A modern car really cannot function without an ECU, but it is possible to replace it with another one or add a tuning box to regulate it, which is what the ECU vs Piggyback ECU debate is about.

What is ECU?

The ECU is the electronic control unit in a car. It is there to ensure the smooth running of the vehicle, working to ensure control of a wide range of parameters and performance characteristics. It regulates a wide range of functions in the vehicle. If the car is fuel-injected, it will regulate the fuel and air mix, for example.

What helps more to reach your car its full potential - ECU Flash or Piggyback ECU Tuner

Out of the factory, an ECU will be set up in order to offer good fuel efficiency and performance across a wide range of environments and a variety of driving styles. Those seeking to get the full potential from their car have two options.

An ECU flash will replace the existing ECU with a new specially tuned one that will change various settings such as cam belt timings, rev-limitations, the cut-off for fuel, and so forth. It saves the need for mechanical tuning, which can be irreversible as well as expensive.

An ECU flash will, however, tend to be more expensive than a piggyback ECU tuner and occasionally, there can be compatibility problems with sensors leading to various unwanted dashboard lights.

Understanding Piggyback ECU Tuner?

A piggyback ECU tuner is added to the vehicle but leaves the car's original ECU tuner in place, intercepting the signals from the ECU and changing them in various ways to boost performance, fuel consumption and other parameters.

One of the main advantages of the piggyback is that it does not rewrite the car's ECU settings, which remain untouched. It can be removed as easily as it is fitted when resale time comes around. It can be tuned in various ways depending on what you want to improve in your car's performance.

The ease of set-up and tuning is another positive for the piggyback tuner. One downside to the piggyback is that certain cars ECUs are almost impossible to work with in this way, so before going down this road, always seek the advice of a specialist company.

Extra power

For those wanting to extract even more power from their van, there is now a unique tuning kit available that can add an additional 43.3HP and 115 LB-FT of torque.

All in all, the Ford Transit Custom EcoBlue is a reliable and high-quality van with numerous great features. It is understandably one of the most popular UK vans.


Wrapping up

Both systems offer ways to improve the performance of a car. Much will depend on the type of car you have, and specialist advice is very much the way forward. What is ideal for one car may not be for another, and the complexity of various ECU units should never be underestimated. Both systems have insurance implications that should always be checked before proceeding.

These are modification systems, and while the insurance company may or may not charge an extra premium for them, they will need to be informed to keep the car road legal. The piggyback option will, in almost all cases, be the cheaper solution, sometimes less than a third of the cost, but the ECU replacement arguably offers greater scope as to what can be tuned.


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