies’ survival at risk by using dangerous equipment throughout their asset line. They must have empirical data as to the sufficient safety of these modules over time, in which case generic load and failure theory isn’t worth a bag of beans to them.

        Conclusion: If it’s good enough for Caterpillar, it’s good enough for me. You can tuck your S-N curve under your pillow at night if it helps you sleep better.

      • Yo Steven

        To cover some of your arguments:

        Ridiculously cheap and easy – in Cam’s comments above he admitted that all a Steinbauer does is extend injector pulse width. There are videos on the net verifying with oscilloscopes that this is the case. I could build a Steinbauer myself with a few bucks worth of gadgets and programming an al-cheapo microprocessor. A vehicle manufacturer could incorporate this into their factory ECU with a few hours of engineering effort. It’s the equivalent of changing some numbers in a table. The ongoing manufacturing costs would be zero. If incorporated into the initial design then the additional design cost would also be zero. So zero manufacturing cost and close to zero engineering cost isn’t cheap? Changing values in a table isn’t easy? How cheap and easy do you want it? If you choose to deny that almost zero cost is cheap and changing some numbers in a table is easy then you do not know whereof you speak. The price that vendors sell a chip for is irrelevant. Don’t waste my time with this argument.

        Economics – manufacturers do not sell chips. They do not make money from chips. They have already picked a level of power that they believe provides the best possible long term profit. It’s ridiculous to suggest that manufactures sell chips. It’s like saying Samsung will sell you a smart phone with a GPS receiver and then offer you a Navman GPS which they cable tie to the back of your phone. There is no way vehicles are coming out of the manufacturer’s factory with a piggy back chip installed. In the same factory they are downloading the ECU program and you suggest they’ll throw money away adding redundant hardware? Can you point to a manufacture’s website that indicates they have a factory accessory in the form of a piggy back chip? Let’s say http://www.toyota.com.au or something like that.

        Dealers sell chips. This is no more relevant than any other vendor selling chips. Dealers also sell suspension lift kits that are illegal and lead to premature CV joint failure and bull bar / winch combos that overload the front axle. If this is your benchmark then you may need to re-consider. Dealers are interested in maximising the dealership’s profit at the expense of long term sustainability of any particular model. If I see further mention of dealers selling chips the comment will be deleted. I don’t want to waste time on this front.

        It’s incredible that you bring science into the argument when I’m using well established science that’s consistent with any experiment ever done and you have some stories of using chips. Science involves building a theory to explain data and then applying that theory to make predictions and build models. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Reliability theory was developed to explain observations. Now I apply that theory to make predictions. You counter that with stories?

        Yes people involved in agriculture or mining production will overload their equipment. Actually this is exactly what I am involved with. Process control optimisation is sometimes as simple as increasing setpoints. That’s pretty much exactly what a chip does. In my job sometimes I change software to purposely overload equipment to get more production. If the extra production offsets the loss of warranty, increased maintenance and increased failure rate then it’s worth overloading the equipment. But in mining and agriculture this tradeoff is acknowledged and owned rather than your method of denial. I guess that’s the point of this article – to get people thinking in terms of tradeoff rather than to have a position of denial which is what the chip vendors want.

        What’s good enough for Caterpillar? Have you even read the article above and the discussion with Cam? Caterpillar will only crank up the power if your application is for a lighter duty. It’s clearly articulated in their datasheets and documentation. They do not strap on a piggy back chip. They change the ECU mapping from the factory provided you meet their criteria for the duty defined for that power output. This is because of the significant impact of power output on failure. Caterpillar are perfectly aligned with everything I’ve said. If you get more power at a heavier duty than specified then you lose your warranty. Caterpillar do not strap piggy back chips onto their engines out of the factory. Dealers may sell them but we don’t want to waste more time discussing that.

        So if you say “it’s good enough for Caterpillar, it’s good enough for me” then you will not increase power output for a given duty because you know it will significantly impact failure rate.

        I don’t need to put S-N curves under my pillow since I don’t have a chip to worry about. Sounds like you do need to put something under your pillow to help you sleep – something to make you believe you aren’t adversely impacting the failure rate of your investment.

      • Honestly Joe, get off your high horse.
        I am a diesel mechanic and hear nothing but good news for those with chips treating their vehicle well.
        The rule of modification is generally, if you modify one thing you need to change three others.
        Let’s not forget that you can still drive a falcodoor with a traumatic transmission connected to a 383 stroker and make it home if you treat it well.
        Manufacturers limit their vehicles for emissions and to retain the ability to pump a few more horses into their next model with the same engine for a perceived improvement over the last year model, why not extract a few more ponies for a plug in unit?
        With all of your experience and knowledge, maybe you would have a market in selling a superior chip system, it’s staring you on the face!
        Different chips alter different variables and research is needed if you know what to ask for, duration of injection is so much more important and safe than increasing pressures alone, altered timing on the fly is another parameter that wins me over.
        Fuel alone raises EGT’s in a big way and should be avoided.
        There is more benefit than loss from using a good chip, justifying it on fuel saving alone is pointless on a daily driven vehicle but we don’t do these things for the saving alone as good as it can be.
        That would be like buying a HSV R8 to save fuel on the way to church on Sundays.
        I disagree on the longevity too, but it depends on the operator of the vehicle and the monitoring of the engine’s criticals.
        I wont be back, but your physics don’t work in a real world situation.

  15. Hi Joe,
    I have really enjoyed many of your posts, including diesel chips and larger exhausts. I am wondering if you have an opinion of LPG systems for diesel engines.

    • Hey Daniel I wouldn’t get LPG injection on my diesel. Apart from dumping in more fuel and having the same compromises as a performance chip, with LPG you’re introducing a new fuel and opening up a plethora of additional risks. The engine is not designed for LPG. Any suggestions of it improving efficiency I believe are not correct. Any reduction in diesel consumption is due to it being offset by the energy from burning the gas. It’s no different to dumping in more diesel, you’re just dumping a different type of fuel instead. Any claims of “more complete burn” are not correct. You can disregard any device that claims “more complete burn”. There is a small saving made using gas injection since gas is offsetting some of the diesel and gas is cheaper. So it saves you some fuel costs but not because it makes anything more efficient. If that saving is of interest to you then LPG is an option. Gas these days doesn’t save much since the cost of gas has come up and once you take into account the reduced energy density of gas the savings aren’t much. So for me the risks aren’t worth the returns in terms of fuel savings and capital outlay and if I really wanted a bit more power I’d get a good chip that modifies pulse width only and use a modest tune setting.

  16. hi Joe,

    I just re-read your introductory essay to this blog. it’s really quite reasonable and there’s nothing much I can disagree with. I do think your use of equations to calculate increasing failure rate based on increasing intensity and duration of power demands incorporate a lot of wiggle room without actual empirical verification of the theoretical numbers being used (as I think you admit). But of course increased mechanical demands on mechanical parts will result in increased wear and tear and an (little-known) increased rate of component failure. But there are too many variables in the use of any particular engine to predict the fate of any given engine, except to say that the longer and harder you drive it the more likely you will have issues. This is true whether or not you choose to modify the engine. Decreased RPMs or not, if that vehicle is being pushed/pulled through space faster, that engine is running harder.

    If you want to run your engine for 500K km one becomes concerned about things (like tuning modules) that could decrease its life by 25% to “only” 400K km. But the number of people who choose to own a vehicle/run an engine for that long a period are quite few–and I am not one of them. My tuning module does have all the bells & whistles (plus an on/off switch) that are able to decrease the inevitable wear and tear by ??? percent. It is not worth it to you (or to most people) to pay $1300US for a module that you only use occasionally. But for some, having that extra oomph in your pocket is a kick in itself, and even more of a kick when that switch is turned to “on” and you feel that kick in your butt dyno.

    But I do appreciate your reasonable approach–all you’re trying to do is to warn people that there is no such thing as a free lunch or a free kick in the butt. I totally agree and choose to let my wild child out of his cage at times–and maximum engine longevity be damned!

    • Hey Steven. Good answer, I was getting worried on your last post. Yes let out your wild child and live life with more power. Living life can be defined as a process of choosing which risks are worth taking based on their returns (the happiness they bring). No risk = no life. Looks like we can both be happy on this one!

  17. Hi Jo,
    I like your detailed article. Pitty my husband didn’t read it as he’s just bought I chip off ebay for our ’08 Nissan patrol and IMMEDIATELY the car drove crap. Went to work 15 min drive and used 1/4 of a tank. Took it to mechanic to take out chip, now car still running crap. Goodness knows how much it will cost to fix, had a perfectly running vehicle before but for some reason some men want to modify everything & IMPROVE what’s not broken. What would I know I’m a girl! (yes I’m quite ticked off right now)

    • Hey Wendy thats pretty bad luck. Either there is something wrong with the chip or there was something already wrong with the motor. The chip may have contributed to the failure but I doubt a chip would immediately cause catastrophic failure with 100% blame unless the chip was stuffed. Use a chip modestly and treat the motor well and many people have long living engines with chips. Pretty unlucky. Although being a patrol it’s somewhat expected!

  18. Hi All
    I have found the blog at the best possible time as I am considering chipping a 7 year old Patrol with 100,000km. Why? Because for the past 12 months I have been towing a van and I am aware of the lack of power under certain conditions which could be a danger to myself and other . An exhaust upgrade has already helped so I have been looking at the Chip which is a cheaper option than a new vehicle, plus I love my Patrol. Joes initial comments and observations seem to make considerable sense and would have steered me away from chipping. I am glad I continued with the rest of the blog and read Cams and Steve’s replies with considerable interest, As they both seem to be highly qualified diesel engineers/mechanics with a wealth of experience and proven examples of the diesel technology I am surprised at you Joe that you continue to bash the same old drum when you have obviously been put in your place through deliberated debate. I sympathise with Wendy for the poor performance of her chipped Patrol but it is obvious you get what you pay for. Duane will now be pleased as I will be going to my diesel mechanic to have a Steinbauer fitted. Many thanks to Cam and Steve for putting me on the right track. I will return with a regular update on how my Patrol is running, warts and all if Joe lets this reply see the light of day

    • Hey Tim how are you dude? Can you explain where I have obviously been put in my place? Did you even read Cam’s and Steve’s comments? All they brought to the table was the same old invalid arguments like “manufacturers do it” or “I know a guy and his engine lasted a long time.” In fact Steve got over his denial and ended up agreeing with me. What comments have you been reading?

      Yes people use the safety argument to justify installing a chip. Can you please point me to the research that correlates increased mortality with decreased power? Because the only research I’ve seen demonstrates the exact opposite. I am yet to hear about a road fatality attributed to insufficient engine power. Why the denial? Just be honest and say you’d enjoy more power and you’re happy to sacrifice some engine life to get it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  19. Hi Joe
    Yes, I read the entire blog which was fascinating and I congratulate you on kicking things off from a technical side of things. However, I found both Cams and Steve’s points much more grounded than your own as they have quoted numerous examples and actual hands on experience with real diesel vehicles over many years. Whereas you have only put forward basic physical concepts involving load and failure but no real examples of vehicles on the road. As an end user of a diesel I will go with the diesel experts. As far as fatalities are concerned may I direct you to ttp://www.caravanningnews.com/octaccis.htm. This is an Australian Vanning news letter that reports many incidents and fatalities. You will see that there are a lot of examples where road trains and heavy goods vehicles have been overtaking slower towed rigs and have been responsible for accidents. From experience if you have greater towing ability on tap then you are able to avoid such situations, hence the need for chipping a diesel. To put things into perspective, in the UK last year there were 5480 incidents involving caravans. The question should be asked, how many could have been avoided if the tow vehicle had more power on call. If I lose a bit of long levity from my trusty Patrol but gain safety and my own long levity by chipping my diesel it is well worth it. However, from what Can and Steve say, if I maintain my vehicle properly I should see the same life span of my diesel as if it was not chipped. We will have to wait and see.

    • ahh yeah some people die on the road. Can you tell me which bits of research say insufficient engine power was a contributing factor? Less powerful engine means less aggressive overtaking and generally going slower. As for road trains overtaking, that is voluntary. Any modern vehicle can tow a van faster than a road train. They’ve already got a butt load more power than equivalent vehicles of a few years ago but some old geezers go slow on purpose to save fuel and reduce wear and then force road trains into risky overtaking. I think you’ll find the relationship between engine power and fatility rate is positively correlated. This is why insurance premiums rise for vehicles with more power. And why in some countries / states sale of high powered vehicles are restricted, especially for youngsters.

      Dude, did you really read the comments? Cam and Steve admit that increasing power must increase failure rate. Your idea of “same life span” is not possible. What are you smoking?

      So those guys have some stories of vehicles with chips where all went well. If that is your gold standard for “obviously put in your place” then you’re a pretty relaxed dude! I have some stories of blown up engines from chips and I don’t have a conflict of interest making money from them. Plus the good ol’ laws of physics are pretty handy to be on the side of. You can’t discredit the laws of physics with anecdotal evidence!

      • Hi Joe

        Apologies for the late response but I had passed your blog to my brother in law and I have been waiting for his call back. He has a reasonable amount of experience as an automotive designer having worked for nearly 40 years in the industry for the likes of Alfa, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Rolls and he is presently with GM. He passed your comments to GMs engine division and they have supported Cams comments to the T. And do you know what they said? “Chip away!”

        You started this discussion in a well thought out manor but now you are being called to book you do not wish to accept the response from the REAL experts not some layman. I am seriously concerned about your continued reference to partaking in illegal substances and I can only conclude from the break down in your argument that your brain is fried from the stuff.

        I for one will be going with the experts on this one and I will be chipping my Patrol rather than listen to some pot smoking whako!

      • Yo Tim you’re still smoking something by the sounds of things. I’m not sure what your point is. Cam admitted that more power increases failure rate. Can you tell me exactly what claims GM are supporting? That the law of physics can be circumvented? Or that enjoying more power and accepting a higher failure rate is a perfectly reasonable thing to do?

        What are the experts saying? Cam is saying that failure rate is increased but to the extent that it won’t affect most customers. He is saying that, for his customers, the benefits outweigh the negatives. This of course is personal choice. There are still negatives.

        I just called God and he asked his son and he said in this universe the laws of physics must be adhered to and that increasing power must increase failure rate.

        Tim you’ve added nothing except saying “you are wrong and the other guy is right” even though the other guy agrees with me. Adding more power is useful. Weigh it up against the negatives and make a decision. What’s your point?

  20. So what about those Denver Broncos?

  21. Actually all of you made great arguements, thank you. I guess I will keep what i have, a Stock 04 dodge 2500 diesel. Althouth the thought of stepping on it every once in awhile does sound fun. I believe it would become a habit. So………what are your thoughts on smoking babyback ribs to perfection?

    • Heya Jim my thoughts are they taste delicious. But I am trying to cut back on meat intake. Yeah stepping on it is fun. Costs money though in fuel and vehicle which means less camping, less beer, less babyback ribs and more working.

  22. Thanks, no fiddling on my BMW 318dA. I ‘ll by something faster next time to stand in the local gridlock.

  23. G’day all.
    History; I own a Navara D22 ZD30 engine ’06 model. I recently bought a modchip on ebay with paypal for $128au.I was getting worried because the profile of the seller disappeared the day after I bought it and there was nothing in the post for a few weeks.I tried to get some info from ebay but it said the delivery date (of 18/12/14) wasn’t up,so I had to wait.Yesterday.Friday 28/11/14 it turned up,woohoo.

    Why am I here? I got a bit worried with the home packaging of the chip with the return address of Slovenia.So decided to do some research (Yes,a bit late to shut the gate but I’m a read the instructions later type of person)

    Sorry but I kind of tuned out when Cam started his l o n g debat with you.Sorry Cam,I have the attention span of a gnat.So I don’t know how much more you guys covered (I may read it later).

    I must say first off ,outbackjoe,I agree that I cant see how a mod chip can make the engine last longer.So it was a bit of an eyebrow raiser when I read the marketing on my chip suggested it does. It also states that the housing is waterproof yet in the instructions (yes,I actually read them) it says mount it up where it wont get wet.
    I’m going to try the chip even though I have reservations.
    I’ll update if it goes pear shape or if I have something worth adding.
    Happy camping,

    • Hey Pete good luck with your chip, that’s a super cheapie that you got. A chip vendor claiming it makes the engine last longer? Haha the claims that some vendors make are ridiculous. No need to read the long winded discussions, it’s just all repetition of the same arguements that are already invalidated in the article.

  24. Hi Pete

    I think you are asking for trouble fitting a cheap chip, especially off ebay. I researched the topic to great length and went for a reputable diesel mechanic with a known history of supplying , installing and guaranteeing their work but its not cheap! ($1800). I found Joes site to be very informative as he kicked off a great discussion and some real experts came to the table. I would advise you DO read the entire long winded discussion and come to your own conclusions. This entire blog certainly helped me make my mind up.

  25. Hi all, thanks for the great debate!, everyone’s comments have been very valid and informative. Trouble is now I’m in a tizzy, it’s still 50/50 for me. All I want is to get rid of the turbo lag. I’ve rounded my search down to the DP Chip and Steinbauer, but the steinbauer power increase is huge and that worries me. I do believe more power=more wear and I WANT to believe these chips use less fuel. My Triton’s only 12mnths old, maybe I should just hit mitsubishi up to correct the lag. Advice?

    • Yo brad you might just need some extra grunt down low. Chips are good for that – they dump more fuel in especially down low at the expense of extra wear and soot. Don’t get a chip if you want to save fuel.

  26. Outbackjoe is completely correct on nothing comes for free, there is always a trade off. I specialise in heavy duty gas turbines in the LNG sector, with a strong emphasis on performance monitoring and rotating equipment. Put simply, temperature limits on hot gas path components in gas turbines is the same as a turbocharger. Operating at higher temperatures for longer greatly reduces the life of metals subjected to heat. I opted against an upgrade chip, for the simple facts of turbo fatigue, fuel rail pulsations.
    When a salesman for their product, can provide me with supporting evidence such as FEA report (to prove the turbo life isn’t reduced) CFD or a pulsations study into any changes to into fuel pressure then I would be happy to install there product. If longevity of engine life isn’t a priority, then do your research, an on off mode is a must.
    Automotive manufacturers employ many test engineers from the engine through to the wheels. These guys analyse everything, if you want to know more, check out websites of the companies who provide the test equipment and specialised software (Lms instruments, Oros instruments, Ansys, Ideas, Matlab)

    • Hey Simon yeah good points – the original manufacturers go through a pretty thorough design process. Chip vendors bypass all that and just build a device that dumps more fuel in the engine. Chips are pretty crude really. But they’re also a simple and effective way of getting a bit more power. So still an option for those who are happy to take on the risk.

  27. “I’m an electrical / process control engineer” – how is that supposed to help qualify you? It doesn’t. And your analogy that chips ‘dump more fuel in the engine’ is a gross generalisation.

    • Good work Tony, nice contribution. Do you want me to re-type the rest of that paragraph into the comments for you?

    • Outbackjoe, whilst your intentions are good, unfortunately YOU my friend are not qualified to openly make these statements. Unless you have spent some real time (read 30+ years) working with diesel engines, I fail to see how anybody with a smidgin of commonsense could take you seriously. Stick to what you know and retain your integrity.

      • Hey Larry some great points you make backed with sound science and explanation. Good contribution.

        Yeah it’s funny that practically every chip that I know of has been designed by some mechanic with 30 years experience, probably in his corrugated iron shed. These same dudes are always the people who don’t understand design compromise or failure and are trying to sell or endorse chips as if their is no trade-off. The original vehicle has been designed by a team of engineers with a cumulative experience of probably hundreds of years. And they’ve been trained in the laws of physics. None of those guys are designing or selling chips. They’re too busy working for the original manufacturers where real expertise is required.

  28. Joe, check this post. Hopefully YOU may get a better understanding and stop to think before you unqualified statements:

    • Hey Larry. Practically everything in that link is consistent with my article, except for the bit about manufacturers always having the timing wrong. Doesn’t matter anyway, all the chips are not capable of modifying the timing. The author confirms that chips dump more fuel by increasing rail pressure and / or extending injector pulse width. The author also admits there is risk of failure. All common sense. I learnt nothing new.

      What’s your point? That I am right?

      May I suggest your comments are also unqualified? Not only that, but unsubstantiated and lacking explanation or science. Feel free to make specific references to where the science is wrong and explain what you think is right. Otherwise I’d rather not bloat the comments with more of the same useless stuff that’s already been said and / or useless attacks on being “qualified” (which is purely subjective). I included that section for people’s info, since some are interested, rather than to fight unprovable arguments about what is “qualified”. I suppose you can explain why, as a process control engineer involved with design and optimisation and improving output of processes and physics of failure, it provides EXACTLY ZERO credibility? Surely it provides some? I’ve studied how failure works and understanding failure is part of my job as an optimisation engineer. The article is about failure. I work in process control. Fuel injection / timing is a process control problem. Are you unable to follow basic logic? Would you like me to draw a diagram?

  29. A side note… People aren’t disabling their emissions control (mainly talking about Exhaust Gas Reticulation – EGR) in order for more power. They’re doing it for engine longevity. So they’re saving money for all that acid rain you’re getting.

    • Hi Goofy I’ve seen people use “restrictive emission controls” as a way to explain how chips work to increase power without increasing wear when actually a chip has no way of controlling the EGR or any other emission control device. In terms of physically disabling the EGR, many people subscribe to the “it’s like eating you’re own shit” analogy without really understanding the implications of disabling the EGR. In addition to acid rain, usually it does more harm than good to the engine. I know for the hilux specifically it does more harm than good since it interferes with the turbo wastegate, causes over pressure on the intake, causes exhaust gases to go up the intake towards the air filter, stalls the turbo and yields less power and poorer fuel economy since the turbo continually stalls. Plus you get an increase in combustion temperatures and more acid rain. If someone really wants to make the EGR system better an oil catch can is a good option. Disabling is a bad idea in a hilux and I suspect this would be the case for most modern diesels.

      • many new diesel engines have computer controlled EGR valves (eg. PX ranger, Colorado, Triton, Navara) so it is reasonable to assume that they could be controlled by a chip.
        how is pumping dirty air into your engine good for longevity?
        i do agree that a catch can is beneficial in that it stops the build up of “gunk” in the intake, however would it not be better to prevent that from entering the engine in the first place?
        I, for one, would rather have a DPF or Urea injection to reduce emissions rather than a system that will add to wear and tear (how much it adds i’m not sure)

        it is important to remember that just because blocking the EGR on a hilux is not beneficial does not mean is is not beneficial in EVERY case

  30. Outbackjoe, still giving people advise on things you have no idea about??? I teach a class at the local tech college on exhaust after treatment and emission controls. You are way off here. “disabling does more harm than good” really Joe? You have proof of that? No you just spout your opinion as an electrical process engineer and thing that you are always right. Too funny some of your comments.

    • Hey cam why not address my points rather than waste time with school yard style attacks? You know I’m not a teenager right? Are you saying the egr does not affect the turbo on a hilux? A hilux has no external wastegate and instead uses the EGR. There is an extensive discussion on egr on a hilux specific forum with input from various diesel experts experienced with hiluxes and with blocking EGR valves. The conclusion is it does more harm than good, for the reasons in my previous comment, and to fit a catch can if you want to improve the system. Maybe I should post your insightful comment on that discussion since it would add so much value (note sarcasm). The other big benefit of leaving the egr is no acid rain. There would be other unintended consequences of blocking the egr in a modern engine where it is such an integral part of the design. Like the increase in combustion temperature and associated wear on components plus issues with timing of peak combustion pressure and burn rate and some other stuff that, unless you participated in the engine design, you would not know about these tradeoffs. Yes blocking egr can reduce abrasive contaminants blah blah. These engines if treated right will last 500,000km with a working egr assuming no chip has been fitted.

      So Cam, on one hand you say engines last longer than most consumers require and thus they should fit a performance chip. And on the other hand you suggest blocking the EGR is a good idea to improve engine life? Even at the expense of acid rain? Even though the engine already lasts longer than required?

      Anyway hows your chip selling business going? Still managing to defy the laws of physics and deliver more power without more wear?

      • ERG systems are in place to reduce NOX. Nitrous oxide in produced when combustion temperatures reach a certain level and NOX is released. In a diesel engine the inert exhaust gas is introduced into the intake of the engine from the EGR valve to basically kill the flame. IE reduce/slow the combustion process to lower flame/combustion temperature. Even though the egr gas is hot when introduced it actually lowers combustion temps. This process is counter to the efficiency of the diesel engine and causes a loss of energy from the combustion of the fuel. By removing disabling EGR the engine will produce more power and achieve better combustion due to a high oxygen content in the available combustion air. With regard to the Hilux I am not totally familiar with the plumbing etc since we do not have these vehicles in NA. However here the process is often simply accomplished by plugging the source of the exhaust. A freeze plug in a pipe, a steel block off gasket at a pipe connections. There are various ways to stop the gas flow to the system. The issue then becomes one of software. The engine ECM will pick up the fact there is no flow with various sensors and this has to be defeated.

        All this being said EGR systems kill engine efficiency to some degree. As an engineer you should understand this. Manufacturers go through great lengths to cool the intake air with coolers and boost the air charge in the cylinder with turbos. Then they reduce the efficiency of the system by putting in an inert gas. Simply a pollution (NOX) reduction device!

        Joe, with regard to the module sales they have been very good, more than 1500 sold on ag engines this past year and not an engine failure in the lot. In fact over the past 6 years more than 5000 Steinbauer modules have been put into our market without a report of a single engine or power train issue. With regard to your comment on physics I have never stated that more work does not equate to more wear. A 550 hp output tractor will have less life in it than the 450 hp version of the same tractor and I have never disputed that fact. The issue is the factory charges $25,000 + for those 100 hp, we do this for much less. The fact remains that the ag equipment manufactures sell the identical tractor in 3 or 4 power outputs. The selling price has nothing to do with cost of production and all to do with what the market will bare.

        What is comical following this thread over time is your absolute conviction that the manufacturers have always got the end users/customer interest at heart. This is simply not the case, the manufactures are profit driven and they want to extract as much money out of their processes as possible. As share holders of publicly traded companies we demand a profit to support out retirement accounts etc. I know some engineers personally (mechanical guys) at both Ford, Cummins and the Duramax engine plants here. They in fact build in obsolescence as well as life expectancy to keep us buying new product.

        It is interesting to note about Cummins. They never sold the ISB 5.9L engine to any customer at more than 275 hp output with Cummins warranty. Dodge here needed 305 in 2003 and then 325 HP in 2005 to compete with Ford and GM’s engine output ratings. Dodge simply uprated the software on these engines to 325 HP. After 200,000 kms a lot of these engines are failing. In the past 12 months we have averaged almost 2 of these engine replacements per week. John my engineering buddy from Cummins said their team told Dodge the engine would not live. However the marketing guys at Dodge decided they would risk it and low and behold a very high percentage get past the 5 year-160,000 km factory warranty which BTW is totally absorbed by Dodge. Cummins pays nothing on these warranties. In this case Chrysler Corp exceeded the design capability of the engine with total ambivalence. Joe these manufacturers don’t give a damn for the customer. It is all about selling product.

