“110 CV Golf can go to 200 CV in a few minutes”: reprogram its engine, is that really legal?

Using this technique can be tempting at times. Leave your car in the hands of a company in order to gain some horsepower and thus increase its power. But is it a legal technology? What do car insurance companies think? Are there risks? decoding.

“Companies, who have a storefront, cheerfully add several horsepower to your engine. A 110 CV Golf can go to 200 CV in a few minutes.” Via the orange button alert us, Arnaud deplores the misuse of certain mechanics.

Arnault is a driving instructor in Wallon Brabant. During his days on the road, he notices dangerous driving behavior. Among them, the obsession with speed. And to reach even crazier speeds, some motorists are reprogramming their car’s engine. “People want more and more powerful cars. They call companies that convert engines which, hypocritically, make you sign a document that says you only enter the track,” Arnaud confirms.

A car’s engine passes through a computer called an engine control unit (ECU). This is a small electronic box that manages the parameters of the engine. Reprogramming an engine means increasing the power of the car. For this, there is no need to replace it, a professional is able to adjust its power by tuning the ECU program.

Exercise strictly supervised

About ten years ago, Arno contacted one of these companies. “I had 90 CV diesel, I went to 140 CV”, He explains. According to him, this reprogramming had no purpose “Ride like an asshole”. “With my car, I had trucking problems. When I was in 5th gear at 90 km/h and hit the brakes to overtake the truck, I had to go back to 4th gear. Then I had to turn off the A/C to get to 5th gear again. was dangerous,” He says. After reprogramming his engine, the problem was resolved. But, according to him, the reasons why motorists order these specialized companies are sometimes subject to criticism.

Arnault in particular deplores the actions of companies that would provide the opportunity for speed drivers to drive at top speeds, endangering the safety of other users. Is this practice legal? What are the conditions that govern it?

In Belgium, car engine reprogramming is strictly supervised. If the operation is not announced to the factory or the authorities, it becomes illegal. Concretely, this reprogramming consists in modifying the original parameters of the computer. This increases the performance of your vehicle.

“It’s a very expensive and time consuming practice when done by car manufacturers.‘, this is what Virginia Lee Puma, spokeswoman for Auto Security believes. Before adding: “The vehicle owner must inform himself in advance at the vehicle manufacturer level to see what is planned in terms of the maximum.”

Commit to announcing changes to your car insurance company

In terms of insurance, reprogramming the engine is not without consequences. “If the engine has been modified prior to the conclusion of the vehicle insurance contract, the insured candidate must state the actual power of the vehicle to be insured. If the modification occurred during the contract, the insured candidate must also notify his insurance company of the change being made, Nefert Degermanci, a spokeswoman for Asoralia, explains.

Depending on the strength gained, the bonus amount is adapted. Because from the insurance company’s point of view, an increase in the engine is equivalent to an aggravation of risk. If there is a prompt, these steps are necessary. “The insurance company can exercise the right of recourse against the insured if he does not declare the strength of his car when concluding his insurance contract. This can be considered as a false declaration and leads to full recourse if this occurs on the total amount of compensation paid to the victims and can reach up to Terminate the contract “says Asoralia.

In AG Insurance, a limit is imposed. “We accept a maximum increase of 20% of the kilowatts listed on the Vehicle Conformity Certificate,” We are informed by its spokesperson, Lawrence Giggs. For an increase of more than 20%, approval of the increase in power by the official representative of the car brand is required. This ensures that other vehicle components can handle the new energy.

If the customer decides to authorize it or not, it does not concern us

The programmer agrees to answer some questions on the condition of anonymity. At his company in Brussels, between 70 and 80% of the engine’s rev stems from the engine reprogramming that was carried out. The audiences are diverse. “Range from someone who bought a truck and realizes it’s hard to drive when loaded, to someone who is passionate about cars, to someone who has bought a small engine and sees that they are having trouble overtaking, and it terrifies them”explains the director.

To perform the reprogramming, the company organizes two passes on an electrical platform: the first before the reprogramming and the second after it. The first clip allows the company to verify that the power of the car corresponds to what was promised by the manufacturer. “If the power output is lower, we think there must be a problem with the motor. In this case, we refuse to program”, The director explains. Where possible, reprogramming will remain limited: “We’re not going to be looking for the last horse. If we go too far in the settings, some components are malfunctioning.”

Then she thinks that motorists use her does not mean this company. “We provide a service. If the customer decides to authorize it or not, it is none of our business. We advise, that is all (…) The problem is not the tool but the person who uses it. He uses it and his way of driving”, Director says. According to him, increasing the power of his engine is no more dangerous than driving some large cars.

for vebiac, ‘We take great risks’

The Belgian Automobile and Bicycle Federation of Vibiac says it is completely against the practice, which director of communications Gabriel Jovoy considers “unethical”. Because concretely, when a manufacturer puts a car on the market, it guarantees its compliance. It is marketed with a specific strength mentioned on the Vehicle Conformity Certificate. “When we make changes to the settings, the car is no longer compatible with the factory settings. We take a huge risk”Gabriel Jovoy explains.

In the event of a technical inspection or replacement of the vehicle, the manufacturer’s warranty is no longer covered. According to Vebiak, motorists who use this technology are at risk “Not only their own safety but also the safety of other road users.”

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