What is ECM Tuning for Cummins Engines?

What is Tuning for Cummins ECM Vehicles?



Did you know that a gain of just 1 mpg could save you up to $12,000 a year?

With the average price of diesel now almost $3.00 a gallon, a tractor truck doesn't need to drive far to realize significant savings. In a fleet of 10 trucks, the fuel savings are more than $125,000 a year.

The first fuel consumption and pollution standards for heavy-duty diesel vehicles were adopted in the US in September 2011. The regulations cover vehicle model years 2014-2018. It applies to all vehicles on the road rated GVW>=8,500 lbs.

The rules had a huge impact on tractor trucks with the highest fuel consumption. Improvements in fuel efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions were mandated. An overall cut of between 6% and 23% reduction in fuel consumption from a 2010 baseline was required by 2017.

The engine control module (ECM) for vehicles is the brain behind fuel efficiency and performance. Minute adjustments to your Cummins ECM for performance or fuel efficiency are part of the regular maintenance. Read on to learn more.

New Regulations Voluntary in 2014, Full Effect in 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate that the regulations will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons. This will save approximately 500 million barrels of oil over the life of vehicles sold during 2014 to 2018. Truckers benefit with an estimated $35 billion in cost avoidance, or $41 billion in net benefits when societal benefits are included.

Further improvements in performance and fuel efficiency are encouraged.

Cummins ECM for Fuel Efficiency and Performance

Adjusting your engine performance to the conditions can frequently reduce your fuel costs 5% or more. Fine-tuning the software parameters that control the fuel management system attached to your Cummins engine can result in huge efficiency gains.

ECM tuning results in greater power, a more responsive engine, and reduced fuel consumption. Fine-tuning your ECM reduces maintenance costs. It helps your engine run cleaner and last longer. Tuned ECM components can increase your truck's power output by taking in more air and mixing it at the right proportion.

This optimum air-fuel ratio contributes to powering the truck forward. This results in higher fuel economy values. Your ECM can be tuned to govern the truck speed as well. By limiting the maximum engine and vehicle speed, you can improve truck performance drastically. A truck cruising at 55 mph is 20% more fuel efficient than one moving at 75 mph.

With the virtually complete combustion of fuel and air in the diesel engine, greenhouse gases are greatly reduced. The stringent federal and local guidelines for emissions are no problem with the correct diesel ECM tuning.

Diesel ECM Tuning- Replace or Re-Map?

To bring your Cummins engine to optimum performance, you could go through the process of replacing your existing software with a one-size-fits-all solution to improve engine performance over factory pre-sets. There are several choices of tuners offered.

You could go with the old-fashioned in-line tuner. These change the signal of a particular input to fool the computer. Unfortunately, these do not work with many models of modern ECM. Their effect is minimal.

"Canned" tuners offer a series of pre-programmed settings. These can offer performance upgrades, but are much less effective for heavily modified vehicles. Each of these off-the-shelf solutions offers some improvement.

A good parallel is reading glasses from your local pharmacy. The glasses come in standard prescriptions and can improve your reading vision, but they aren't exact and aren't adaptable to different conditions.

The better choice requires an experienced, professional technician to run your engine through a dynamometer several times, fine-tuning to the exact parameters of your engine. This method is more expensive but offers greater reliability in improved fuel efficiency and emissions control. Adjustment at different stages of horsepower matches your driving style, application, and custom engine performance upgrades.

Proceed with Caution

Flashing your chip and replacing the software is not a do-it-yourself exercise. Your ECM doesn't just control the engine. A tractor truck ECM controls the throttle. It has sensors to monitor coolant temperature, voltage regulator, fuel injectors and more. It also records all of the sensor readings for a fixed amount of time to help technicians make adjustments.

Your ECM is connected via sensors to your air brake system. In the event of an accident, the investigators will collect information from your ECM about throttle position, braking, and engine speed. With interconnected systems like this, it makes little sense to use off the shelf solutions. Each engine and driver will be completely different.

Some Cummins ECM units are protected by anti-tuning measures. Aftermarket tuning may void warranties. Any software change you make may leave a trace.

Choose the Right Technician

Your Cummins diesel ECM performance can be improved up to 20% from factory presets with the right software and sensor adjustments. Look for a technician with specific experience in your engine and education in your ECM. Most manufacturers offer courses on chip-tuning for their particular software.

Be wary of technicians with lots of course certificates and no experience. Some tuning education is online only and has no hands-on component! The best training is work with real-life situations and driving patterns. There are specific combinations for performance, fuel economy and durability.

These priorities may be mutually exclusive in some cases. An experienced technician will take the time to understand your priorities for performance and fuel economy based on your typical driving habits.

For example, outside the US, high sulfur diesel fuel is common. Trucks attempting to run with their factory-installed ECM programming will soon fail or end up in "limp" mode due to soot buildup. To get around these codes requires knowledge of the problem and ability to formulate a solution based on the altitude, terrain and driving habits. Try that with an off-the-shelf program!

Fine-Tune for Efficiency and Power

Your Cummins ECM is a vital part of your engine. Protect engine durability and invest in its performance and fuel efficiency with the right combination of adjustments. Keep reading this blog for more information or contact us today.

Posted On: 17/05/2018

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