Chip-Tuning tools review

Tools to consider for various services

Note: This article is primarily aimed at those who only plan to start chip-tuning and are unsure what equipment to choose.

Our recommended equipment is well adapted to modern «people’s» cars. By «modern people’s cars» we mean the widespread serial passenger vehicles not older than 2010 driving all over the globe, primarily in Europe, Asia and America. On this basis, it is possible to cover around 90–95% of cars in this category within a minimal budget, and still work with quality licensed equipment.

The 'modern people’s car' category includes such cars as the VW Golf, Skoda Octavia, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Creta, Renault Fluence, Lifan X60, Opel Astra J and many more. But not including the Lamborghini Huracan or the old Opel Vectra B.

Diagnostics Scanners

Let’s start with a scanner! If you do not have it, getting into chip-tuning is like climbing a high mountain without equipment — you won’t get very far, and if you do, you`ll get in a lot of trouble.

We recommend working with at least the following two scanners: ScanDoc Compact and Scanmatik 2 PRO.

Scandoc Compact covers many car brands and costs around 630 USD (standard included) and about 1400 USD (a set of modules for all the available models in the scanner). If you are on a tight budget, you can buy just the standard one and then buy additional modules when the need arises (but this is more expensive). Scandoc works perfectly with most popular cars, can connect to all control units in a vehicle, reset various adaptations, etc.

Scanmatik 2 PRO

Scanmatik 2 Pro covers many car brands too. It is sold in a variety of configurations. The basic cost is around 490 USD,various cables and adapters can be bought separately if required. Scanmatik is not as strong as Scandoc in terms of coverage of car brands and models, but it is better at supporting vehicles from the CIS countries. In addition, Scanmatik2 Pro can be used as a J2534 device. Because of the medium cost of the unit, we strongly recommend purchasing one as well.

In addition to the tools described above, if you specialize in a particular brand, we recommend purchasing a scanner that supports a specific vehicle brand 100%. Ideally, it should be a dealer scanner. Or at least one that is close to a dealer scanner in terms of functionality. As a last resort, consider where to «borrow» a dealer scanner in case of an urgent need. Why is it necessary? If you are planning to flash the newest car models of a certain brand, there is a high probability that after reprogramming, errors will appear for a certain ECU, which the Multi-brand car scanner will not be able to connect to, as it does not support such an ECU yet. The downside of buying a dealer (or almost dealer) scanner is obvious — the high price. In this case, you’ll have to make a decision — either splurge well, or refuse to work with the latest cars, or simply take your chances.

Flashers and Programmers

Obviously, in chip tuning, like any other craft, there are no set in stone tools one must have. We can just recommend a set of equipment from our own experience. First and foremost, everything depends on the vehicle range you are working with. But if you, like us, aim for the 'modern people’s car' category, then we would recommend the following configuration:

MMC Flasher

All of the above products have software modules, meaning you can configure your own flasher and buy only those modules you need. Of course, if you buy all the licenses for each tool, the vehicle and ECU coverage will partially overlap. All the available modules can be useful. For Mitsubishi and Isuzu cars, we recommend MMCFlasher modules. For Toyota brand vehicles, we recommend modules on BitBox or PCMFlash. For other brands choose modules on any of these flashers, at your own discretion. The only exceptions are old cars, rare cars, some premium cars and literally one-off cars in the popular category.

The starting investment in this case is small. A set of these flashers cost approximately 90–300 USD, including the fact that each flasher will need at least one module (they are not sold without modules).You can always purchase additional modules later. The maximum amount that might be required to open all modules and cover all vehicles supported by these flashers would be around 10 000 USD. That’s a large sum of money, but so is the ECU coverage. However, it is unlikely that you will need all the modules. Most likely, you will need only half of the coverage map, because you simply will not work with the other half. The licenses for these four flashers are perpetual (they do not need to be renewed annually).

If possible, also purchase a KESS3 (Master version). It costs about 760 USD (the hardware) + modules that can be purchased after you receive the tool (about 1400–3300 USD per module) + annual license renewal (approx. 1300 USD). This is about the original, not a Chinese counterfeit. We do not recommend using cloned tools. KESS3 is more of a safety feature, just in case there are any unexpected failures. The chance of bricking an ECU with good licensed equipment is close to zero, but is still present. So don’t skimp on buying this unit either, as it can configure control units via the BDM and JTAG debug interfaces. It will give you even more peace of mind.