        Another instance is with Porsche, after waiting 39 years, (I was 15 when Mark Donahue set a world record in a turbo Porsche that stood for 20+ years when I fell in love with the marque) Last October I bought myself a 2013, 911 Turbo S cabriolet, guards red! The S stands for sport, which includes a list of options including more power output. There is not a single part in the engine, transmission of drive train that is different on this car than the standard 911 Turbo. Yet with a simple massaging of the software, actually all they do is let the boost go 3 PSI higher for a limited amount of time the engine output is raised 50HP. Is there more wear on the engine and drive train?? most likely yet Porsche still covers it for 4 full years under warranty. They want us to have fun and they know almost all the customers of this type of car will not drive them that much. Had this baby up to 307 kmph so far, I think it has 330 in it and way too much fun!!! Going to be installing a Steinbauer at the end of April, should take the car to 630 HP woo hoo!!!

        Cheers Cam

      • Hi Cam thanks for your comically long story. Straight off the bat, EGR does not limit power, EGR is closed at full throttle. That puts to bed that one.

        Modern engines are optimised around having an EGR. Everything from burn rate to peak pressure to temperature tolerances to mechanical arangements of turbos and exhausts are all optimised around the EGR being part of the design. If you block the EGR you mess things up. It does more harm than good. If you were to redesign the engine to be optimised without an EGR then yes you might be able to squeeze out a very small improvement in fuel economy at the expense of acid rain. From what I have read the improvement in fuel economy would be in the order of 1 or 2% – barely noticable and not worth acid rain. I have not seen any real data around what the actual cost in efficiency is when an engine is optimised around having an EGR (some say it improves efficiency since it yields less thermal energy and more kinetic energy).

        Yes manufacturers are there to maximise profits, same as chip vendors including Steinbauer. The difference is the original vehicle manufacturers have their reliability and durability reputations to protect, in the interest of long term profits.

        So some company upped the power on an engine and it didn’t last long? This is exactly the same as putting in a Steinbauer (or any other chip or module). I hope, for the thousands of modules you have sold, you have informed the customer that their engine life will be reduced. Otherwise you are being misleading.

        For the Porsche, you are paying them to take on the extra risk. That is a fair transaction. They will honor warranty. The engine will wear faster, but, with a high degree of certainty, it’s been accounted for in the design and the engine will still last pretty long. What is not fair is when a customer chucks in a module from a vendor who fails to inform them of the risks and then the customer is left with a broken motor and no warranty. This is what chip vendors do. Hopefully this article conveys the fact that there are pros and cons to installing a chip rather than just pros that the people who make money off them will tell you about.


  31. Hey Joe

    I’ve come back to this article a number of times as it provides good “food for thought”. With “The Landy” I have always looked to achieve best practice and only do something to the vehicle if it needs it, or enhances the life of the components. For sure, there are times it is slower than I would like, especially with the TVAN attached, but then, I’m on holidays so how fast do I need to go anyway?

    The issue I have when researching Chips, or tuning boxes is that there is plenty of marketing hype, but little that enables me to confidently move forward in the knowledge putting one in would be “best practice”. My greatest overarching requirement is that nothing is done to the vehicle that will compromise reliability; I lean towards tuning boxes compromising reliability in the long term.

    Perhaps I will investigate a larger exhaust system to remove the hot gases quicker and more efficiently, but leave tuning boxes alone!

    Thanks for the thoughts on this, very useful.

    Baz – The Landy

    • Yo Baz glad the article was food for thought for you. That is the idea, to get people thinking in terms of what really are the pros and cons rather than accepting the marketing hype of all pros no cons. There’s no such thing.

      If you want maximum reliability then for sure no chip. Keep your truck running longer and free up resources to do what makes you happy.

      I’ve also done an article on exhaust pipes. Same idea as with chips – there’s pros and cons, bigger isn’t universally better. Actually it’s all captured nicely in the design compromise article.

  32. Joe where did you get your information that a diesel EGR valve is closed under full power??? How does the engine meet the NOX emission standard? Does an engine not have to meet NOX emission outputs at full power? I can send you a frequency duty cycle screen shot from a scan tool to show the valve is open partly at full load if you would like. Amazing that you would make statements like this…..being an engineer and all!!

    Blanket statement “it does more harm than good” are simply asinine.

    Do you really think engine manufacturers want EGR systems on their engines? Of course not. They are there out of necessity to meet NOX output standards.

    Of course they have optimized their systems to work the best they can. What you are not adding is that part of this optimization is a very significant increase in exhaust back pressure to make these systems work. This fact alone reduces output significantly. Since you don’t like my long stories I will wait to see the answer from the “expert”on why they have such high back pressure built into these new engines.

    With regard to power output and fuel economy. The USA EPA did a study (part of the course I teach) that found EGR equipped diesel engines power is reduced by 3 to 5 % along with fuel economy. Your comment about me “defying the laws of physics” apply here. Diesel fuel likes an oxygen rich environment for optimal burn. The introduction of CO2 is simply counter productive to the combustion process however it is necessary to keep the combustion temp down. The other thing that ERG does is increase smoke/particulate output but again they manufactures dealt with this by installing DP filters. (more optimization) So yes Joe the manufactures have “optimized” their engines to deal with the requirements. Does not mean the engine will not be more efficient with the EGR not operating.

    Once you answer the back pressure issue I will explain more about why your statement “it does more harm than good” blocking the EGR system is complete……………..in north American we say BS!!

    With regard to my customers and the Steinbauer module, we have always been straight with them. “Cam if I install one of these on my combine will I reduce the engine life?” My answer is always the same. There is so much work designed into the engine, if you do more work IE travel faster harvesting your crop you are doing more work and the life of your engine will be reduced. You decide if you want to do more work and reduce the life of the engine or keep your machine the way it is.
    With regard to the Porsche I am actually not paying anything for the extra risk. They are throwing in the increased HP for nothing if you buy the S package (carbon brakes, vented seats etc etc) mostly luxury options. In fact if you go on the Porsche website and build a car like mine from a base 911 Turbo and add all the S features to the car it costs more than the S option. Simple package marketing.

    With respect to reputations you speak of, I have one to. For more than 30 years my company had been providing first class quality parts and service for my ever growing customer base. That reputation along with the quality products has provided my company with double digit annual growth for over 15 years. I try not to sell products that will cause my customers harm or fail engines. We try to solve the cause of problems not just the effect. This is why I don’t accept your premise that all “chips” module destroy engines. My experience simply does not show the results you claim here on your little blog!! They are not all the same, yet you never want to hear the data because like many engineer types you are never wrong. I am ok with that, however you are misleading a lot of people with “outbackjoe” facts.

    Joe I have sure you have heard lots of engineering dittys This one? Engineers…….have a disease called Awesomeness!!!

    I will be delighted to hear from you on the exhaust issue.


    • Hey Cam nice job at continuing to make the comments for this article look extremely long. It’s impressive. Your rant on emission testing is not as impressive. Emission test cycles do not include wide open throttle. The test cycles are designed to simulate typical driving conditions at light and medium loads, the region where an engine spends the vast majority of its operating life. Emission test cycles are openly published for various standards, do some reading, like here:


      Also, EGR yields excessive soot at full throttle. So the EGR valve gets closed at full throttle to minimise soot and maximise available oxygen to deliver more power. This has been verified by a butt load of people all over the place across various manufacturers using engine analysis tools. Even chip manufacturers validate this fact:


      To quote from the above article written by a vendor that sells EGR blocking plates: “At wide open throttle (WOT) emissions are not tested and so manufacturers close the valve and allow a full shot of fresh air to allow the engine to develop max power.”

      So there is no impact on available power with an EGR but there is the awesome benefit of no acid rain.

      What are you saying about Porsche? That the extra money you pay is for every enhancement except the one that proves me right? What were you smoking to arrive at that conclusion? Have you been getting lessons in logic from the Church of Scientology or something?

      Yes, depending on what you read and what your agenda is (for example if you make money from this type of modification), EGR may reduce fuel efficiency slightly. Some say it improves fuel efficiency by increasing portion of total fuel burnt and increasing specific heat capacity thus extracting more kinetic energy and less thermal energy. Further, initially there may have been a step change reduction in efficiency when EGRs were first introduced, but now with the technology so mature and well understood and optimised that gap would have closed. Regardless, it’s irrelevant. As with most of your rants, it’s beside the point. Yes you might be able to squeeze a tiny amount of improved fuel efficiency by completely redesigning and optimising an engine without an EGR. This is not the same as blocking the EGR on an engine that has been designed and optimised around having an EGR. When you do this there will always be unintended consequences.

      Getting a bit personal about engineers ay. The quality of your posts are up there with Paris Hilton’s twitter feed. No doubt you have some good knowledge and experience and are well equipped to teach some backyard mechanics about the basics on how engines work. But your skillset and experience is different to what is required to design this stuff.

      I can’t be assed responding to more of your invalid arguments or attempts to out-science this article with anecdotes. I suggest you avoid wasting your time concocting another marathon post that addresses nothing specific about the science or logic. Maybe bring something positive to the table. Did you like my article on the thermomix?

    • and lets not forget on the EGR subject that a large amount of vehicles here had the EGR blocked off or removed as standard due to South Africa’s emission law not being as strict. I have just removed the EGR off a mazda 2.5td and can say that the performance is improved, not greatly, but there is a definite improvement.

  33. Hey Joe, what’s your thoughts on putting a after market turbo on an old patrol, 93 model,140,000 on clock, too much wear n tear?

    • Yo Eric, so many variables, hard to say. It will wear your engine out faster, that’s for sure. How much faster? Will it cause a sudden catastrophe? Hard to say. Look at the application. Is your vehicle a tool to transport you to camping and fishing locations? Then keep it stock and enjoy more camping and fishing with your savings and longer lasting vehicle. Is it a race car or does accelerating faster make you happy? Then spend your $$ making it faster and replacing it more often.

      • Hi Joe
        My vehicle is just a tow vehicle to get my Kimberley Kamper to the best campsites, spent my money on camper rather than on a flash new fourby. Went to Fraser Island awhile ago and the barge operator said its not often we have a camper trailer worth twice as much as the tow vehicle. In saying that it tows like a snail, hence the turbo.
        Enjoy reading your blog, thanks for your reply, only posted the turbo comment cause I got sick of all the performance chip discussions. ( chips come in packets with salt n vinegar ). Thinking of doing the big lap soon , can’t wait to see some of the coast on your side of Aus. Cheers Eric

      • Yes do the big lap its awesome, allocate as much time for it as you can, several years if possible. The country is big.

  34. Joe you have commented extensively about the egr system in on road engines. This is your blog and most of the readers here are interested in those engine. I mostly speak about the off road engines that I am experienced with. The testing of these engine be variable speed of constant speed do contain test parameters under full torque load.
    You statement about the optimization of the egr system still has the unanswered question regarding back pressure. Why is the 15 to 25 psi of back pressure built into todays exhaust systems? Do you believe the “all caring” manufacturers have optimized their engines to account for this?

  35. Joe I can cut and paste to….. http://www.epa.gov/oms/nonroad-diesel.htm An over 20 minute test that includes plenty of full throttle full torque full load testing

    • I don’t see any details on emission test cycles in that link. Theres lots more links but I aint gonna troll through them all. But I believe you that off road vehicles and road vehicles have different cycles.

  36. Joe have you looked at these tests? http://www.thedieselsavers.com/downloads/Test_Booklet.pdf
    While the covers may have the Steinbauer name on them the tests were performed by http://www.josephinum.at/en/blt/die-blt.html
    This is a certified government testing facility full of engineers and PHD’s. They produced a number of independent reports. As an example a Fendt 714 tractor producing 25% more power output yet reduced fuel consumption and reduced emissions with a module installed?
    Where is the optimization from the manufacturer in this case? Oh I forgot, you have to buy the 716 or 718 model to get that much power. I forgot the manufacturers are always looking out for our interests.
    Yes Joe the 714 with a module and the 716 718 will wear out faster, but they do more work.

    • This report is misleading. The efficiency comparison is not comparing apples with applies – they are at different power outputs. If you dump more fuel into the engine then usually you will get an improvement in efficiency when measured by pure power output because the engine’s overheads become a smaller portion of the total power output. This does not translate to an improvement in fuel efficiency in the real world since the load is determined by the work being done and not by limitations on how much fuel you can dump. Actually it usually makes it less efficient when doing actual work (for example liters of fuel / 100km) because you are going faster (greater losses), using the brakes more, accelerating and slowing down more, etc. For a given power output the chip provides no improvement in fuel efficiency.

      In terms of emissions, dumping more fuel by holding injectors on longer is hardly an ingenious emissions control philosophy. And the same error in the results applies – they are comparing between two different power levels. Actually NOx goes up a bit which reflects the higher combustion temperature, higher stress and greater wear caused by the chip. CO and HC go down, not from any fancy optimisation or tuning process but just as an artefact of dumping more fuel in and running at a higher power output. Or maybe an artefact of it being funded by those that benefit from these results (same as the misleading efficiency data).

      Regardless, at the same power output, a chip will provide no improvement to emissions.

  37. OMG!!!! Almost six months on and my motor has blown up!!
    Just kidding. I’ve tried different settings on my chip and have had results of “Hmm, have I wasted my money?”, to “Yes, I can feel the difference.”
    I’ve only been able to clock up city miles.. oops, kilometres, because of my son’s sport but haven’t noticed a lot of change in both power or fuel consumption. I’ll be passing my D22 on to my sixteen year old son soon as I’ve bought myself a fuel guzzling monster Corvette 🙂 So I’ll pass on his feelings about the chip when I teach him about it.

    Just a thought on the debate, guys. It’s all getting a bit techo and l o n g winded for us dummies and buyers of “stuff”. Why not just a vote whether we like them or not?

    I vote yes. 🙂

    Cheers and get out there and enjoy our short lives.

    • Hey pete yes agreed go out there and be happy. Carefully consider what it is about your vehicle that makes you happy since I believe most of the time people get chips due to status anxiety rather than because it’s something that will make them happy. Then they end up spending money on both the chip and a shorter lived car and less money on what makes them happy. A net loss in happiness.

  38. Joe, I too am an engineer albeit a civil engineer but have dabbled in reliability. Your logic is faultless but I think you are taking an overly cautious conservative approach. You have not mentioned manufacturers’ engine tuning marketing strategy. As we know, when a new engine hits the market, it is usually a good performer but not spectacular. Manufacturers cannot take the risk of incurring a first impression of unreliability. Such a reputation lasts for the life of the engine regardless. However, luckily, so does a first impression of reliability. As the initial marketing hype wears thin and with reliability credentials having been established, the manufacturer comes out with a wow, pow,”new improved” engine. It has more power with slightly more fuel consumption but who cares, it has more power. It truth, it is the same old engine with a slightly tweaked power curve. And so it goes on until the engine is about to explode. Reliability has dropped dramatically but nobody cares anymore because they have a beast of a motor. The next step, roll out the brand new engine design that has been in development for that last decade and start all over again.

    My point is that new engines are often heavily de-tuned. I don’t see any danger in “chipping” provided it is aimed at no more than to bring the engine up to the maximum tune for which the engine was originally designed. Without any guidance from the manufacturer there is clearly a lot of guess work involved but it is surely better than paying big bucks for an engine then only ever using it in its de-tuned state.

    • Hi Bob, yeah you can call it de-tuned but really there is no such thing. There is no proper tune. There is no inherent tune or more valid tune. They are all just points on a curve. Get more power and you fail more. Any particular tune is de-tuned with respect to a tune that is higher up the curve. Further, I think people do care about reduced reliability. I know I do.

      I disagree with your take on engine progression. I think the power on a particular engine model stays about the same throughout it’s life. Maybe it goes up a bit as they de-bottleneck, optimise and strengthen the weakest links. Actually, for the current hilux diesel engine, the exact opposite has occurred to what you describe. The power output has stayed the same for 10 years but bits on the motor and drivetrain have changed to improve reliability.

  39. Very interesting debate and opinions, read through it all albeit a bit repetitive..have a look at the BMW N47D20 engine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_N47) and its progression. Aside to a plague of miserable design flaw which has lead to early wear of the timing elements (not the discussion), it has seen this exact concept of progression I believe BobT is talking about. Same core engine components pushed towards higher output by elevation of common rail pressure. This is another example where engineering + manufacturing have long left the theory and are driven by market forces. Same engine 116bhp to 218bhp. Looking at the components (parts catalog) it seems the only difference was higher spec injectors. Would that be the part suspect to early wear in the equation? Or the “lower spec” injectors are by themselves a question of manufacturing QA and part segmentation? Who knows..clear R&D ROI at work…

    • Hey Miotoo I suspect there’s a lot more difference between those engines than injectors. For starters some of them are turbocharged. Doesn’t matter anyway. If the manufacturer cranks up power you get poorer reliability. If you add a chip you get poorer reliability. What’s your point? Repeating the same old arguments. It’s irrelevant what the manufacturer does. Chip your engine and it will break sooner.

  40. I have no mechanical expertise, my passion is going up and down WA in my 4×4, grabbing some surf, having a beer and enjoying what only Australia can offer. Simple as that.

    No chips for me…I don’t need to compensate.

    Joe, I like your article. It seems like you are offering unbiased individual advice which is refreshing. After seeing the work you have put into your pride and joy, it would only seem logical that you would be willing to spend the coin on the chip if it would further your adventures. Your conclusion is respected (by myself at least).

    To the haters…if you have so many qualifications and job positions I’m baffled that you have so much time to argue here, not to mention using a condescending tone after publishing your credentials. Seems a bit amateur and unprofessional to me.

    Also.. I won’t be replying, so save your passion lads.

    Might meet you on the coast one day Joe.


    • Hey UteBootin cheers for your feedback. Yeah in some circles, where modding your vehicle is common, getting a chip is almost universal. More is better right? No, not when you consider your application and what you are trying to achieve. Unless you have infinite resources more of one thing means less of another. More power might mean less happiness if it means you have less resources to do what makes you happy. I suspect many people are in this situation. In the years to come I’ll be writing more about this compromise between spending money on stuff and happiness and how it applies to engine power, camping, fishing and general life.

      I’d love to learn to surf. It seems like such an awesome lifestyle and hobby. So simple, natural and environmentally friendly. Wind and waves, that’s where it’s at.

  41. “chips” have been around for a while now. no failures i’ve heard about so far. seems like you should stick to process plant and leave it to real engineers to play with engines

    • Wow great work Ashley. With such brilliantly convincing anecdotal evidence I guess I’ll just take down this article straight away!

    • Ashley don’t try to explain anything to Joe, he knows it all…………………..cause he read it on the internet. Still has not answered my question about 20 + PSI back pressure in modern diesel engine exhaust systems.

      • Wow the quality of the arguments coming through are amazing. But seriously, Cam I’m disappointed at the progressive decline in your comments.

        I can explain that. If you have a pipe with something flowing in it then there must be pressure drop along the pipe. Manufacturers pick a pipe diameter which is the best compromise between flow velocity and pressure drop. What’s your point?

        Please no lengthy stories.

  42. No Joe that is not why they have this big back pressure now. It has nothing to do with pressure drop or pipe size. FYI pre egr there was virtually no back pressure. Now some engines have 20+ PSI. This is so they can get flow through the EGR valve under boost conditions. This fact alone goes to debunk your theory about the all mighty manufacturers designing EGR systems that are efficient. They are simply never efficient from a combustion-energy transfer standpoint. The significant back pressure makes the system much less efficient. The industry calls it pumping losses, you have to use energy to pump out the spent gas, in the pre erg system with no back pressure this pumping energy was not wasted.
    Joe this goes to all your comments here from anyone that supports anything that is not factory stock. You have said here time and again that the manufacturers always build the “best and most reliable mousetrap” You as an engineer think that if a group of engineers designed the system it must be “good” I disagree and have 35 years of industry experience to back it up my comments with actual real world light and heavy duty engine experience and knowledge.
    There are many of these type of blogs around the world run by people who are “experts” on something or another. While I am sure you are a more than competent electrical process engineer, your online research supporting your comments simply are not always the full truth. However this is “your” page and as such you can post what ever you want. Those who follow you are free to believe it all because “if it is on the internet it must be true”

    • That back pressure you speak of is the result of variable geometry turbo. The turbo is a restriction and thus has pressure drop. The back pressure from the turbo is a convenient way to force exhaust gas into the inlet.

      It doesn’t matter anyway. The restriction on the exhaust system that causes the back pressure is not circumvented by putting in an EGR blanking plate, which is what this discussion was originally about.

      Again you are missing the point. Blocking the egr will have unintended consequences. Blocking the egr on an engine optimised to have it is not the same as designing an engine without an egr. Given that manufacturers must use egr to meet emission standards, they proceed to optimize the system with the egr being an integral part of the design. They produce the best solution possible with egr. Part of that solution is the pressure you speak of.

      So your best argument has culminated with “you read it on the internet.” Terrible. What about discussing science and design compromise? Is it because you don’t understand those concepts and can only regurgitate what you’ve seen in your experience?

      I don’t poo poo anything that is not factory. I just acknowledge that there are compromises involved. People who make money from after market stuff, or people who have bought it and are suffering from confirmation bias, won’t acknowledge that there are compromises. They just tell you it’s all benefits, no trade-off.

      Any design will look bad in the eyes of certain people. It’s called design compromise. Read the article.

      I see all the time people who know nothing about design and have never designed anything in their life complaining about the design of something. “They should have just done it this way” is a typical comment. Actually if you did it that way you’d stuff up all this other shit.

      Cam your many years experience as a tradesman has clearly not given you the tools to understand design. Your arguments are consistently so poor and unrelated to the points being made. Why are you forcing me to say this? Why do you keep coming back and make it turn ugly? Is it by any chance coz you make money selling these things?

      I think a few comments ago I mentioned you should try to say something positive. Want to give that a go, for something different? Did you see the salmon I caught a few weeks ago?

  43. There you go Joe, finally GOD has come to the point of using a belittling “tradesman” term. Many a tradesman have sorted out engineer messes. I have become quite wealthy by solving and fixing “design compromises” from engineers who know much more about engine than you do. 6.0L HP oil screen comes to mind among dozens of others.

    The high exhaust back pressure issue was there before VGT turbo’s so you best go back to the internet and find some more info on that Joe. They need back pressure for ERG flow plain and simple. Nothing to do with VGT or anything else, just have to have more back pressure than max turbo boost for the EGR to flow.

    The original post by you was that defeating the EGR was “BAD”. Bad for the environment maybe but this dumb tradesman knows a little about these systems and blocking the erg along with an intake and free flow exhaust system is not bad for the engine. All the designing in the world by the best engineers cannot solve the issue of pumping losses needed to compensate for EGR.

    Since I am just a “tradesman” maybe you should look at Gale Banks an industry friend of mine. Gale is a professional engineer with a degree from Calpoly.

    “As a recognized authority, Gale has taught engine design to graduate students at General Motors Institute, covering many subjects: engine architecture, turbochargers (design and application), fuel systems, exhaust systems, marine turbocharging, ignitions and camshafts, intercooling, and more. He currently serves on the SEMA Board of Directors and is an advisor for the Automotive X PRIZE.”

    Gale has been talking about pumping losses for years. He also sells Chips, air intake and exhaust systems. All his on road products are fully CARB certified. Gale has proven time and again that your premise of “changing what the manufactures have optimized compromises their design” is simply wrong.

    Joe there was a time when Gale sold “git kits” for big gas powered motorhomes. Naturally aspirated 7 and 8 liter gas engines that burned fuel like a class 8 truck. He was legendary in the camping world at the time (80’s) for the huge improvements made in these powertrains. 20 to 30% better fuel economy, 15 to 20% more power by simply changing the entire air intake and exhaust system. These systems also significantly lowered under hood and exhaust temps. Gale proved beyond a doubt that the manufactures of these camper chassis’s paid no attention to the efficiency of their systems. Oh there I go again Joe, not related to the topic right? In my “tradesman” mind I see this as proof against your “manufacturer optimization” broken record argument.

    Joe, this dumb “tradesman” keeps coming back because I simply do not like people like you who tell half truths to a bunch of unknown blog followers.

    • Too much irrelevant stuff here. Too boring for me to read. Yeah I made a point that you don’t understand design by saying you are a tradesman. I never knew it was a belittling term or implied being dumb. You made that up. I meant they’re not engineers or designers.

      People are not forced to read this article nor are they forced to comment nor are they forced to take my advice. People are free to read and comment and take into account my credentials or lack thereof then read marketing material about chips and go to your company’s website and make their own mind up. Why do we need you policing it and bringing a negative tone at the same time? I don’t do that to your company’s website. I enjoy good discussion and invite people to comment freely but I don’t like negativity or unfriendly agendas to discredit or school yard style comments that add no value. Look at how you opened the egr discussion. You could say “yeah blocking the egr can have unintended consequences but it may also be possible to improve fuel efficiency by a few % because of these reasons…” but instead you say “you have no idea and I’m a big hero teaching shit at school and these are my credentials and these are my stories and your comments are so comical. ”

      Cam I don’t like the negativity of this discussion with you. I have hinted at that a few times. Would you mind recognizing that? Plus your comments are becoming progressively more childish and I can’t be assed responding. I want this blog to be a positive place. I am the same as you, just writing shit on a blog to address some untruths that I don’t like. And hopefully save people some money and give them more resources to do what makes them happy. Maybe conserve the environment a bit too.

      Also the comments on this article have become too long and repetitive. You hold the record for most comments by any individual on my whole blog (not just this article). Some of my other articles are looking a bit scant on the comments. Wanna help beef them up a bit? Steer clear of the ones related to after market stuff for vehicles!

      Do you do much salmon fishing in Canada?

  44. Something missing from these discussions is load factor. Road transport industry has been playing around with different configurations ( Road trains,B-Doubles etc) for a long time. Operators and eventually manufacturers came to similar conclusions. Bigger loads need bigger engines to keep load factor at a reasonable level for performance,fuel economy and reliability. You want to pull 3 trailers ( 120 tons) or more, get a 19 litre Cummins, it spanks the smaller 15 or16 litre engines in every way. For something smaller like a 68 ton B-Double, use a 15 or 16 litre engine. However in road transport we are using 100% throttle continuous for long periods on big hills, thats something 4×4 and cars rarely experience, and certainly wont be expected to cover 1.5 million km’s.

