I'm considering to have my car engine chip tuned. I'd like to increase the fuel efficiency of the engine. Increasing the power of the engine would be only a secondary advantage of doing so. Most of the chip tuning companies in my country offer tuning for max power or for max fuel economy.

My question is this: is there anything like economy car engine chip tuning that really works? How much improvement can I expect or what are your real-life results (if any)?

I know there are other ways of increasing fuel economy (mileage), but this is an important one. There is a general consensus that bigger and especially diesel (turbo) engines are better to tune. My car is a 2007 VW Golf 1.9 TDI, but I wouldn't limit answers by that.

  • Do you have any other constraints? Usually, engines are tuned to produce a good balance between fuel economy and power, for the customers the car company hopes to attract. However, there also will be considerations given to laws that regulate the vehicle's emissions. If you are willing to break those laws, or live somewhere that doesn't have such laws, maybe fuel economy and power are your only two variables. But, normally, you need to obey emissions controls, and with very few exceptions, I'd say that's a good idea for people interested in sustainability. – Nate Oct 1 '13 at 9:06
  • Also, you probably know this already, but for your specific engine, I would also ask around at the TDIClub forums. Not everyone there cares about sustainability, but there's enough TDI owners who do care about fuel economy, for one reason or another, that you might find some good experience. – Nate Oct 1 '13 at 9:08
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    @Nate: The default car production balance is not bad, but it's a general default for this car/make. By tuning this (one) engine you can improve the performance and economy. Yes, my idea is to keep the existing emission limits (I have the emission check every other year) and I even expect to lower the emissions. Nice link too. – Peter Ivan Oct 1 '13 at 22:47

Yes, many tuning stations offer a range of options.

The most popular is to offer power upgrades, usually at the expense of fuel economy, for example improving fuel/air/compression balance at low speeds for high acceleration, or altering tuning at high revs to increase top speed.

One of the tuning techniques to improve fuel consumption is to alter your car's mapping to give a much flatter torque curve, this allows a driver to control the fuel usage, and manage predictable gear shifts earlier than they otherwise would (short-shifting)

In reality, though, you can get the same (or better) gains from just changing your driving style. Coasting, short-shifting, avoiding braking where possible, limiting your top speed, over pressuring your tyres etc.

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There are different types of chips, some increase the pressure in the fuel rail to gain power, this are not looked on favorably by vehicle manufactures as they are increasing pressures beyond factory specifications. Alternate chips optimize the air to fuel ratios and other settings using the vehicle original ecu. These chips will not void your new car warranty as they are using the safe guards on the original computer. Any gain in power can be used to you advantage, if you drive economically, the vehicle will use less fuel for the same speed prior to adding the chip, on the other hand, you now have more power, so you can also use more fuel if you don't drive efficiently.

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