Almost every time I have a conversation about engine tuning solutions, the factory ECU is brought up. Factory ECU tuning has its place in the performance industry, but when really considering its ability to provide a solution for motorsports, the advantages of aftermarket ECU solutions cannot be ignored.
A great example would be a customer who wants to use a modern engine for racing. When a manufacturer develops a new engine, emissions compliance must also be be met. Emissions is the fundamental priority of ECU systems in newer vehicles. In In most cases, this does not coincide with the tuning concepts for competition racing. In fact, I could write another multi part blog about that subject by itself. Besides all of that, this particular engine has modern features such as multiple electronic throttles and variable cam timing.. The car company this engine comes from also has complicated and proprietary diagnostic tools as well. Generic OBD scanning tools don’t cut it for diagnosis, and there is no way to know how the engine will react on track if there is a fault or limp situation. The cost of manufacturer proprietary hardware and software tools is also rarely considered when making cost comparisons as well. Even then, the factory tools are designed to aid in repairing road going vehicles, not motorsports competition cars. Will the tool even provide you with the data you need to fix your car? Was the ECU software manipulated in some way to allow its use for motorsports competition? Will this manipulation complicate normal race car service in the event of a problem? All very valid questions if you really think about it.
No special tools or hardware is needed to connect to the ECUs. You can use any laptop and view logs, live data, faults, etc. The newer the engine, the more valuable this is when the need comes to repair something. With good engine management, you can not only view every single calculated value to determine if the value is erroneous, but also view the live sensor voltages as well. In almost all cases, this is much more informative than what you will get out of a factory diagnostic tool. This video shows a status page just for E-throttle information using a #emtron KV series ECU. There are several tabs for every other engine function as well.
Almost every sensor and actuator has programmable thresholds for faults. This means you can maintain the safety of an OE system, but also customize it. You can choose the substitute values yourself. Higher level ECUs (#Emtron) even have “fault tables”. Fault tables are lookup tables for those substitute values so they are active instead of a static number. Most OE solutions don’t even do that.
Check out this video that shows off all the runtimes and logging functions available for a dual drive by wire setup.