Mention chipping a vehicle to most people and the image which their mind most likely conjures up is one of boy-racer types in souped-up hatchbacks terrorising the streets of suburbia and quiet market towns at all hours of day and the night.
But it’s not just this faction of society to whom chipping or, more correctly, installing a power upgrade, appeals, with units commonly offering 10-20% power boosts all with no increase in fuel consumption and potentially, some reduction in fuel use.
Drivers doing a lot of towing are also seeking out power enhancements to improve vehicle performance by offering increased torque at the bottom end and an overall boost in engine power.
So, with that in mind, FW decided to test such a module in an Isuzu Rodeo pick-up, with the help of chipping specialist Steinbauer. With the unit fitted and ready to roll, we set about the relatively simple task of testing the unit, ie driving the vehicle.
Having owned the 2.5litre Rodeo for 18 months and covered some 55,000 miles in that time, I’ve become used to its standard power levels and have generall been relatively happy with its performance, but there is one area where it can sometimes be found lacking: Towing.
Largely used for covering vast motorway miles, this particular pickup is my main mode of transport. But alongside its role as a commuting tool, a significant amount of mileage is spent hooked up to a 12ft Ifor Williams livestock trailer often containing a double-decked load of sheep, so the merits of chipping were certainly appealing.
And, the chip certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to providing the extra torque and power promised. Just a few miles travelled with the trailer attached demonstrated the improved towing ability available. Usually, when well laden, dropping down a gear on motorway inclines had been a regular event, with the usual increase in fuel consumption such regular gear shifting brings with it.
However, with the Steinbauer unit fitted, range-dropping losses in power were noticeably absent. All but the most severe of inclines were handled in top gear and at relatively constant speed. And most interestingly, fuel consumption improved with about a 2mpg gain in efficiency.
When it came to standard driving, its suffice to say the improvement in power was noticeable and for anyone covering a high mileage on dual carriageway or other “A” roads the power boost available when overtaking is definitely one significant improvement anyone will appreciate. The overall increase in power and torque can be felt even when driving moderately and it’s all too easy to use the extra kick available.
And, most importantly, the use of this extra power doesn’t result in wallet-busting trips to the forecort. Overall, average fuel consumption with the unit fitted was remarkably similar to without it, with pre-chipped fuel consumption averaging 30.2mpg and post-chipping consumption levelling out at 30.4mpg under normal driving. But there is no doubt that under conservative driving, extra improvements in fuel consumption would be possible – the trouble is avoiding the temptation to use all the power available to you.