    More power from same size engine makes sense if the application only uses 100% throttle factor in small amounts. If the application means regular heavy work, get a bigger engine ( same hp), its simple. Experience in road transport also says that small engines, with high output under regular heavy load have shorter lives. A 12 litre 500hp engine pulling a B-Double will go about 800,000km. Whereas a 15 litre engine will cover 1.5 million. In that instance the author of this blog is correct, adding more fuel to the same size shortens the life, provided the engine is loaded hard. In short bursts, with low average load factor, it doesnt make as much of a difference, lifespan is still shorter but not by the same degree. Thats why we see so many 12 and 11 litre truck engines on single trailer ( 44 tons) work, they have more hp per litre, but dont use it anywhere near as often or experience high load factor.

    So chipping or bumping up the rated power is fine IF the driver is not using 100% throttle often and uses it sparingly.
    Engine life will be shorter, but minimal unless power is bumped up by something crazy like 50% or more. People have
    done this stuff to truck engines decades ago and discovered all the issues, like injectors cutting holes thru pistons etc if
    too much diesel was going in.

    You 4×4 guys, are late to the party in this field, and the real big money on engine design and performance issues was done
    in the 1940’s by Rolls and Jumo on the V12 petrol aircraft engines. The were using double stage,3 speed ( or variable) blowers
    running 40psi boost with 2 stage intercooling and a whole bunch of other tricks and exotic fuels.

    • Good onya Wazza. I’ll drink to that.

      Now onto more pressing matters. How’s the price of fish in China hey? Wowsers.

      Have a good weekend crew.

    • Wazza, interesting comments. However as technology has changed almost all manufacturers have gone with more “power density” IE getting way more power out of smaller displacement. In Agricultural engines which I will argue is the toughest environment on a diesel engine we have seen 18L engines with 500 HP (sorry KW is not a north american thing) 20 years ago now shrink to 12.5 or 13L and product 620 or 650 HP continuous with much better reliability. This issue and Joe the engineer will I believe confirm this is mass. When any engine is under partial load the mass of all the reciprocating parts take energy to keep in motion. Friction from big cylinders, big crankshafts etc etc waste a lot of energy. Manufactures around the world are shrinking their engines in size both displacement and physical size to reduce reciprocating mass and weight.
      Of note in North America the largest truck engine is 14.9L producing 460+ KW (620 hp) Most engines have only 12.9L and produce 420 KW. Of note the max weight allowed here is 150,000 lbs without special permits. Of note some of these trucks are getting better than 30L per 100 k now.
      Interesting as a huge Porsche fan and owner. Next year there will be no more “Turbo” 911. All models of 911 and maybe all models of Porsche period will be turbocharged. Shrink the displacement, and weight but still have the same of more torque and power output. This is thank’s to technology in metallurgy, and particularly electronic controls over multiply systems.

      • Smaller motors running at higher loads are more fuel efficient, which is the trend we are seeing. Manufacturers offset the associated increase in failure rate with advances in metalurgical technology, more sophisticated alloys, better manufacturing, fewer defects, improved designs and improved control systems (reducing variability in operation). But given a certain technology, design and application, a bigger engine will last longer and a chipped engine will not last as long.

    • Hey Wazza what you call load factor I call duty and it is covered a little bit in the article and in the comments with respect to diesel gensets and agricultural engines. It’s not really relevant when considering a chip since a chip does not change the duty. It all happens on a continuous spectrum and if you only get minimal reduction in engine life (like you suggest) then you can only have a minimal increase in power. If you want noticable increase in power then you get a noticable reduction in engine life – I guessed about 25% reduction in life based on 35% extra power used 10% of the time.

      But given a certain design and level of technology, and given a certain application, then what you say is correct – that the bigger engine lasts longer. This is consistent with my article. More stress = higher failure rate even though the engine is still within it’s rating and normal operating range.

      With full knowledge of the duty (or what you call load factor) that their vehicles are intended for, the manufacturer already picks a point on the spectrum that they believe gives the best compromise between power and reliability. That’s why engines in cars have a much higher power density than commerical and industrial stuff. They know the application is lighter duty so they crank up the power. It’s already been done by the manufacturer. There is no room for easy runs due to being a lighter duty. The manufacturer takes that already.

  45. Hi Joe, I have worked in OEM engine calibration and engine durability as a degree qualified engineer, I won’t say where because this would be against most companies policies. I have read your article and some of the comments. Your overlying theory seems correct to me. While I have only worked with Petrol engines not Diesel engines the theory is the same.
    Even without a chip if you drop back a gear and rev your engine higher to get more power you will wear your engine out quicker. Maybe some engines especially large tractor engines and generators are well suited to chips since some parts would be “over engineered” and can easily handle the extra power. Some parts will still wear out quicker but maybe still a good engine life..
    But most people coming to this page are concerned with cars.
    I can vouch that High performance models generally have less engine durability. E.g. If they fail at 90% of the durability test the OEM may wear the additional failure rate in these lower production volume models. Where a base model engine which sells in high volume will have to get to 100% durability test. And they probably last longer but the OEM rarely decides to keep testing to failure…
    As a young engineer I was shocked because I thought you pay more for the premium product but it is less durable!

    So whatever you do to get more power whether you rev your engine higher, chip it or buy a car with higher power from a similar engine you will wear it out quicker. So everyone reading this blog don’t get bogged down. Just take the warning.

    I am not against chips. Its really a case by case basis. What mods do they make to get the power? What engine are you putting the chip into? A big diesel engine may handle it better than a highly strung AMG 45 already making huge power per litre displacement.

    I know with petrol engines the big thing is exhaust temp. Valves and pistons and turbo exhaust turbines have their temp limits. If you go over them the engine wear drastically increases. A technique used by some is lean the mixture. At WOT there is normally quite a bit of extra fuel added to efftively reduce power and exhaust temp to stop melting parts of your engine. For passenger curs running up to Euro 6 emissions and less there is no WOT component so emissions do not matter so much (morally they still do). So if you reduce the fuel rail pressure enough to max out the fuel adder limits the you get more power and efficiency but your NOX goes up and so do the temperatures and engine wear…

    Lastly Joe does not say who he works for or at least not from what I have read. But some of you guys say who you work for or are affiliated with. You should watch what you say, be polite! I am associated with some of those companies and I sure they wouldn’t like your comments attitudes to represent them!

    • Hey man thanks for your comment. Great first hand info on the manufacturers choosing to have a higher failure rate on high performance models. I’m getting sick of the old “but the manufacturers do it” argument to support chips not increasing failure rate. The manufacturer can’t circumvent the laws of physics!

      Engines on generators and tractors are built strong and have low power density so that they last long under very heavy duty environments (running at high loads continuously). I reckon a chip will still result in substantially higher failure rate under this sort of duty. The extra strength is already offset by the heavier duty so chucking in a chip will yield a similar result to putting it in a car engine, which is weaker and has higher power density but offset by much lighter duty. If there was easy runs to be made on the heavier duty application without significantly impacting failure rate then the manufacturer would already exploit it.

      Exhaust temps are similarly important in diesels. Higher temps = higher failure rate. One thing misleading about that is the chip vendors can put in a sensor and reduce power when exhaust temps exceed a certain setpoint, making the consumer believe the engine is protected. However extra wear does not suddenly kick in when the temperature setpoint is exceeded. The engine will be experiencing extra wear whilst still below the cutoff setpoint. The entire distribution of engine operating temperatures is shifted across to higher temperatures. The extra wear accumulates. Eventually a failure occurs. Nothing wrong with that, as long as people accept that there’s a price to pay from higher power rather than believing the marketing bullcrap.

      • hi guys
        I agree that chips will increase failure!
        But a believe a ecu remap if done properly won’t.
        I also believe that I have more power less wear and less emissions. Sounds hard to believe.
        Let me explain.
        I have a 2010 mercedes Vito 120cdi and I have remapped ecu to remove dpf and also to close egr valve. Now I know your thinking thats terrible for the environment. Well let’s just work that out.
        Now the van does at least 1.5 litres per 100kms better more like 2 litres . It never has to do a dpf regeneration more fuel saving there too. And less wear on motor because the worst thing for a diesel is to have high egt. And as for the egr valve no more dirty exhaust gas going into intake anymore. (Less wear again)
        So now we have to ask ourselves if the dpf is good enough to remove the amount of emissions the van would have used (extra fuel) ?
        The answer is no . Not when you take into count the manufacturing of the dpf. And I’ll try find the article I read on this. And post it up. And the dpf should be replaced when servicing states ( more cost to Environment and wallet )
        Also dpf are so restrictive they put more wear on the motor.
        Mercedes service interval are every 30000km but I do mine every 15000km so that should mean I’ll double the life of the car.
        But I still agree with you on the chips

      • Hey Ants. Wow more power, more reliability, less emissions, better fuel economy. Gee how stupid are the original manufacturers! You should start a design consultancy business and provide design services to the original manufacturers. You’ll be a billionaire if your claims are true!

        You should halve your service interval again and you’ll quadruple the life of the vehicle!

        PS EGR valve reduces combustion temperature and exhaust gas temperature. You have increased both those parameters. I hope you don’t mind acid rain!

  46. This has been an interesting conversation. And before I enter into this conversation I would like to say that I have no qualifications to back up my opinions. Just an average Joe trying to get my head around the idea of a chip and what problems or damage may occur to my engine. There is a lot of fear out there concerning such a modification, and there is a lot of fores and against’s. But at the end of the day know one has actually proven or can back up what they are trying to say on either side of the argument. It is all a bit of an unknown unless substancial evidence can prove otherwise.

    And as far as I am concerned a handful of cars that experience problems with the use of a chip is not substancial enough to say the chip is the main cause, considering there could be hundreds of thousands of the same motor with chips that never have a problem. But at the end of the day, better performance equals more strain on parts, but this strain does not mean your motor is going to wear out twice as fast. And a good mechanic will find parts that need fixing way before it all goes bang anyway. For example, you may get 150,000km out of some parts as opposed to 200,000km because of the higher performance.

    If proper maintenance is carried out I don’t think everything is as serious as everyone is making out. An engine with a chip is under more strain, and if not looked after more you could get more issues. I believe that a lack of maintenance, poor fuel quality, and poor air quality would be more of the cause with these motors with chips, and would no doubt be adding to higher chances of engine failure, because of the higher stress. But it can be limited if you look after stuff like more frequent fluid and filter changes.

    There is no denying that there are dodgy chips out there that cause more harm than good, but a decent chip from a company that is willing to back its product may be worth considering for your vehicle.

    I feel that there is maybe some room for performance improvements in certain motors, without sacrificing further wear over the life of the motor. As an example, my 3.0L diesel hilux has a gross vehicle mass of 2780kg, has 126kw and 360nm.
    A Prado with the same motor has a gross vehicle mass of 2990kg, has 127kw and 410nm. Both vehicles have the same motor, same warranty period (3 years), and same amount of KM under warranty (100,000km). The Prado has more power to pull its extra 200kg. When enquiring how Toyota gets more power from the same motor, they increase the compression and fuel timing, which in theory should increase engine wear in the Prado compared to the hilux.

    So my opinion is this: chips will increase performance, and increase engine wear, but maybe not as extreme as many may think it is. That comes back to your engine maintenance.

  47. Wow! What a complete toss you are. How convenient that the site “dictator” has removed all my posts. I’m not at all surprised, hard evidence really messes with your unproven theoretical brain (or lack of it.) It must be frustrating when others have practical, hands on, decades of experience that contradicts your text book regurgitations. I encounter your type regularly, over educated, under qualified, over opinionated. Some of the dumbest people I know.

    • hi camo I added a section at the end of the article “notice on commenting” to help people like you. Your comments are in conflict with all those points and so will be deleted. I don’t want this blog to be like a forum with meat-heads dishing out insults. Feel free to add constructive comments, otherwise don’t waste your time.

      • Like your condescending and sarcastic reply to Ants?
        Cmon Joe. If Cam describes in detail you call it a “rant”. Your comments about being a tradie vs designer are also condescending and not necessarily true. Your theories are correct as they’re based on the laws of physics. But they are theories. You have also referred to your own anecdotal experiences to base your argument on. It seems you have to be right and get everyone who disagrees with you to admit they’re wrong and you’re right.
        I accept (and understand) your articles on physics and failure etc. but these theories don’t necessarily translate to real world environments.
        Do you actually have any proof to your claim that a chip will decrease engine life?
        Cam has provided more real evidence than you but you call it anecdotal. And then you provide your own experiences and anecdotes. Cam asks you several questions and you either don’t answer or say his point is irrelevant. There are so many hypocrisies in your replies. You’re waffling just as much as others you accuse of..
        Where does a stock engine sit on the SN curve? What’s the point where SIGNIFICANT risk of failure will occur for this argument? That’s critical. Otherwise a 20% increase in power, load, duty…whatever… might only increase the risk by 1%. Or by an amount that really is scientifically insignificant. So yeah, a power increase will reduce life but what if it’s only by 1 minute? Maybe it’s not even measurable except for in theory? Do you have any proof at all?

      • Hey Max my sarcastic comments are funny!

        I won’t bother addressing everything in your waffle coz the same invalid stuff has been said before. You’re too far off the mark to bother engaging and I don’t want to go around in circles with dumbass arguments. The key thing to understand is you can’t have a significant increase in power without a significant increase in failure rate. It’s covered in the article. A good starting point for you is in section “How much will component life be reduced.” Yeah life might reduce by less than 1% if you also limit the power gain by less than 1%. The starting point on the SN curve is irrelevant since we’re talking about relative changes. Pick any point on any SN curve. Then pick any other point at a higher stress level. Number of cycles reduces proportionally more than what the stress level increases. The points you pick are irrelevant.

        Yes I have proof. Chips increase load. If you increase load you increase failure rate. Der. It’s like asking if I have proof if the world is round. You think it’s flat?

        Do you believe that the makers of some of the biggest engines in the world like Cummins and Cat have got it wrong with their prime, continuous and standby ratings? Do you believe the entire automotive industry are squandering billions of dollars on engines that are too big when all they need to do is dump a bit more fuel in? Do you wear a tin cap?

  48. Firstly I’d like to thank everyone for there time and info From a humble auto electrician with normal skills required for every day vehicles If you want something more from your vehicle than it supplies as a stock vehicle it comes down to risk verses reward If your vehicle does ninty percent of its required work easily a chip may give you what you are looking to achieve However from a caravaners point of view when I’m climbing up that long range foot flat to the floor at 50 k an hour looking at the angry column of cars behind me in my mirror (all be it maybe 65k an hour with my chip in place) I’m still 3.5ton loaded and the slowest vehicle by far The bottom line at that moment I’m would still be holding up traffic either way. I’d rather have a stock vehicle holding up traffic while working its butt of but under warranty than a chipped vehicle slightly faster. But still holding up traffic and no warranty if something fails just my thoughts.

    • Hi joe
      The manufacturers are not stupid they are very clever and design these systems to beat Eu emissions. It’s call cycle beating and I’ll attach this info at the end of this post. I Don’t have billions but I do have 5 international companies.
      I run and own a racing team .So I know I little. But just because I’m successful doesn’t mean I’m smart. I always take the time to list to others. Even if I think they have no idea. This is not directed at you.
      One of my 23 year old female employees had an idea for my company and at first I thought what would she know. I’m glad I listened, she saved me 8 plus million in one year alone.
      I think everyone on a forum should see it as a learning tool.
      I’m not going to attack you just because I have a difference of opinion. I like your adventures and have learnt from your posts. I didn’t like the acid rain comment because I go above most with making my companies carbon neutral. And if you cared you wouldn’t drive a car. And this is not an attack its just a comment.
      Here is a bit on cycle beating.
      For the emission standards to deliver real emission reductions it is crucial to use a test cycle that reflects real-world driving style. It was discovered that engine manufacturers would engage in what was called ‘cycle beating’ to optimise emission performance to the test cycle, while emissions from typical driving conditions would be much higher than expected, undermining the standards and public health. In one particular instance, research from two German technology institutes found that for diesel cars no ‘real’ NOx reductions have been achieved after 13 years of stricter standards

      An independent study in 2014 used portable emission measurement systems to measure NOx emissions during real world driving from fifteen Euro 6 compliant diesel passenger cars. The results showed that NOx emissions were on average as much as 7 times higher than the Euro 6 limit.

      • Ps both parameters have not increase as the standard factory tune was used as a base line. If I was to block egr and do no tune then yes they will both increase but that’s the benefit of a tune you can set egt’s to whatever you want.
        I hope this helps clear a few things up.

      • Hi Ants EGR was introduced because emissions could not be made low enough without it. If your claim is true then the entire automotive industry is wrong. Billions of dollars of research, testing and real world results are wrong. If what you say is true you will be an instant billionaire. You need to start your design consultancy and teach the automotive industry how it’s done! Let me know when you make your first billion.

      • Yes manufacturers optimise to the emission test cycles. This minimizes the constraint of emission standards. Optimising a system that reduces emissions to a test cycle still means it reduces emissions. The study you refer to sounds like some conspiracy theory bullcrap. I highly doubt the veracity of it. Can you point to some references?

  49. Interesting discussion.
    I totally agree with Joe.
    Lets turn it around, i am since 25 years working in shipping on inland oiltankers in Germany.
    When we build a ship here we do exacly the opposite , say if a 2000 ton ship needs a 1500 HP engine, then most commonly we buy a 2000 HP engine (Caterpillar,Mitsubishi,Cummins are mostly used) and then we downtune this 2000 horsepower to 1500 .
    Exacly for the reasons Joe says, more power is more failure , we make them less power so reliability and running hours are greatly improved .
    This is simply a proven fact, it’s been done for decades this way, lifetime of engines are in most cases doubled by doing this.

    • Hey Mike thanks dude for sharing your experience, nice to get some different points of view. Yes it’s true you de-rate the engine to make it last longer. Same is done in diesel gensets. The same in heavy duty trucking, as described by Wazza in the comments above.

      • Sorry joe I don’t understand where your coming from . I’m not saying believe me. There is plenty on the net about cycle beating . Do some of your own research. Your coming off as a jerk just because we have a different opinion.
        I have nothing to prove I’m just trying to help people that are interested.
        I’ve seen the dyno read outs. And would not risk doing my whole fleet if I didn’t think it was a good idea. But that’s me. Your free to have your own opinion.

      • Hey Ants to suggest you have outsmarted the entire automotive industry and that emissions can be improved by deleting EGR and tuning is pretty misleading. And you present it as if you’ve done emissions testing and proven it. I’m not gonna let something so misleading sit on my blog without some rebuttal and a good dose of sarcasm thrown in. Apologies for being a bit rough in my responses.

  50. Hi joe
    I never said that I’ve outsmarted the entire automotive industry.

    • He’s some more info but I think your sticky with what you believe and that’s your right.
      Big business will tell you what every they want.
      In modern diesel engines, the EGR gas is cooled with a heat exchanger to allow the introduction of a greater mass of recirculated gas. Unlike SI engines, diesels are not limited by the need for a contiguous flamefront; furthermore, since diesels always operate with excess air, they benefit from EGR rates as high as 50% (at idle, when there is otherwise a large excess of air) in controlling NOx emissions.[citation needed] Exhaust recirculated back into the cylinder can increase engine wear as carbon particulate wash past the rings and into the oil.[6]

      Since diesel engines are unthrottled, EGR does not lower throttling losses in the way that it does for SI engines. Exhaust gas—largely carbon dioxide and water vapor—has a higher specific heat than air, so it still serves to lower peak combustion temperatures. However, adding EGR to a diesel reduces the specific heat ratio of the combustion gases in the power stroke. This reduces the amount of power that can be extracted by the piston. EGR also tends to reduce the amount of fuel burned in the power stroke. This is evident by the increase in particulate emissions that corresponds to an increase in EGR.[7] [8]

      Particulate matter (mainly carbon) that is not burned in the power stroke is wasted energy. Stricter regulations on particulate matter (PM) call for further emission controls to be introduced to compensate for the PM emissions introduced by EGR. The most common is a diesel particulate filter in the exhaust system which cleans the exhaust but reduces fuel efficiency. Since EGR increases the amount of PM that must be dealt with and reduces the exhaust gas temperatures and available oxygen, these filters need to function properly to burn off soot. Automakers inject fuel and air directly into the exhaust system to keep these PM filters from becoming blocked up.

      By feeding the lower oxygen exhaust gas into the intake, diesel EGR systems lower combustion temperature, reducing emissions of NOx. This makes combustion less efficient, compromising economy and power. The normally “dry” intake system of a diesel engine is now subject to fouling from soot, unburned fuel and oil in the EGR bleed, which has little effect on airflow. However, when combined with oil vapor from a PCV system, can cause buildup of sticky tar in the intake manifold and valves. It can also cause problems with components such as swirl flaps, where fitted. Diesel EGR also increases soot production, though this was masked in the US by the simultaneous introduction of diesel particulate filters.[9] EGR systems can also add abrasive contaminants and increase engine oil acidity, which in turn can reduce engine longevity.[10]

      Though engine manufacturers have refused to release details of the effect of EGR on fuel economy, the EPA regulations of 2002 that led to the introduction of cooled EGR were associated with a 3% drop in engine efficiency, bucking a trend of a .5% a year increase.
      I’m sure you’ll pick something in there to support you side of the debate . Lol
      Come on joe we can still have a laugh about our differences.

      • Hi joe
        Correct me if I’m wrong . Does your Toyota have an egr but no Dpf ?

      • Hey Ants yes that’s right my car has EGR only. It’s too old to have dpf.

        Reducing soot in the air is a good thing. DPF is fairly new and will suffer from teething problems. It will be optimised and fully exploited as it matures and you won’t even know it’s there. Just like EGR.

        I think a lot of the problem with DPF is people not understanding how to select the right tool for the job. Commuting to work and going to the shops is the job for a pushbike, scooter, public transport or at worst a small petrol powered car. Diesels are for hauling you and your gear hundreds of km down the highway. For that application the problems people have with DPF disappear.

      • Hi Ants yeah I’ve read the wikipedia article on EGR. The article is in conflict with your position that NOx can be made less without EGR. What’s your point? That I’m right?

        Extra wear due to soot in oil is insignificant, since lab testing of oil after 10k yields good results. What lab testing have you done that suggests the extra wear is significant?

        Extra fuel consumption due to EGR is insignificant. The study that the wikipedia article refers to identified a 3% step change increase in fuel consumption when EGR was first introduced on heavy duty diesels. This is the worst case. When a change like this is first introduced there is a step change. Then as the technology matures and is optimised and fully exploited, the gap is closed. So less than 3% improvement in fuel economy without EGR. This is less than measurement error of typical do it yourself fuel economy test.

  51. Hi joe
    Did you get a chance to look up on “cycle beating”?
    Also if your not running a low ash engine oil may I suggest switching over.
    I know it’s a little more but will reduce particulate matter. And better for environment.

    • Hi Ants yeah I read a little bit. But I don’t need to really read it, it’s common sense. The reports are saying:

      “Emission reduction systems do not perform as well as we think because they are optimised for less than ideal test cycles”

      This is different to what you are saying:

      “Emission reduction systems make emissions worse”

      Any indicator for any performance measure is not perfect. The actual value of that indicator may not represent very well real world values. However a change in the indicator does represent real world changes. An improvment in the indicator translates to an improvement in the real world. The indicator is purely that – an indicator. It is indicative of relative changes to real world performance.

      • Hi joe
        I’m saying that they design these system to beat the euro emission test cycles.
        At a cost to efficiency. And this efficiency lost out ways any real saving in total emission in real world driving.
        I’ve notice on some of the fleet we blocked the egr and egt’s went down by between 50 and 100 degrees. And that’s without tune. Also if the egr lowers combustion and exhaust gas temps. Wouldn’t it be best for the egr to be fully open on wide open throttle. But that’s not the cast its fully closed.
        Which bring me back to they build these system to very sneakily get around the test.
        I think these practice are disgusting . But that’s big business .
        I still agree with you on the chips and how they will increase failure and that’s really what the topic was about.
        We will both have to agree to disagree on the egr and dpf. But it’s been a good talking point .
        Definitely will check out the place you stayed in cooper pedy .

      • Yeah dude that underground joint was good. All of cooper pedy is interesting actually, I could spend more time there. Bit rough, but it’s the aussie outback.

        There’s no doubt EGR reduces combustion temp. That is the sole reason it exists. It’s sole purpose in life. Every formal text that I’ve seen confirms that. Something went wrong with your experiment.

        EGR is closed at full throttle to let full air into the engine, to maximise the capability of the engine. Otherwise engines would need to be oversized which is bad for efficiency. EGR artificially constrains the maximum power the engine can deliver. If you close it you avoid this constraint. Also, at full throttle, EGR causes soot levels to increase, which is bad for the environment. So EGR is closed at full throttle.

  52. Firstly, thank you for an informative site. Secondly please tell me why someone buys a vehicle then seeks more power? did you not think about adequate power when purchasing? But what serves your purpose, not something lesser then attempt to outsmart the factory engineers. I am continually amazed at this ongoing search for the Holy Grail of mechanical manipulation.

    • Hi Gimp very interesting question you pose. Actually I’ve thought about this a lot and have my theory. It’s on my list of future articles. These cars have double the power of 20 or 30 years ago. The need for more power isn’t the reason in my opinion.

  53. Hi,
    I’ve been reading this very interesting discussion, and I must admit I agree with many aspects of Joe’s thinking.
    Having spend my first 8 years with an automotive manufacturer, I can confirm that the manufacturer will do absolutely everything in its power to improve reliability, performance, economy, noise etc etc. To do anything else will result in higher warranty claims, lower sales, lower vehicle performance etc etc etc.
    I have formed an opinion from what I have seen, that generally speaking the manufacturer will choose the best comprise in any design. However, that doesn’t mean that they always get it right, and in certain circumstances there may be room for aftermarket improvements.
    The problem I have with engine chips is, I have no idea what the chip is actually doing to my engine and what long term effect it is going to have. And I don’t believe the sales hype that they spin, so for me its just safer to not put the chip in at all. I would perhaps consider a chip that could be turned on/off, on demand. This way I could manage the risk factor.

  54. Great article, you have saved me $1500.00 plus.
    What do you think about exhaust upgrades.
    Graeme 😎

  55. Hi Joe,

    Came across your blog whilst meandering through links following a search for Amarok vs. Ranger. I have a Hilux but like many get the “grass is always greener” urge occasionally.

    Having read the article (informative) and comments (also informative once you filter out the waffle) I have been left wandering how much of a manufacturers performance compromise may be made up from fuel and environment quality. By that I mean most pickups (utes?) are designed to run on pretty much any quality of diesel and in most land based environmental extremes and can put up with indifferent servicing for years (note 30 year old Hiluxes running around is poorer areas of the world).

