What is the difference between a chip and an ECU Tune?

2012 Nissan Patrol ZD30 CR Auto


What is the difference between a chip and an ECU Tune? One of the most asked questions of common rail 4×4 owners.

Lets chat through some of the differences and look at why the owner of this 2012 Nissan Patrol ZD30 CR Auto replaced his chip with and ECU Tune.

Diesel Performance Chips

Diesel performance chips have been the best thing on the market since sliced bread.  A simple plug and play option with price tags from $50- $3000.  Pre ECU Tuning the diesel performance chip gave us an increase in power and torque.  For many the simple diy and visible product is still today a draw card than the unknown of the science behind the ECU tune.

Diesel performance chips often focus on one component of your engine and will highly debate why their method is better than the competition.  Most customers will opt towards the product they can relate to most or the one a trusted friend or mechanic recommend.

Some believe in adjusting injector duration while others believe this action is highly harmful to an engine and opt for fuel and timing alteration.  If you are purchasing an eBay special you will probably find you just spent $50 on a chip that makes an led light turn on and off with your ignition.  In saying that there are a few budget chips that we have found have made slight changes.


Courtesy of DP Chip this is the inside of their product and similar to most products on the market.  What you have is a computerized modal that talks to your ECU in your vehicle and alters the commands.

Do they work?

100% they make a difference to your vehicle.  You may experience am improvement in lag and on road power.

New Age New Day ECU Tuning

The new level has come to Australia for Diesel Tuning.  It is something that we have been wishing and waiting for many years.  Patrick from Power Curve Performance does all of our inhouse tuning.  For years once ECU 4×4 hit the market it has only made sense that actually being able to tune a diesel had to go this way.  For a workshop that tunes petrol and diesel being unable to tune a diesel as we have petrol was limiting and frustrating.

The ECU has put the power back into the tuner hands and given you the customer choice and reliability.

ECU Tuning Power Curve Performance

How does ECU Tuning Work?

ECU tuning is different for many makes and models.  This is why you will hear many businesses boast about how many $100000 they have spent on ECU tuning equipment.  To be fair this is true as there are so many different devices used to tune your ecu.  For you in reality, who cares how much I spend to make my business run what you care about is the outcome and result for your car.

So here’s how it is done.  Firstly what is an ECU?  An ECU is the computer that makes your new vehicle run.  Most commonly found in diesels from 2005, yes there are many prior but most manufactures joined the modern ECU tunable age by this time.  Bellow is an ECU in a vehicle, you can see the wires that make everything in your car that is electrical work.  In theory this is the brain of your 4×4 and your engine is the heart.  Without the correct information from the brain going to the heart the heart will not function no matter how healthy it is.

ECU, Power Curve Performance, tuning

If my ECU is the brain of my 4×4 isn’t a chip better?

It is a common concern that if you modify the vehicles ECU you will just confuse it and damage it.  Lets keep with this brain theory.  What if someone told you, you could plug a chip into the side of your brain and it would modify the way it worked?  Might potentially have a mix to make you healthier, run a bit faster or achieve your goals a bit better.  Thats simple and easy and relatively low risk, where do I buy this brain chip.

Now what if I could offer you an upgrade to the brain you already have.  There is no additional components that may confuse or fault or break down on you when your on the go or in the middle of a marathon (or trip around Australia.) What if I could simply modify all of the areas in your brain that you had issues with within a safe zone.  That sounds even better.

Why Power Curve Went ECU

The most common outcome after some use of a performance diesel chip is limp mode.  The ECU in a vehicle is very sensitive and inelegant.  There are many components in them that do not like having alien components attached to them.  The ECU thinks there is an issue with the engine and it can not rectify the “wrong”  this can cause the ECU to force the vehicle into a limp home mode or a safe mode.  The diesel chip is also a limiting option for the ECU.  We have experienced even next to the best diesel performance chips on the market a better on road out come with an ECU tune.  Put simply if you are at the start line of a race against 3 other people if I hold the start gun and pull the trigger the person who makes it off the line first will come down to how fast you can react to the command.  Now if I give you the start gun and allow you to race and pull the trigger my bet is on you being the first off the line.  You are giving the command and there is no confusion.

Tuning your ECU is the same concept we just upgrade the capabilities of the ECU just like in theory Ford, Toyota etc do when they find they can provide you with better ECU upgrades for commands.  It eliminates confusion and false starts we also put the start gun in the hand of the ECU and give it the option to be first off the mark. You don’t wait for a third party to take command and then battle it when you think it may not be right.

Previously stated if the ECU is the brain not touching it is a better option for point of damage.  Defiantly a concern if you are having your ecu changed by an in experienced person.

Can Anyone Tune My ECU?

Yes, you can take your ECU to anyone around the world who has a program to re rite your make and model ECU and you will get an outcome.  Some may be good some maybe facebook people who have bought a program and will have a red hot crack at it and you will pay the price much after your $100 tune.  Very similar to buying an ebay chip.

Why are Power Curve Performance the right people to tune my ECU?

The first dyno tuning shop on the East Coast of Australia to tune an Toyota (the hardest ecu to crack)

Dyno tuning petrol and diesels for 15 years.

Every car is checked on our in house dyno.

Majority of customers are retired or families.  This clientele is a hard market to gain trust.  They are product aware and have used products on and in the market for years.  This is not an easy market to “pull the wool over their eyes” High expectations of top results.

Read through our blog. We try to put a variety of jobs we have done and have started to build a data base here for you to gain some prospective on the outcomes you can expect from our team.

2012 Patrol ZD30 Common Rail Auto

Bellow is a dyno sheet of a 2012 Patrol ZD30 Common Rail Auto. The customer came to us with a Rapid chip installed.  The dyno graph shows the Nissan Patrol difference with the chip, standard with factory boost control and our ECU and Tillix kit.  Tillix are not required for all ECU tunes mainly the 3L Nissan Patrols.  They are how we control boost in these vehicles.  Evidently you can establish that the chip has given the owner a top increase in power of 9.2HP to purchase this power increase is $1314.50 + freight (i assume) + an hour or so of your time+ dyno check so lets est $1564.50.

We have accomplished a gain with the chip however the add for most performance chips claim 25% more power and torque.  Would you agree this is a correct statement?

A large portion of our customers find they are over taking between 2000 and 2200 RPM. RPM can be found on the bottom axis of the dyno graph. Follow this up and have a look at the results on the sheet. Thats right the standard vehicle actually out performs the chip in both torque and power when you over take and tow.

ECU Tuned

The blue line is the ECU Tune and tillix upgrade to control boost in this vehicle.  The price for this drive in outcome drive in drive out is $1455 with the tillix.  If you don’t require the tillix $1295.    A saving of $269.50 over the removed chip.  Is a saving of $269.50 going to be important to you if you have more power. No its a small sacrifice to pay for a better outcome.  However you don’t have a better outcome because the tune gains 58.3HP over standard.  The same comparison we did on the chip.  Not only have we gained much more in this area our air fuel ratio is much closer to standard than the chip.  The ECU tune pulls through right through the whole rev range where the chip comes into its own around 2900 RPM when the process is nearing its end.



2012 Nissan Patrol ZD30 CR Auto, What is the difference between a chip and an ECU Tune?2012 Nissan Patrol ZD30 CR Auto, ECU Tune, Power Curve Performance, What is the difference between a chip and an ECU Tune?


We hope this has assisted with some questions and concerns in relation your options chip v ECU tune.  If you would like further information on what we can provide for your vehicle pop through our blog or contact our team.

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