ECU Remapping Stages Explained
Posted by Nick Cook on
Remap Stages Explained
Remapping software stages were introduced by the big ECU remapping software developers in recent years to help denote the hardware that is required to reach a level of car tuning software and ultimately denote the extra power and torque from the engine remaps.
These days there are commonly three levels of car remapping, known as Stage 1 remap, Stage 2, and Stage 3. Whilst some (mainly us oldies) don't want to embrace it, it's something that tuning companies like ourselves have needed for a very long time.
Helping customers understand exactly what they need in order to achieve a certain power level on the rolling road has now never been easier. It's almost like having a form of remapping calculator to tell you how to remap a car given its level of hardware.
Here’s a simplified explanation of each stage of a remap/tune below.
What is a Stage 1 Remap?
The definition of a Stage 1 remap couldn’t be put more simply than a remap designed to work with fully stock components, taking the ECU parameters to a safe and comfortable level whilst retaining the vehicle's stock exhaust system, intake, airbox, intercooler and catalytic converter.
A Stage 1 remap is a true optimisation of the stock vehicles parameters, unlocking the ECU to release the potential power the manufacture has left on the table. On the whole, this can be done through the vehicle's OBD port.
Stage 1 remaps come with a variety of fuel specifications which will result in a greater power result. For example, a Stage 1 remap with 95Ron fuel sees 300BHP, whilst Stage 1 using 99Ron fuel, such as V Power or Tesco Momentum 99, will see 330BHP.
A stage 1 file will run safely with your stock hardware and can be calibrated for use with multiple different fuels, although it will be important to ensure your ECU software is developed for the specific fuel grade at the time.
In some cases, you will see improved fuel economy once you settle back into your standard driving pattern and the excitement of your increase in power settles down.
If you are interested in a Stage 1 Remap for your VW, BMW or Ford application, then check out our remapping collection.
What is a Stage 2 Remap?
A stage 2 remap requires a certain level of hardware depending on the vehicle. However, there are some basic requirements that we will touch on that could be required as an extra for a stage 2 tuned car on certain models.
A front mount intercooler is something that would be required at this level of tuning due to the increased boost pressure and timing advance by the ECU remap. This, in turn, will create more heat, meaning you will need to upgrade the intercooler to counteract this increase. An upgraded intercooler has a much greater core construction, a larger surface area, and potentially a bigger inlet and outlet from the intercooler.
An aftermarket exhaust system is another key component of a stage 2 remap, and in most cases, a full turbo-back exhaust system is required. This will comprise of a decat or sports cat downpipe, depending on your intended use, coupled with an oversized cat-back exhaust. These will require a remap to stop the trigger of an engine management light.
The pipe diameter of your exhaust system for stage 2 remapping can also be very important, depending on several things such as power expectation, engine displacement, turbocharger, size, and so on. The turbo will also require some back-pressure to operate optimally, however, too much can cause issues, with excessive exhaust gas temperatures which may result in damage to the engine. So be sure to take the advice of your chosen tuning company.
Air Intake Upgrade
It is imperative to feed your turbocharger with well filtered, cold air so the intercooler doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the heated air passing through to the throttle body.
In most cases, the requirement of an aftermarket induction kit, such as an R600 for VW remaps or an ITG Airfilters induction kit, will be the go-to choice. However, for the BMW remap range we have achieved stage 3 figures with the standard BMW airbox, they are surprisingly efficient!
Induction kits are also commonly referred to as stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3, denoting what level is required to match the remap you are aiming for. Induction kits are often mass-produced these days, making them relatively cost-effective, which is good considering they are essential as part of a cooling upgrade ready for a stage 2 remap.
Other addons that may be required (vehicle specific).
An upgraded high-pressure fuel pump offers extra fuel to some of the modern-day direct injection engines require for a stage 2 remap. This means you will either need an Auxiliary fuel setup or an upgraded high-pressure fuel pump, which will keep up with fuel demand due to the consumption and allow for a more aggressive boost strategy.
Some applications, mainly from VW / AUDI group, can benefit massively from an upgraded turbo elbow, turbo muffler delete, and upgraded intake pipe.
What is a Stage 3 Remap?
Stage 3 remaps follow on from the above Stage 2 tuning hardware, coupled with a stage 3 upgraded hybrid turbocharger.
In short, a hybrid turbo is an OEM part that is re-manufactured with bigger internals to produce greater flow and air capacity. This means that car engines will move a greater volume of air and exhaust gas at the same given point of boost pressure as the OEM unit.
This allows the addition of fuel and timing adjustments to push the engine to its safe limits, often making some very serious gains over stock figures.
There are other considerations with stage 3 tuning in different platforms, such as the BMW S55 crank hub fix, and other platforms requiring meth injection but this can often be remapped less aggressively to run without.
Stage 3 can often be used on a stock engine without the requirement of a forged engine; however, it is sometimes limited based on what the engine can handle in its stock form. It is often advised that a forged engine should be used in conjunction with a stage 3 kit to push for the ultimate power result whilst maintaining reliability and longevity.
If you require model specific remap checks please contact one of our advisors who can help with your query.
Need help with a remap?
Our expert technicians are on hand to help, simply get in touch on 01924 228042 or email us at email@example.com
just need a price for stage 2 remap
regards bill taylor
bill taylor on
Hi I have stage 1 remapped Ford Fiesta mk6 1.4 tdci how much more BHP will I get with stage 2
Brian Donovan on
Hi how much would it be for a stage 2 remap on a vauxhall vectra 1.9 cdti 120bhp.with the bigger intercooler
Matthew Thompson on
Hi there, i just want ask whats need to be changed on stage 2 remap on bmw e91 2.0d n57 120kw
I’m looking at stage 2 for my fiesta st180 I currently have a bigger intercooler, induction kit, symposer delete, centre box delete will I just need a sports cat/ decat or will I need the full catback for it to work ?? Many thanks
Joshua Jackson on