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What sort of mods warrant a Retune? And Questions about piggy back fuel controllers

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Ok so ive only ever dealt with aftermarket ecu’s before but ive been researching stock ecu’s and options (piggyback etc)

So was just curious… This applies more so to cars running with a Air flow meter as no doubt any small mod would really need a retune if your running speed density… (Map Sensor)

But how much can you get away with without needing a retune on a air flow meter car (I know its a broard question and car to car will be different) But in general on most cars would just upgrading the dump pipe/exhaust/intercooler or turn up the boost (manual tee or electronic) need tuning? I imagine the AFM would detect the increased airflow and adjust accordingly (up to what the MAF is rated to). Do you not necessarily need a retune, but to get the most out of the mods its beneficial… IE in general if the air flow is going up much more then standard do most stock ecu’s just make the car really rich and retard timing alot for safety?

A Injector change would need tuning no doubt…

Next question relates to the piggy back fuel controllers im coming across… Seems alot of stock JDM cars have a boost cut from factory and these controllers stop that, But from what I can see they just intercept the signal from the Air flow meter and adjust the output to the ecu to get you the right AFR?… Not sure how this gets around the boost cut? (altho ive not looked into them very deeply yet)

Also everyone seems to recommend these controllers but most of them only seem to deal with fuel, not spark… which is where I thought you would be able to get most of your gains? is it just too complicated for a piggy back ecu and you need to step up to something more standalone?

While a MAF sensor will be able to measure the increased mass flow from any modification that effects the VE of the engine, what you quite often find is that the OEM mapping will also tend to deal with this by running excessively rich and retarding the timing. Basically the OEM's know what level of airflow is to be expected and if the airflow exceeds normal levels then they can assume the engine may have been modified or something has gone wrong. they deal with this by protecting the engine with more fuel and less timing and hence you may not see the power gains that you should or would expect.

This means that yes, you will probably be able to get away with small changes such as a different exhaust system, however the tuning may not be optimal.

A piggyback controller is not a great option if you want a lot of control over your engine. I generally only recommend them for lightly modified engines where you just want to adjust the AFR slightly. As you rightly point out, these controllers just adjust the load input that the ECU is seeing, so to lean the AFR off you are reducing the load signal which has the effect of advancing the timing. You usually can't alter fuel and spark independently. The results you can expect with these controllers are varied as you could expect. I wouldn't recommend one for a turbo car, but they do work adequately on N/A engines such as a Honda B-series for example.

A boost cut defender works by limiting the load signal to the ECU, but it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some ECUs function the boost cut off the airflow signal (early EVO for example), but in my experience the more common approach is to function the boost cut off a standalone MAP sensor that is not used for the load input. In this case you can remove the boost cut without limiting the measurement scale of the load input. If the boost cut is a function of the main load input then things can get ugly as you are effectively limiting the load input measurement the ECU can see and if you increase the boost you will end up lean.