User Review: Comparo of diesel tuning boxes

| September 15, 2011 | 6 Comments


Prabhakar Rao, our MotoRep for Hyderabad, recently carried out an exhaustive test of performance tuning boxes. He tested a variety of diesel tuning boxes on a multitude of cars. Here’s what he managed to find out after 6 long months of continuous testing and analysis.

Prabhakar AVR image

Prabhakar AVR

Diesel Tuning Boxes are an easy solution for the people who want some extra power with minimum hassles. In simple terms it is a small box (Resistor, Potentiometer, etc.) which tries to FOOL the ECU in pumping more diesel into the engine.

It is primarily preferred because of its ease of installation & removal. Any person who can drive a car can install & uninstall it in 5-10 minutes. It usually does not leave any error codes when scanned with an OBD Scanner. However it has its own advantages & disadvantages.

In the market there are numerous Tuning boxes claiming that they have the best Box. They simply claim they boost the power by crazy numbers at the same time increasing the fuel efficiency. When someone tries to purchase a box they have lots of options & claims which confuse the Potential Buyer.

To make things easy we did a full test of some available boxes. These boxes are either sourced from the makers or taken from the customers who purchased them. We tried our best to perform these tests in identical conditions.

The comparison is to check the

1.    Drivability
2.    Mileage
3.    Performance overall
4.    In-gear Acceleration
5.    Turbo Lag
6.    Acceleration figures 0-60
7.    Acceleration figures 0-100
8.    Acceleration figures 0-150
9.    Top Speed
10.    Refinement
11.    Pollution
12.    Price

The list of tuning boxes in comparison is:

1.    Pete’s
2.    Tunit
3.    Unichip
4.    Race Dynamics
5.    Race Chip

We chose the Fiat engine for the test as it can be called the national engine of INDIA with maximum number of vehicles ( Fiat Grande Punto, Linea, Palio, 500, Tata Indica Vista, Manza, Maruti Swift, Ritz, Dezire, SX4) running with it. The Chevrolet Beat also has the same engine with 3 Cylinders. Moreover Fiat sold 4 million units worldwide.

Cars used for the comparison are -

1.    Punto 90hp
2.    Punto 75hp
3.    Indica Vista Quadrajet
4.    Indigo Manza Quadrajet 90
5.    Old Swift

Then we struggled for 6 months with the boxes to test all the parameters.Coming to the results we do not have a clear winner on all the parameters.Each parameter has a different winner, runner up, etc.

So it’s the customer who has to weigh down the importance of each parameter & then decide which box to go for.

The winners in each parameter –

1.    Drivability – Unichip
2.    Mileage – Race Chip
3.    Performance – Pete’s
4.    In-gear Acceleration – Pete’s
5.    Turbo Lag – Unichip
6.    Acceleration figures 0-60 – Pete’s
7.    Acceleration figures 0-100 – Race Dynamics
8.    Acceleration figures 0-150 – Race Dynamics
9.    Top Speed – Race Chip
10.    Refinement – Race Chip
11.    Pollution – Race Chip
12.    Price – Race chip

Made a point system based ranking which makes up for a winner here. Each of these factors has 5 points.Winner in each category will get 5 points; second will get 4, so on…

The one with maximum points is crowned as the overall winner.

Ranking with Name & total points.

1.    Pete’s – 33
2.    Race Dynamics – 28
3.    Race Chip – 26
4.    Unichip – 21
5.    Tunit -12

This is a general comparison. However depending on your order of preference the rankings will change. For example –

The cheapest is Race chip so it got more points & costliest is Unichip so it got fewer points. Race chip gave the best mileage while Tunit gave the worst. If Price & mileage are of high importance then I’ll chose Race chip.

In- gear acceleration & 0-60 are best in Pete’s so I’ll chose Pete’s if I drive only in city & performance is my only importance.

So if some 1 wants an advice to purchase a tuning box please mention order of importance for the following parameters.

1.    Drivability
2.    Mileage
3.    Performance overall
4.    In-gear Acceleration
5.    Turbo Lag
6.    Acceleration figures 0-60
7.    Acceleration figures 0-100
8.    Acceleration figures 0-150
9.    Top Speed
10.    Refinement
11.    Pollution
12.    Price

We’ll be able to give you the closest match for you.

However we got a couple of new boxes coming up & some newer versions of the existing boxes which will be tested in the next few weeks & the results updated.

The Whole test is sponsored my Motul Engine Oils.

You can discuss & follow it in Motoroids TALKS section

Category: Reviews, User reviews

About the Author ()

Dyed-in-the-wool motoring enthusiast and internationally published writer. Been around for a bit to be clued in about the latest happenings in the world of crankshafts and pistons. Movie buff, Steve Jobs worshiper, wanderer and philosopher who loves his scotch. Follow Amit on Twitter @amitchhangani for the freshest auto news, opinions and other random ramblings

Comments (6)

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  1. Asfar Rizvi says:

