Howell Automotive is the Diesel Tune Australia (DTA), Tasmanian representative. A diesel tune offers more power, incredible torque and greater economy and is available for most makes of vehicles (Ford, Holden, Isuzu, Jeep, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen)
We can also supply and fit an ‘oil catch can’, and exhaust system upgrades or an HPD intercooler upgrade as an accessory to you tune. Want to know more? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.
We reprogram the vehicle engine control unit (ECU (ECU); more to the point, we optimize the power and torque tune settings in the ECU to make the engine as efficient as possible. This is done by strategically increasing the amount of fuel and turbo boost (air) that is added into the engine when power is required to increase the vehicle’s torque. Additionally, we alter throttle mapping to reduce throttle lag, smooth out flat spots in the power band and increase the vehicles responsiveness.
In most cases we can write directly to the vehicle’s ECU, via the on board diagnostics ports (OBD), in some cases the ECU needs to be removed from the vehicle and set up in a jig to access the required wiring plugs, but for the most part we reprogram the vehicle’s ECU in the same way that your new car dealer uploads software updates to the factory vehicles ECU. This process is called ECU Flash tuning.
We have a set of tuning guideline’s in place that ensures we do not exceed predetermined SAFE air / fuel ratio & boost level parameters, in some cases the air fuel ratio is the same as standard. This guideline is in place to provide you with the safest and most reliable result and instead of chasing a desired power figure, we tune your engine to these SAFE parameters and the increased power is a result of that. The last thing the customer, and us as the provide need, is a break down. Additionally, each car is given a thorough health check on the dyno prior to tuning and as each car is individually tuned on the dyno, the final outcome has been scrutinized and road tested prior to being returned to the customer.
Generally, diesel 4×4’s are bought and employed to do a job, it may be towing a caravan or trailer, carting heavy loads or used as daily transport with the odd trip off-road. Whatever is it, chances are that the vehicle may struggle to do that job in one area or another, maybe the vehicle struggles to pull the van or it uses too much fuel or it has annoying flat spots or a delay in the throttle response, no car is perfect. By reprogramming the vehicles factory ECU, we can iron out those flat spots, increase the vehicle’s torque output and increase the general enjoyment of driving your diesel to get your car closer to perfect and help it to do the job you employed it to do.
A ‘chip’ or ‘module’ is a device that plugs into one or a few of the engines sensors in order to alter the signal either into, or out of, the vehicles ECU, these changes to the signals are basically designed to trick or lie to the vehicle’s ECU to convince it to make changes to engine fueling. In some cases the chip works after the ECU, crudely taking control of fueling and sometimes boost, all the while the ECU is none the wiser and pretty much just along for the ride. Additionally, some chips or modules can sometimes cost 3 times the cost (or more) of reprogramming the vehicle’s ECU because you are purchasing additional hardware, wiring and then you may need to pay to have it installed or sometimes ‘tuned’. As discussed above, an ECU Flash tune reprograms the vehicle’s factory ECU so no tricks or lies are taking place and the ECU is still in total control.
NO! This is where the skill of the Tuner comes into play. Our Tuner personally custom tunes every single car using a ‘Master device’ and it all happens on the dyno where every change can be strictly monitored and tailored for the safest and most effective result.
By re-calibrating the vehicles ECU and strategically increasing fuel and boost, we are in fact making the engine more efficient, the result being extra power and torque across the board. After the tune, the vehicle’s engine will now be making more power and torque than before but with less fuel, at less RPM, with much less throttle position and it can do its intended job much easier. You may have been using 80% throttle to tow the van up the hill, now with 100nm extra torque you may only require 40% throttle to do the same job. Additionally, the harder the vehicle is working to do its job, the more fuel you can expect to save after the tune.
It can, the same way we Flash tuned the vehicle in the first place; we can upload the vehicles standard tune file, and as there is no tuning to be done, in most cases it can be done in under half an hour. In some cases it takes a little longer. Additionally, your new car dealer can also over right the performance tune with a factory tune.
The new car dealer can over write the tune as part of a software upgrade, this happens occasionally but it’s not the end of the world and you have not done your money. All you need to do is return the vehicle to your Diesel Tune dealer for a simple upload of the performance tune. In most cases, there is no cost for this upload but some vehicles require the ECU to be removed from the vehicle or a revised tune to be made based on the new software loaded in by the dealer in which case, a small fee may be required depending on the application. We also offer you to have the vehicle tested back on the dyno to confirm all is well, the cost is $165 for the dyno run.
No vehicle manufacturer is going to be happy about us increasing the power and torque of their warranted car no matter how big or small the gain. In fact, any modification made to your vehicle may affect your manufacturer’s warranty. If in the remote chance a failure was to occur and the dealer could directly find and prove the tune to be the cause, the dealer may decide to deny a warranty claim. However, we tune for safety and reliability as the number 1 priority, so by keeping the tune safe we avoid failures and warranty dealer claims, Additionally, there is very little to give away that a tune has been done, except for the increased power and torque, there are no additional boxes or wiring changes and normal diagnostic scan tools can not pick up that any changes have been made to the program. In some cases it’s entirely invisible.
Servicing continues as per normal. Dealer diagnostic devices still work as before. As per the factory handbook, we recommend dropping service intervals to 10, 000km in vehicles driven in harsh conditions or under constant high load and we always recommend using premium quality engine oil. Refer to your hand book for actual specific manufacturer recommendations.
No other upgrades are generally required, the power and torque figures quoted are made with no other hardware changes unless otherwise stated. The dyno graphs listed should mention other modifications where applicable. Talk to your DTA sales agent for advice on your particular application (i.e. Towing) for recommendations for your vehicle.
Contrary to popular belief, fitment of a high flowing exhaust to most diesel vehicles is not a worthwhile investment, typical gains from fitting even the most expensive exhaust is between 0kw and 5kw measured at the wheels. You may notice better engine response which cannot be verified on a dyno but for the most part the power gain will be minimal.
Contrary to popular belief, fitment of a ‘high flowing’ snorkel to 90% of all diesel vehicles is not a performance upgrade. The longer and the more restrictive path the air has to travel, the less the air will want to travel. A snorkel should only really be considered for water crossing or high dust areas.
We offer a 12 months warranty on our workmanship, we offer a lifetime warranty on the tune and we back all of this up with a 90 day satisfaction guarantee.