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ECU Tuning is an essential element for your car to make as much horsepower as possible while remaining reliable.

The cars of today feature more technology than we could've imagined just 15 years ago. From voice-activated navigation to variable valve timing, they're more intricate and convenient than ever.

Remember when base model cars like the Honda Civic VX or CX reflected their sticker price and came with only bare necessities? Not anymore. You'd be hard-pressed to find a dealer selling a new, low-end car that includes manual windows or non-ABS

brakes. As cars continue to be made smarter and more sophisticated with every passing year, the tuning market is forced to play catch up, and aftermarket fuel management systems have become a big part of that game. Over the years, the technologies that manufactures have been integrating in newer vehicles have become an obstacle to the entry-level enthusiast who wants to gain additional horsepower but realizes that his car won't run properly without an aftermarket tune. Many enthusiasts lack ECU tuning skills to accomplish it themselves and ultimately end up paying big money for professional tuning. Cars definitely aren't what they used to be.

Early model pre-OBD and OBD 1-equipped cars of the '80s and '90s were easily outfitted with a slew of aftermarket parts, often including forced induction systems, without a problem—an in-line fuel pump and boost-dependant fuel pressure regulator were the key ingredients in doubling a vehicle's output. Try simulating the same bolt-on performance with current OBD II- or CAN-bus platforms without proper tuning, and we guarantee your car's factory ECU won't be happy with you.

So what's the cost nowadays for engine management units that enable you to modify virtually every aspect of your car's engine, from running methanol injection systems to data logging? Companies like Motec, Pectel, Hondata, AEM, and Cobb Tuning have made great strides in providing consumers with engine management systems for today's newer cars, like the Nissan R35 GT-R that was considered "un-tunable" only a few years back. Engine management prices can range anywhere from $300 to $15,000, and mind you, that doesn't include professional tuning. No one said modifying your car was a cheap hobby, and we all know by now that power never comes without cost. But to overlook something as important as an engine management system is asking for some serious problems. It all boils down to how serious are you about making horsepower.

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