Should you buy a used car that's gone through different stages of car tuning?
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Thinking of buying a used car in Singapore? Exercise caution if it's been tuned before. While it may sound cool and sporty, there are some considerations you'll need to factor in the decision-making process.

Category: Car Buying Advice

To buy or not to buy a tuned used car?

Unless you know how and what the used car is tuned to, it is best to stay away from tuned cars. After all, they were tuned to their past owners' driving styles, needs, and requirements.

If you are aware of how and what the used car is tuned to, by all means, do purchase it and have fun driving it! But, if you have no idea what tuning means and what it can do to your car, read on!
Flash/Chip tuning

Certain cars require its physical ECU to be removed entirely and its ECU board connected directly to the computer to be tuned instead
Have you ever heard of stage 1, 2 or 3 tunings? If you did, this is what the aforementioned refers to.

Flash tuning is the conventional tuning method achieved by connecting a computer to a car's Electronic Control Unit (ECU), usually through the OBD port located below the steering wheel. The computer then overwrites the existing software or 'tune' on the ECU with a new one, otherwise known as remapping.

Here is a general summary of what each tuning stage consist of:

Stage General description
Stage 1 (Remap + fully stock components) Stage 1 remap optimises performance within the limits of the car's stock components.

Turbocharged cars receive more significant gains as compared to non-turbocharged cars. A 20% to 40% increase in bhp and torque is an ordinary occurrence for turbocharged cars.
Stage 2 (Stage 1 mods + remap + performance intercooler + aftermarket exhaust + aftermarket induction kit) Stage 2 modification gives the car better performance due to the improved airflow to its engine.

This stage is also where the car's sound gets exciting (Eg. Pops and bangs).
Stage 3 (Stage 1 & 2 mods + remap + hybrid turbocharger + forged engine) Stage 3 modification is for tracking purposes, where the car reaches its peak performance.

Due to its aggressiveness, staged 3 tuned cars are usually not recommended for daily road use. Also, stage 3 modified cars tend to require regular overhauls and servicing.
Throttle control

The most ironic part of throttle control is that to achieve 'enhanced performance', your components in the car might deteriorate faster
Throttle control is not equivalent to tuning. It merely alters the values transmitted to the ECU from various sensors located in the car. As such, when the ECU attempts to compensate for the altered values of the engine (for optimal engine performance), it produces more power. This overcompensation is interpreted as a 'tuning gain'.

This is a common method adopted by most drivers as it is cheaper and completely reversible to stock performance since it is a 'plug-and-play' modification. Furthermore, these 'plug-and-play' modifications do not void your car's warranty.

If you are looking to sell your car or head down for servicing, all you need to do is unplug the throttle controller, and the car is back to stock - Perfect for retaining your warranty and your car resale value.

Ask your preferred dealer for sgCarMart Warranty
Remember to ask your dealer to include the warranty before you commit to the car purchase!

Standalone ECU tuning

Standalone ECU tuning gives you the benefits of flash/chip tuning that is completely reversible by simply uninstalling it
This method refers to substituting the current ECU of the car for a standalone ECU that performs like the stock ECU.

This method of tuning does come with added performance potential but, it depends on the quality of the standalone ECU as well.

In other words, standalone ECU tuning is like conventional tuning, with the convenience of a throttle controller.
To put it simply, tuning aims to increase a car's engine power output, which improves its performance.

Tuning can come in either a customised tune or a general 'off-the-shelf' tune and we've talked about the three most prominent tuning methods available - flash tuning (chip tuning), throttle controller, and standalone ECU tuning.
View the full list of used cars on sgCarMart to find a car that suits your tuning (or no tuning) needs, wants and budget!

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