What Is A Gearbox Remap?

What Is A Gearbox Remap?

Modern vehicle manufacturers have been phasing out the ol’ trusty manual gearbox for some time now, with automatic transmissions becoming the norm. Why? Ultimately, they’re more efficient, faster to shift, smoother and easier to drive than a manual. To the average owner, all things that are positives.

There is an argument for a manual box, though. A lot of petrolheads prefer the driver engagement and other features that come with a manual box such as: The ability to clutch kick, easier burnouts and holding a specific gear without it automatically changing up (most autos with a ‘manual mode’ still shift up or down on their own even in manual mode) and a few other things.

Common Modern Gearboxes

The good news is that most modern autos are very clever indeed and give the driver a lot of choice. BMW’s DCT gearbox, for example, is an interesting take on a driver-focussed ‘automatic’. It is in fact an ‘automated manual box’ with dual clutches as opposed to a traditional torque converter found in the ZF boxes that are fitted to VolksWagen Audi Group cars and non-M BMW’s. The DCT gearbox does, on the contrary, allow for true manual, meaning the box won’t automatically upshift at redline. With that said, the DCT is even being phased out now with the G series M cars opting for the well reputed ZF box too.

The ZF boxes are awesome pieces of kit, with torque ratings reported to be over 1000nm (a tuners dream). They shift fast enough for everyday use but are equipped with pesky software that some drivers don’t like.

Torque Limiters

One of the big aspects of gearbox tuning is the ability to remove torque limiters. “What are torque limiters?” I hear you say… Well, inside the TCU (Transmission Control Unit – think of it as the brain of your gearbox), manufacturers often limit the amount of torque allowed and the result of exceeding these limits is that the TCU will request the ECU to back down on things such as boost to keep everything in-line with the set torque limitations.

They do this for a number of reasons including: reducing the chance of wheelspin, improving emissions efficiency and limiting warranty claims on drivetrain components (similar reasons to limiting engine power with the standard manufacturer engine mapping).

The problem, which is seen in a lot of VAG cars and and BMWs, is that if you have your ECU remapped or come to us for a custom tuning session, whilst your engine may be able produce a certain level of torque, due to the limiters in the gearbox software, you won’t actually be putting that power down on the road, meaning you’re missing out on free gains.

XHP cover this topic really well here with the below quote: “Let’s suppose your 335i F30 makes around 450 Nm at crank from factory. With a typical Stage 2 tune you add 150 Nm so get 600 Nm at crank. The transmission used is the 8HP45. 45 stands for the suggested max. Torque -> 450 Nm. The electronic limiter sits at 465 Nm, so just a tad above stock torque level. Your tuner now adjusts the torque calculation, so it never triggers this trans limit. The offset between real world and calculation is 150 Nm, or nearly 30%. This means, your transmission will operate with approx. 30% lower pressures, as it would with adjusted torque limits and proper torque calculation.”

Torque limiters are found in most automatic gearboxes, so if you’re thinking of having your engine tuned, it’s always worthwhile considering remapping the gearbox to get the most out of your car. Pretty much any modern automatic VAG or BMW vehicle will see better results from their vehicle performance when paired with a gearbox tune.

Other Gearbox Tuning Features

One of the reasons that we offer gearbox tuning is to give the driver more choice over the behaviour of their transmission. Below is a list of benefits offered with a gearbox remap:

  • Instant Paddle Response – ZF and other auto gearboxes with paddles tend to have a delay from pressing the paddle to the car changing gear, a gearbox tune reduces this delay
  • Improved Shift Times – The process of changing gears up and down is faster
  • Improved Throttle Blips – Rev-matching featured in most modern gearboxes is improved
  • True Manual Mode – Stop the gearbox from automatically shifting even in ‘manual mode’ with a gearbox tune
  • Improved Shift Points – Hold gears for longer in your sports modes or reduce the length for more efficiency

XHP Gearbox Tuning For BMWs

XHP is the best of the best when it comes to BMW ZF and DCT gearbox tuning. Available for 6, 7 and 8 speed BMW gearboxes. These guys have some fantastic OTS (off the shelf) solutions with various options for each vehicle ranging from stage 1 to stage 4. Each of these OTS features its own blend of optimisations but the software also allows the user to manually edit each and every aspect of the tune very easily.

XHP also offers a few additional features for BMWs such as ‘gear display in all modes’ – rather than just in manual mode on the ZF boxes. It also can add launch control or optimise the existing launch control – a subject they’ve covered here.

XHP can be done on your driveway at home and you can buy the licenses directly from them. You will need a few cables/adaptors and a proper battery stabiliser to do this yourself, however. Not to mention, if something goes wrong, you’re on your own with a potentially bricked TCU and a non-starter.

For value sake, you’re better off having this installed by a professional, with experience in flashing and customising the software. At Phantom Tuning, we offer XHP gearbox tuning for all compatible vehicles from £350 including VAT, however, we offer some chunky discounts if this is purchased with an engine tune.

XHP Gearbox Flash

Gearbox Tuning For Non-BMW Vehicles

We’re also able to offer all of the aforementioned features and benefits to gearboxes fitted to other cars as well, with our in-house gearbox tunes. These have been developed with safety and driver requests in mind. Again, these start from £350 including VAT with discounts available if purchased with an ECU remap.


Do I Need A Gearbox Tune?

In short, no. You will still see the benefits from more power and torque being produced by your engine without it. However, it compliments an engine tune beautifully, allowing you to maximise your gains and also improving general day-to-day driving, sporty driving and overall vehicle enjoyment. We always advise it but it is by no means necessary to have your auto gearbox tuned.

How To Book

If you want to book in your vehicle for a gearbox tune or an XHP tune on its own, right now, the only way to do this is by messaging us on our socials, sending us a message on our contact form or giving us a call on: 01234 480 809.

If you’re booking in an engine remap, you can add a gearbox tune to your booking during the extras process. Please note, if your vehicle doesn’t show an extra for a gearbox tune, it is because we do not offer it for your car.

Over the next month or so, we are building out our booking system to allow people to book JUST a gearbox tune in on its own. We’re also doing the same for dyno time bookings as well.

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