To begin, if you have not already seen the tests by quarkslab on reverse engineering the Nitro OBD2 performance chip scam, check it out here: https://blog.quarkslab.com/reverse-engineering-of-the-nitro-obd2.html
We point you in this direction because this scam has been flooding the internet for a few years now, and has given birth to numerous copies with varying colors and logos. We provide our analysis below of the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt performance chip and show what is inside. To accurately understand the big picture you should first read the above quarkslab article in its entirety. It is proven based on several different articles and tests that the Nitro OBD module is a verified scam. Don’t just take our word for it!
There are also several youtube videos proving the details of the Nitro-OBD light flasher scam and some of it’s variants:
Reverse engineering the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance Chip
Tags: CAN OBD Performance Chip Vehicle Tuning Scams Analysis Reverse Engineering Chip Your Car Thunderbolt Scam
This article involves reverse engineering and analyzing the OBD chip “Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance Chip” in order to identify if it functions as advertised or not.
It is advertised like this on the product page on the chipyourcar.com website: “UNLEASH YOUR
VEHICLE’S FULLEST POTENTIAL. Chip Your Car Performance Chips combine the feel of a more powerful engine with the economy of a small motor in one easily-installed performance chip. Our performance chip simply plugs into your OBD/Diagnostic port in less than 60 seconds. The performance chip loads new, pre-tuned motor specific fuel maps onto your ECU and improves performance throughout the vehicle’s power band. Whether your vehicle has stock ECU tuning or aftermarket modifications, our performance chip will adapt to your modifications and provide the tune necessary for your vehicle’s individual setup. All performance chips are dyno and road tested. No wire cutting wires or tools needed to install our performance chip.”
The website looks modern and professional. However, if we look at the product listing on amazon, we see quite a few concerned customers. Here is a grab of just some of their most recent negative feedbacks:
Sounds like they need more than a catchy website – the product is not looking good. Hm, did we mention ducks before?
Another common problem with most scam modules is the impossible – the ability to use one chip on several vehicles, aka, one size fits all, aka, universal chip, aka, impossibility! On the same amazon listing where the above feedback is located, the Chipyourcar company claimed it was a ‘universal’ chip, one that cannot exist. A customer questioned them about it on Trustpilot (which is a scam in itself as most reviews are paid / fake), and they responded:
So chip your car claims they “do not sell universal chips on amazon. There is no such thing as a universal chip”. Darn right. However, doing a google search shows otherwise:
So the amazon product listing USED to be called “Chip Your Car Universal Car…”. Let’s see if it still has the same title:
NOPE! The product title has been changed, it isn’t a universal chip anymore! Someone has been doing some fibbing I do believe 😉
With the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance chip we see another major issue: the outrageous claim of anywhere from 20-60+HP power gains:
20 – 60HP gains are very difficult to obtain from such a simple upgrade, especially an OBD part, and if true, would instantly be noticed by the driver. Perhaps it IS possible though, since this is a THUNDERBOLT performance chip 😉 The price alone should be a clue to anyone considering this product. It is outrageous – for $230 we are not far away from the price of a REAL tune.
Looking at the ‘dyno run’ video posted on youtube by a PAID ADVERTISING COMPANY, we see a suspicious dyno run graph, this one claiming outrageous gains also. Again, we have seen this behaviour from other companies before:
There is no way a part this simple could deliver this amount of horsepower gains. 82HP gains? Seriously? Not even most legitimate tuning shops will claim these numbers without additional upgrades to the vehicle. We are beginning to suspect a major scam. (We also have a super secret cloaking device we would like to sell you that will give your ride an extra 200HP and make you invisible! Actually, it will only make the money in your wallet invisible!)
Just to be sure we heard their claims correctly, here is the seller providing horsepower gain values to customers on amazon:
The price for the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance Chip on their website is one of three prices depending on the ‘power’ you want: $84.99 (+20HP), $159.99 (+40HP) or $229.99 (60HP).
The product we last reviewed which looks IDENTICAL to the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance Chip could be found on aliexpress directly from the manufacturer in CHINA for $1.97 USD. Notice only the color and design are different, the button shape, location and lights are all identical:
Need a closer look? Check this out:
On the left we have the $1.97 SuperOBD2 scam obd chip and on the right we have the Thunderbolt Performance chip from chipyourcar.com which sells for anywhere from $85 – $230. Starting to get the picture? They are identical. The Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance chip and the previous scam product we reviewed look identical on the outside, but are they indeed the same inside?
CASE / PACKAGING
The case the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt OBD Performance Chip comes in is an all-to-familiar one – remember in the previous review we were talking about a duck? Here is the Chip Your Car listing on amazon. Notice the box shown:
Need to see more? Here is the other side of the box, the top side:
Note the FONT is identical, the LOGO is identical. The only difference is the wording “CHIP YOUR CAR”. The box size and material are the same. This is because they both came from the same source – China.The reality is, we now have several ‘companies’ and ‘tuning experts’ who have no clue how to tune an engine but have some spare $$ and order from China in bulk. They then have the factory custom design their logo or wording onto the ‘chips’, but they are all identical inside. Sad but true.
If it LOOKS like a duck, TALKS like a duck, WALKS like a duck, then it is a duck!