    If you never take your vehicle out of “high quality” fuel areas (I’m in Europe) and rarely suffer extremes of temperature (I’m still in Europe) does this mean it’s safer to tune the engine because it doesn’t need to suffer these extremes? I’m thinking of the D-4D engine in the Hilux being lower powered than the same engine in the Land Cruiser and the fact that Toyota sell a tuning kit to up the Hilux to Land Cruiser output is some territories but not others.



    • Hey Ken. There’s many factors taken into account when the manufacturer picks a rating for their vehicle. Fuel quality and environmental conditions are probably factors. It’s all explained in the how failure works article. Landcruiser might have more power because, for the market of trendy people wanting status on their commute to work, more power is required to be competitive. This is offset by light duty application. So, on average, Toyota are still producing a reliable vehicle, since more power is offset by lighter duty. Even if the vehicle is used in a heavy duty application, Toyota are happy to wear the bill of extra warranty claims, since it allows them to be competitive in that market. Read the comment above by “AutoEng”. He explains for the premium product you pay more money for something less durable.

      Anyway the reason for the rating is irrelevant. Cranking up the power does not change your fuel quality or environment or duty. They are all fixed. Crank up the power and failure rate increases.

      Chips don’t take environmental conditions or fuel quality into account. Nor do they worry about duty or failure rate. In fact they take nothing into account. It’s a blanket approach of increasing rail pressure and / or extending pulse width to dump more fuel into the engine.

      But to answer your question. If your starting point for operating conditions yields a low failure rate, then you do something to increase the failure rate, the failure rate will be less than if you were starting at a higher failure rate and then increased the failure rate.

  56. I have a question which I don’t believe has been asked. The photo at the bottom of the story shows a Hilux bogged in sand, with a comment stating that a diesel performance chip can help in sand. Now I live in the SW of West Oz, and have been 4wdriving on the south and west coasts since I got my licence back in ’92. One thing I’ve noticed whilst driving on sand over those years, is that I’ve never ever had to use a shovel, or the new 4×4 roof rack accessory, the Maxx Trax, that you see driving around in the city, as I’ve always reduced my tyre pressures as needed for specific applications and softness of sand. It has always amazed me to see people bogged to their axles whilst I float along by on 10psi, whilst asking if they’ve let their tyres down, usually with a response, “of course I have you f#@king idiot, I let them down to 30 pound”!! I also think people just don’t know how to drive a 4wdrive. Low Range is designed for “maximum traction in slippery scenarios”. Correct tyre pressures and smart driving in Low Range will save lots of time digging when you could be fishing!!

    On the issue of Power Modules, I did some research before I put a Steinbauer module on my 2015 SR5. For the first three months after the module was fitted the vehicle was great. The power increase was noticeable, the torque increases were also noticeable, especially when towing, and fuel efficiency decreases was only due to lead foot disease!!

    One day I started the vehicle, only to have the engine light on. I took it to my local dealer who who hooked up the computer to notice the “Map Pressure” reading was abnormally high. I had to confess that I had a chip installed. They reset the fault code and I was on my way. The next day the same thing happened, so called the guys who installed the chip. They said to remove the chip, which I did and the engine light eventually turned off (after leaving the engine off for a small period ). They sent the chip back to Steinbauer for remapping. The chip was reinstalled, and the boost pressure was lowered . This was done yesterday, and then today the engine light came back on. I am now unsure what to do as everything is fine without the chip, so I will be doing more research as to why this could happen.

    I would prefer an explanation and your thoughts regarding driving on sand!!


    • Yo Jamie you’re spot on about sand and tyre pressure. I wrote an article on it, see here.

      It’s incredible to see people using recovery equipment and snatching every 5 minutes when all they need to do is lower their tyres a bit more. I’ve never been snatched. Some people snatch all the time simply because they refuse to lower pressure adequately. Not sure why, maybe fear of tyre damage or don’t like waiting to air up. Instead they thrash the crap out of their car and get bogged all the time.

      I dunno if your MAP problem is related to the chip. It could be related to soot accumulation restricting EGR system or blocked MAP sensor filter. I’d check both of those. If you need to know how jump on newhilux.net, there’s some great info there.

      • Hi Joe.
        Just read Jamies post and not sure if I can help but here goes.
        If the code on your 2015 sr5 was a map code ((Manifold Absolute Pressure)
        And you said that it doesn’t do it when chip is off then it would be safe to say it’s the chip. But
        You also stated that you reinstalled after the chip had been reprogrammed . And turbo boost pressure lowered.
        Is the code , it is throwing still a ( map) error code? And has the boost pressure been lowered back to standed boost?.
        Being that you car is a 2015 . It would be unlikely that the sensor is dirty but if it’s done over 60000kms then it’s worth cleaning it just in case.
        Not sure how that chip you have works but if the tps ( throttle position sensor) and the map don’t work together it will throw a map error code.
        If you boost is still outside the parameters it will read high volts on the map sensor . eg over 5v and will throw a code.
        Hope this help .

  57. Read all this crap about Steinbauer chips being good but everyone forgotten they only work over 70% load and claim better fuel economy and performance under normal driving conditions I don’t think so, this was said by a guy from Steinbauer Duane last year

  58. Never even considered a chip until speaking with a mate today who has one- this has put everything into perspective. Put that the debate to the side – I write scripts & papers for a living – your a fantastic writer – wasting your time as an engineer!!!!haha

  59. I’ve read a lot of this and there’s some good points on both sides, I’ve asked a couple of exhaust centres about putting a high flow sport muffler on my Triton, one fellow said its a waste of time and to remove the cat convertor, they should never have been put on a diesel and restrict the flow to much, take it off and he said I would see more gain then changing the muffler, outback Joe what is your opinion on this, its probably written in here some where but thought id ask anyway, also most chips do the same thing, then why are some up around the 1500 and some like SW chip with a 2 year warranty only $500, big difference in price if they are doing the same job ??

  60. I agree on the physics being pretty clear on this issue, in that we usually have to pay for higher performance with reduced lifetime. — However, driving a car is a very dynamic and complex process, and the manufacturer’s settings are not always ideal for every use or every driver, and that’s where engine tuning can be applied with benefit (more benefit than loss, and more benefit than leaving the engine in its old state). What’s missing from this thread is is the human factor. I think it’s quite possible that the lifetime of your engine depends more on your driving style, your way of servicing it, etc. than whether or not the engine outputs 10hp more. So how can engine tuning improve the lifetime of your engine? Simple — by changing people’s behaviour. Most car owners know that a chip is potentially dangerous for the engine in that it can decrease its lifetime. Correspondingly, they change their behaviour: They change the oil more frequently, drive more consciously, bring the car to a mechanic earlier when it makes funny noises, etc.. We’ve already seen people in this threat announcing that they would take better car with their engine now that it’s tuned. So, it is possible that the change in the chip owner’s behaviour compensates for the ‘damaging’ effect that the chip could potentially have. Also — as I said above: I don’t think the manufacturers always get it right. We see plenty of sloppy manufacturing. (I own a Jeep, which must be the record holder for recalls, and most of them are reserved for life-endangering faults). Also, a person who wants a tuned engine usually has a pretty good reason for it, and here’s another angle where human factors come in. Just as an example: My Jeep has a terrible turbo lag. I’ve been told that’s normal. It’s not normal compared to the other Diesels I’ve owned, and I REACT to that. It makes me angry! So sometimes I rev up the engine and let the clutch go at 1,500 rpm or more to start in a way that feels normal to me. Now that produces a lot of wear and tear on all components, including the engine, transmission and clutch. Who can say that an engine tuning chip that would get rid of this terrible lag would be worse for the lifetime of my car than my occasional erratic driving behaviour? I wouldn’t bet on it…
    The point is, with a human behind the wheel, physics alone won’t predict the lifetime of any component accurately. And the human factor can be just as important or more important for failure rates than physics.

    • Hi Stef. I have two responses to your comment.

      1. When you want to know how a particular variable effects an outcome, you keep all other variables constant. This way you actually measure the effect of the variable you are interested in. You don’t conveniently manipulate other variables so that the outcome supports your point of view. You are no longer measuring the effect of the variable you were interested in.

      2. What study have you done to indicate chips improve engine longevity through behavioural changes? So all these stories of engines blowing up and court cases occurring – the engines actually would have blown up earlier without the chip! That’s amazing!

      Modern cars already have a butt load of power, way more than we need. Way too much actually, enough such that most people develop poor driving habits. I’d suggest a chip promotes even poorer driving habits which further accelerates the extra wear. Hooning, speeding, accelerating hard when not necessary, accelerating hard to red traffic lights, erratic speed regulation rather than travelling at smooth speeds, utilising the extra power just coz they can, aggressive driving, impatiently overtaking only to stop in traffic a few seconds later.

      So you reckon chips improve behavior. I reckon it makes it worse. Who is right? The fact is we’re both just making shit up! My way is more likely to be right since people buy chips to go fast, not to learn better behaviours. What is not made up is the fact that a chip yields more power and more power = more wear.

      If you want maximum engine life then do not get a chip, treat the engine well, maintain it properly and develop good driving behaviour. And don’t get angry at your toys! You’re a big boy now!

      If you enjoy more power then that’s great. Stop bullcraping about potential improvements in engine longevity. It’s ok to admit you like a chip just coz you like more power, and that you’re happy to sacrifice some engine life for it.

  61. Very interesting article, and I have read it all, I am not an engineer. I bought a brand new Toyota LC200 TwinTurbo Diesel V8 (in our countries we get GCC specs). The funny thing is that although it carries the same exact engine as other LC200 Diesels in the world, but it got less power outpot (~220 HP, and torque 615 nm), so I would assume that the factors could be adjusted ECU settings or whatever!!!

    Well, I came across your article as I am thinking of chipping my car, as my friend noticed significant power gain and removed the take-off lag, increased fuel economy (he’s using UNICHIP). But I have always wondered, how come all those chip manufacturers claim that it comes at no additional cost. I do agree with you that with more power, more tear/wear will happen, but don’t you think that some engines are actually designed to handle more than the factory settings at an ease? Also, what if I just used a plug’n’play chip and only install it before long off-road trips???

    Donno, I was 100% sure to buy a chip, but after reading your article I’m not hesitant since this is my first ever new car to buy after 15 years of used cars.

    • Hey Ahmed everything is on a spectrum dude. Every engine can tolerate more power. Every engine will fail quicker with more power

      You can still have a long living engine with more power as I describe in the article. Look at what you are trying to achieve. Do you want more power because your friend has it or because other countries have it? This is not a good reason for wanting more power. Look at what makes you happy.

      • Hi joe
        Here is some news on the VOLKSWAGEN scandal
        Hope you start to believe me.

        In addition to the environmental probe already under way, the US Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation, US officials told the Bloomberg news agency.

        The Justice Department and Volkswagen declined to comment on the report.

        According to the US authorities, VW has admitted that it had equipped about 482,000 cars in the United States with sophisticated software that covertly turns off pollution controls when the car is being driven and turns them on only when it detects that the vehicle is undergoing an emissions test.

        With the so-called “defeat device” deactivated, the car can spew pollutant gases into the air, including nitrogen oxide in amounts as much as 40 times higher than emissions standards, said the US Environmental Protection Agency, which announced the allegations on Friday along with California authorities.

      • Hey Ants so when you defeat emissions systems it’s better for the environment but when someone else does it it’s bad for the environment? How do you figure that?

        VW is a case of not complying with emissions standards. The result is emissions go up. What’s your point? That I’m right?

  62. I’m a little confused, I ended up just hooking up the Stein Bauer module today and took for a good run up through the mountains, now I don’t have to flog my vehicle as hard through the gears, I read both sides and in no way an expert, but if the vehicle doesn’t have to work as hard through the gears, wouldn’t that be better for it then, I went the Module instead of the chip after research and seemed the best option

    • Hi joe

      Seem my last message was removed for some reason . So I’ll say again surely your taking the piss now Joe . Your a smart guy . Go back and read my posts to understand what I was saying.
      Here one of my post which you questioned the validity of…..

      • Hi Ants

        I’m not sure what your point is.

        Cycle beating is optimising the control system to legally comply with emission standards. The study that found the problems with VW also reported acceptable emission levels for compliant vehicles (BMW).

        VW are not cycle beating. They are non-compliant. Non-compliant vehicles produce high emissions. Just like the vehicles you modify, which are non-compliant, which would also produce high emissions.

        Referring to my points above, can you please explain your point? The waffle that you have posted is of no benefit here. This is not the right forum for conspiracy theories. Explain yourself using logic and science. If you want to talk conspiracy theories you should go elsewhere.


  63. Hi joe

    I’m also talking to one of my tech guys and I’ll put a proposal too you.
    We are going to put a dpf on one of our toyotas Which is like yours and if it works I’ll send you a dpf a little computer to read the ecu and everything else you’ll need. All at my cost if you install it and run it for a 100000kms and post up pictures of install.
    And your thoughts
    This way you can say your doing you but for the environment .

    • What will this exercise prove? What is the point?

      • No conspiracy just fact
        German technology institutes found that for diesel cars no ‘real’ NOx reductions have been achieved after 13 years of stricter standards

        An independent study in 2014 used portable emission measurement systems to measure NOx emissions during real world driving from fifteen Euro 6 compliant diesel passenger cars. The results showed that NOx emissions were on average as much as 7 times higher than the Euro 6 limit

      • How does this relate to VW’s non-compliance? I am still missing your point.

        Absolute values of NOx are irrelevant. The standards form a baseline so that relative comparisons and trends can be made. The levels stipulated in the standards are an indicator. Stricter standards means emission levels trend down. Standards are not designed to predict real world emmissions. But we know stricter standards results in less emissions, whatever the absolute values are.

        We have discussed this already. Why are you repeating the same irrelevant stuff? Your posts are so repetitive and logic defying that I am falling asleep. Too much repetition of the same irrelevant arguments flooding the comments of the article. If you want to have a productive discussion then please refer to my paragraph above and explain why it is not correct.

        Can you point me to the study which shows no NOx reductions have been achieved in 13 years?

        Can you explain why the ICCT study that identified the problems with VWs also indicated the BMW had acceptable emission levels?

      • Hi joe
        Would have been good for your site. People would have been interested and followed the progress.
        You think the dpf is a good idea.
        Egrs create more particular matter.
        You would have been collecting it to burn off when it does a regeneration .
        I was going to program the regen file into the ecu. And everything else you needed.
        All at my cost but I get you like being mediocre.
        Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth!

      • Lot’s of things are interesting, why would I pursue this? Your suggestion seems completely random.

        Can’t you just buy me a new car with a DPF already?

  64. Joe,
    I think the “cycle beating’ that Ants is referring to is some clever use of ECU programming that recognises when the vehicle is being put through a standard emissions test sequence. It makes sense, if you are to make a fair and equal comparison of the emissions outputs of all different makes and models, then you would need to formulate a standard running sequence in order to test all vehicles in the same way. My understanding is that VW have taught their ECU to recognise this sequence, and then modify its behaviour in order to pass the test. i.e. at any other time, the vehicles will most likely be non-compliant.

    Love reading your site btw, but its a pity you seem to have trouble accepting differing opinions on this subject. I thought there have been some very good points made here by others, and I’ve enjoyed hearing the thoughts of others and of yourself. I hope as the administrator of this forum that you’ve created, that you only delete the rude,obscene and vulgar posts.

    • This is a re post
      Hi joe
      I’m saying that they design these system (egr dpf )to beat the euro emission test cycles.
      At a cost to efficiency. And this efficiency lost out ways any real saving in total emission in real world driving.
      German technology institutes found that for diesel cars no ‘real’ NOx reductions have been achieved after 13 years of stricter standards
      English is not my first language and I was starting to think what I was saying was getting lost in translation .
      I’m with you Jamie it just a difference of opinon and I believe I’m just trying to help people to make a decision on a chip or no chip or a ecu re flash. I personal like the reflash . Dpf delete… egr off …. Economical Tune.

      • Oh and yes the ecu programming the vw was caught out for is just them going to more lenghts to beat the test.

      • This is hilarious. I won’t repeat myself again. You are trying to equate defeating the emission control system to optimizing the control system for the test cycle. Where have you been getting your logic lessons from? Ralph Wiggum?

    • Hi Jamie

      No, cycle beating has been around long before the VW scandal. Cycle beating is legally optimizing the control system to the emission test cycles. This is common sense and applies to every standard on everything in the entire world. It is not unique to emission standards. You optimise to the minimum requirement so that you also minimize the constraints and expense related to complying with the standard. Actually it’s been discussed already in the comments above. This is what happens when the comments are flooded with waffle. Important stuff is diluted amongst the rubbish. You missed the bit on cycle beating coz of all the other waffle and you have now added to the repetition. It’s not your fault. It’s the waffler’s fault.

      Ants was trying to link cycle beating with the VW scandal. Actually, unless he can bring something new to the table, which I encourage him to, they are unrelated. There is no logic to his position. VW is non conforming. It is defeating the emissions control system. It is illegal. Cycle beating is conforming. The BWM tested in the exact same study would have been designed around cycle beating yet it returned acceptable emissions.

      I won’t leave obviously misleading stuff on here. Like there’s this conspiracy with emissions standards and that they actually make emissions worse and disabling emissions control systems is good for the environment. Ridiculous.

      What’s more ridiculous is that VW is a case of defeating the emission control system which yields increased emissions as proven by the study results. Yet Ants disables the emission control system on his vehicles and claims it benefits the environment. Then he uses the VW scandal to support his case. WTF!

      I also don’t like flooding the comments with repetition. It adds no value. Useful info gets hidden.

      For there to be useful discussion, if one posts a logical argument then that argument needs to be addressed. Repeating what’s already been said adds no value. Ambiguous statements lacking any point or relevance to the argument also add no value.

      Would it sound a little bit rude to you if I said it’s a pity you have trouble following basic logic? Only joking, I’m just quoting part of your post, with some added irony regarding your conditions for deleting posts. I can’t let your comment go without some friendly rebutal!


  65. Excellent reading. LOVE IT, the banter to and fro is as educational as the article. well Done my friend. I wont be installing a chip.

  66. Wow is all I can say, I’ve read through most of this but have to admit life got in the way of the final 30%.

    I think we have the standard Australian problem here of people confusing working with something to having an understanding of design of something. I’m an electronics engineer and I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard someone counter an argument I’ve made by quoting an electrician. In this example an electrician fixes existing things, they do not need to have an in-depth understanding of the design process and all the reliability and quality design that goes into whatever they’re fixing, engineers do. I don’t attempt to fix stuff as it’s not my job, I don’t expect people who fix existing products to understand how to design them.

    A lot of the above arguments to Joe here appear to be based around the concept that as he doesn’t spend his time pulling apart engines he can’t possibly understand the issues surrounding increasing power levels. Sorry folks but this stuff is basic engineering (no offense Joe), increase the power into and out of any system and you decrease the lifetime, sure there are a whole heap of variations on this and how it works but the fundamentals stay the same. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t understand the basic theory.

    Good article.

  67. Yeah, it’s amazing some of the bull plop these so call diesel tuners try to tell you! You’re so right, how the diddly can “more” fuel, make my fuel economy better? they must think I’m on the same whoopy weed as they are on! I suppose they’re going to try and tell me the earth is a sphere or that one day man will walk on the moon! Look, I’ve been an active forum member for well over 6 years now, so I think I know a thing or two about how a diesel works, unlike some of these “so called mechanics” from reputable workshops!

  68. Thought I’d give you an update on my earlier post, re;2015 Hilux fitted with Steinbauer. After three months of no dramas the engine light came on with a MAP pressure error code. After having the module shipped back to Steinbauer and remapped, it was reinstalled and run on the dyno, the next day the engine light came on. I had stated to the company who installed it that there must be an issue with the module, to which Steinbauer said there was no problem. So Steinbauer sent over a new wiring harness. For those that don’t know, the Steinbauer module connects to each injector, it’s not just an ECU plugin. New wiring harness installed, reconnected module and engine light came on. The installer sent a mechanic 1.5hrs on the road to install the new harness, at no cost to me. So it was back to Steinbauer and they replaced the module (I said the module must be buggered when it first happened). So after over three months of mucking around, I have a new module and wiring harness, and the Hilux is running beautifully. Being an automatic, it now holds in top gear up hills without dropping down through the gears, and the extra power is very noticeable. With a three year warranty from Steinbauer I don’t see an issue with running it. I didn’t buy the module to save fuel. I bought it to make the vehicle run better, be safer when overtaking and have better torque and power when towing and 4wdriving. I also took the new Hilux for a run and have to say I was impressed, but still reckon the Steinbauer fitted D4D has more power than the new one. Sorry for the novel but thought I’d add my little bit.

  69. ” Hey Joe, where you goin with that Gun in your hand”
    All good arguments but now that Einsteins “Theory” of relativity is up in the air we could well be into a different realm.
    On your analysis every engine has a limited life.
    Same as we’re all dying from the day we’re born. So if I want to do couple lines of Coke daily
    Chances are I’ll meet an early demise.
    But would you rather live 99 years or one year 99 times.

    As you know it’s a joke we’re even running fossil fuel.

    • Hey Chris yeah a couple of lines of coke are fine. Problem is when you disregard the negatives. You may end up with a broken body and regret. You may end up with a net loss to lasting happiness.

  70. Hi Joe,
    I have read almost all of these comments and found it to be very informative. I also got alot of knowledge from others who contributed to this blog and I thank you all for that.
    I am a Mechanical Fitter/Machinist, I have little diesel experience, no Tertiary education whatsoever, but I can understand basic physics. I was looking into the chips, purely because the Landcruiser 150 Series Prado has a pitiful flat spot /delay on takeoff. I average 9.1 L/100km combined city and highway on fuel and there is enough power for me.

    What I don’t understand, is how people cant accept the basic principals of physics and nature as being fixed and immutable.
    The more work something does, the more fuel it burns and the higher the increase in failure rate due to heat and stress….simple.
    You don’t need to waffle on about less emissions and some ECU components that can do Gods work and make a cappuccino at the same time. YOU’RE MISSING THE POINT.

    If you run to the shop, you burn more fuel and put undue stresses on your body, more so, than if you had walked. End result, you got to the shop.
    I understand your frustration OutbackJoe, that you’re just trying to enlighten people on basic physic’s and how it can affect you. Maybe some people need to read this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_(physics) Its just food for thought. If you want a chip, then great, get one, but at least make an informed choice as to which one you buy and for what reasons.

    Thanks everyone for the enjoyable reads

  71. Thanks for your easy to understand and comprehensive article. My Ford Ranger T6 2.2 110kw will live it’s life with me without any chip mod thanks to your article and my informed decision.

  72. wow you lad really love this
    so am i getting a chip for my hilux or not damage or not is worth it had how much damage ??? dependes on the driver

  73. the argument between you and the chip dude was an interesting read…

    I totally agree with you Joe, if manufacturers who spend millions if not billions of dollars could make this extra power without any compromises they would. However I think that these chips probably arent as bad as you make out. Yes they will reduce engine life but is it really going to be noticeable? I dont think so as there are allot of factors (yes this will contribute as well) that effect the engine life.

  74. Nice article.. Just check the use of ‘effecting’, I think you mean ‘affecting’

  75. i like how you state you will delete comments with personal attacks and then you ask people what they are smoking! good one

  76. Your article sounds logical, except that the chip in my VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI DOES save fuel, so that places your arguments in doubt.

  77. HERE, HERE, my argument all the time, more fuel means less k’s per tank full, and closer to breakdown.

  78. Thanks Joe. More beer helped me make up my mind. Great effort mate. Regards, Mark.

  79. Reading this article reminds me on an article written by a Pommie motor journalist “expert” (Honest John) He was claiming that if the rule book for learning to drive was to be re-written, people would be taught to brake with their left feet when operating an auto. Why? Because there had been “several” cases of elderly people getting confused and pressing their acellerator instead of their brake. People called him out. Others, liking Honest John, defended him.
    I had the very worrying job of convincing my visiting father, whom had never driven an auto, to put his left foot on that rest, and KEEP it there.

    Chip, exhaust, intercooler, egr block, blah, blah, blah, all fitted on my Patrol diesel. This truck drives better than ever. As each year goes by, and I have carefully added each mod, it’s become a better beast. I genuinely felt guilty when I fitted the chip and exhaust, it was if I had made it operate with only 1 lung for 100,000 klms. Chip, intercooler and exhaust combo, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. No science fact here at all, but if feels like it is so much happier, open and able to breathe.
    My truck will fail when the weakest parts give up. I have a chip yes, but still drive it with great mechanical respect. I’d not change it for any reason other than facts, not hypothesis. (I’m in the medical field, and it seems the fashion here to justify yourself)
    There are risks to all driving, and even harms from prolonged periods of not even starting your car.
    I have a much more powerful, economical and cooler running truck since adding each and every one of my mods. FACT. The gains in economy resulted in the cost of the “top shelf” intercooler, and the chip and mandrel bent exhaust paying for themselves in under 3 years.

  80. Hello OutbackJoe,

    For most of your article I was inclined to buy your argument…but your disrespectful attitude towards commenters changed my mind as I read down. As soon as someone disagrees you just blindly fight back. Feel free to rant and rave on your favourite topic, but this article is not a balanced discussion with room for others to bring their experience to the table, but simply a conversation dominated by your opinon.

  81. Hi, I would like to share my personal experience with performance tuning. I have installed it on my past 2 common-rail diesel cars, and have been always very happy with the results. The power increased, throttle responsiveness also, and the consumption slightly decreased. For the record, I used Steinbauer. As to the longevity: I never had any problems with either car, and have covered more than 150,000 km with each of them. Both have been tuned almost new (after the run-in period).

    As far as the theory goes: Sure, increased performance will cause increased load and wear. However, the real question is whether this will cause any faults in the lifetime of the engine. If you were to keep a car for 50 years, sure, I think it would matter. But in 5 – 10 years? I don’t think so (assuming you use an experienced provider who knows his job).

  82. Tend to agree,you can only do 60,80,100… If you want more power,buy a petrol…. Our 120 Series 4l petrol Prado uses between 15-18l/1-100 towing a Jayco Offroad Eagle.. Our friends 3.0l Diesel uses the same or maybe 1l/100kms less due to having to be driven flat out due to lack of grunt. Every hill they disappear into the distance. The petrol may drop down a cog if it feels like.. Want to overtake, just pull out a go, no run up.. Just my observations…

  83. Hi I found this very interesting ever since I bought my 200 turbo diesel I’ve heard nothing but about why I should chip my car I have always asked the same questen if rechipping makes everything better why wouldn’t Toyota do it so I’m going to leave it the way it is but I would like your view on oil catch can and blocking of the ecu cheers Lou

    • Yeah catch can is good. Saves you having to clean the egr every 100k or so. You mean EGR block? Nah don’t do that. You need a blanking plate with a hole otherwise you get engine check light. All that happens with the hole is the ecu compensates and operates the valve more towards the open end. If the required egr flow can’t be achieved you get engine check light. Otherwise it makes no difference. If you think it does make a difference then just don’t get a catch can and never clean your egr. Eventually it will restrict to exactly the same as having a blanking plate, too easy. Consider this: people report improved economy and power from cleaning the egr. Simultaneously other people report improved economy and power from blocking the egr. Do you see a problem with this anecdotal evidence? Leave it alone. An added bonus is less acid rain and smog and it stays legal.

