Can Performance Chips Ruin Your Engine?


Many people wonder whether the performance chips are really worth the investment and what the risks we expose our cars to when they have a performance chip.

Let’s explore this and examine whether performance chips can ruin your engine!

What is a Performance Chip?

First of all, we need to understand how performance chips work and why they are so popular.

When modern car engines are put together by manufacturers, the car’s computer and its chip include parameters such as the fuel to air ratio, the car’s timing, and many others.

Because manufacturers compete harshly among them, but also because they have to adhere to clear regulations, such as emissions, a higher degree of performance is usually left out.

The performance chips are used to adjust and boost these parameters, usually resulting in increased torque and engine power.

Some of them can boost the amount of horsepower by 35, or even more.

How Does a Performance Chip Work?

Your vehicle comes with its own chip that contains a lookup table.

This table is set by the manufacturer and contains information that ‘tells’ your engine how to behave under certain circumstances.

For example, when you drive on the highway at 50 miles per hour, and you quickly accelerate, your car’s computer detects this and asks the chip what to do in this situation.

Your car’s chip examines the lookup table and tells the car’s computer how much gas should be sent to the engine, when to shift the gears for automatic cars, how to change the timing, and many more.

The factory chip has all these parameters in the lookup table dictated by the car’s manufacturers, regarding their own purposes.

This is where a performance chip comes in – it adjusts all of these preset parameters to boost the performance of your engine, disregarding emissions, fuel economy, and other constraints of performance.

Can Performance Chips Ruin Your Engine?

The short answer is that the performance chip cannot ruin your engine if installed properly. The longer version of it is that it does come with some drawbacks.

First of all, when you install a performance chip that disables the emission system on your car, this will result in the failure of the emission test.

This also means that your “check engine” indicator will light up; choosing such a performance chip is most likely illegal and does not bring benefits to any vehicle.

This means that if you are looking for proper tuning of your vehicle and retaining safety conditions, you should seek an experienced professional that can do the tuning on an engine-per-engine basis, not using “universal chips”.

Another aspect you need to consider is that installing a performance chip will most likely void your vehicle’s warranty.

This is because the performance chip alters many parameters regarding the operation of your engine, including ignition timing, fuel values, fuel cut, redline data, and knock correction, among others.

It means that your manufacturer’s safeguards are canceled.


This being said, it is important to ensure proper vehicle maintenance and seek professional and high-quality performance chips.

Once you understand these risks and these benefits of performance chips, you are bound to enjoy a smoother and considerably more enjoyable ride, if you decide to tune up your car by installing a performance chip.

Image Credit: Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

About Daniel Smith

I'm Daniel. I’m a mechanical engineer by day and a Harley enthusiast by night. There is nothing better than the feeling of riding down the open road with my family and friends, especially on long road trips! I'm the guy who always has a spare wrench in his truck. I love to tinker with things and can't resist taking something apart or putting it back together again.