Steve Dinan Explains Why ECU Tuning Naturally Aspirated Engines Is Useless

Steve Dinan 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
Tuning is a growing business these days, even though it has become harder and harder to do. That doesn’t mean that people won’t be looking for the ultimate performance bargain to improve their cars’ performance.
The thing is not everything is as good as advertised and most of the time you might end up spending your money with no real gain. In a recent episode of Engineering, the man, the legend Steve Dinan agreed to show up in front of the camera and explain how tuning is done.

In case you lived under a rock for the last 30 years, Steve is the founder of Dinan Engineering, probably the best company to go to in the US for proper BMW tuning. The man is a legend and he helped build the reputation his company has today with hard work and precise measuring, not hearsay and rumors.

Just listening to him talk about how ECU tuning is done and sharing some of his knowledge on the matter raised the hairs on the back of my neck. It’s pretty obvious that he knows what he’s talking about and that he’s the kind of man that doesn’t hesitate to call something BS if it is.

One such example came when the subject of turbo engine versus naturally aspirated engine tuning was brought up. In the case of the former, it’s pretty easy to achieve better numbers by increasing the turbo boost. On the other hand, ECU tuning for atmospheric engines is not worth the trouble.

You really should dismiss all those that claim they can increase the power of your naturally aspirated units by some simple tinkering under the hood. The reason why that’s impossible using the ECU is that the manufacturer already found the perfect timing for it and there’s no way you could improve it any further.

If you were to add hardware to the mix, that would be a different story. Real gains can be attained by changing the intake and exhaust or even the camshaft, but then you’d also need to program the engine to deal with the new parameters of workflow, and that’s even trickier than it sounds.

We won’t go into further details as Steve does an excellent job at explaining why all of this is happening and necessary. This is one video you don’t want to miss out.

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