  84. Dear Joe,

    I bought a used 1,9 tdi T5 VW Kombi Caravelle LWB with 110000km. Its 77kw was just not sufficient. So I had a DASTEC chip fitted (South Africa). It has now covered 351000km, of which a lot were hard use, but the engine and turbo are still original and top condition. Fuel consumption remained the same. I also have a standard 90kw Amarok double cab with 358000km, but lately I have had the urge to fit a so-called ‘racechip’ for a bit of extra oomph, especially after returning from a very hot Namib desert. I am however concerned about my high-km injection system, as apparently the racechip (from germany) only increases fuel pressure. The dastek chip remaps the engine with 5 possible different settings. On my Kombi-bus I have only 2 settings, a general optimised setting, and with a ‘power button’ (which does not unleash magic, but more power low down and at top end).
    My QUESTION to you is; which of the two between the dastec and racechip is more advisable? I know you recommend none, but if you absolutely had to?

    Hottie Oberholzer
    South Africa

    • Hey Hottie I dunno how that dastec thing makes more power. If you want to minimise impact to engine longevity get a chip that only extends injector pulse width and can be turned on and off easily. Use it at the lowest setting.

  85. Dastec apparently uses a unichip

  86. I love the way that you have come at this article and defining in a logical order your thought process. Ultimately, Chip / tuning / power extraction whatever you want to call it ends up being a very personal choice.

    The points about engine wear are accurate, however I believe the engines are extremely over engineered, the point of which is usually underestimated. AS an Extreme example, Just Autos had a 1KD running compound turbo’s at 70PSi, making nearly 400-whp (and one would assume 1000+NM of torque). Bought brand new, done nearly 40,000kms, pulled down and not a single mark on bearings or similar.

    Now I’d certainly not recommend this for maximum reliability, but ultimately, it shows that these engines are significantly well built from factory.

    There are lots of points that can be made, even between makes and models, as all cars are not tuned equally. Take for example, you can make a Hilux tune the same as a D40 (AFRs, Boost pressures, Rail pressures and so on) and gain nearly 35%… so who is right? in this case, toyota had this tune to bypass having to have a DPF, but surely Nissan wouldn’t be putting out the door something close to the line.

    There is always plenty to consider in these types of discussions. I believe that this is a good article providing the alternate position, as many people are trying to sell chips are obviously only going to push one side of the argument only – but with all things 2 sides.

    • Hey Matt thanks for your friendly and balanced feedback, which is great considering where you make your money. I’ve noticed through your videos and website that the culture of your company is a bit different to your typical after market company.

      Yes the engines are strong, and at low km they are strong enough to be reliable even with extra power. They’re not going to blow up immediately or show any wear marks that indicate massive sudden damage. But the fatigue accumulates and the probability distribution will diverge as you crank up the km. No matter how strong we think the engines are, they are still only good enough for a few hundred thousand km, and significantly increasing power must significantly reduce the lifespan.

      One thing I’ll add, with respect to your question “so who is right?”, is that no one is right. There are many solutions to any problem, and every solution is a compromise. Thanks for dropping by, it’s good to get some feedback from such a well respected authority!

  87. Hi Joe.Awesome article ..! Im on my second BMW 335d .First one from 07 got a remap in Denmark ,and it was awesome . I took a nap while driving and crashed and burned it . My second one from 09 got the best chip, Racechip ultimate ( according to German test ) from racechip Germany and it was good, until several problems starting to bug the machine. I got the second car from new and after 150000km the limp mode kicked in. Couldn’t understand why ,because i never drive short trips , always 2 house straight to work. Anyway the Dpf was full of shit, and the regeneration of Dpf was working like it should ( according to the BMW mechanics ) anyway i got it replaced and went on my way. Around 250000km my EGR valve vas full of carbon including the intake manifold. Now the fun factor stopped ,so did the car again..!!! Rough idle and bad engine respons ,was it game over ..? Hell no..!!!!!! Got a new EGR valve and intake manifold replaced it myself. Got rid of the Racechip ultimate .Machine spinning like a kitten ,almost 360000km without any problem with Dpf EGR or intake manifold.Ps have visually inspected. Forget the extra power.!!!! Extra power equals Extra problems.And yes, an after market chip tuning or remap will reduce the life of the engine and any part connect to it.That’s common sense hehe.

  88. I have the new Hilux 2.8L AT. It has Eco and Power switch and driving on Power noticably increases performance at low revs. Is this difference due to some sort of factory built in chip?

    • Hey Erol I dunno for sure on the new Hilux but usually the power button holds gears longer and makes the accelerator pedal more sensitive rather than dump more fuel in the engine.

  89. Gain 20-30% more power, sell your vehicle 20-30% sooner… There is no way you can put an engine under more load and have it last as long as a standard motor with no mods. Outbackjoe your article makes complete sense to me and was articulated well. Thank you.

  90. Hi all.stumbled accrooss this monster debate whilst considering wether to chip/ re.map my 2 Ltr.ford kuga.my decision is to leave well alone.,though I want to thank the all involved .well nearly all.in well presented auguments and helping me make my decision and vastly increase my Diesel engine tuning knowledge. Joe you swung it for me ….just .A really great and informative debate thanks.

  91. I have read that the chip will not increase top speed of a diesel at all, lest the serious changing od hardware components takes place, aka turbo, injectors, intake manifold, exaust etc due to the short the effective rev range of a diesel engine? Iz that true? Thanks. My friend insists that his A4 B8 2.0tdi 103kw chipped to 170ps increased the top speed by a whooping 25-30km/h. I dont believe it, and think that the increase in top speed might be due to possible change of speed limiter values. Am i right? Thanks!

    • Hey Ivan if a vehicle is unable to reach maximum rpm in top gear, which may be the case if it doesn’t have enough power to continue to accelerate to overcome wind resistance and friction, then a chip may increase top speed.

  92. But WHAT if somebody set a turbo to get more boost at ..i dont know …2000rpm and less fuel? what happens then in normal driving conditions? Yes you are more stressing the turbocharger by let’s say 10%…… But what happens with fuel consumption?? Can you explain it now? You are right about stressing the engine,i don’t even know how the people expect that if they tune the engine to get same reliability? it’s not possible by all mechanical and phisical laws! And then ignore all that,yes you can get lower fuel consumption but against ecology – but who cares,tuners really dont give a shit….

    • Hey cyber do you mean lower the power output to try to improve fuel economy? Less fuel means less power. No chips do that. Even if they did I don’t think there’s any scope to improve fuel economy. Modem diesels already run with excess air to maximize fuel economy and meet strict soot emission requirements. Less fuel and more air will make the engine slightly less efficient since engine overheads are the same but power output is less. Actually engine overheads well be slightly more since there will be more load from the turbo and so efficiency will suffer more.

      You don’t think manufacturers would exploit such a simple solution for improving fuel economy when fuel economy is one of the most marketable parameters of a vehicle and the solution would cost them nothing?

      If you want less power don’t push the accelerator pedal as hard. That will dump less fuel and the engine will already have excess air and be as efficient as possible.

  93. Haven’t read all the replies here but my solution to the problem of an underpowered 4X4 which chews too much fuel anyway is to simply use a lower gear. Been doing the figures for 16 years – my particular behemoth uses less fuel in third or fourth revving higher than it does struggling in a higher gear. 16 years 300,000s Same engine same power output just use good oil regularly…. Common sense I know but hey practical solutions without undoing all the research that went into the original design of the vehicle. Sorry for sounding like a simpleton….

  94. I have had a Unichip in my T5 VW Kombi for 245000km now (total on the speedo is 358000), and the engine still goes like new without any problems, also still original turbo. Without the chip my bus is powerless, and I tour a lot with tourists. My Amarok also has 364000kms with a unichip. It is just that 7% + more power does make a difference, and I am not satisfied without it. Nore do I have to worry about reliability or longevity. I do know though that Racechip damages engines and injection systems…

  95. You know? Joe hasn’t actually claimed anything. Give the guy a break.

    He’s just telling you why he won’t fit a chip. You are all free to do what you want, no need to get personal.

    I think the “logic” in this argument/debate is, use it more, it fails quicker. Beef it up, and it fails even quicker. And I will give you a ‘for instance’, relevant or not, you decide, your free to do what ever you want.

    I was a Paramedic here in the UK for 13 years. I’ve seen all sorts of weird and wonderful things that humans can do, to each other, and themselves.

    For legal reasons, personal identifiable information has to be changed as, even though I am medically retired, I am still governed by the coldicott guardian.

    Take ‘Fred’. He did his national service, fought in WW2, got a job, married, kids, grand kids, great grand kids. Fell over outside a pub, not drink related. I treated ‘Fred’ on scene, left him with his entire family, 50+ strong and carried on to my next job.

    A few weeks later, a card was delivered to the station I was based at. It was a letter of thanks from ‘Fred’s’ family. Nothing unusual in that. However, there was also a note on the card from ‘Fred’s’ granddaughter. She had recognised me from a few days earlier. I had been to her husband, ‘Barney’. He was working out at a gym, as he had done, 3 days a week, every week, for a fair few years. He had a heart attack. Unfortunately, he did not survive. ‘Barney’ was in his 40’s . High powered job, always exercising.

    ‘Fred’ was at Barneys wake when I met him, he was in his 80’s.

    Now what’s the relevance? Barney thought he had to be bigger, stronger and faster to keep going. Fred just plodded along with no enhancements.

    As far as I know, ‘Fred’ is still going strong…. I know ‘Barney’ isn’t.

    Chip or no chip? You decide.

  96. Hey joe as you will note I measured and refilled the tank manually (the idea of scan gauge is it can account for the chip), it’s covered in my original post. Give it a read when you have a chance you might learn something. Magic cant save fuel but tuning for the specific fuel in your country employing science, engineering and a logical approch can. Optimization does also which is what a chip can do. Engine tunes are not a 1 size fits all but surely you know this?

    • Yeah I read it and your results are due to poor experimental method and confirmation bias as I mentioned in my response. You should read it, you might learn something. Dumping in more fuel doesn’t save fuel.

      Can you tell me what it is about the manufacturer’s tune that allows it to work well with all fuels? What compromises are they making in terms of injection timing, fuel injection quantity, etc and what is it exactly that chips change that can exploit these compromises to improve fuel efficiency? Apart from increasing pulse width and rail pressure, which the chip manufacturers admit to, which actually dumps more fuel into the engine and worsens fuel economy. I think you are simply reciting the chip marketing stuff, unless you can provide some info that proves otherwise.

  97. When did I say it dumps in more fuel? I don’t think once I mentioned I had heaps more power or anything of the sort. Can we please stay on topic joe. There is more to tuning the more fuel. There is also timing and this is where economy gains are to be made. Not all diesel is equal not all diesel has the same cetane level

    • Chips aren’t capable of modifying timing. You need to remap the ecu to do that. You mention you have a chip. So maybe you need to stay on topic, or even understand what the topic is. The only thing a chip can do is dump more fuel through increased rail pressure and pulse width. This is confirmed by chip vendors. Some chip vendors will have you believe that pulse width is timing. You probably fell for that marketing. But it’s simply extending the injector on time. Even some ECU remaps simply dump more fuel and leave the timing alone. It’s not worth risking the thousands of hours of development and optimisation that the original manufacturer has done to get the timing right under millions of combinations of operating conditions and sensor inputs.

      Lets pretend that chips can modify timing. Can you explain what compromises manufactures make on timing to allow for varying fuel?

      The source that mentions catering for varying fuel is chip marketing information, along with consumers wanting to validate their purchase. Never outside of those sources have I seen it validated. Chip vendors just made it up. Even if it were true, where the manufacturer picks some intermediate timing to cater for varying fuel, it would mean for some fuels the timing would be perfect, for the fuel that fits in the intermediate range. That means for some fuels a chip won’t be able to improve fuel economy. Actually for about half of all fuels the chip may make fuel economy worse if it shifts the timing the wrong way on the spectrum. Do chip vendors list which fuels or regions or seasons for which their fuel economy claims are valid for? No they make a blanket claim based on dodgy marketing and people believe it. Anyway chips can’t adjust timing. They physically have no interface to all the necessary inputs and outputs to be able to do it.

      You hear different stories from different chip salespeople. Some salespeople say the extra power and economy comes from manufacturers making compromises due to varying fuel quality. Some say they are exploiting overly restrictive emission standards that the manufacturers are forced to comply with. Some say they are simply smarter at optimising and tuning. Some say its due to tuning for the specific engine rather than the large tolerances that the standard tune has to account for. Some say the engine is de-tuned out of the factory to account for poor servicing and driver abuse. Sounds like you got told the fuel quality story. It’s all just made up by salespeople to try to sell more chips.

  98. I am a follower of the same philosophy as you have presented in the article with the following caveat, I avoid absolutes. My issue is with the statement that with a significant increase in power comes significant increase in failure rate. I agree this is most often true but not always. For example, a situation where an application utilizes a stronger design than required because it is cheaper to use existing parts than design parts that are suited for the expected loads; A classic example being a US delivered 1978 911SC. The stock 180 HP engine with a simple change of the exhaust, removal of air system and a very slight change in cam timing 215 HP is achieved with no statistical change in reliability, in fact many will state reliability improves due to lower operating temperature in the cylinder heads. In my book a HP change of 100% * (215-180)/180 = 19;4 % would qualify as substantial.

    • Hey Kurt, sticking with the wind resistance analogy, a stronger design is equivalent to having a lower coefficient of drag. It does not change the relationship between speed and wind resistance. There is no range of speeds where wind resistance remains approximately static, regardless of drag coefficient. Overall wind resistance will be less than something with a higher drag coefficient. The same as overall the stronger design will last longer. But still, the relationship between load and failure is fixed. There is no range of loads where failure rate stays roughly the same. It’s exactly the same as wind resistance. A significant change in one variable must result in a significant change the in the other.

      Yeah temperature has an impact. Engines are loaded by temperature. Reducing temperature reduces failure rate. This is changing an extra variable though and does not relate to mechanical load vs failure rate with fixed engine components. You’ve changed components. It’s like having a different engine, the design has changed, it’s like changing the drag coefficient by changing the shape of something to reduce drag. This is different to increasing load on a fixed design, which is the case of dumping more fuel into an engine without changing anything else. You could dump more fuel into an engine and change the crankshaft and pistons and valves to something stronger to offset the extra load so that failure rate is kept about the same.

      I guess what I mean is, for a given design, a significant increase in load must result in a significant increase in failure rate. Once you fix the design the relationship is fixed, just like for wind resistance.

  99. OK so i have just read this whole article and all comments over the last 2 days i got a bit hooked on the banter back and forth haha. I have a gu patrol zd30 and when i bought the car is had a chip in it and i got a good deal because the dealership couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the thing…it ran like garbage rough on take off and constantly over boosted on the freeway and limp mode….my fix after tearing my hair out for 2 weeks was to look under the dash randomly and what did i find taped up under the steering column…a chip…i ripped out that piece of shit and boom like magic my car runs great now…i agree with just about everything said by Joe in this article i dont really understand why everybody keeps trying to argue that you can get more power out of a motor and not increase wear and the failure rate..its so absurd just accept it that if you squeeze more kw out of a motor it will wear out faster, the race cars i used to work on have 2 or 3 spare motors sitting in the garage…why…because higher boost more fuel means the motors blow up more…

    With that said i just wanted to note something that i think hasn’t been discussed, unless i missed it, and thats how these chips are “tuned” i used to own a amateur racecar and the difference a tune would make is unbelievable…some cars would have 10hrs+ on the dyno getting the parameters just right in every table, and this is of course a very costly exercise, im obviously aware that this is not quite as important with a diesel but it is still a big factor to me unless im overlooking something, at the end of the day these very basic devices…and as much as steinbuener or however you spell it would claim otherwise they are…BASIC…they mess around with the inputs into the ecu to achieve the power required and as a result the tune that took hundered of hours of exhaust gas analyzing and modifying points in the volumetric efficiency table and correlating data across to the idle tps maf map sensors is now being arability increased by some factor based on how fast your going and how much you press the pedal…this just seems so stupid to me…why anyone would do it i have no idea. The tunes come pre loaded as what can only be described as a “best guess” for your car, but as we all know read the map and maf sensor voltages on 2 different cars and they are vastly different, every car especially ours with different exhausts different accessories heavier alternator loads from electronics etc, are no where near “stock”..so how on earth can they give you a tune that is of any use….they cant…

    So they will say well go get it tuned after you buy the chip…thats where the fun really begins, you go to some diesel mechanic whos been playing around with chips and has barely any idea how the electronic control systems interact with each other and the way the factory tuning is accomplished and they chuck a probe in the car rev it up and type in a few percentages…thats hardly tuning it what i would call properly….its a total joke, imagine if nissan did this to tune there cars they would all run like shit.

    So my point after all this is that the complexity of the device is paramount, the only way to properly achieve more power in an intelligent way IMHO is with a standalone fuel management system, i would be happy to upgrade my stock nissan ecu with a unit if it existed but it currently does not as far as im aware, i ran a haltech platinum ecu in my racecar and i can tell you holy shit they are complex! such great units, you can for example, in the exhaust manifold install 6 wide band o2 sesors and run each cylinder on its own closed loop setup, it will adjust trim on the fly FOR EACH CYLINDER…thats a huge technical upgrade over the factory setup, and the price was almost the same as one of these rubbish “chips” that just fucks with a few settings, i would love to be able to get a haltech for my zd30 and get it tuned properly for a few hours of dyno time with an experienced tuner and have the thing dialed in so that i can be confident i am in control of every parameter of the engine management system, i would chuck the outdated factory ecu in the trash if that were the case. As i said before totally agree with joe that this would most likely result in early failure of my engine, but im more than capable of a rebuild myself anyway so wouldnt bother me too much, but im not about to chuck some glorified arduino onto my stock ecu to fuck with all the signals from sensors its just a straight out stupid idea….who even came up with this as a solution…..also look into nistune, its a set of chips that install in the factory ecu and allow the ecu to be plugged into a laptop and have every setting in the factory ecu be changed….again this doesnt exist for my car anyway but as soon as it does they can have my money…

    as for chips….forget it dont waste your money, they are simply not technically advanced enough to warrant their price if they were 100 bucks then ok, since they probably have like 20 bucks worth of electronics inside them, its extortion of people who want plug and play solutions and is just a bad design to put it simply, and that in my opinion this covers every chip i have seen on the market.

  100. Thank u, for that great advice,u saved me $1400, and a motor. down the track ,yes u are right they say better fuel and 30% more power!,thanks again, I will be tell my mates to read this site,thanks again.

  101. Excellent article. I was tempted by the lure of more power using less fuel but was at a loss to understand how it could be done. I am untrained in any engineering field but even I understand that you can’t get blood out of a stone.
    I was particularly impressed with the explanation about wear and tear and the cubic relationship to load. Not something that can be easily proven, so a chip vendor would basically get away with anything.

  102. Thank you, you have saved me a heap of money. I questioned the manufacturer that it was too good to be true to have economy and more power. Well, I am a thinking man.
    I am waiting for his bull S. answer.

  103. I agree with most of this article because its all about physics, the more power you produce for the same motor the more wear the motor will have over its life time. But the way the motor is used will have a much bigger impact on motor wear than what the chip will have.

    I added a DP chip to my 2016 Hilux and have been more than impressed with the additional power produced. But what im surprised about is the fuel savings as I have dropped down by average of 1 litre per 100kms. What im not sure is if this is true or if the chip has confused something. I definitely haven’t noticed any more fuel usage and feel like it may have actually really improved.
    Part of the reason the fuel economy appears to have improved is that I don’t require to have the accelerator down so hard when driving on freeways, going up hills or accelerating, so this may explain the improved fuel economy.

    For me I like to have that extra power on hand when needed, but in reality you don’t go using that extra power day in and day out, only when its needed, Also as i own a Hilux then a Hilux is designed to run all day in extreme hot conditions whilst towing a heavy load as one of the reasons a Hilux have proven to be so reliable is because they are over engineered. So my decision to get a chip was based on the a few different factors

    But my conclusion is that the added wear created by using a chip is only an issue if you go using that extra power all the time, otherwise the way you drive your car will have a much larger impact on engine wear than the addition of a chip.

    In the end its down to the individual to weigh up the pros and cons for adding a chip and know that if you drive around using that extra power all the time then the life of your engine will noticeably decrease, its a function of physics.

  104. Hey Outback Joe! Just got a question i can’t seem to find many decent answers to.
    Whats the deal with a straight dyno tune?
    Im taking my car into get a tune from a mob called ” Ultimate Diesel Tuning” here in Brisbane and i just want to get a fair idea on what im dealing with. They’ve explained their “guarantees” like 30% more power blah blah blah, but is there any downside to the tuners? I’ve got the Navara D22 because I was on a tight budget, but i wanted a 4wd and I’m just unhappy with the power of the 2.5L engine. Hence my motive to get a tune. So i just want all the info on a tune.
    Cheers mate 😊

    • Hey Jack to get more power you gotta dump more fuel. There is no alternative. You’re talking about ecu remap or reprogram. It does the same thing as a chip but modifies the ecu program instead of adding extra hardware. The benefit is more flexibility in tuning and no need for additional hardware. The negative is greater risk since more stuff can be changed and inability to easily revert back to factory config.

  105. hey great article. I was contemplating a chip for the turbo diesel, but hell, if I want to go fast I will just get another m/bike…. one thing I will say though is if some engines are over engineered for the task.. one example is the porsche 911 turbos with the meitzer engine- there are a lot of forums where people have modified the engine to produce significantly more horsepower and still have a car with very low failure rate.. so one thing your artcle doesnt realy address is, yes while the risk of failure increases; what is teh base line… if the car has been detuned to meet emission standards, it is also increasing the life on teh vehicle; but if the manufacturer has used very durable parts; a 1.25 increase in failure rate with your example of harder driving only sometimes could still mean very acceptable failure rates due to how the engine and components of the engine are to start with….

    You haven’t really addressed that at all; and I think maybe you should.

  106. The other question or thought I had; is who is to assume that the amount of fuel going in for combustion was at the optimal setting in the first place? If i was to increase the amount of fuel being combusted significantly eventually there will be too much fuel and you get a lot of dirty smoke coming out the back- being unburnt fuel.
    But if i think about say running- there is an optimal diet i need to eat and a optimal speed I need to run if i want to run say a 10 km race…..
    So i think both a car optimised to run on a specific fuel type; whether than is 91 ethanol or 98 premium unleaded or different types of diesel makes perfect sense to optimising the amount of energy coming out of each compression say on a diesel engine to get the best power output for consumption…. there is always the ability to optimise anything, and to assume that a car comes out of the factory optimised I find highly improbable, which would support optimising the fuel type or the Chip if it meant the “right” amount of fuel was being put in for combustion…..
    so i think you could definitely get better fuel comsumption if the original vehicle was a one size fits all, since there is variances in quality of petrols around the world, and different petrols will genertate different outputs when combusted….

    • Hey Simon can you explain how variations in fuel quality could make dumping more fuel use less fuel? You can already dump more fuel by pressing the throttle harder, up to 100% throttle. You’ve already passed the optimal burn at full throttle. A chip allows you to exceed that and dump even more fuel. How does exceeding 100% fuel dumping improve fuel efficiency? More fuel means driving faster, more mechanical losses, more wind resistance, more slowing down later and a less efficient burn since as you increase the richness of the mixture the completeness of the burn drops away. Everything points to increased fuel consumption. How does variations in fuel quality circumvent all this? The most efficient way to operate a vehicle is by driving around at more than 100% throttle?

  107. Thank you for your comprehensive report. I was considering a chip for a 2.5 petrol subaru outback or 2,0 diesel. Now I will not go down that road. Instead I will ease along as I used to. I also drive a 2.0Audi TFSI Q5 which has 160KW. I run on efficiency mode and rarely put my foot down, so less power will not phase me. Do these Audi engines fail sooner because of the high power?

    • Hey James you can’t use power output to compare failure rate of different designs. For a given design, if you increase power then you increase failure rate.

      Yes chug along and enjoy the trip. Not only is it cheaper and gives a longer lasting engine and is better for the environment and helps you become wealthy, but I think the attitude and calmness and elimination of desire for more power actually yields more lasting happiness.

  108. Hey Joe,

    I love your stuff – all of it. Bang on too, nearly all of it, cept for one small bit …

    I like you have similar credentials, except that I’m a mechanical engineer; started my career as a vehicle test engineer – working with amongst others – the engine (ECU) calibration engineers. I’ve also spent a lot of time working on the optimisation of very large industrial diesel engines.

    In some modern common rial industrial engines for example – you can select a fuel optimised calibration or an emissions optimised calibration. Fuel optimised reduces fuel burn by up to ~6%, but increases NOx,… while emissions optimised does the opposite.

    This is achieved by changing the injection timing. Earlier injection increases peak combustion temp or just holds it higher to longer, which improves efficiency (2nd law of thermo/engine dynamics) – buuut, NOx is produced by the oxidation of atmospheric nitrogen – so the way to avoid it is to lower the peak combustion temp or reduce the time spent at high temp.

    Hence, diesel chips that pull forward injection timing can indeed improve economy/efficiency at the expense increased emissions of NOx and will deffo fail an emmissions test, just like a dodgy VW. This is precisely what VW did. It’s not rocket science either. Read – the rear wheel speeds off the data bus – hey they are stopped but the fronts are doing 60 – quick – switch back to the emissions optimised map from the fuel optimised map. Not rocket science at all. (I worked with the Germans, they are not individually, super engineers, BTW).

    This is not all of the emmissions control story – but it is a key part of it.

    Everything else you say about design margins, wear etc is true. Back in the day, people asked me why we didn’t put a smaller pulley in the supercharged V6 holden engine – the answer was simple – so that we can still offer a design life of at least 160,000 km and if you are pulling a boat up a hill on a 40+C day – the pistons wont end up in the sump. (We did this few times tinkering – it was lots of fun!). Whoops, take it to mechanics, get another engine, another set of tyres, get another car, buy cake to repent.

    For the same reasons, I don’t chip either – I just bought more kW/NM in the first place, as you suggested. Unfortunately, despite knowing better, the dickhead in me remains strong; not sure if I was just born that way or if it’s a result of being paid to thrash the shit out powerful cars with almost total abandon, all over the world, for several years, having infected me and lingering on…

    • PS – some people will definitely see an improvement in the fuel consumption as reported by the their instrument panel – this is because fuel burn is calculated not measured and the engine controller, does not know about the additional fuel the diesel chip is sneaking into the engine. The only way to check is recording distance between fills and refilling to the exact same level….

