The 3 stages of remaps

"Remapping & engine mod stages explained"

Please bear in mind that tuning stages are purely arbitrary and each tuner will usually have their own take on what a stage represents.

Usually they just mean level instead of stage, and some companies offer up to 5 or 6 stages or levels of tune.

We wish people would stop using stage to describe a tuning option or plan but while they do we'll define here what we mean and expect when we talk about the term.

We get asked so much about this that we wanted to spell out what we mean and most car modders mean when talking about stage 1, 2 or 3 remaps and mods.


Typical stage 1 remaps

These are for standard cars or cars with just one or small factor modifications. Power gains are usually around 15% percent on NASP engines and 30% on turbocharged engines. Diesel remaps nearly always produce more economy at these low levels of tune.

Most start at Stage 1 & quickly progress to stage 2. We recommend you go straight in at stage 2!

Aims of stage 1 tuning maps

Keeping the car within manufacturer tolerances but optimizing it for driver preferences and extracting the very best from a stock OEM setup in good condition.

Typical stage 2 remaps

Pushing the performance envelope further with less regard and concern for daily running costs. You will need a few modifications to support a stage 2 map. Exhaust and intake are commonly upgraded but turbos should also be switched to better units. Components like turbos and gearboxes will often start to fail earlier but this depends much on your driving style. Short bursts of performance will do no harm. Constantly driving on the redline will dramatically accelerate engine wear.

Power gains are only a little more than stage one, perhaps 20% on NASP engines and 40% on turbocharged engines. The real gain is that power comes on much lower down in the rev range and you have a longer power band to play with. (again this depends on the car setup and big turbos can create more lag but in the main stage 2 mods give much more mid range overtaking power.)

Keeping the car drivable in traffic and maintaining reliability are still considerations as is keeping the car legally within emissions and local construction and vehicle usage regulations.

Aims of stage 2 remaps

Fully release the power of all the car mods done so far, maximizing performance but with high regard for reliability. Service intervals will be shorter and consumable items likes clutches, brake pads and tires will need replacing more frequently. The overall life of an engine and gearbox may also be reduced a little but is not a major factor to consider.

Typical stage 3 remaps and modifications.

Pushing the car to it's limits, many parts are uprated and stronger components are used. Engines are stripped out and rebuilt to very precisely machined tolerances. Large turbos, hybrid turbos, better flowing intake and exhaust, stronger crank, pistons and a focus on forged engine parts. For competition use stage 3 maps are a good proposition. Some of our members have car mods that support a stage 3 setup but dial them back to stage 2 map levels for reliability.

Aims of stage 3 remaps

Considered by some to be race maps, they often push engine emissions to nearly or fully into illegal categories. Diesels may smoke more, particulate emissions and filters may be removed or bypassed and in petrol engines CO2 and emissions and catalysts are taken out. You will require some substantial supporting mods for a stage 3 map.

Power gains are pretty much limited only by your budget. We have seen some very impressive stage 3 offerings pushing power levels to over 100% of standard.


Switchable maps

These offer a chance to enjoy a car in all conditions. Few drivers will switch maps every day but most will prefer and economy or performance map for daily driving. When doing a track day the driver can then switch into a stage 3 race map without worrying about emissions, and wear and tear as the car will only be doing short burst of very high performance driving.

  • Hand held flash tuning devices like the JFA automotive touch tune
  • Plug in module with a programmable port or jumper switches (tuning boxes)
  • Built in map switchable via an instrument panel switch (depends much on the car & ECU)
  • Via a laptop through the diagnostic port

It generally takes around 5 minutes to reflash a cars ecu through the diagnostic port and probably a similar amount of time to reset the jumpers and switches on tuning boxes.

We are big fans fo switchable maps but most drivers will find they stick with one map for 99% of the time. A good tuning company with a rolling road can setup your car to perform to your preferences. I like lots of low down torque, and good economy under 2000rpm and then a massive surge in power to the redline. 

This enables me to drive in two modes, economically and sport mode. You need the extra power for overtaking and as you won't be using the upper part of the rev range in daily economical driving there is little point in not having this tuned to stage 2 levels.

Join us in our forums to discuss your tuning options for your specific car, we have a very friendly and helpful community of experienced and seasoned car tuners from around the world. 

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