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Introduction to Engine Tuning: What’s The Best Brand of ECU?

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What’s The Best Brand of ECU?

04.22

00:00 - One of the most common questions I hear when it comes to standalone ECUs is, "which is the best ECU for my car?" Often the assumption might be that the most expensive ECU on the market must be the best.
00:14 But there's a lot more to consider.
00:16 Probably the biggest factor that will affect the quality of your tune is how comfortable and familiar you or your tuner are with the particular ECU you are using.
00:28 Every ECU has its own characteristics, quirks, and shortcuts, and it takes time to learn all of these.
00:37 Getting the best results in a reasonable time frame really depends on familiarity with the product, and how user friendly the ECU is.
00:47 What I mean by this is that if you take a top of the line engine management system from the likes of Bosch Motorsport, or Life Racing, that you might expect to find in high end professional motorsport, for example, and give this to a tuner that has no previous experience with it, you'll find they'd be able to supply a better tune with a much cheaper ECU that they're more familiar with.
01:13 Sure, if you want to put the time into learning the Bosch ECU, then it's five figure price tag might start to make sense.
01:21 But for most of us in the street car or semi-professional motorsport market, it won't translate into additional performance or results.
01:31 So the point here is that particularly if you're going to be relying on a professional tuner to do your tuning work, you're going to be best to choose a brand that he or she is intimately familiar with.
01:44 Likewise, it also makes a lot of sense to make your ECU purchase from the tuner who will be doing the job.
01:51 At worst, it might cost you a few more dollars at the time of purchase, but I guarantee it will save you money in the long run, and you'll have a tuner who is invested in the success of your project.
02:04 Now let's consider the situation where you're going to be doing the tuning yourself, and perhaps you don't have any experience with any brands.
02:13 In this case, we have a little more to consider.
02:16 First, you need to start out by deciding exactly what you need.
02:21 List how many injectors and coils you need to control, as well as how many inputs and outputs you'll need.
02:29 It's also worth considering if there are any special features you want, such as launch control, or flex fuel capability, perhaps.
02:39 Once you have your list, you'll also need to have a budget in mind.
02:44 The ECU is only part of the expense of a well thought out, installed, and tuned EFI system, so you don't want to blow your entire budget just on purchasing the ECU.
02:57 Once you have your list of features and a budget to work with, you can see what products fit the bill.
03:04 It's likely you'll find a few different manufacturers offering seemingly comparable options that still tick all your boxes, so there's a couple more considerations that will help you narrow down the choice.
03:18 When you're installing and tuning any brand of ECU, you'll almost certainly require some level of tech support.
03:26 Of course, it's always handy if you can get this support when you need it, and if the ECU manufacturer is on the other side of the world, you might be in for awkward delays before you can get help, while you wait for time zones to align.
03:41 While it's not always possible, it's great if you can get quick local support for your ECU, either through the manufacturer, or through their local representative.
03:53 Lastly, it's always worth talking to those running the brands of ECU that have made your shortlist, and get the pros and cons from those actually using them.
04:03 This can help you make a fully informed decision, and ensure you get the best results possible from your budget.