      • Yeah that’s right I mention it in the article.

      • Ps the dickhead in you is not for the reasons you suggest. It’s due to marketing. It’s a way of transporting money from you to others but yields no lasting impact to happiness. I’ll be writing more about the topic in the future.

      • Acceleration makes me genuinely happy, unfortunately. I laugh and holler like Clarkson – so I guess that definitely makes me dickhead! But you are right, that happiness doesn’t last.

        Doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, freedom, that lasts – and being frugal, is one, guarnateed, lowER risk way to achieve that …

      • Based on research done on what makes people happy, and on my personal experience, basically you get nothing out of acceleration, except for a lighter wallet and increasing the impact on the environment. A short high followed by nothing. A gap that still needs to be filled. This is why people always need to upgrade, in their never ending and futile pursuit of finding happiness by consuming more. After each upgrade they’re in the same spot as they were before.

        If you were 50 years older, and driving a car 50 years ago with 1/3 of the power of today, and then did your power upgrade to bring it up to say half the power of today, it would bring the same smile to your face. But if you drove that car now, with half the power of today, you’d think it’s shit. The actual amount of power is irrelevant, its about what you’re used to and what you’ve been trained to think is better. That’s what I reckon anyways. It’s my interpretation of the research done by scientists on what makes people happy, combined with my personal experience. It’s a big subject that won’t be solved here, but I’ll be writing a bit more about it in the future. It’s interesting stuff.

      • Yeah It’s interesting.

        I used t get exited about new phones. My current one is 2-3 years old, has a very good camera, is fast, waterproof and has 4G. I’m finding myself not the least bit interested or excited by what has been added to phones since and actually not looking forward to inconvenience when finally fails one day – though it’s been in a lifeprrof cover since birth – so who knows how long it might last – ages by the looks.

        It’s the same with my current ute – a 550 Navara – pots of grunt – with the 7 speed in low range the there is torque every where in every gear – running out of torque or RPM – just isn’t a thing, ever, (my 4WDing is dominated by sand). I’ve had three Navara’s and have never been let down. All have been used for fairly heavy play/camping, (zero actual work). So I trust it too, which is nice. It has everything. Excellent Sat nav, full blown Bluetooth integration, Bose sound, heated freakn leather (i hear your mirth, but don’t under estimate this – it’s farking nice when cold – like peeing in your wettie in the southern ocean) . It’s been ARBed up the wazoo, (only a 40mm lift off the back of a sump bashing scare in Navara # 1) So here the point. I have ZERO interest in replacing it. I’ve sat in in new Rangers, Amaraoks & HiLus and sort felt. Meh. Yep they’ve all got the same stuff more or less. So what’s the point of replacing it. Even the new V6 Amaraok, bit nicer interior, tiny bit less power, but no meaningful/useful difference. So I just extended the warranty …

        So I think – for some at least – the consumption based happiness has an asymptote .. it has for me anyway. I see this with some of my mates – who have got over the toys for toys sake. I’m not sure if this age, changing attitudes or end of boom scarcity. I recon there will be plenty of people, with less money post boom – who have either returned to frugality or have learned it, who will be happier, with less.

      • My phone is nearly 5 years old. I got a bet with my mate who has the same phone as me. Whoever replaces their phone first has to pay the other $100. We’re allowed to fix them, I’ve already replaced the earpiece speaker on mine, the part was a few dollars off ebay so well worth it to stay in contention for the 100 bucks. I’m on my 4th battery and I think I need a new one. I might go for a genuine one this time, the al-cheapos don’t last.

        The consumption method isn’t working. The science is clear. But separate to the science, in my experience, there’s a heap of people in the rat race, with loads of fancy stuff and powerful cars, who aren’t happy and thinking to themselves “what the f**k is this shit?” So change will come simply coz people aren’t happy, maybe accelerated by post boom economics. It will be slow though. We’ve been trained our whole lives, by our parents, by our friends, by marketing, to think there is a relationship between consumption and happiness. So it’s ingrained in our culture and it takes decades to change culture. For me the science is clear, the decision is made.

        How good is it to not have to worry about what your next phone will be?

    • Hey hrholden Thanks for your post interesting stuff. It’s good to get some input on how not to put a piston in the sump from someone who’s got expertise in the field.

      I agree there are compromises related to emissions. However chips aren’t capable of modifying the start of the injection timing. They physically have no interface to be capable of doing it. Further, I don’t think manufacturers choose timing based on NOx optimisation. They have an integrated system, with egr, cat converter, total injection quantity control and pilot injections, plus injector timing like you mention, which are simultaneously manipulated to barely pass emission regs. The goal is use these tools in combination to barely pass emission standards whilst minimizing the impact on fuel economy. For example they might do efficiency optimized timing if the other tools are capable of meeting emission standards. Or, at low power output, they might use efficiency optimised timing since low total injection volume keeps NOx in check, and at higher power output they control NOx with timing as well, but impact to economy is not significant since the bulk of the operating time is at light load during cruise. So the actual cost is something less than 6%. I’ve not seen actual fuel consumption data on this.

      With modern engines and their sophisticated control systems there are so many variables that can be manipulated. Manufacturers would spend thousands of hours tweaking the variables to barely meet emission standards whilst minimising the impact to fuel economy. Anyway chip vendors claim ridiculous figures of 20% or 30% when they can’t even change timing.

      All a chip does is make existing signals bigger. Chips don’t have access to the inputs required to determine the baseline signals. Nor do they have access to the knowledge acquired by the manufacturer during their several thousand hour development and tuning process.

      With an ecu remap you can modify timing. So maybe then there’s the possibility of squeezing a few percent improvement in fuel efficiency, although the odds are poor since you don’t have access to the manufacturer’s knowledge and are likely to unknowingly impact other stuff. The result of maybe a few percent is less than what the average Joe could reliably measure, and the cost is cancer and acid rain. If you want noticeable improvement in fuel consumption you’re better off looking elsewhere. If you’re so desperate to save some fuel that you’d tolerate cancer and acid rain for a chance of a few percent saving then surely you’d also tolerate maybe driving a bit more patiently which can actually save you 20%. Driving patiently is a smaller cost than acid rain or cancer.

    • How good is it to not have to worry about what your next phone will be?
      – or car/TV other pointless crap

      Let’s you put your mind to the important stuff;
      – I had a mate die at his own hand two months ago – are all the other people around me OK?
      – what do the kids and wife need to make their life happier
      – what do i need – what can I do for the people around me …
      – where to travel to instead of buying crap – what to experience ….

      Yep. The consumption model is broken. Even the most rapacious capitalist would accept that global population and GDP growth cannot go on infinitely. So yep, how do economies work at zero growth? They are going to have to at some point. Many are now and have been for 8 years or so, which has forced change to fiscal and monetary policy – that is currently mostly about kicking the can down the road, setting up the next GFC.

      And then there is automation…. yes industrialization worked out (except for the small matter of AGW) – it created the middle class – the class who’s spending powers the ecconomy (trickle down is BS) – but the world had 70-100 years to adjust to industrialisation. This next change will happen faster. Not as fast as claimed, (technology development – twice as much and twice as long as as predicted – always, pretty much) but still, it’ll happen in 20 – 30 years. I can’t yet see how this is going to work at well for the middle class….

      Ahh, so much interesting stuff, hey.

      • Sorry about your mate. Yeah, focus on those other things.

        Yep the world aint infinite, the growth can’t last forever, doesn’t take much brains to understand that. Economies are going to have to change drastically at some stage. We can help smooth that transition by consuming less, being partially self sufficient, growing some vegies, riding a bike, living a simpler less stressed life enjoying more time with family and friends and sharing experiences together. A nice side effect is we become much wealthier and happier. Plus we get some skills that can help protect us if the shit hits the fan. Anything could happen with technology, automation and the environment all potentially at tipping points. The future is uncertain. If the environment really cracks the shits we might be hunter gatherers soon enough. I think I’d be happy as a hunter gatherer. I reckon I’d be good at it based on my fishing capability.

      • Yeup – there is the pepper perspective and I’ve given that a reasonable amount of thought – but there might be an alternative.

        For starters,finance is just a human construct. It does not have to follow the natural laws – it certainly does not follow conservation of mass or thermo. Printing money is a prime example. All it takes for an ecconomy to boom is confidence – nothing real is required.

        The point is – that the people in power don’t want the party to end. Debt will be written off, banks will collapse and money will be printed and the world ecconomy will bumble along – seemingly defying logic. This is quite possible, I think.

        I also think there is huge potential for change in the nature of work thanks to technology. new jobs and changes to way people work. But with massive improvements in efficiency, a reduced cost of living – no car uber/rental or just 1 car, no foxtel – netflix,the sharing ecconomy, less stuff more experience …. more low value stuff being automated will make a lot of things cheaper. so easier to live a life with a lighter cheaper footprint…

        Possibly a re more localised ecconomy. Sharing and trading food and services locally, with some people bringing external money into a local community via the possibly more limted external work they need to do because they are not spending as much.

        I think if some put as much energy into a positive future scenario as they do the prepper scenario – they might have a brighter, better prepared outlook!

        Maybe this sounds a bit Utopian – but if automation marches on – which it will and the global economy does not collapse and there are lots of powerful people incentivised to avoid that – then the above will happen to some extent.

        Not consuming as much is also away to ensure that there is less of a shift of capital wealth to fewer and fewer…if a lot of people consume a lot less – it will be harder for wealth to concentrate.

        There is also reason to have some optimism environmentally.

        The US peaked CO2 emissions before the GFC and before Obama. The EU and UK peaked their CO2 emissions long ago. The Chinese will peak sooner than most expect – global coal volumes fell 4% last year – have not grown as was expected, the price large scale PV is getting within spittn distance of wind.. India’s puny economy only ~30% bigger than OZ despite ~1.2 billion people doesn’t have the financial grunt to consume fossil fuel like china. they don’t have the stability for banks to fund centralised power to the extent that happened in China – they are likely to jump to distributed PV in the same way Africa skipped phone networks and jumped straight to mobile.

      • During the industrial revolution someone predicted the “age of leisure”. But instead of leisure we used the excess capacity created by the industrial revolution to consume more. Maybe we’ll start using the excess capacity so we don’t have to work. That’s what I’m doing now, starting off my age of leisure. Like you say the middle class need to become wealthy instead of staying poor and shuffling all their money off to the rich people.

  109. Totally agree with your comments and details on chipping engines. I guessing this article is a few years old now and wonder if you have written a later one on the aftermarket claims for “Remapping”‘engine computers.
    Over the last couple of years manufacturers have reduced engine capacities but increased power and torque. Are your thoughts on this similar to chipping or are the manufacturers correct. It seems I am reading more on people travelling and towing having catastrophic engine and/or transmission failures. The link to your article was on one such post where the owner and one vehicle hole the engine block, leave it at the dealer to sort out, purchase another new vehicle the same as the first and have the transmission fail after a few weeks. I believe both vehicles were standard with a 3.5t towing capacity and towing the same 3t camper trailer.

    • Hey Bob. Interesting question. I don’t have the answer but I’ll take a guess. I think the guy with consecutive failures was unlucky. That’s not normal and not a good representation of modern vehicles.

      The increase in power density in modern engines is partially offset by more advanced alloys, better oil, better fuel, better design, making critical bits stronger through lessons learnt in the past, etc. But if you thrash a modern vehicle it wont last very long. Relative to proper trucks and stuff, consumer vehicles are light duty and aren’t designed to operate close to maximum load all the time. Part of the safety factor in being able to reliably deliver high power densities and high towing capacities is that the end user doesn’t tap into that capability very often.

      Keeping within the manufacturer’s specification does not circumvent the laws of physics. If you tow at or close to maximum rating, load up the vehicle to close to maximum gvm, go offroad and drive at high speed for thousands of km then your vehicle is going to suffer.

      Part of the reason we see modern vehicles failing is due to how people use them. In the old days we’d be happy camping with a 2 man tent and a carton of beer. Now we’re loading the vehicle with all these gizmos and 300kg of batteries to power them, and 50 inch plasma TVs and hot water systems, pizza ovens, coffee machines, portable subwoofer audio systems and reclining camping chairs and remortgaging the house so we can tow the biggest heaviest camper trailer that we can possibly tow whilst cruising at 115km/h because we can afford the fuel. Although the engine or gearbox usually won’t blow up straight away, the life will be significantly shortened.

      There’s an easy way to operate a modern vehicle just like an old school vehicle so that you get similar reliability. Pack lightly, tow lightly and use the accelerator pedal lightly. Preferably don’t tow at all and enjoy the outdoors rather than enclosing yourself in a fancy box.

      Yes manufacturers do sacrifice reliability for power. But a modern vehicle can still be reliable.

  110. Ok, my turn now…

    1. Great read! Thanks!

    2. With all due respect, the “more power leads to more wear” argument is so obvious it’s laughable even to be considered for discussion.

    3. More importantly, the question should be: How can a factory engine be tuned to suite a compromise that is personalized towards a realistic/personal driving scenario?

    4. And most importantly: How can a factory engine be tweaked to improve fuel efficiency?

    All this, while keeping in mind that even with a multi-billion budget:

    a. It is possible for factory engine designers to be fallable.

    b. It is possible for a factory engine to be mis-tuned.

    IMHO, this should yield a much more useful discussion rather than beating around the obvious.


  111. Outstanding explanation. Now I understand.

  112. Thank you very much for the information it has helped me decide. I hope that new smaller deisels with two turbos don’t wear out too soon !

  113. I recently became aware that I could get a chip for my Mondeo diesel and as I tow a caravan with it, i thought it may have an application. The question I asked myself though is, if the bore & stroke don’t change and the compression ratio remains the same, where does the extra performance come from? Thankfully I found your article, and if I need more power, I’ll buy a more powerful vehicle. Thanks.

  114. Hi Joe
    Cc Cam

    Stumbled on your blog because of trying to research info on chips . Very glad that you have this very informative and some great debates .. This is the main reason http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/perth-car-tuning-invention-claimed-to-improve-performance-and-fuel-efficiency/news-story/b1da3c166701344f19790e9ee2f4feab “….
    This was in the paper in Sunday times 29/8/2016 I found it very interesting and would like any thoughts in relevance to other chips . This states as more of a tuning chip looks good to me but I am no expert


    • Haha I can’t believe they published that rubbish.

      So if car manufacturers detune to reserve some power increase for future models then at some stage those future models become current models. Does that mean the chip won’t work for those vehicles?

      Sounds like some backyard mechanic bought some bits off jaycar and is trying to make a quick dollar.

  115. Makes perfect sense. One of my best mates has a similar background to you in controll systems and LOGIC is the the standout word in PLC. Thanks for saving me some money.👌

  116. Excellent article Joe.
    You can’t argue with the physics.

    I come from a hobby turbo racing background and can categorically state that turning up the power on the oem configuration always comes with consequences. There’s always something that needs fixing or beefing up when you’re running double or triple the oem power output, but then that’s the game you play when increasing the power ouput to go faster.

    I find it quite surprising that most don’t understand where the extra power comes from in an engine. Without getting complicated, petrol or diesel, more air plus more fuel equals more power, how people can escape this simple fact and claim fuel savings boggles the mind.

    Keep up the good work.

  117. Joe, it took me nearly 3 days to read the whole and amazing thread. Awesome information and thanks to all involved; even enjoyed (as I totally agree with) the existentialist postings of HRHolden.

    My field of knowledge is the Aeronautical Engineering and from the mechanical point of view, you as well as all the other engineers here are spot on. Power gets obtained from the conversion of Chemical energy (in the case of this thread) into Mechanical movement. And they are all related in direct correlation. If you want more mechanical movement you need to apply more energy. More energy to get more movement, means more mechanical stress and more mechanical stress means less component longevity. And all the before applies regardless how “over engineered the system was”.

    I think all the argument called by this thread comes from the denial people go thru because of not being able to accept they are doing something (like chipping an engine in this case) on empty purposes. (as could be bragging rights or egotistical reasons) So they need to find “Pros” in order to support why their idea or what they want to do is the right move. There is where Marketing and sellers make their profit as it has been proven that 70 to 80% of the purchases are made just on emotional bases.

    Let me explain my point:

    I am an avid motorcyclist and have had some very fast bikes, the last one was a 2012 ZX10R with near 200hp at the crank and all that power was coming out an 998cc engine. (Need less to say, such engines wont last the third part of a bigger engine with the same power)

    I bought it because at the time (2012) it was one of the most powerful and technological advanced superbikes (which is an egotistical reason). Could I make proper use of all the 200HP the bike was capable of? Hell NO! Does any body need nearly 200hp bike? Obviously NOT! Even professional MotoGP track Riders consider 100 hp in a motorcycle is already a lot to handle.

    Why did I buy it? Because I wanted the bragging rights among my peers (which I think is again an empty and egotistical reason), I wanted to take off from a stoplight like if I was on a rocket, etc.

    Time has passed and by no means I would buy another superbike again! It made me very happy, it scared me a lot and Im glad and grateful I survived it with no accidents. Now I’m looking for another bike but my requirements for power are way more conservative than before. I guess I have matured.

    In general I think most of all could agree that at some point we want to differentiate from others and for such reason our toys which might be an extension of ourselves need to be differentiated to match our personality. Those who have bright, noisy personalities might want to use loud exhausts, loud sound systems, bigger tires, brighter paints, more power or all together. Others, will just feel comfortable with less and feel just as happy or some others will be happy with just a couple of basic mods.

    Regardless of which user you are, do what you think will make you happy. Just be true to yourself when asking “Do I really need more power?” or “I am doing this just because I want to?” If you think it is going to make you happy because it rings your bells GO AHEAD AND DO IT!!! Just make note of what Joe is warning you about in this post!! Any enhancement in any area will have some negative impact in some other.

    Cheers to all involved and forgive my grammatical errors. English is not my native language!!

    Best wishes sent from Colombia, South America.

    • Hey Alberto good post yeah I agree except instead of ego I call it status anxiety. It keeps you poor and stops you from being happy. Middle class consumers have been trained to chase status or differentiate themselves by throwing money at material goods. It keeps you poor and research indicates you get no lasting happiness from it. A significant side effect is it destroys the environment.

  118. Hi Joe
    Brilliant article and thread, which I came across while researching the whole chipping/remapping issue. The one point I’d like to emphasise is that its wrong as some have claimed that manufacturers do the same so it must be OK. The great advantage the manufacturer has is DATA. Rechip a 200HP engine to 250HP, it makes sense that the failure rate increases. But a engine manufacturer producing a remapped higher powered variant has the opportunity to analyse data from the lower power version and other similar engines on a component level, and deal with the critical issues. So the higher power version might be exactly the same except perhaps for an uprated clutch, redesigned injectors, higher quality pistons (just a few examples) where those items have shown themselves as critical failure points or liable to wear faster than other components in the past. It’s not foolproof of course, higher stress can cause surprise component failures or accelerated wear, but the manufacturer has at least a pathway to offset the negative effects of increasing output. Indeed, I suspect these sort of decisions are a part of your professional life.

    I’d also like to share the following excerpt from the website of a clearly reputable tuning business in the UK that offers a chip as one of the tuning options:

    “What are the hidden costs or drawbacks? You will need to be prepared to keep the car serviced more frequently, and, sometimes decreasing the service interval by half. When you fill up you are also restricting yourself to high quality fuel and you must be prepared to replace components that fail due to the extra work they are doing.

    When an engine is tuned to produce more power, you are also creating more stress and strain, so things will start to fail such as air flow sensors. Also turbos can wear out, other major components like pistons and bearings will need care and attention and you will find that the clutch lasts a shorter time.”

    I thought it refreshingly honest!


    ps enjoy the fishing – I’m hoping to do a little bit a late fly fishing here in the UK myself in the next week or so if the weather allows.

    • Yep so much goes into the manufacturer’s design process. Thousands of hours of engineering, testing, data analysis and optimisation. That all goes out the window when the chip vendor comes along. He manufactures a chip in his back shed and slaps it on with no consideration for anything.

      What fish you catch? Trout? If you were in oz I’d suggest harden up and go fishing regardless of the weather. But since you’re in pomm land I suppose you need to make sure you don’t die from hypothermia.

      • Trout mostly, yes some wild brownies otherwise rainbows, and occasional grayling. On the river itself (Test) you are generally expected to use dry fly, or perhaps nymph later in the season. Local lake trout fishing, dry or wet fly etc is OK. There is also coarse fishing locally (pike, perch chub etc but not my scene).

        We are also near the coast, so sea fishing occasionally – mackerel, sea bass etc but not recently, a good mate of mine I used to go out with on the weekend (he had his own boat) died a couple of years back, and I haven’t really got back into it.

        I’m getting a bit too past it to enjoy fishing with rain trickling down the back of my neck these days!

        Tight lines


      • I never been fly fishing but it’s on my list. I do go for trout using traditional spinner gear. We got some good spots south of Perth in the forest with beautiful waterways. Not much trout though, it’s not their native territory. Not like you regularly see easy targets swimming around in shallow clear water like I’ve seen on videos. Probably catch more in uk.

  119. Used to spin for trout on holiday when I was a kid – great fun, but considered a bit unsporting on traditional chalk stream rivers here. Not always quite as easy as it looks on videos though. Lot of rain this year and the river hasn’t been as shallow or clear as all that! Fly fishing for salmon in Scotland is whole different ball game, too. I also lived in NZ for 5 years back in the 1980s – some good fishing there.

  120. Very, very interesting article. I have a 1998 G290TD Mercedes “Gelandewagen” and was thinking to chipp it to increase my top end speed that now is like 130 kmh if the road if perfectly flat , and no load on roof.
    If the road have 5% gradient it goes down as low as 80kmh.
    But in off road capabilities, with the advantage of shift to “low range” when moving and “diff locks” its no SUV to come not even close in traction.
    This vehicle is a main off road vehicle, realy smoth on highway but slow. But after read your article I think that will remain slow on road and incredible fast on off road, taking in consideration that when somebody get stuck it takes, many many minutes to get out of the situation, for sure more time than the diference in minutes that the faster SUV takes over me up hill. At the end of the trip, I was faster. Thanks for your ilustrative explanation. Rgds. From Panama city. Virgil.

    • Hey Virgilio it’s much faster leaving it stock since you don’t have to work to pay for the chip and pay for a faster wearing vehicle. Don’t think of it as slow. Think of it as capable, truck-like, tough, built for getting shit done rather than built for status. Whilst your friends are at work paying for their bloated SUVs you can continue your touring.

  121. Wonder what Cam has to say about VW and all their approvals etc now!

  122. What’s the best chip you’d recommend on buying to save fuel and boost performance?

  123. Hi joe i am grateful for the article. I like the sense of the point.
    I won’t want to inflict the damage on his engine but still consider the chip if the damage is little.

    How much little can the damage be to the new car if his not driving far so far? It is a new car still.

    Sorry my english.

    • Hi Varden a new car has less chance of failing because it is new. But the extra wear that accumulates as a result of a chip is the same, new or old. Once the wear gets to a certain point a failure occurs.

  124. Just reading up on hydrogen for a diesel . Needs a chip apparently ..thoughts???

  125. The voice of reason. Thank you for reminding me of what I already knew, and was briefly mesmerized by the snake charmers. It is but common sense. Well thought out and presented.

  126. Hi Joe i have read all of this blog and must admit that some of it is boring chest pounding stuff, but none the less interesting overall. I have a 2014 Isuzu MUX which has the same engine and drive train as the current Isuzu Dmax. I looked at many vehicles before i chose the Isuzu, i tow a 2.5 ton (loaded) caravan so much smaller diesel’s were out of the equation. I looked at vehicles that would suite me and my budget and the engine sizes were between 2.8l and 3.2 litre. The thing that surprised me was the amount of power and torque differences in these engines. My 4jj1 engine has 130kw and 380nm but some of these engines had 500kw of power. To me this means that more power out of a like sized engine must mean that it comes at a cost of something else. I chose the Isuzu based on reliability and economy and it tows my caravan very well. I achieve 7.3l/100kms normal driving and on my last 5000km trip from South Australia to Queensland and return towing my caravan i returned 12.9l/100kms. I have thought about chipping my diesel but at the end of the day what am i really achieving? I chose not to chip and if it takes a little longer to get up that big hill well it doesn’t matter and that why cars have transmissions. So basically i agree that more power means more wear but people can choose to do what they want to do to their vehicles.
    I don’t want to start another long blog but what do you think of putting 2 stroke oil into diesel fuel at the rate of 200:1? I’ve been reading some very interesting stuff on the internet about it.

  127. I fitted a chip on a new hilux D4d 2.5 diesel.
    Yes, it made more power.
    Yes it pulled harder.
    Yes I span the wheels more.
    Yes it used more fuel.
    Yes I took it off again.

    No I wouldn’t fit one again – if you want more power, buy a bigger engine.
    We camp in our pickup, off-road in it, tour Europe in it, and it is my daily drive to work.
    Again, if you want more power, buy a bigger engine.

    Couldn’t agree more with the article, very balanced and well written.


  128. Joe, great article. I am 64 and worked ALL of my working life (marine engineer) on real diesel engines 2700KW – 90,000hp. Efficiency has always been at the forefront as fuel costs money and we are talking about 20tonne/day++. I have seen huge changes in my time and a hundredfold increase in electronics. Rudolph diesel didn’t do a bad job with his blast injection but electronics have refined the timing – nothing else! Fuel has a certain calorific value and unless you alter friction in a base engine you cant get more power out of that base engine without more fuel. As you stated all the manufacturers spend squillions on development because economy and torque is really all they have to sell in the 4×4 industry. There is no substitute for cubes, long stroke and slow revs to allow the fuel to fully burn. Torque down low. Now I wait for the “cats to get amongst the pigeons”!

  129. I put a German made performance Tuning Chip on my Ssangyong Actyon turbo diesel at about 35k, have done 108k now
    been round Australia 3 times with each trip exceeding 14k, with once up to the tip of Cape York Peninsular 🙂
    I could drive at the legal limit effortlessly and got excellent fuel economy considering the extra weight I was taking.
    As you have pointed out with the extra torque generated at low revs by an efficient tuning chip it is fantastic on slow LOW range work and beach work where the the low revs are needed with heaps of extra torque available to stay out of trouble.

    Had the chip tuned on a DYNO to make sure it was giving reasonable performance 🙂

    Power went from 77 @ ???? up to 119 @ 2,400 rpm at rear wheels, with no other engine modifications however the tuner suggested I should increase the flow rate of the exhaust system, I believe he meant to delete the DPF and change the main muffler, but as the exhaust is in good condition it is staying – for now.