    A little history about the car: Its a new vehicle purchased in september 2011.
    The stock power wasn't sufficient for me with just 68 horses beneath the bonnet hence ordered a pete's box just after running the vehicle for 1000 km.
    I stay in Indore in MP so it was couriered to me here.
    Fitted the box and felt some erratic power peaks after 3rd gear and then bolt from the blue….just after two days of fitting the box……The car used to shut down after running around 25-30 Kms and refused to start until and unless it is left to for an hour…..and then again the same situation came into the picture.
    Reported this to Mr Peter and he advised to change the possible locations of the box in the engine bay. We tried everything to realize the same results each time.
    Now finally removed the box and sent it back to Petes.
    After a few days of diagnosis, I was reported that my box was a lemon, and first time in the history of Petes, a box has been found to be faulty :(
    Since my hunger of power for an otherwise truly driver's car was never fulfilled, hence ordered for a new TB.
    Some days later, I got a new box.
    This time went ahead with installing it and kept my fingers crossed.
    HURRAY…..everything was perfect this time….
    The car was pulling better and smooth….
    As a non techie guy, all I can say is…..
    "If the stock fiesta from 2nd gear onwards is at say x km/hr after a time y……the petted one always used to be at (x +15 ) km/ hr after the same time interval y, with all other parameters being constant and same.
    This continued till the top speed was achieved, which without box happened to be around 168 km/hr and with the box used to be something close to 175 km/hr (Pete's box isn't know to increase the top speed however, so the difference might have been due to the fact that I could reach 175 with the box sooner than what I would have in the stock condition. Unfortunately never had such open roads here in MP to take the stock car to the same speed).
    So that's the whole increment in the performance department, and not to forget, the only other performance product I had; was an OWS turboracing engine oil.
    I sourced the oil after doing somewhat around 1000km with the box and felt some more smoothness during the entire gear range, but that's it. No more gain after using an oil of Rs 5630 over stock mineral oil; Castrol of Rs 1400.
    However used the oil for another 8000 km and drained it and switched back to the stock mineral oil.
    The difference was evident only in terms of some coarseness in revving but wasn't such a lot, so as to compel me to shell out Rs 5630 again and go through the tedious process of sourcing it from chennai.
    So that was the whole history…..the vehicle clocked 11500 kms.

    The Nightmare: One evening, while returning home from my office I started feeling that each time under hard acceleration, I was feeling some jitteriness in the car, something similar to the situation when there is no diesel in the fuel tank and the car is looking to shut down, but then again it used to get smooth. This continued throughout the back-home drive.
    Since I have felt this behavior sometimes before as well hence decided to ignore, hoping that switching off the engine, then switching it on again and idling for sometime will resolve the problem.
    But Not This Time….The next day car felt as if there isn't any pulling power left, no acceleration, infact it was like the car isn't interested to be happy revving machine again.
    Took it immediately to the Ford dealers and realized that even the sound of the engine changed to something of a tractor :(
    Immediately got the diesel checked for quality and it was perfect as expected since I always got the tank refilled from the same pump I know for years.

    Finally after the diagnosis I was reported that two of the injectors have gone kaput and maybe the ECU is corrupt as well, however the ECU was later reported to be OK.
    The injectors were reported to be of 15k each and the ECU to be of 54k.
    I had words with Mr peter and he was quite sure that it couldn't be due to the box, however I still felt that the injection system failing must have relation with the box provided that its an Induction Modulation kind of a box and directly worked on the injectors.
    Fortunately I was able to get things repaired under warranty and had to pay just Rs 2000 for engine oil replacement etc out of the total bill of 42k.
    The car is back and things are fine now, it has done 500kms since then.

    My primary concern now is that should I again go ahead taking the risk of installing the box?
    Its kind of scary to think of this situation arising again maybe after clocking 40k kms this time, when I don't even have the warranty left.
    The box again is at Petes in cochin and has been reported to be working perfectly fine, by Mr Peter.
    People at Petes are extremely professional and really nice, the have agreed to refund the amount (43.5k) back and have even advised to choose this as the option now seeing future risks.

    My agony now is what should I do!
    Should I go experimenting with Spider this time which is cheaper, 24k but again a rail pressure kind of box or a Race Dynamics Chip (20K), again a Rail Pressure box… :(
    My concerns are the amount of risk that spider has plus the performance and power increments it can give, provided that I wasn't even much satisfied with the power increments of Petes box which was on the contrary an IM kind of box and as per the gurus the IM box has been reported to give higher power figures than the Rail Pressure ones.

    What should I do?
    Try a pets box again?
    Take a refund, buy a cheaper box and save the remaining money, maybe this time for rail pressure faults ;).

    Please guide me on this!

    I would also welcome suggestion over performance figures of spider!
    Is there any Ford fiesta owner with some experiences of TBs….spider, pets, dieseltronic etc.

    Cheers & Sorry for such a long post!

  2. Naushad says:

    Good Analysis..

  3. Pradeep says:

    Hi,

    I own Fiat Linea 1.3 and exploring my options on buying a performance chip for my car. I am almost finalized with Race Chip but before I order the chip, I would like to know the disadvantages post installing the chip.

    Will be there any negative effect on my engine.

    I am happy with the mid and top range of my car but worried about the initial pick up.

    Your suggestion would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Pradeep J

  4. sameer naik says:

    please suggest tunning box for my toyota liva 1.3546ltr diesel

  5. Ezz says:

    Hi I have a BMer E90 320D (2011) It is still under warranty. I have seen mixed posts about BMW being able to detect that a chip box was installed. Can you guys substantiate on this and set my mind at ease. I am eager to purchase and install a chip box, however I am wary that the dealer might find out, hence causing me to lose my warranty.

    rgds
    Ezz

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