auto performance shop

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The Power of the Unichip (SC400)
People have been using "chips" for years. Many of my friends popped out their stock chips back in the day and put in some after market device that usually gave them 5-10 rwhp at best. That was fine except that the same chip was used for a variety of cars and models. This has the obvious implication that it was not optimized for any specific make or model let alone your physical car. Then the days of the pop-out chip started to fade when companies like GM started using full blown computers that you couldn't remove. So, now you have to re-program the computer or stick on one these great piggy-back computers like the Unichip. I have seen pretty impressive gains from some of the aftermarket tuners with custom reprogramming, but nothing like the gains we saw on this 1996 Lexus SC400 equipped with the Unichip.

When I first looked at the before and after results I could not believe them. I was convinced that something was being done that would either a) kill the emissions or b) kill the engine. So, I decided to do some research on what they actually do. This is not a pop-out and pop-in process. The technician has your car on a dyno and he tweaks all the fuel and timing maps to get the optimum results at any given RPM and whether the car is at idle/cruise or wide open throttle. Usually, they tune the light load conditions for better fuel economy and the heavy load conditions for maximum power. This gives you the boost where you want it when you are pushing the car and allows you to maintain drivability under normal operation. What makes this unique, is that you can actually change the ratios and timing. Usually in the re-programming that I have seen you just make the car use the most aggressive numbers all of the time. With the Unichip you change the numbers to a more optimal setting. For more information, check out the C5 Corvette Performance Center website. They use this system on C5s and they have a nice write up on what they do and how the device works.

As you can see from the graph below, the results are impressive. This car picked up an average 27 RWHP and 27 ft-lbs of RWTQ with the last 500 RPM picking up over 30 and some RPMs picking up almost 40. This is on a stock car with only a k&n air filter. That's what I call a gain.

You can put on an exhaust or and air induction system, but none of those mods alone will give you the power that this unit does. Of course, when you get over the skepticism, it makes sense. Every car is different, even within the same model of the same make. We have all seen two "identical" cars pull different results under the exact same conditions. This computer is programmed specifically for your car. So, you can decide how you want it to behave. This is by far the biggest bang for the buck that I have seen. You can get even better gains when you start to modify your car. The normal curves in your computer are designed for the stock configuration. Some of the techs have told us that they got a 50 RWHP gain on a truck with this device, an air intake, and exhaust. It's amazing what this can do to a stock car. Without changing anything, you can get an additional 30 RWHP out of your vehicle. That makes you wonder why the car didn't come like that. The drivability is unchanged, the emissions are legal, and the car keeps its fuel efficiency in normal driving. What else do you want? The only problem I can think of is bringing the car back for repair to a dealer. The dealer will hook up to the computer and be totally confused as to what is going on, come out and tell you who knows what. Of course, gains like this come at a price, but at a price that is less than some after market exhausts. You can get this done for about $600. Considering an exhaust and air intake can cost you close to $1k and give you 20 RWHP if you are lucky, this is a deal.

Click here to visit the Unichip web site.

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