March 19, 2014 - We are frequently approached by customers who follow the mantra that "a tune is a tune." Frankly, we could not disagree more. There is a reason that many companies can sell their tunes at low prices, as the hours spent on development are very low. For most tuning companies, the process begins with purchasing a flashing tool from a third party. This tools allows for access to the ECU's maps, which control many functions such as boost, timing advance and fuel curves (to name a few). Using this tool, the calibrator will then adjust the factory software to maximize performance, altering the parameters that the tool permits. With this process, there is a large upfront cost to purchase the flashing tool, but after quickly making a few modified files, the calibrator is able to begin recouping on his investment. With the high buy-in cost of such tools, there becomes a need to sell a certain volume of tunes (all of which are essentially at pure profit), making heavily discounted sales all the more enticing. Unfortunately for the consumer, in many cases there is also a rush to produce a sell-able product, resulting in mediocre and underdeveloped software.
Where GIAC's flashing process differs is that instead of purchasing the flashing tool from a third party, they develop it in house. While this takes significantly more time and knowledge to do, it allows for one key advantage: full control over the ECU. While tuners who purchase a flashing tool are limited to the capabilities of that tool, GIAC is able to access any and all maps and in many cases even write their own maps. Further, they are able to go beyond these maps and actually alter the factory code. This allows for features such as on-the-fly program switching (a feature unique to GIAC software).
Another, and perhaps greater, benefit lies in the fact that knowledge of the ECU is much greater given this extensive development process. If you purchase a flashing tool, your knowledge of the ECU and its processes are largely limited to the maps you can access. On the other hand, if you actually develop the means to modify the ECU, you have zero limitations to the depth of your changes. Further, instead of being locked to the abilities of the tool, you can continue to improve your software as you discover new maps and processes within the ECU. The ECU's found in modern European vehicles are so advanced that for every software change, there can be as many as a dozen checks and corrections on it. Without being able to alter these corresponding corrections, you will never be able to make full power. While some tuners find ways around this by feeding false values to the ECU, GIAC chooses to individually map each of these corrections to allow the ECU full resolution over the engine's functions.
Many people tout the idea of "custom tuning", and being able to modify the ECU maps by themselves. While there is some benefit to this, you are still ultimately limited to the capabilities of the tool you are working with. Each tool has a selection of maps that it allows access to, and with the complex architecture of today's ECU's you simply cannot extract 100% potential using only a limited selection of maps. So while you might be able to match the potential of another tuner using a similar tool, you simply cannot make as many changes as someone with unlimited access to the ECU's parameters.
Lastly, you are limited to the OEM files that you receive with the tool. What this means is that your specific vehicle has a unique ECU file. When tuners do not have access to your specific file, they will utilize a file from a similar, yet different, vehicle configuration (say Turbo vs. Turbo S) and essentially force it into your vehicle. The disadvantage of this is that you can lose unique features such as overboost, shift patterns and more, as they are only active in vehicle-specific files. GIAC only uses OEM base files, meaning that the file you receive is in fact a modified version of your specific OEM file, and as such will maintain all the features that your car has from the factory.
Now that you know what the difference is, what benefit is this to you? With the ability to alter infinite (in relative terms) parameters, GIAC is able to offer you a no compromises tune. You can have linear throttle response (even improved over stock), a smooth boost curve, great drivability, added features and optimum power output. Additionally, should you ever have issues with a tune you have the peace of mind knowing that your tuner has the knowledge to fix any issues with the software.
So next time someone tries to tell you that "a tune is a tune", politely let them know that this is not the case.