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on vidio Which ECU is Right For You? - REFLASHED OEM vs STANDALONE ECU

In today's video we're talking about ECUs and comparing stock OEM ECUs vs aftermarket. We will see the pros and cons of both and we will see what can be achieved with reflashed oem ecus vs standalone ecus and which approach best suits which type of end-user.

What is an ECU? Well ECU stands for ENGINE CONTROL UNIT and it's the key component of every electronically fuel injected vehicle. Sometimes you will also hear the terms ECM or PCM which stand for engine control module or power control module all of these mean the same thing. An ECU is basically a computer that receives inputs from various sensors on the engine which basically tell it how much air is coming into the engine and then based on these inputs the ECU will control the injectors to inject the correct amount of fuel and instruct the ignition coils to fire the spark plug at the correct time with the goal of extracting the maximum efficiency and/or power from the engine. This controlling of injection and ignition is done using what is known as maps. The most important of these are fuel maps and ignition maps.

An OEM ECU is technically not designed to be tampered with. If evidence of tampering with it is found this will obviously void your warranty if you have one and tampering with the OEM ECU obviously risks engine damage. But tampering with anything engine related obviously carries a certain level of engine damage risk, however these risks of tampering with things have never successfully deterred humans from tampering with them...so we tamper.

So how do we even tamper with an OEM ECU? Well, the first step towards this is actually reading what's inside the ECU. Manufacturers are not keen on giving anyone with a laptop easy access to what's inside the ECU, which is why the data in the maps and other features of an OEM ECUs isn't really straightforward to read. But people have encrypted anything and everything and OEM ECUs are no exception. Once the contents of the ECU are encrypted an interface that reads and displays them in a meaningful manner on a pc is created. There are countless different interfaces out there. A few examples are: HP tuners, hondata, ecutek, k-tag, versatuner, etc. Some are open source and free, others must be purchased. All of these interfaces or software packages cover different makes and models and many overlap with each other. Obviously popular vehicle platforms will be better off here and will always have access to more community, aftermarket and software support, whether it be paid or free.
The final step will be acquiring a special USB cable which will connect your vehicle's OBD port to your laptop's USB port and then you will be able to see and modify the MAPS stored inside your ECU.

So this sounds great right? What more could you ask for? What is the purpose of a standalone ECU if re-flashing already let's you modify your stock one?

Well, reflashing, just like anything else has it's limits and depending on your vehicle platform, goal and desires these limitations may make a standalone a ECU much more sensible option.

The reason behind this is that your stock ECU is designed for your specific engine. In contrast to this a standalone ECU is infinitely more flexible. For example the AEM infinity 506 that I'm holding in my hand can run any engine with up to 6 cylinders. It doesn't even care if the engine is two stroke or four stroke, the injectors can be either high impedance or low impedance, the engine can be turbocharged or naturally aspirated, the throttle can be dirve by wire or cable, it can control nitrous, compensate for flex fuel or the amount of ethanol in your fuel, it can control boost based on rpm, vehicle, speed, gear, ethanol content, it can even perform traction control and launch control, it can protect your engine based on coolant temperature, oil pressure, oil temperature, knock, intake air temperature, fuel pressure, air fuel ratios, it can even control stepper motors and log data for your.

But there is a catch. A standalone ECU may be almost infinitely flexible...but as such it is also a blank canvas. When you read the data from your OEM ECU you will have a starting point, a setup that is known to work. A standalone will have no values in its maps unless you type something in. This lack of a starting point and large amount of features and settings my make a standalone ECU seem more intimidating than it really is.
So to better see the pros and cons of both setups let's go through a bunch of typical user scenarios to see which setup shines where and which category of user do you see yourself fitting the best.
 

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