    Fuel economy has remained about the same as the prechip days but I will suggest it is not less, when did you read of anyone achieving the manufacturers rated fuel economy in the real world with real world conditions 😦
    Chip starts to work @ 1600 revs and cuts out @ 3500 revs, 2400 revs is 110 kph in overdrive, as I don’t want a race car but a low rev power increase with added torque at the lower revs, after all it is a 4WD 🙂

    The servicing Ssangyong dealership checked out the fuel pressure of the common rail system on their Scantool, it was with-in their own specifications on all 4 rev ranges as tested. Idle was 270 bar, 2k was 500 bar, 3k was 600 bar and 4k was 650 bar.

    I’m duly informed the chip I have increases the duration of the open time of the injector, with adjustable opening earlier and closing later settings and does not increase the common rail fuel pressure as is backed up by the Ssangyong dealership fuel pressure test.

    The other real problem associated with the Actyon turbo diesel engine was a flat spot on even moderate acceleration, this is common on every turbo diesel Actyon, however the fitment of the Tuning Chip has almost eliminated this to a point where it is now not a problem.

    This is my real world experience, I can email you copies of the Dyno graph sheets for test verification if you wish 🙂

  130. I am pleased you took the time and effort to explain what any good engineer should know. A very well thought through article. I usually just go silent when people start telling me about how they get all this extra power and supposedly at better fuel efficiency! Isaac Newton knew it almost 400 years ago.

    • Yeah it’s so ridiculously clearly common sense for some people so much so that this article seems unnecessary. But then some still deny it.

      I like your bbqs, I thought of making something like that after perilously balancing my hotplate on the fire on a few camps and ending up with my sausage in the dirt. Then I came up with the idea of supporting the hotplate on 4 beer bottles, filled with sand which helps stabilise and prevent glass cracking. Drinking 4 beers before cooking can commence has become a camp tradition.

      • Guys, I’m not posting here in some attempt to ‘deny’ anything anyone believes is correct 🙂

        I have put up what I know by actual use of a performance chip in a turbo diesel engine.

        If anyone has the same hands on experience and can show definitely that the way I have chipped my engine will destroy the engine I’m prepared to look into your ‘accredited’ information.

        There are various turbo diesel engines with higher compression ratios than mine and that would have to be more dangerous to the longevity of the engine I would think.

        My performance chip does N0T alter the compression, it does N0T alter the fuel pressure either.
        Remember my engine has been tuned on a DYNO, I did not just add a ‘chip’ and hope it worked.

        I know it works as it makes the engine MORE efficient, that is why it is now 119 hp @ rear wheels @ 2,400 rpm.

        Remember @ 100 kph (speed limit on highway is 60 MPH = 100 KPH) the engine is running @ 2,400 rpm’s

        It only alters the injector timing, this injector timing is set to change between ~1,600 revs and stops @ ~3,500 revs when the engine is running at normal timing again.

        Altering the exhaust pipe size can be very dangerous to the longevity of the engine – don’t you agree 🙂


  131. Thanks for a great read I have fitted a big intercooler and big exhaust and that is the end after reading your information no chip for us.
    Thanks again
    Bruce and Terry.

  132. Interesting reading – thanks for putting in the time.

    I have an Invincible 200 (2009) which is the model chipped by Toyota themselves, and I’d only trust them with any engine ‘enhancements’.

    Some details here if you’re not aware (which I’m sure you are)…


    So far after 60,000 miles, no issues. Fuel consumption seems about the same as the standard Invincible 3.0l D-4D. The extra torque certainly helps with overtaking, and potentially in other circumstances. Otherwise, no apparent difference than the non-chipped engine. So far I’ve only seen advantages. I haven’t heard of any 200’s going bang yet or in need of extra servicing/overhaul as a result of the chip.

    However, I wonder why Toyota hasn’t carried on with it on the newer models. Might be more to do with emissions as they have no 3.0l in certain countries and don’t even have the latest 2.8l model in Europe, only the 2.5l or maybe they feel engine issues will arise later in the vehicle’s life. Time will tell I guess.

    • Hey Steve the probability distribution between the standard engine and the 200 would start to diverge significantly at higher mileage. The engine with higher power will fail earlier, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a long lasting engine. The power increase is less than 15% which is less than your typical aftermarket chip. Dealerships charge a premium for the higher power, part of that premium goes into increased warranty claims, part of that premium is profit. Power will be cranked up if they think they can make money out of it, it’s as simple as that. Making it a “special edition” is a good way they can milk some extra money. Keep the cost low and reliability high for the bulk of the fleet. Make some extra cash from those who are willing to spend it.

      The 200 invincible isn’t backed by Toyota head office. It’s not available in other markets. It’s something that Toyota Motorsport and Toyota delearships in UK / Europe have determined will make them some extra money in that particular market. Probably related to there being more rich people who use their car in light duty applications like commuting to work or going to the shops, who are happy and able to spend more money to get a special edition. Plus it’s good publicity to follow up the trip to the north pole with “the most powerful production pick-up”.

      • the “most powerful production pick-up” in the world I believe is a limited production Ford supercharged V8 ute (Pick-up)

        There is only one here in Australia, it’s in Port McQuarie NSW to be precise 🙂
        If I could up-load a photo of it I would, and yes I have been a passenger in it too 🙂

      • Hi Joe,

        Yep, that’s fair comment and interesting to know it wasn’t backed by head office. Thanks for the insight.

        Good job I got it second-hand at a price similar to the standard D-4D. I don’t drive like a madman so hopefully the engine will last nearly as long as the unchipped version, especially as I’m thinking of up-speccing the shocks and adding a new canopy (both needed replacements) and therefore looking at long-term ownership. As an aside, the rich in Europe/UK tend to favour the Landcruiser but mainly BMW X5s and the like (i.e., pseudo 4×4’s that will never see a knobbly tyre or muddy puddle in their lifetime), but I know where you’re coming from 😉 .

        I’ve just read the specs for the new 2.8l and notice that the torque is greater than the 200 (450 as opposed to 430) although horsepower is 130 compared with the 200’s 197, although it’s up on the previous standard 3.0l. I’m assuming this is purely down to a greater mechanical efficiency. Presuming this is correct then the use of a chip on the engine is superfluous (if ever anyone thought there was a ‘need’ for it) if not foolhardy.

      • Your car can last yonks if you treat it right. Drive sensibly and limit use of the extra power. But more importantly, if you are serious about keeping it long term, avoid shorts trips with a cold engine and drive very gently when the engine is cold.

        If you consider that a hilux of maybe 20 years ago had about 60kW then chipping any modern vehicle at any time is superfluous. The real reason people do it is fashion, keeping up with the Jones’s, status anxiety and the mistaken belief that there is some sort of correlation between engine power and happiness.

  133. 2007 Hilux D4D 2WD manual. New Injectors @ 75,000km – common problem apparently. Chipped @ 100,001km and larger mandrel bent exhaust at the same time. Just had 330,000km service after almost ten years of ownership. Problems? None. Still get over 800km out of a tank, still on the original clutch. No gear box problems, no more injector problems, no engine alarms. Dyno’d @ 129 Rear wheel Kw and 365Nm. I’ll just leave this here. One very happy owner!

  134. I reckon people want to chip their engine for a power increase, nothing to do with status or fashion or anxiety. That’s just your personal belief about people who disagree with you isn’t it?

  135. At what higher mileage would the probability distribution start to diverge significantly? I mean… in practical real use? 100k? 200k? 500k?

    • There is no cutoff or limit. The higher the mileage the greater the divergence. At high km there’s a good chance the engine will fail earlier than it otherwise would have. If an engine would have lasted 400k then it must last noticeably less if you noticeably increase power.

  136. But what is noticeably less Joe? 390k instead of 400k would be fine for me. Or would it be close to 350k or even 300k if chipped? Depends on chip and all sorts of things I guess but unless you know the numbers (not making generalisations based on theory) then it might not even make a perceived difference. So perhaps you could argue to go ahead and chip. Doesn’t make much difference anyway. Who knows really then… but I wouldn’t take advice based on your arguments. You simply have no proof to your argument not to chip. Sure agree about general reduced life if power is increased, but to what effect isn’t clear at all.

  137. Great article and I wish I had read it earlier. I had a performance tune (ECU remap) done on my Pajero which turned out to be a big, big mistake. It was supposed to one of the best in the business. Yes it definitely had more power, but it definitely drank more fuel too in general driving. It was at least 1L more per 100km around town. They said I needed to get used to the extra power and change my driving and it will come down. Mmm! The tune also changed the boosting supplied by the VGT turbo. It seemed to be constantly engaged for maximum boost over the whole rev range. There was a noticeable whistle at certain times when before there wasn’t. Some people like the whistle, but I saw it as over spooling the turbo and was a little concerned it was going to overheat and fail. Guess what? 4 weeks after the tune it did. The whistle turned into a horrible whine. The turbo bearings were stuffed. Well the tune place didn’t want to know. They said it was a pre existing condition with the turbo. As the article says, more power creates more load which gives a higher risk of failure. I definitely think that was the case here and a very good mechanic I found after the fact said it was most definitely the case. He had seen many similar situations before. He wasn’t a fan of tunes And more or less said exactly what this article states. A complex, balanced system thrown out of balance with more load on components not designed for that load. Anyway a valuable and expensive lesson learnt. Never ever again.

  138. SURE….35% increase in power increases failure rates by 2.5.

    but theres a difference between available peak power and utilised power. The vast majority of the time you’ll be cruising along at 100 and the revs and power required will be the same, regardless of how much power you may be able to produce…. you just might not have the accellerator down as far.

    claiming that having more power will automatically increase failure rates regardless of all other considerations is a little like claiming that youre wind resistance changes depending on what you’ve got under the hood. nonsense.

    to give you an example, one of my cars produces 200% of factory power thatnks to (in part) a larger turbo. by your logic, my car would continuously be using more fuel, a lot more fuel, and be subject to a corresponding increase in load….. however my fuel usage basically didn’t change. I went from 7.4 to 7.5 L/100km and that increase was likely attributed to letting the car idle more often.

    there are times when a car with more power will see greater wear and tear…. but those times are going to occur when you need the extra power, bogged in sand, or overtaking…. and whats worse for wear and tear, greater cylinder loads temporarily, or hitting an oncoming kenworth.

  139. Actually looked at getting my cruiser chip up today. I will be doing lots of kms to remote place and was not looking for power but better fuel consumption. As dealer and he was if the same opinion as you. He was honest and save me money and damage to my vehicle. Cheers to the both of you.

  140. Hi Joe,

    I’ve commented in this blog in the past, maybe a couple of years ago. What’s new on my end is that I got a bench tune for my 2014 BMW 328d (turbodiesel). I think you’ve re-written your article since I last saw it. It is eminently reasonable and no knowledgeable person could have any major issues with it.

    My question: I’m unsure if you addressed bench tunes specifically in your essay. For those who don’t know, a bench tune reprograms the car’s own computer, without the introduction of any additional hardware like a chip or piggyback module. I got my tune from JR Auto Performance in Oakville, Ontario. Jarek uses the MegaSpeed software template from Germany.

    Oh yes, my question! My understanding is that the more engine performance parameters that can be addressed by a tune, the less wear and tear on engine components and the lower risk of major or minor dysfunction. (Assuming the tuner knows what he’s doing and the software is dependable.) You addressed that subject briefly when you mentioned that high-end PBs might have a lower risk profile than less sophisticated products because more functions were being modulated by the high-end PB. I would assume that the same holds true for an ECU flash, only more so. Of course it’s close to impossible to put numbers on these differing levels of risk, although you gave it your best shot.

    Steve Hecht

    • Yes, Steve what you have said here is correct, the ‘tune’ done when on a dyno does make the engine perform to it’s optimal performance with the local fuel.
      The engine is not sent from the factory in any sort of ‘performance’ tune, but it is sent out to be able to power the vehicle in average conditions, be it driven by a little old lady for her shopping buggy, or the young gun driver who wants the best performance from his turbo diesel engine.

      I suggest if someone wants a bit more performance from their turbo diesel then they should first talk with a dyno tuner, he would have tuned many similar vehicles and would be able to give unbiased information – based on his personal experience.

    • PS–Steve here again. FYI my power increase is around 20% HP and ft-lbs. I got the tune mostly to diminish low end turbo lag and increase low end acceleration. I don’t gun the engine and don’t use the mid-range or high end power that much. My main challenge is using the car for short trips around town before the engine can warm up. I’m very happy with the results of the ECU flash. I’m more than willing to accept the trade-off between enhanced driving pleasure and the unknown (but probably minor) shortened engine life.

      • Hey Steve thanks for coming back. ECU re-maps, or bench tunes, don’t do anything special. They dump more fuel in to get more power with all the associated increase in wear and failure rate. However power and failure are not linear and having better control and dyno-tune means you can avoid high risk operating zones. All that means is you won’t immediately blow up the engine.

        Remember, the original manufacturers write the original code and so have access to everything and have perfect understanding, much better than third party tuning companies. If there were options to significantly increase power whilst maintaining reliability within their targets then they’d exploit it.

  141. Hi Steve,
    Here is something I just do not understand!
    I have a 2015 ford everest, 3.2L 147kW and 470 Nm torque, fuel consumption rated at 8.4L/100km. If I compare this to a Jeep Grand Cherokee, it has a 3L 184kW and 570Nm and fuel consumption of 7.5L/100km.
    These manufacturer provided numbers are contradictory to your principle that more power equals more fuel consumption.
    Any comment on how this is, I suspect the drive train efficientcy and weight of car explain some of it, but……its a big difference when you consider a smaller engine producing considerably more power…..

    • Hi Kev peak power and fuel efficiency aren’t related. Peak power is arbitrary relative to efficiency, just keep dumping in more fuel and air to develop as much power as you want or until the engine explodes. Fuel efficiency is mainly governed by vehicle weight, aerodynamics, friction, the operating point that the engine typically runs at and engine thermodynamics. Fuel efficiency is related to how much power you need to move the vehicle according to the ADR fuel economy test cycle and has nothing to do with peak power rating. When the Jeep is producing 184kW it will be consuming fuel at a greater rate than when the Everest is producing 147kW. However it doesn’t need 184kW to move it. If you use more power to go faster then fuel efficiency suffers. If the Jeep uses the extra power it has available then fuel efficiency suffers.

    • I think the problem here is;

      a ford Everest, 3.2L 147kW and 470 Nm
      fuel consumption rated @ 8.4L/100km.

      a Jeep Grand Cherokee, 3L 184kW and 570Nm
      fuel consumption rated @ 7.5L/100km.

      These Manufacturer provided numbers are contradictory to your principle that more power equals more fuel consumption.

      I believe any MANUFACTURER PROVIDED NUMBERS, particularly when they are TWO DIFFERENT Manufacturers will N0T be real world attainable on a constant basis numbers.

  142. Joe, where your philosophy on wear falls down (and I’m very surprised you haven’t picked this up) is this:

    ‘wear/failure’ is directly proportional to output (your premise)
    ‘output’ is directly proportional to efficiency.
    But…’wear/failure’ is often inversely proportional to efficiency.

    Quite often a motor who’s efficiency has been optimised to create more power will also show LESS wear.
    This is especially true of 2-cycle diesel motors
    I’ve spent 35 years involved with Motive engineering and tribology, degree qualified, Bosch Prize winner, etc.

    The blanket statement that ‘producing more power will always increase wear’ is flawed.

    My major argument against chipping diesels is that in many cases the ECU loses real control over it’s input data and it’s systems are compromised. I’ve also found over the years to NEVER discount the real world findings, anecdotal or not, of people on the ground.

    Was it Confucius who said “Fools only listen to wise men, wise men listen to everybody”
    The greatest scientific minds in the world said that electric current ran from positive to negative for many hundreds of years…it doesn’t. Humility can be a valuable learning tool…

    • Hey Pete you haven’t really grasped the point of the article or understood how failure works. Where are you pulling those three statements from? Your ass? Failure isn’t directly proportional to output. Firstly, the relationship is more like quadratic or cubic or some higher order. And secondly the relationship is with load. If you load something more it must wear quicker. I’m very surprised you haven’t picked this up. Using your brain to understand some basic and universally accepted concepts can be a valuable learning tool.

      Are you confusing reducing load through improved efficiency with increasing load? For example reducing parasitic losses, friction etc reduces load on the engine. Putting more fuel in the engine increases load on the engine.

      Thanks for explaining your credentials and those adages, very useful.

  143. Hi, great article thanks. I am not looking to challenge you with this reply however i am attempting to understand a little more clearly. Firstly i am not that familiar with diesel engines as my experience is with tuning race/road bikes. I am aware diesels make their power through combustion as with petrol motors however through compression not spark. Now as this process is different it may prove that what i know about remapping bikes is not applicable here. See with bikes there are piggy back units also but the better scenario is to remap the ecu and change the parameters on a more permanent basis. Now not all bikes are tuned for power alone, the majority are tuned to improve the existing power delivery. This equates to smoother power and a better ability to govern it through a smoother throttle. Now my knowledge of this process is simple, you put the bike on the dyno and adjust the current fuel map at 500 rpm intervals. The optimum fuel ratio is 13.2 and at theses intervals you apply live load to simulate real life riding and apply inducted air also. So although the combustion process is different to diesels they still consist of air/fuel mix to get power. Now i know for a fact that tuning these fuel curves on bikes gives them a far happier motor that will last longer ! These manufactures would be no different than any other Auto manufacturer in that they must abide strictly by the epa.( Emissions Protection authority governing a particular country ) As a consequence these bikes are tuned on the lean side to adhere to the epa laws. There are also different ecus for different countries whom have tighter epa laws. This is a perfect example of where a manufacturer does detune a motor vehicle to enable sales in that given country. American motorcycles for example are all approximately 20hp down on aussie and uk spec bikes.(These bikes are detuned in certain gears where the EPA test them). Americans first stop when buying these bikes is to remap so their bikes are up to standard with the rest of the world. I have no doubt that this applies to all types of vehicles all around the world when it comes to EPA and adhering to their laws regarding emissions. Now there is an example of manufactures detuning to suite epa, check it out. Now you mention that a manufacturer would want to present the highest power and economy figures possible when selling a vehicle. Well perhaps yes but what you need to be aware of that with ever increasing emissions regulations a new culture has developed. This culture is where a consumer is more focussed on the power potential of a vehicle after purchase and removal of all restrictions imposed during the process of adhering to the epa just to sell the unit. The manufacturers are very aware of what the consumer wants therefore a vehicle is produced with the knowledge that its true potential will be upon derestriction. With this in mind the motor is built to endure the extra ponies unleashed upon derestriction as it is anticipated. This in turn validate previously mentioned manufacturers backing certain chip/tuners from the factory. It isn’t as cynical as they will just do it to get the vehicle sold and wont need to worry as it will last until out of warranty. They know the vehicle is under performing as sold as it had to meet epa and they know it is built to handle the extra loads consumers will impose. I understand your simple formula extra load means earlier failure. This may be true however it is all relative. The motors have been restricted and are designed for this load. Keeping it restricted will result in less power and perhaps a longer life but on that basis why not restrict it further and keep it running for a hundred years.

    Now my knowledge is limited but i do know that all ecu’s are mass produced and the software is one program suits all (per country). Well we know this isn’t the case in every other aspect of life and it certainly isn’t the case when it comes to motors. Each motor is run in by a different user in a different climate and will continue to run in that climate. For this reason alone it is obvious to get that motor in it’s sweet spot it must be custom tuned . The motor should be put under load in that environment and the fuel map adjusted accordingly to remove and add fuel where needed to reduced heat, provide better more efficient combustion and therefore improve fuel economy. The economy can be improved for a fact as you are not just adding fuel in places but also removing fuel in places to optimise efficiency.

    There are also live tuners that tune whilst driving. They read the exhaust gasses and alter the fuel mix to the preset optimum to enable maximum efficiency of that motor in that environment. This results in more power and economy also. One other quick question regarding after market exhausts. I am no expert in this or tuning but i do know that a lot of technology does go into these as you say in the factory. As you say the law does apply you must “rob Peter to pay Paul” so to speak. Having said that the car manufacturer is building the whole car which is far more complex than a single exhaust. My point being there are multimillion dollar businesses that focus purely on engineering performance enhancing exhausts. Exhaust diameter isn’t just the focus here but length and bend placement play a big part as they impact the impulse which is sent back to the exhaust valves. The impulse that is sent back is crucial and there are aftermarket companies that focus on particular vehicles until they have improved the performance over stock enabling their product to sell. Also the factory exhaust as you say are in the middle ground, if you have a 4×4 and low down torque is your goal there are exhausts that will provide more of this more efficiently. This would then also require a tuner to adjust the fueling to match that exhaust. For me as with many others, any stock vehicle is merely a blank canvas to be tuned and altered to suit my needs . This will not caused premature failure in all cases and contrary to your belief this does bring much happiness to many. Perhaps not you but i can vouch that a well tuned motor singing in that sweet spot gives me a lasting grin from ear to ear every time !

    PS. All this doesn’t mean we are carelessly polluting the environment. Many of these vehicles still maintain cats and dpf’s, and a lot that don’t are far more economical so use less fuel to get from A to B. The old ford 7.3 diesel will for instance get over 23mpg as apposed to the new restricted models getting 12!

  144. Very interesting and informing article. I won’t be putting a chip on my challenger now.👍 What about opening up the exhaust system to 3″ and putting a snorkel on? Can this increase power and torque?


    • Hey Jimmy snorkel does nothing in terms of engine power. Consider this:

      • Pressure increase from snorkel relative to pressure increase from turbo is like taking a piss down Niagara Falls.
      • The pressure increase doesn’t come for free, it comes from extra fuel burnt to overcome the snorkel’s wind resistance.
      • Snorkel vendors generally don’t state that snorkels increase power. Instead they use vague language like “improves performance” and leave it up to the consumer sucker to translate that to increased power. The vendor won’t say increase power coz they’d be lying.
      • If a bit of plastic could increase power or improve efficiency I’m sure the original manufacturers would exploit it.

      Get a snorkel if you want to reduce the risk of water ingestion.

      Bigger exhaust will increase power at high rpm but reduce power at low rpm. See here: Exhaust Pipes: Is Bigger Better?

  145. Thanks, I guess I’m going to leave it all standard then. 👍

  146. Have just read your article and found it very interesting. was glad to read something that was not put out by a manufacturer. I see the sense in your comments. Probably the most important is that you must be aware everything is a two way street more power equals more wear if you increase performance via a chip you must expect increased wear. I am looking at a modest power gain but am looking at the increased torque for towing. Also read your article re servicing, how much dirty diesel have you had from poorly maintained storage tanks. In my experience ( I am 60 years old) it is more common than you seem to indicate. I have a 2000 Hilux turbo diesel and I change the oil regularly. It always comes out very dirty and the viscosity has clearly broken down to WHAT I CONSIDER to be a level warranting change. Again it is my personal opinion and yes I am happy to carry the cost. Also maybe you could venture an opinion as to why every manufacturer of mid sized SUV’s new high performance diesels appears to believe it is acceptable for new diesels to burn oil. another trade off in the R & D section?. Final comment I believe every manufacturer is more interested in making money from the client you and I rather than save the environment.

  147. Hi
    I certainly do agree with outback Joe
    All is scientifically and logically Correct
    Now to add another aspect to the NO CHIP argument
    I have had one in my Mercedes Van and on THREE separate occasions it has caused engine malfunctions
    Discrepancies in the engine management system caused by “The Chip”, has resulted in No Turbo Function.
    Thus having to use lower gears to maintain normal speeds :- Greater fuel consumtion
    Obviously the engine management detected abnormal readings and shutdown the turbo to try to eliminate the possibility of engine damage
    On the first occasion the engine light on the dash came on and upon pulling up and checking all fluid levels
    Called Roadside assist and the vehicle was then tilt tray towed 950 Km. Big country Oz
    Guy told me it would save money in fuel and increase power output
    My experience even when it was all functioning is that its a LOAD OF BULLSHIT
    I do long highway trips and guess what, I still had to fill up at the same places, and the same amount of fuel, even thou with the chip the engine management said I was using less fuel
    If its too good to be True then its Bullshit
    You can go a hell of a long way on the fuel you can buy with the Money You Save when NOT BUYING A CHIP
    Now if you still want one. All yours for the cost of postage
    As long as your quick because the bins not far away

    • Hey Alan damn sounds expensive. Did you contact the chip vendor? What did they say?

      • Hi Outbackjoe
        Yeah I did contact him.. Scottish guy – he’s got my money so according to him my evidence of no fuel saving is bunkus
        His argument was that it increases power by shifting the powerband rather than dropping down gears so the engine doesn’t rev as hard- thus fuel saving
        My evidence is the same trips before and after chipping RESULT – NO FUEL SAVING and NO BETTER PULLING UP HILLS
        Irrespective of what the lesser fuel usage figures were saying on the dasboard
        He also stated that its lack of results will be because of dirty fuel filters
        Not so as the vehicle is not very old AND had just had the fuel filters changed at almost the same time as the chip was installed
        I have a fantastic vehicle and I made a mistake in thinking I could make it better by listening to a salesman”s magic ellixer claptrap
        I intend to keep it for a long time, as with the other Mercedes that I still have
        As you have said in you article if this technology is so great why don’t the manufacturers incorporate it
        I only wish I had down some homework and read your article before wasting money. It’s all logical
        But fortunately my vehicle has regurgitated the chip and its now where in belongs in the rubbish
        The mind is a wonderful thing. You can convince yourself of anything if that’s what you want to believe

      • Yeah the effect of the mind is interesting, what makes it worse is in consumer culture we’re trained to believe that buying stuff is always a good idea. This makes it stronger than the standard placebo effect. We’re trained to think more is better. Bigger house is better. Fancier car is better. More gizmos are better. Modifying is better. Even though all these things are scientifically proven to not provide any lasting happiness. It’s been instilled into us since we were born, by our family, friends, media and marketing. And we always confirm what we’ve been trained to believe.

        What did the vendor say about the cost of towing your vehicle? Why aren’t they footing the bill?

    • I must be the luckiest guy in the universe then 🙂

      I’ve done 105,300 Km in my performance chipped Ssangyong Actyon, it was tested @ 77 HP at the rear wheels on a dyno prior to fitting the Chip, when Chip was activated it went to 119 HP under the exact same conditions in same dyno session.

      I have no loss of anything, it runs like an absolute charm, so I’m not unlucky like you or maybe you put on a cheap, untested chip and are suffering now for the indiscretion ??

      There would be a logical reason you had engine failure and it’s easy to blame the tuning chip, have you had it actually tested to see what the parameters are re the injection timing etc ???
      Because if the injectors are working and the timing is suitable for the firing timing then there should be no problems with the fuel injection 🙂

      • Hey mainey you got a coupla things wrong here, he didn’t experience engine failure, or any problems with fuel injection, he had the engine go into a mode where it was trying to protect itself from damage. It’s not a case of blaming the chip, it sounds like removing the chip caused the engine to revert to normal, so it was the chip. Chip dumps too much fuel, engine detects it, engine protects itself. This is not uncommon, modern engines have sophisticated control systems that can detect abnormal situations, many people experience limp mode etc caused by chips.

