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Practical Diesel Tuning: Standalone ECUs

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Standalone ECUs


00:00 - When it comes to making tuning changes to any modern computer controlled engine, there are broadly two options.
00:05 We can remove the factory ECU and fit a replacement aftermarket ECU or we may have the ability to reprogram the calibration data held inside the factory fitted ECU.
00:15 Both of these options are very common in the gasoline engine tuning world.
00:19 However we haven't seen the same level of uptake with the standalone ECU manufacturers in the diesel world.
00:25 Aftermarket standalone ECUs are essentially a generic ECU that's designed to support and run almost any engine.
00:31 This then allows the tuner a lot of flexibility with complete control over fuel delivery, injection timing, fuel pressure and a multitude of other parameters.
00:41 Standalone ECUs also allow tuning changes to be made by the tuner in real time and the effect of those changes can be seen instantly on the dyno.
00:51 The difficulty with a late model diesel engine is that they're a lot more complex when it comes to the fuel system control.
00:58 In particular, controlling a high pressure fuel pump to achieve accurate fuel pressure can be challenging.
01:03 Although with the continued popularity of direct inject petrol engines, more and more ECU manufacturers can now do this.
01:10 The other aspect however is the control of the fuel injectors and the fact that different engine manufacturers use different injector designs which require very different control strategies.
01:21 Despite these difficulties, there are a limited number of aftermarket standalone ECUs available.
01:26 Often these will be designated to support a particular engine or a particular vehicle such as the likes of MoTeC's M1 ECU with their targeted firmware package for the likes of the Toyota 1KD.
01:37 That's not to say that universal solutions don't exist but they are less common than in the gasoline world and will require some more work from the tuner in order to set up control aspects such as the injectors and the high pressure fuel system.
01:50 The other aspect that's important to consider is the integration of the ECU with the rest of the electronics package of the vehicle.
01:56 It's all well and good being able to run the engine but if the gearbox won't change gears, the gauge cluster doesn't work, the speed and RPM don't show correctly, or maybe even the air conditioning won't work, then this isn't going to be workable solution.
02:12 As you'll see in the next module, this is where reflashing has significant advantages.
02:18 That's not to say that standalone ECUs have no place in diesel tuning but you do need to understand the pros and cons as well as their capabilities.
02:25 Right now I'd suggest that in general, a standalone ECU is a worthwhile option if you're building a dedicated race truck where the rest of the stock electronics have been removed or disabled, unless you can purchase a system that offers full OE integration so the rest of the car's electronics still function normally.