While performance chips can increase an engine's power in certain conditions, drivers should not expect drastic changes. Some chips override manufacturer settings designed to increase the life and efficiency of a car's engine, resulting in higher maintenance costs and poor drivability.
A performance chip upgrade is one of the least time-consuming car upgrades available. These chips are designed to tweak the default settings of a car's engine control unit, or ECU, resulting in more power, better fuel economy or a smoother ride.
While chips from reputable companies do work as advertised, performance improvements are limited by the engine's components. In some cases, the increase in top end power comes at the cost of power in normal driving conditions. Furthermore, the increase in power puts more stress on these components, leading to faster wear and tear. Finally, some chips disable emissions systems to achieve power gains, which may be illegal.