A guide to car engine remapping

Remapping is an increasingly popular way to boost your car engine’s power and performance. But what is it, how much does it cost and will it affect your car insurance? 

Read our guide to car engine remapping and decide whether or not it’s worth it. 

Remapping is an increasingly popular way to boost your car engine’s power and performance. But what is it, how much does it cost and will it affect your car insurance? 

Read our guide to car engine remapping and decide whether or not it’s worth it. 

Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Last Updated 22 MARCH 2022

What is car engine remapping?

Remapping a car – also known as ‘chipping’ – is a quick and fairly cost-effective process that involves adjusting the programming on the microchip in your car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) to overwrite the manufacturer’s factory settings. This allows your car to function at its full potential. 

The ECU is essentially a computer in your car that controls the power of your engine. In the past (on cars made before 2000), the ECU chip could be manually removed, retuned and replaced – typically through soldering. But on modern cars, the new tune can be done by connecting a laptop to the car’s on-board diagnostics port via a special cable. 

When a car is manufactured, the ECU software settings are typically programmed to limit its performance capabilities. Manufacturers do this for a few reasons. One is to comply with regulations, regarding things like noise and emissions. Another is to lengthen the car’s life – by adapting the software to your country’s particular climate, terrain and fuel quality, your car is likely to last longer. Limiting the ECU capabilities also means that the manufacturer can release a faster, more powerful model at a later date without having to redesign the engine. 

Remapping the software and fine-tuning the engine can increase a car’s power and torque output, and maximise its overall performance by as much as 35%. 

We strongly recommend that you only let a qualified specialist remap your car, otherwise you risk damaging the engine. The procedure only takes about half an hour and, if done properly, you should notice an improvement in performance almost immediately. 

What are the benefits of car engine remapping?

The obvious benefit, and the main reason drivers get their engine remapped, is to boost a car’s speed and power. But car engine remapping can also bring other positives. 

  • Better fuel economy. If you go easy on the accelerator, remapping could help to increase your car’s mile per gallon (mpg) and overall fuel economy by optimising how much fuel is burned. You could save money and reduce your carbon footprint. 
  • Better control and driveability. With an enhanced throttle and engine response, your car may feel smoother and easier to drive. 
  • Easier towing. If you use your vehicle to tow a heavy trailer or caravan, remapping will give it extra power, so it won’t have to work so hard when climbing or accelerating. 

What are the disadvantages of car engine remapping?

  • Only turbo-powered engines will fully benefit from a simple engine remapping. If your car is a non-turbo petrol model, it’s unlikely you’ll notice much difference in brake horsepower (bhp) from a remap alone. 
  • Greater power can also mean more strain on the engine. Be prepared to have your car serviced more frequently as major components, such as the clutch, may suffer greater wear and tear. 
  • Once your car’s been remapped you may need to buy higher octane fuel, which is usually more expensive. 
  • If you get a remap that isn’t approved by the manufacturer or approved dealership, it may invalidate your car warranty
  • Remapping your vehicle could have an impact on your car insurance. In fact, some insurance providers won’t cover remapped vehicles at all. 

How much does car engine remapping cost?

The cost of remapping your car will likely depend on the make and model. But you can expect to pay somewhere between £200 and £400.

Do I need to tell my insurance provider if my car engine is remapped?

Yes, you need to tell your insurance provider if your car engine has been remapped. In car insurance terms, remapping or chipping is considered a car modification, even if it’s one you can’t actually see. If you don’t inform your insurance provider, it could invalidate your policy

Car engine remapping could mean an increase in the cost of your car insurance premium. And, even though remapping is increasingly common, there are some insurance providers who won’t cover your car if it’s been chipped. 

Where can I compare car insurance for a remapped car?

Start a quote with us and we’ll provide you with a list of insurance providers that may offer insurance for a remapped car. 

If your car has been remapped, remember to notify the insurance provider before you buy a policy as it’s possible you’ll need specialist modified vehicle insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I get my car engine remapped?

Plenty of local garages offer remapping as a service – some will even come out to you. But it’s important you do your research and go with an authorised company. Some less-reputable outfits may get rid of your car’s emission-limiting software altogether, which is illegal and means your car will fail its MOT.

Will my car fail its MOT if it’s been remapped?

There are stories of remapped cars flunking their MOT because they failed the emissions test. But as long as your remap is carried out by a reputable firm, this shouldn’t be an issue. 

Is remapping bad for your engine?

Once again, as long as you use a reputable company, your engine shouldn’t experience any damage.

Can you get any car remapped?

Not all cars can be remapped. Older models – typically those manufactured pre-2000 – may need their chips physically modified (which involves removal and soldering), rather than a simple software update or remap. 

The cars most commonly remapped tend to be those with turbo diesel engines. These are the models that will see the biggest improvement for relatively little cost. You’re best off calling a specialist and asking what the benefits are for your particular make and model.

Will my car be less fuel-efficient if I get it remapped?

If you use it properly, your car may end up being more fuel-efficient. The danger comes when you find yourself making the most of that new-found power and pushing your foot on the accelerator. That’s when you might find yourself making extra trips to the petrol station.

Looking for a quote?

Compare quotes with us today and see if you can start saving. 

Get a quote
Compare car insurance Get a quote