  148. as I said I must be lucky then 🙂 🙂

    Or…. Maybe I bought a decent Performance Chip that has NOT caused any problems posted here

    Would be very interesting to know the BRAND / MODEL of the Chip 🙂

    I would suggest the chip was not set-up for the engine it was put on.

    As I say I’ve done over 100,000 Km and I have not had a hassle

    BUT….. I had the chip tuned specifically for my engine so it works and the is NO high fuel pressure involved !!

    • when the chip does DUMP TOO MUCH FUEL there is a problem with the system, and yes I would blame the chip too

      That IS why I suggest the chip has NOT been tuned for the engine and it will dump more fuel under some situations

      NOTE: the performance Chip MUST be tuned for the engine it is used on.

      It’s like taking a Carburetor from a 4 cylinder tractor and expecting it to work on a BMW turbo 4 cylinder sedan.

      • According to the ECU any amount of extra fuel is too much fuel. It’s just a matter of how accurately it can detect it, since it can’t measure the fuel flow directly. Any chip, any tune, any method of dumping more fuel, is susceptible to this problem. The more fuel you dump, the greater the risk. You just need to make sure you keep it within the detection limits of the ECU. Choosing a conservative tune on any standard chip will normally achieve that, you don’t need it dyno tuned. Maybe Mercedes are better at detecting abnormal situations. I think as engine control systems become more sophisticated they’ll be more sensitive to abnormal situations.

        Yes you are lucky, although your engine will still be experiencing higher wear rate and will have a shorter life.

  149. How does the engine experience HIGHER wear rates ???

    What is it that causes this “higher” engine wear ???

    I have had the fuel pressure tested by my Ssangyong DEALERSHIP when it was still under warranty and at 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 & 4,000 revs and the fuel pressure is well with-in the recommended permitted pressures.
    I still have my paperwork I was given for the test in case I had a problem 🙂

    So I don’t see how my engine will have a shorter life than one with-out a tuning chip.
    I don’t claim to get better fuel economy, but I don’t believe I’m getting fuel economy that is above ‘normal’ either.

    My HIGH HP and TORQUE are recorded @ 2,450 / 2,500 revs which equates to ~108 kph
    So I don’t have to rev above 3,000 revs at any time, or on any occasion, even climbing big sand hills 🙂

    But I’m intrigued as to why my engine will not last as long as others or will experience higher wear rates ?

    • Haha dude have you even read the article? Do you want me to copy and paste the article into the comments section? More power = more wear. Read the article. What’s fuel pressure got to do with anything?

  150. I was thinking excessive fuel pressure was relevant to excessive wear 🙂

    Just as fuel pressure that is too low would give lack of power

    The fuel output was adjusted on the dyno, so it gave best best performance at medium revs, the engine is running smoothly and pulls hard only when pressed 🙂

    But as I asked previously – how does having an engine running smoothly and with-in the recommended fuel pressures make the engine wear faster ???

    I’m asking because if you can tell me a story I can believe I will remove my Performance Chip and thank you for your information too 🙂

    • Fuel pressure is irrelevant. Your chip extends injector pulse width. It’s just another way of dumping more fuel.

      Engine wear is determined by how much work the engine does. More power = more work = more wear = higher failure rate = less engine life.

      It’s all spelled out in the article, I won’t repeat any more.

      • mate, if my German made tuning chip just “dumped more fuel” than what is needed, or can be burnt, there would be black smoke 🙂

        However there is NO black smoke, simply because the tuning chip is tuned when on the Dyno with the fuel adjustment and HO2etc, checked at the exhaust tip.

      • It’s all on a spectrum dude. There is no sudden cutoff or limit to dumping more fuel. The original tune runs excess air to provide best possible economy, low combustion temps and low soot production. As you dump more fuel you lose economy, increase combustion temps and increase soot production. This will be happening in your engine. There is no sudden limit. It’s on a continuous spectrum. Dyno tuning cannot circumvent this process.

      • Dyno tuning gives the engine it’s optimum performance at a given set of rules.

        As I have said I increased my HP from 77 up to 119 with no black smoke or any indication of over fueling and my fuel usage is not exorbitant, but it did not go down because I don’t drive like my Nanna 🙂

        If the chipped engine gives more performance at a given rev range it’s simply because the air/fuel ratio at that rev range is optimum for the engine, so no black smoke and no loss of engine performance.

        I could show you the graph of the various chip settings that were used to get to the final setting of 2D on the chip.
        It goes from 1A up the scale to possibly from memory 6M but the setting 2D gives the most torque at the 110 kph range which equates to ~2,500 revs.
        The exhaust pipe emitions were clean enough at this setting to pass the emitions standards.

        If the engine fails due to the chip by 5% then I’m equally sure it will last 5% longer by using quality synthetic oil and changing it on a regular basis and then adding a by-pass oil filter will give it another 5% life expectancy so I’m ahead by 5% 🙂

        It’s all relevant as to how the car is driven, when it’s under-powered you have to drive it harder for a given purpose.
        When it has more power you don’t need to drive it hard – so you save wear an tear on the drive-train etc.

      • Haha yeah more power means not driving it has hard. You’re a genius!

        Haha dyno tuning gives “optimal performance”. Why not just post a link directly to some chip marketing rubbish?

        Smoking doesn’t cause cancer, coz I can eat more vegies! That’s scientific method perfection.

        Overfuelling is not some sudden limit. It is relative, on a continuous spectrum. You are overfuelling relative to the factory tune. This causes less efficiency, more heat and more soot than the factory tune. Plus more engine wear.

        Weren’t you going away forever? I’m tired of this dumbass bullshit. I mean it’s funny but this article is for people to learn something.

        Yes a chip is perfect in every possible way and does not compromise anything and you’re very clever for getting one. You can go now.

  151. But how much sooner will it fail? 1 week earlier? 2 years earlier? Do you actually know? If it is only 1 week (which you can’t seem to work out or prove either way) then chipping is a great thing? Don’t just repeat the theory… put it into practice. If you can’t, your argument against chipping is completely irrelevant.

    • 17 weeks earlier.

      If you get drunk and drive a car you don’t know if you’ll die in a crash. So that means any argument against drink driving is completely irrelevant.

  152. Yes, my Chip does extend the injector pulse 🙂
    However the fuel pushed into the cylinder is ALL burned, creating no black smoke and when tested on the dyno for air/carbon etc ratio it was found to be all good too 🙂

    The entire point you and others make can’t be backed up by information on instruments or dials, it’s just what is called ‘logic’ but can’t be substantiated or proven by tests etc.

    Right back at the start you say:

    How Much Will Component Life Be Reduced?

    How much does wear and tear increase when a diesel performance chip is fitted?

    It’s hard to say, but we can make some GUESSES.
    Yes you said the above just as I copied it here.

    I don’t want you to GUESS 🙂

    but I, like many others want some hard facts, and from people with quality tuning chips is a reasonable way to eliminate your GUESS-WORK you talk about.

    I’m sure you would have copied that information for others to read too 🙂

    It’s a case of buyer beware, there are MANY, I repeat MANY useless Chips out there, probably many more than there is genuine performance chips that don’t just add fuel pressure to the injectors, where the useless chips do just that and will cause problems.

    • Yes I am not God and therefore cannot predict something that is probabilistic in nature, no more than you can predict the lotto numbers. Although a guess can be made based on physics and science. Most people understand that, especially those that aren’t desperate to prove to others that they’ve made a sound investment.

      Where are your hard facts to say chips don’t reduce engine life?

      • I don’t at any stage suggest engine life is not reduced, I’m asking you for some ‘proof’ the engine life IS reduced and not to GUESS it may be reduced, just because the engine is more powerful.

        So using your own analogy your saying any engine with more ‘power’ than mine will last a shorter period of time than mine, now that is a guess and it’s totally ridiculous too

      • You are wasting time. Clearly the argument is with respect to increasing power on a mechanically unchanged engine. No time wasting please.

        Where is your proof that engine life won’t be reduced?

  153. Well then, perfectly acceptable timeframe for anyone not nitpicking against installing them. Your article (and ranting comments) are pointless. Goodbye.

    • Yes, I have to fully agree with your thoughts too 🙂

      A total waste of time and effort and particularly when you have to repeat a question time after time and still it does not get answered, simply because, it is as he has typed “A GUESS”

      Well when the facts are not understood and he won’t answer questions, as you say it’s time to move on

      Goodbye from me too

  154. Alan wrote on February 1, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Hi Outbackjoe
    Yeah I did contact him.. Scottish guy – he’s got my money so according to him my evidence of no fuel saving is bunkus
    His argument was that it increases power by shifting the powerband rather than dropping down gears so the engine doesn’t rev as hard- thus fuel saving
    My evidence is the same trips before and after chipping RESULT – NO FUEL SAVING and NO BETTER PULLING UP HILLS
    Irrespective of what the lesser fuel usage figures were saying on the dasboard
    He also stated that its lack of results will be because of dirty fuel filters
    Not so as the vehicle is not very old AND had just had the fuel filters changed at almost the same time as the chip was installed
    I have a fantastic vehicle and I made a mistake in thinking I could make it better by listening to a salesman”s magic ellixer claptrap
    I intend to keep it for a long time, as with the other Mercedes that I still have
    As you have said in you article if this technology is so great why don’t the manufacturers incorporate it
    I only wish I had down some homework and read your article before wasting money. It’s all logical
    But fortunately my vehicle has regurgitated the chip and its now where in belongs in the rubbish
    The mind is a wonderful thing. You can convince yourself of anything if that’s what you want to believe

    If you buy cheap crap you have to expect the same relevant experience, however if you buy from a recommended supplier a quality product then you don’t have the bad experience you have stated you have experienced.

    Obviously if you get “No better pulling power up hills” then your chip is NOT working at all – that is blatantly obvious 🙂
    At the first hill you should have contacted the supplier and complained, got his thoughts and then asked for a refund or put it into the garbage.

    The increase of power/torque information can be very simply checked on a DYNO where the results are printed on paper, so you can keep them and understand the evidence that there is (or is not) any power/torque increase and at what part of the rev range you get the increase.

    Yes, as you say BUT FACTS ARE FACTS and you have NOT bought a quality product (sorry but is so blatantly obvious)

  155. My experience with my 2016 Hilux has shown that you don’t save fuel, you use more fuel, but you also get a good improvement in power especially mid range. But the fuel calculations are mixed up and show using less fuel when the reality is I use more fuel so don’t believe that you save fuel by adding a chip, you just get more power at the cost of using more fuel.

    There are 2 ways you can look at wear on a motor, one is theoretical which this article spells out and this cant be disputed, but the reality is there are many factors, too many to list that go into working out wear and life expectancy from manufacturing tolerances, fuel quality, ambient temperatures, driver habits and so on. The way a motor is used over its life time will vary considerable between drivers and without knowing all the inputs and controls for engine wear then this article is more based on theoretical calculations because you cant ignore physic’s and deny that more force = more wear

    • Hey Eddie the chip dumps more fuel than what the trip computer is calculating. That is why people often report improved fuel consumption even though the chip is dumping extra fuel and increasing fuel consumption.

      • Yes I was caught up with the initial belief that it saves fuel but after a while and when going back to pre chip when servicing then you start to see the real differences and I can say it definitely uses more fuel not less, but then I do like the added power I get when using the chip.

  156. outbackjoe posted
    February 1, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Haha yeah more power means not driving it has hard. You’re a genius!
    Haha dyno tuning gives “optimal performance”. Why not just post a link directly to some chip marketing rubbish?
    Smoking doesn’t cause cancer, coz I can eat more vegies! That’s scientific method perfection.
    Overfuelling is not some sudden limit. It is relative, on a continuous spectrum. You are overfuelling relative to the factory tune. This causes less efficiency, more heat and more soot than the factory tune. Plus more engine wear.
    Weren’t you going away forever? I’m tired of this dumbass bullshit. I mean it’s funny but this article is for people to learn something.
    Yes a chip is perfect in every possible way and does not compromise anything and you’re very clever for getting one. You can go now

    We are all sick of the dumbass bullshit (your own words) but you keep giving replies that are not relevant to the posts 🙂

    wtf has cancer or vegies got to do with tuning chip performance ???

    If people want to learn anything they should ask relevant questions 🙂

    I say this because guys with Performance Chips that have been proven to work and not the cheap sh!t off fleabay, can tell them from their own personal experience and the paper dyno test graphs given to the vehicle owner is easy to read and understand and because it states the exhaust tip co2 soot percentages too.

    Obviously you don’t have a tuning chip – so you only know what you have read on the internet, and the guys who read your rubbish information on here would be absolutely amazed at the torque increase available by using a tuned tuning chip, not the fleabay garbage.

    So what if the vehicle lasts a few thousand Km less, how long will it last with-out a tuning chip ????
    No don’t GUESS that answer like you have admitted you GUESSED your tuning chip answers ha ha ha

    • Dude no one is disputing that chips make more power.

      So I take it you can’t comprehend something that is probabilistic in nature. Maybe do some reading.

      What age will you die if you don’t smoke cigarettes? What age will you die if you do smoke cigarettes? Since these questions can’t be answered are you suggesting that cigarettes don’t cause cancer or reduce life expectancy?

      • no, I know by personal experience smoking kills

      • haha so we can agree that we’ve invalidated your “guess” argument and we’ve wasted everyone’s time, since failure caused by wear behaves in a similar fashion as cancer caused by cigarettes?

        Look at the bullshit arguments you’ve made, in addition to the guess argument:

        chips don’t alter compression so don’t affect engine life
        some chips don’t alter fuel pressure and so don’t affect engine life
        identified that two different vehicles with different engines have different max power ratings and different fuel economy which means a chip delivering more power can save fuel
        suggested you don’t see how your engine will suffer a shorter life although now you admit it may be shorter but of unknown amount
        suggested no black smoke is some sort of perfect indicator that can predict no additional engine wear
        suggested that if my theory is correct then a completely different engine with more power must have a shorter life

        I probably should clear out some of that crap, no one will learn anything from that.

  157. Well,that was a read and a half…..No mechanical qualification here just a bushie mechanic of 45 yrs
    rebuilt lawn mowers,motor bikes,cars,suv,4z4s
    Basic Mechanics 101,is based on For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
    Increase the power output of a motor,you increase the wear of a motor,due to moving parts,lower tolerances,greater heat generation.
    Now heres the kick with chips,they do increase power although I think they are overstated,to be more attractive to the buyer.
    What they DON’T do is address the issue of with greater power comes higher heat,which is particularly critical for auto transmissions and the motors.
    Now,any mechanic worth his salt,especially given our harsh high temps,will tell you if you towing a van,or even without one your best to upgrade your cooling system and put a transmission cooler on…….why to help keep the temp down,to prevent engine wear/transmission failure by keeping then as close to optimum operating temp/.
    Having crossed the Nullabor 20 plus times,mostly in summer….any car runs better at night time when its cooler.
    Now going back to chips and increasing power,by effectively squirting more fuel into the system,you increase what we called cylander wash…..which ment the washing od normal lubrication from the cylander walls and ring etc
    In doing so,there is an increase in heat because of it
    and consequently increased wear…..leading to less longativity of motor and transmission
    add to that to produce that extra power,when used means the engine components are moving faster,again increasing heat and wear

    Now what these chip promoters dont do is address this extra heat generted,by the increase in power,thats where in my bushie opinion,the issue of component,engine and transmission wear l needs to be addressed
    ie put a chip in…..upgrade your cooling system and add a external air/oil transmission cooler
    and even more inportant if your lugging a van around in high temperatures…..not many places in Oz where this is not encountered.

    Bottom line outbackjoe is 100% correct

  158. Thank you so much for such an informative article…. best wishes…..

  159. Thank you for your article Outbackjoe. I was looking at putting one on my new Ford Ranger but will now save myself the $900.00. They tow well anyhow. I do pull a 2.8 tonne caravan. Just had the experience of getting water in my fuel from a service station in Wingham NSW. The water caused the opening in the injector to increase allowing more fuel into the engine. Thought I had a tappet rattle. Wrong. The extra fuel going into the engine burnt the top of the pistons and completely stuffed the engine. a new short motor and injectors are over $17,000.00. Hence the new car. I will use my money to fit a new good quality pre-filter into the fuel line that I can drain and check on a regular basis. One thing I did learn it does not take very much extra heat to burn the pistons in a common rail diesel.

    • Hey Alwyn damn bad luck on your motor, expensive problem. What vehicle was it? Any advice on early warnings that water is in fuel so others can avoid a blown up motor? What was the sequence of events? How long from fuel up until first symptoms? What noises did it make? Any black smoke? How long from fuel up until motor was rooted? Did the water in fuel light illuminate? Did the factory fuel filter assembly trap any water? Why didn’t the factory water trap and warning light work? Was the quantity of water too much for the factory fuel filter to accommodate?

  160. Hi Outbackjoe, My vehicle was a 2013 XLS Ford Ranger. I had 141000 on it and had never had a problem. I have a 140 liter long range tank fitted and and had been travelling through the Gloucester and Tapin Tops National Parks. I was running low on fuel and put 40 Ltrs in at Wingham and almost immediately the engine lost power and played up. Went to Nrma in Wingham and they drained the fuel filter (Which had visible water in it) and replaced the filter but never drained the tank or system. They told me if I had more problems I needed to drain the tank. I had traveled another 50 Kilometers and lost power again. I drained the tank and put in another 40 liters of clean fuel (Two Gerry cans). I continued driving to Brisbane and turned west to Dalby. I had trouble getting up the Toowoomba Range, something that never happens. At Dalby the car was getting sick so I headed for home at Newcastle nursing the car all the way. By the time I got home the motor was really rattling so I knew I had done some real damage. I took it to the mechanic and nearly died when I found out how bad the damage was. I was lucky to make it home. I had been towing a heavy caravan the whole trip. No warning lights came on, the car just lost power and performance. Yes there was water in the fuel filter. Never saw any smoke. The noise was like a very bad tappet rattle. I think the volume of water filled the filter bowl which is encased and not visible which then flowed into the engine. I blame the Caltex SS for the water in the fuel but it was my ignorance that caused so much damage. I never realised that water in common rail diesels could be so dangerous. I have learnt that if you get water in the diesel with this type of vehicle, get it towed, the tank drained and the system flushed. Alwyn

    • Hmmm I wonder why the light didn’t come on. It’s interesting that some people’s experience with water in diesel is not dramatic at all. Light comes on, drain water, continue driving, light comes on, repeat process until light stops coming on. No problems. No draining tank. No towing. Then other times the engine blows up. I don’t know what it is exactly that separates one outcome from the other. For you the light never came on which is a big contributing factor. Thanks for explaining your experience.

    • This one I have a lot of experience with. It has a lot to do with the fuel. When I speak of the fuel I mean the additive package that is present in the fuel from the supplier and the possibility of additional pour in additives.

      Modern diesel engine fuel filters are designed to not let water droplets through. The paper is treated for this. I have seen many times at industry events over the years where filter companies have a bowl made out of their paper filled with water. These will sit in the stand for days and not even a microscopic amount of water will go through the paper. Sometime they will pour a solvent (most shows will not let them use fuel for obvious reasons) on top of the water. The solvent is wicked away by the paper and collected in the container under the bowl. Again no water ever accumulates in the other side of the paper from the water.

      Water collects in supply tanks, deliver trucks etc simply by the heating cooling effect of the atmosphere and water gets into the fuel supply. No way around this it happens to every fuel supply tank. The lower the fuel level in the tank the more water in the form of vapor comes into the tank vent when it cools at night. Tank warms in the day and “breaths out” and cools at night “breaths in” through the vent. Simple physics.

      In NA we see this a lot in the southern states where the temps are always above freezing and there is often high humidity. Due to the constant water issue in storage tanks some fuel supply companies put an additive in the fuel at the refinery level or at the bulk storage lever to suspend or emulsify water. Their theory is that the small amounts of water that collect daily in tanks will be suspended and then pass through the fuel system without any problem. This emulsifying additive is a real problem for the filter paper. The paper treatment cannot deal with these microscopic fine particles that are in suspension. Not a big issue if you have small amounts of water. In your case you got a bunch of water and obviously some of it got by the paper due to some sort of additive that caused the water to be emulsified in the fuel. Without the additive (not all suppliers use it, and none over here will tell you if they do or not) the filter will not let water through.

      Small amount of water are most of the time harmless to the systems. Larger amounts however are disastrous to the common rail injector. The operating temps are simply too high in these systems. The water vaporizes and then things go sideways fast. We have seen hundreds of examples of split injector tips cause by water. Water inside the nozzle valve assembly boils and turns to steam at the high temps. The steam vapors that rapidly expands cannot get out of the small spray holes fast enough and “boom” the tips is split or in many cases small parts of the tip are blown off. When you look at the metal strength of a nozzle tip is is really very strong yet steam expansion has much more force. Much like what ice formation can do to crack and split things when contained.

      I know the guys over there at Diesel Care as well at the big accessory company (cannot remember their name) have been selling thousands of auxiliary filters for your vehicles there. Unfortunately for you it is like closing the barn when the animals are out.

      • Hi Cam thanks for your friendly and informative post!

        So you reckon the additives allow the water to get through undetected? How do we minimize the risk? It doesn’t seem like more filtering will help with this problem, if the water will get through anyway.

      • I read the first 20 comments then skipped to the bottom, so excuse me if you someone has brought this up already.

        On a carby bike with no ecu, I would tune the carbs to suit the country. Height above sea level, oxygen temperature and saturation are all relevant to your fuel air ratios and curves.

        I would also tune my ecu to suit my conditions.

        More fuel being dumped/ more power being produced doesn’t necessarily mean more wear if the engine is cycling in a more balanced way, therefore reducing friction.

        Less friction/less fuel use.

        Just my opinion based on my limited experience.


  161. The extra filter offers a couple of things. You can can get them with a large see though bowl on the bottom for visible monitoring of water. They are also available in a 2 micron absolute filter media. This very tight media gives you a bit better water separating capability. The tighter pore space helps reject smaller particles of water.

    You need to envision these filter a bit. They are made up of very fine strands of fibres almost like threads. They are weaved in a criss cross pattern. The tighter (smaller micron) the filter the more layers of fibres make up the paper. The fibres are then rolled with heat to form a sheet. I believe there is small amounts of resin on the fibres to hold them together when pressed and heated. The paper is then soaked in the water repellent coating. This coating covers all the strands. It is almost like a silicon spray water repellent. If you spray that stuff on your jeans or wax a car and you get the surfaces wet, the water beads.

    The water removal process happens when the small droplet of water are held up by the 2 micron holes in the paper (5 or 7 micron on lots of factory or cheap aftermarket filters). As the droplets collect they come together and form larger drop (cannot remember cohesion or adhesion) When the droplets get large enough their specific gravity becomes higher then the fuel and the water falls to the bottom of the filter. Most of these filters are designed to reduce fluid turbulence traveling through them allowing gravity to do its work a little easier. This is also the reason a big filter is a better. Not that it holds more debris because of the surface are a much as the fact the big surface area let the fuel slow down and the paper can do it job.

    A lot of people have no idea how much volume filters handle in some of these modern diesels. Often the return from the injectors is much higher than the output into the cylinder. When you drive around town and idle lots the fuel will circulate back to the tank 10 or more times before it is all consumed as power. With a 60 or 80 liter tank the filter will see 600 to 1000 litres of fuel through it between fills.

    We have had these vehicles come into the shop on a hot summer day where you cannot hold your hand on the tank. You get a much higher fuel temp when you run on the bottom half of the tank all the time, not as much mass (volume) to hold and dissipate heat. The duramax engines here all have fuel coolers on them. The are mounted under the cab near the drive shaft and look like a trans oil cooler. We have seen them where they get plugged, mostly from guys that do some off roading or with cattle farms. Mud and shit get thrown up and covers the cooler fins. These trucks do not run good (mostly rough idle) on a 30C day when the tank is only 1/4 full. The temp of the fuel coming out of the cylinder head under heavy load can be as high as 150C. Obviously any water in this system has boiled off but the vapours have no where to go because the system is closed.

    The issue is the volume of water. As I said if you have small amount that naturally collect in warmer humid climates this does not cause much of a problem. It is the larger (relative term) droplet size that cause problem. 1 eye drop in the end of a nozzle which is turned very rapidly to steam as the piston creates the high temps is enough to split or blow a tip. Most likely the knocking noise in Alwyn’s engine. A piece of the tip imbedded in piston and the injector really dumping in fuel because there was no needle sealing the fuel flow between injections

    Solutions hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
    If you get a slug of water like Alwyn did. STOP no real way to deal with it other than to get it out. Could never figure why automotive vehicles never had a drain plug. Must be an emission or safety issue. All the big stuff has, truck, farm equipment and industrial.

    A very tight filter would block and stop the engine with a slug of water like Alwyn. The other thing that is very helpful is a fuel additive that demulsifies water. Anything with Alcohol is bad because it holds water. In North America the Standyne product is good, warranty approved as is the one that Ford sells. They are both good a knocking water out of suspension by encouraging big droplets. Not sure if you have anything there like that.

    Additives are really a problem so one must be careful. Joe it you think the chip guys are story tellers those snake oil salesmen from the additive business are really something. In NA we have over 200 products all claiming to be the best. We have lots of data that proves some of the biggest sellers (Howes for one) actually do more harm than using nothing. It is interesting to look at some of this shit!!!! Not sure what you have there but here if you sell a product like this or actually anything power or liquid you have to supply a Material Safety Data Sheet. MSDS. This sheet has to list the ingredients, incase some kid drinks it, or there is a wreck where a bunch gets spilled you need to know what you are dealing with. If you get the MSDS from some of these companies you will find they are 12 or more years old. IE the formula has not changed for a long time some from before Common Rail and high pressures systems were around.

    I love it all though because I make my living selling injectors :-))


  162. Absolutely great write up and may explain why on 2 occasions ive had injector knock on my 2016 Hilux, even after removing the chip the knocking persisted. The first time it occurred when my wife decided to fill up at a budget petrol station and it took a few new tank fulls to stop. The last occurrence I took it back to Toyota and they said it was a fuel issue and to change petrol stations and it should be good in 2 tank fulls which I did and it took about 6 full tanks before the injector knocking went which was only happening at a certain throttle position. Ive changed service stations now and don’t fill up at the Coles or Woolies stations any more because that’s were I was getting most of my fuel.
    So I may add an additional filter now and put my chip back in as I do miss the extra performance and see that there is no correlation between the chip and the knocking, it seems like its all fuel related and makes complete sense

  163. Many thanks Cam. Very good and helpful feedback. The first thing I will be doing when I pick up my new Ranger will be to put a pre-filter on it. – Alwyn

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