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In an effort to reduce emissions, increase drivability and/or prolong the life of the engine, most automakers spend an exhaustive amount of time balancing performance and usability on the factory engine computer. Before jumping headlong into modifications, one of the more effective ways of boosting output, particularly on turbocharged engines, is to have a reputable shop perform a reflash on the factory ECU or to install a piggyback computer to eek out any extra power left on the table by the OEM.

Naturally, tweaking some of these parameters may bring an otherwise law-abiding engine out sync with local regulations and this fact has garnered the attention of German authorities.

[Source: MotorAuthority]

Since these systems are difficult to detect, even by trained technicians, the General German Automobile Association (GGAA) has enacted a new law that requires any firm that changes an engine's computer to have the modifications certified is seeking to educate and enforce both the public and aftermarket tuners on the legality of ECU tweaks. If an engine's computer has had its parameters changed, and brought out of compliance, the vehicle can have its operating permit revoked. Additionally, the GGAA is requiring owners of vehicles with ECU modifications to inform their insurance companies, and there's little doubt that these owners will see a significant increase in their premiums.

We're all for responsible tuning practices, but anytime government agencies get involved, both annoyance and expense is bound to follow (we're looking at you CARB).


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      OH PLEASE.... eventhough in Europe there are a lot more turbocharged (turbodiesel) cars, what percetage of these cars have actually a reflashed ECU or a biggyback and seriously, in what percent does that contribute to the overall air pollution?

      There are so many industries (pharma, heavy transport, countless manufacturing) that are still unregulated, people should get off cars and jump on those.

      This GGAA just sounds like they want to get paid by the after-market industry in order to put their sticker on it. BS.
      • 7 Years Ago
      #4 a modded car still needs to pass emission testing every two years.

      So you simply reflash it back to the stock settings, do the test, drive home and reflash back to the performance tune.

      That's what hand held tuners are for! Tuners for the new Mustang can hold three customs tunes plus a back-up of the stock tune.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm with nagmashot on this one, doesn't make any sense. I'd like to see the original source, if there is one it must have been severely mangled.
      - WTF ist the "GGAA" supposed to be? Nothing I've ever heard of.
      - If you mod your car it needs to be approved or it would be illegal already to drive it on the street
      - a modded car still needs to pass emission testing every two years
      - if you increase power of your vehicle, you already must report it to your insurance company (or you'll violate your contract with them)
      • 7 Years Ago
      What the ignorant greens of the world do not understand, is most modified vehicles run cleaner than those in stock trim. Of course these brain dead morons have zero commonsense, and will believe anything the media says about the Environment.
      • 7 Years Ago
      #10 - You're a joke.

      I find it amazing how often posts on this website meant to bash those of us on the left, usually little gems like “brain dead” and “morons”, appear to be typed by people who would greatly benefit from some time spent in a literacy program.

      If you have data proving that tuned cars are actually cleaner than OEM, I'd love to see it. On the other hand, I agree that a proper ECU tune doesn't exactly turn one's car into a mobile EPA Super Fund site, either. Generally speaking, when an ECU is re-mapped, the performance gains are exponentially greater as the RPM’s rise. The result is a car that likely emits no more/no less pollutants at idle or during regular driving, but that likely emits slightly higher pollutants higher in the rev range or at WOT.

      My last two cars have been tuned, high-performance turbocharged cars (a highly tuned Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX and a 2001 Audi S4 I chipped right after it’s break-in period), I know that I’ve never had a problem at emission test time.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ok, found it. It's a press release from the ADAC allright, however they're not pushing for (or even passing, lol) a new law. It's simply an explanation of the current legal situation in Germany.

      http://www.pressrelations.de/new/standard/result_main.cfm?aktion=jour_pm&r=275104
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wonder how the TUeV is going to check whether a turbodiesel is chipped or not, if the chips are "stealth", as mentioned in the article...
      • 7 Years Ago
      The article is correct,General German Automobile Association translates to Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club.

      Do some research before posting ridiculous comments FFS.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah I like how they do this under the guise of emisions. PLEASE! They are doing it because the extra performance reduces part life prematurely and they wind up having to replace warranty parts of ECU tuned vehicles because they can't detect the modified programs to void the poor owners warranty.

      The emissions argument is an excuse. Even here in the USA where there are probably more cars than anywhere on Earth only 14% of the greenhouse gases our country makes come from auto's. FOURTEEN PERCENT. You think tuning an ECU on 0.0001% of all cars is going to make that big of an impact?

      I CALL BULLSHIT!
      • 7 Years Ago
      The ADAC is a car owner club with over 15million members, this Club can´t make any laws and this club can´t controll anything. they are the protector of the unlimited speed on the Autobahn, their main goal is their fleet of yello angels (Gelbe Engel) rolling workshops that patrol the Autobahn to help drivers with technical problems. Second goal of the ADAC is medical transport, car technic and safty testing and most important their reliabilty statistic based on their knowlege of real car brake downs (2.9million a year).

      #3 the USA is the biggest single car market but it isn´t so big... in the major Europen (UK/Italy/France/Germany/Spain) nations are as much cars registered as in the USA.
      • 7 Years Ago
      hmmm that is nothing new... and what the heck is GGAA
      I am German and never heard of GGAA... In Germany laws can ONLY be done by the government and no other organisation.
      For vehicles we have in Germany the STVZO Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung in this law book everything is regulated that allows the street use of cars and what changes at a car are allowed.
      Since ECU tuning exist you are only allowed to use it LEGAL if it is TÜV certified (TÜV is a the government organisation that controll ALL registered cars regulary for use safty and emission limits) A new car has to go the the TÜV after 3 years the first time after that every two years. ALL changes at a car that change the perfromance (other tires rim size, exhust, engine tuning, suspension brake tuning) has to be checked by a TÜV engineer if correct installed and if STVZO ruels are not broken like emission limits noise limits etc..all changes are written down in the car papers..
      If you do a ECU tuning your car is forced to run under the same strict emission limits as in stock conditions! That rule is as old as ECU tuning is...
      Nothing has changend there...
      If you do a illegal ECU tuning your car is illegal for street use, you lose your insurance in a accident etc..
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree with #12. the whole 'anti green" people are those that think they know it all and don't. I'm not a hippy, but it's the 21st frikkin century.. time to move on from emissions spewing gas guzzlers and get on with our evolution instead of clinging to the past. It's the same ignorance as #10s that is the reason as a society and country we're so behind the rest of the world. Time to get real and get your heads out of your behinds. I love muscle cars as much as the next guy.. I lust after Vipers and Vettes.. cars that would tear up the pavement trying to luanch and would blow anything away. But I also know the difference between reality and fantasy.. when gas hits $15+ a gallon, don't be bitching about it when the 'greens' have cars that don't need it and you're riding around in an old p.o.s.