If you also look for more coverage, consider Flex, Autotuner or bFlash.

Just as KESS3, Flex allows its users to choose the protocols they need instead of buying the full program. Autotuner covers a lot of european vehicles and does not require subscription. It is delivered with all the required accessories for both BSL and OBD in a dedicated package. bFlash combines functions of a flasher, diagnostic scanner, data logger, CAN bus analyzer and visualizer for WinOLS. It is also more centered around european cars, and has sevral uniques features, such as bCloud, an encrypted file storage, bDiag, a complete error code reader, bManager to manage, encrypt/decrypt, visualize or modify the files read with bFlash, etc. All of the more expesive tools щукфеу with the Slave-Master system.


If you are looking for full-fledged editors with ready-made calibration maps, take a look at ChipTuningPRO (is only in Russian), ECULite, BitEdit with the corresponding modules. As for programs for disabling systems, such as DPF, EGR, CAT, etc. consider ProBYTE, S&V Edit, ESS and DaVinci Deluxe Edition. Please note that most of these tools have a daily usage limit, for example, 10 times a day (S&V Edit), or operate with tokens (DaVinci Deluxe Edition) or have subscription (ESS).

It is WinOLS5 that sets the standard in the firmware editing market among professionals involved in the development and sale of modified software, an editor from the German company EVC. WinOLS5 does not have modules, you can work with all firmware with the basic version of the program. This editor allows you to work with any type of ECU and any software. It allows performing any task including tuning and disabling any system. The main feature and difficulty of working with this editor is that there are no ready-made calibration maps for any type of ECU, however, the user is given the opportunity to develop such maps independently and has all the necessary tools for this (importing description files in DAMOS/ ASAP/A2L/XML/CSV and much more). Using the editor requires high qualifications, access to factory documentation, and knowledge in the field of reverse engineering).

Another editor to have a look at is Alientech ECM Titanium, a tool from the same developer as KESS3. It allows editing the files and if there is a file missing, the technical support can add it. It comes in two versions — Full and Credit, you can choose which one you need depending on how frequently you need to use the tool. It also comes with a discount as ECM Titanium Promo for those who have KESS3 with an active subscription. However, ECM Titanium does not do DTC, DPF, EGR, CAT off.


Combiloader, MMCFlash, PCMFlash and BitBox are just programs, without an adapter. They require a compatible J2534 adapter. We would recommend purchasing the following adapters:

Scanmatik 2 PRO

Dialink is the recommended J2534 adapter for the Combiloader, designed by the same company. Together, these two components provide a stable workflow.

Scanmatik 2 Pro is a scanner and a J2534 device in one product. Well-proven as an adapter in combination with PCMFlash, MMCFlasher and BitBox.


As for the optional equipment, we highly recommend these tools:

Quick connection cables
Board for positioning frame

Quick connection cables allow connecting to the ECU socket directly from the programmer. Here are some examples:

Cable for programming Continental SIM2K-25x/26x (for CombiLoader)
Cable for Cummins (for CombiLoader)
Cable for Bosch MED17 EDC17 (for PCMflash)

They are useful for flashing certain ECUs, for example, those that cannot be flashed via OBD2 without first BSM mode digital signature check. Instead of permanently removing the unit from the car and connecting it «on the table» with wires, it’s much faster to do the same directly on the car, just by plugging into the ECU socket. With quick-connect cables you’ll save a lot of time. And time should be your most important resource in your job. Much more valuable than money.

There is nothing special to comment on the Board for positioning frame. It is necessary solely for the convenience and accuracy of your actions when working with control units «on the table».

The board for positioning frame can be purchased for the original KESS or FLEX. Quick connect cables cost much less, or can even be made by yourself.

14AM00T15M — Adapter for Denso ECU (NEC 76F00xx Board Type A)
14AM00T28M — Multi-function Board (Renesas SH725xxx)
14AM00TBAS — Multi-function Board (Motorola MPC5xx)
FLK04 Universal MAGBench BDM adapter kit

This is just a fraction of the tools we present, there are many more niche ones such as Mitsubishi Flasher, Toyota Lexus ECU flasher, etc. Still, it should give you a solid grip on what tools to use for each job.