How to Install a Performance Chip

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How to Install a Performance Chip

Buyers searching for a way to increase their control over their car should consider the benefits of a performance chip. This modification has continued to grow in popularity within the car industry because it allows buyers to replace their vehicle's existing chip with a modified compatible version that enhances engine power, fuel economy, and acceleration. When connected to a car, the performance chip is able to detect the engine control module (ECU) settings automatically and adjust them accordingly.

There are various types of performance chips available that are designed for either permanent or temporary placement. Each type is tailored specifically to a car's make, model, and engine type. When searching for performance chips at retailers such as eBay, buyers should consider the different types, understand the various systems that this electronic device controls, familiarise themselves with the advantages and disadvantages of installation, and learn how to install them in a car.

Types of Performance Chips

The best type of performance chip depends on the type of modifications required for the car. In general, there are two types of performance chips: control modules and power programmers. Each type differs in the amount of performance customisation that it allows the driver to control.

Control Modules

Control modules are installed permanently into a car's electrical system, which is located under the bonnet. The performance chip is placed between the car's sensors and ECU, allowing it to modify information that increases the car's power as signals are sent from one component to another. The car's ECU is then able to change the air-to-fuel ratio of the engine, spark timing, or other critical functions, thereby increasing the car's performance.

Power Programmers

Unlike control modules, power programmers are only designed for temporary installation into a car's electrical system. However, they are similar to their control modules; the power programmer intercepts information as it is sent from the vehicle's sensors to its ECU. In order to operate this performance chip, drivers are required to plug the power programmer unit into the OBD-II port. This port is located under the dashboard of most newer car models.

The power programmer unit comes equipped with a screen that prompts drivers to answer a series of questions directly related to the type of performance changes they want. Drivers are also asked to input the type of fuel that they use in the car, as well as their particular driving practices in order to achieve the correct adjustments to the car's system. Once equipped with this information, the power programmer is able to modify information as it is transferred from the car's sensors to the ECU.

Systems That a Performance Chip Controls

Performance chips control many different car systems, including air-to-fuel ratio, ignition timing, calibration, speed limit, and RPM or rev limit. Choosing the most appropriate performance chip depends on which systems are to be controlled.

Car Systems


Air-to-fuel ratio

Engine generates power through a process called combustion

Two essential ingredients in combustion are oxygen and fuel

Ratio of air to fuel is controlled by the car's onboard computer

Factory settings are not tuned to the optimal level

Performance chip mixes oxygen and fuel to improve performance across the RPM range, as well as to decrease detonation problems

Ignition timing

Correct ignition timing boosts the engine's power output and efficiency to maximise horsepower

Performance chip sets the ignition timing to its optimum levels, improving onboard computer controls


Onboard computer must be reprogrammed to account for the changes in the speedometer and odometer readings, as well as the shift points if manufacturer tyre size or level of grip has been changed or if the rear end gear ratio has been modified

Speed limiter

Car's maximum momentum is determined by the tyre type

Different tyres are crafted to handle different top speeds

Car's onboard computer is pre-programmed to limit how fast it can go based on the original equipment manufacturer tyres

Buyers must re-tune the onboard computer to raise or lower the speed limited for their new tyres

Retuning can be accomplished with all power programmers and a few control modules

RPM/Rev limiter

Performance chip safely pushes the limits of the rev limiter, extending the power range and keeping the driver in the perfect horsepower range

Allows drivers to accelerate rapidly

In order to determine a tyre's speed rating, or maximum safe speed, buyers should examine the characters on the sidewall of the tyre. The last letter corresponds to the speed rating. "Q" indicates that the tyres maximum safe speed in 100 mph, while "Z" indicates that the car can accelerate safely at speeds greater than 149 mph. Without the addition of a performance chip, modifications to a car's tyres or exhaust system are limited when it comes to reaching their full potential.

Advantages of Performance Chips

There are many advantages to installing a performance chip. Not only does it optimise the fuel ratio or timing of the ignition, but it can also correct inconsistencies in the car's air-to-fuel ratio, which protects the vehicle from damage. By lowering the amount of power an engine generates during combustion, less fuel is burned while driving, thereby increasing the car's fuel efficiency.

Disadvantages of Performance Chips

Although performance chips enhance a car's performance greatly, if installed they may void the manufacturer's warranty. This is because the area used when installing performance chips, the ECU, is sensitive and any disruption can result in engine failure. In addition, performance chips are known for increasing emissions and causing pollution.

When searching for a performance chip, buyers should ensure compatibility between the chip and the type of car because the devices are manufactured to match the settings on a particular vehicle's ECU; a performance chip made for a BMW is unlikely to be compatible with one made for a Fiat. Therefore, it is important to identify the make, model, and year of the car. If the brand of modification is not directly compatible, there may be problems when installing the device.

Installing a Performance Chip

Performance chips are installed directly into the dashboard of a car. Buyers should begin the installation process by opening the glove compartment and removing the screws that hold the panel in place. This allows access to the ECU box. Locate the original equipment manufacturer chip and replace it with the upgraded performance chip.

Performance chips that are designed to upgrade the car may need to be installed through a direct modification of the ECU box and engine. In this case, buyers should lift the bonnet and plug in the fuel injection adjustor chip to the engine before connecting the programmer plug-in chip to the wiring harness of the car.

When installing a performance chip, buyers must not bend any of the pins that connect the chip. Buyers should also avoid touching any of the connections as natural body oils may interfere with the signal that travels between the components.

Buying a Performance Chip on eBay

Buying a performance chip online offers buyers a wide variety of choice in any price range to meet any budget. Buyers can search for performance chips by using eBay's keyword search. Buyers are free to enter any related key terms such as "performance chip". This is likely to result in a large number of listings. For more limited search results, buyers should type in more specific key terms, such as the type of performance chip: control module or power programmer; or the make and model of the car. Alternatively, use eBay's advanced search function. This allows buyers to limit their search by price. Read the item description carefully and look at the pictures before committing to a purchase.

Top-Rated Sellers

Buyers can also limit results to items sold by Top-rated sellers. Top-rated sellers are recognised by the eBay community for their high levels of customer service and excellent products. These sellers receive consistently positive feedback ratings, which are left by past buyers.

Item Condition

Sellers must use standard terminology to describe the condition of their items, as outlined in eBay's guidelines. Each listing should include a brief definition of the item's condition in the Item Specifics section.


For the ultimate vehicle enhancement, buyers should consider investing in a performance chip. Not only do these devices increase fuel efficiency, they also enhance engine power and acceleration. When searching for performance chips, buyers should bear in mind the make, model, year, and engine type of the car as this ensures the device purchased is compatible. Buyers should also consider what type of car modifications they intend to make. While control modules are permanently installed, power programmers are installed only temporarily, but allow for greater versatility.

In order to get the most out of a performance chip and to avoid damage to the vehicle, buyers should understand how to install the electronic device properly. The process is quite straightforward and requires minimal mechanical knowledge. Buyers must simply remove the dashboard and replace the factory set chip with the performance chip. eBay offers a wide array of performance chips, designed to fit the needs and budget of any driver.

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