Different manufacturers call it different things. Whether you call it ECM, BCM, PCM, TCM, or something else, they all mean pretty much the same thing. It's your car's computer. Computers hold information that can be changed in a way that affects the performance of the vehicle. You can change just about any part of the vehicle performance from gas mileage to how the transmission shifts.
Of course, the time when you could do these modifications yourself is long past. Now it requires specialized equipment and training. Although the cost varies depending on what you want done, it is very affordable and it's mobile. You don't even have to bring your car to me. I can go to you and do this in your driveway.
Service limited to Ford, GM, and Chrysler.
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This is the monitor used for a dyno run in the shop.
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Another view of the monitor for a dyno run.
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Some classroom facts that are considered for ECM settings.
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Classroom materials in an ECM class.
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Listing of output from a dyno run showing torque generated at various HP.
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These are some of the output data I use on my laptop to check settings in the ECM. HP tuner used mainly for GM vehicles.
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This is the SCT tuner used mainly for Ford vehicles.
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After tuning the car, at the Performance Engineering School, we were able to put it on the dyno to check the changes that were made. This one gave 660 HP at the rear wheels on the dyno jet.