7 Signs of Bad ECM Tuning (2021)

Identifying early warning signs can be the difference between thousands of dollars in repair and a small maintenance bill. Steps that we've outlined here are almost guaranteed to save your time and money.

There are many potential issues and even catastrophic events that can occur with a bad tune.

Identifying these signs early and reflashing your ECM, or having your program corrected by a professional could save you heartache, downtime, and extensive costs. It is important to note that a Tune will NOT correct existing problems with your unit.

Pre-existing issues should be corrected before tuning your ECM so that problems with the program can be easily identified.

Some of the most common symptoms and problems with a poorly tuned ECM are outlined below.


Many tuners will just “turn up” the power in your engine.

This has the same effect as turning up the burner on your stove. You get more output and you get increased temperatures.

Great if you’re cooking dinner, not so much if it’s under your hood. Heat is the enemy of power, so over time these increased temps will reduce power. Heat also causes components to break down more quickly leading to premature repairs and failures.



With an increase to engine temperatures comes an increase to exhaust temperature.

Your engine and its components were designed to operate within certain parameters.

Tunes that run ‘hot” operate outside of these parameters causing multiple issues, but one of the most common is a melted exhaust manifold or cooked turbo.



Complaints of fuel economy that is worse than before the tune is a good indicator that your engine was simply “turned up” like a burner; like a burner, more power equals more fuel. A balanced program often improves fuel economy due to the higher efficiency of its operating system.



This is often the case when the program is improperly balanced.

A proper program involves many calibrations and tweaks to a variety of operating codes within your engine. An improperly tuned program creates conflict within your engine and makes smooth operation impossible.



A loss of torque after a tune indicates that your engine is in a de-rate state. Your unit has entered a mode of safety where the control module reduces power by a defined percentage. A properly tuned unit will not de-rate.



There are numerous reasons that your tune could reduce power. Just had your engine tuned? Your engine could be in a de-rate mode. Tuned a while ago? Your engine’s efficiency may be affected by carbon build up.

This can affect the injectors so that the engine isn’t getting the optimal mist of fuel. Carbon build up can also clog filters and lines creating inefficiencies. It is common in a poorly tuned unit to experience increased maintenance costs, the necessity for more frequent filter changes, failures, a reduction in power, and increased downtime.



A sure sign of a poor tune is the loss of ability to select different jake stages.

Can’t shift from1 to 2, or 2 to 3? Your tune is the most likely culprit.

Looking To Schedule Service? Get In Touch And We'll Respond Within 24 Hours.

Contact the team to schedule your appointment today

Fill out the form to get in touch with the team—give us details about your vehicle and we'll recommend the best course of action. Or, just leave your name and number and we'll reach out by phone.

Request A Quote
Calendar icon
Fit to your calendar

Adrenaline Diesel has extended service hours to ensure you get the best appointment time possible.

Speeding Clock icon
Fast turnaround

Sourcing parts for complex jobs is our specialty. We always aim for the fastest turnaround possible.