We obtained a Thunderbolt Chipyourcar Performance Chip Tuner and disassembled the outer plastic shell. The inside looked unique so far, but it appears to have been designed to hide the microprocessor from easy view:
We see some familiar components also present in the previous scam modules, but we cannot seem to find the microprocessor – where is it (similar to where is Waldo)?
We found it! Guess where it was located? On the underside of the top circuit board. Imagine that! We couldn’t be trying to HIDE it could we? Low and behold, it is yet another PIC16F59 chip, which as we have shown before, has a memory too small to hold genuine vehicle tuning map data:
Most legitimate vehicle maps are 512KB or larger, depending on the vehicle model and configuration:
While we know this size memory slot cannot fit genuine vehicle map data, it could definitely contain a simple light flashing routine, which is exactly what the Nitro OBD Tuning box has been proven to contain. Yet when asked how the ‘tuner’ changes vehicle performance, the seller replies to a customer on amazon:
Chipyourcar claims the module contains a ‘vehicle specific dyno tuned fuel map’. We know from the memory capacity of the PIC16F59 chip alone that this is not possible.
From these facts, we can clearly see that the Thunderbolt Performance Chip by Chip Your Car is nothing more than another NITRO OBD light flasher scam with a round reset button added!
To confirm this, we connected the Thunderbolt Performance Chip Tuner to a vehicle and drove for over two weeks, doing multiple fill-ups and noticed no difference in fuel economy, performance or any other vehicle behaviour. There is absolutely NO WAY there was a 60HP gain. Most drivers can easily detect an increase of 10HP or more even without additional tools / gauges.
To confirm further that the programming inside the microprocessor is indeed the same as the verified Nitro OBD scam we previously reviewed, we connected both modules to a 12V power supply on the bench and noted the blink intervals of the led lights (OUR BLINK TEST):
Blink Test Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzrfMoiPiss
Both the Nitro OBD tuning scam (Left) and the Thunderbolt Chipyourcar Performance Chip (Right) blinked at EXACTLY the same interval! Same board components, same blinking interval, same scam (but pretty lights though!).
From our research as well as testing we find that the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt Performance Chip is just another Nitro OBD scam. Nice try! Don’t CHIP in your hard earned money for this – you’re better off to buy a BAG OF POTATO CHIPS!
The scammers selling this junk never stop it seems, and we came across their newest scam by accident while surfing the web. This is another common behaviour of these scam artists – they often use several different logos and brands to market the same garbage. Why? For several reasons. First, to increase revenues through many brands simultaneously. Second, and most important, to start fresh and ditch any customer feedback that may have exposed the previous brand as a scam! What is this new brand? RocketChip:
Note the exact same product design: same color, same shape, same RESET logo, same lights and positions. What is different? THE ROCKET CHIP logo instead of the Thunderbolt Chipyourcar logo! You just can’t make this stuff up! Even the website shows the origins of this new brand – it is right there before our eyes:
The ‘power’ dials are EXACTLY the same as those from the old chipyourcar website! They didn’t even bother to change them. Couldn’t someone else copy the design and start their own brand you may say? It is possible, but we find the answer to this question on the bottom of the new rocketchipusa.com web page:
The footer of the rocketchipusa.com web page contains the tag “(C) 2020 Rocket Chip by Tuning Mission”. What the heck is ‘tuning mission? A web search provides the answer:
Well low and behold – yet ANOTHER website showing our old friend, the Rocket Chip! Now also shown (left side) is a ‘launch pad’ which bears STRIKING similarities to the wind booster from China, but we will not go there yet. What is this website about? It is yet another website by the same chipyourcar / Rocket chip / launch pad products. We see even more if we look deeper on the website:
..and the bs starts. Here we see a chronology over the years of the ‘accomplishments’ of the chipyourcar company and how the owner is such a tuning master. THEY ADMIT THEY ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT US THE CHIP YOUR CAR SCAM – AND THEY ARE BRAGGING ABOUT IT! You cannot make this stuff up! The above screen grab claims, “in 2015, Cale Byrdziak took his years of experience in performance vehicle parts and service and ventured out to his own. He found and developed a revolutionary new product and launched Chip Your Car, LLC”. So he ‘found and developed’ this revolutionary product – um, we already proved that the chip your car ‘revolutionary product’ is nothing more than a rebranded $3 Chinese light blinker box! But wait, there’s more:
Here we have the admission that Chipyourcar “became Rocket Chip Performance Chip”. The webpage also offers us more adoring praise of the Chipyourcar founder:
We see from the above screen grab that the Chipyourcar founder was SOOO smart, “because of his extensive background, he was able to fine-tune his chip to make more impact on a car’s performance than had ever been seen before in the market previously”. Wow, he MUST be smart to deliver that kind of performance from a $3 light blinker from China! What egos these companies have! Another common practice among these scams is the choice of the company and product names themselves. They often try to confuse buyers by choosing a name that is similar or almost identical to legitimate tuning companies. This is the case with chipyourcar / Rocket Chip. Take a look at the name of the website we are inspecting, “Tuning Mission”. It is a play on words – there is a real tuning company called “Mission Tuning”, get it?:
Case closed. So there you have it ladies and gents, the Chip your car scam is now Rocket Chip. Be aware before you shell any money out for this junk. We may review the Rocket Chip by itself on a future article, but it is not necessary for the time being as we can clearly see it is the same thing with a new logo. Be careful!!
If after all this, you STILL are considering purchasing this product, here is our response:
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