Before reading further, 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 NitroOBD scam from China has been flooding the internet for a few years now, and has given birth to NUMEROUS copies with varying colors and logos. Once unscrupulous sellers discovered they could sell these light blinkers as ‘tuners’ at a high price, the market has been overwhelmed with them. We provide our analysis below of the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip Tuner and reveal what is inside this product. To accurately understand the big picture you should first read the above quarkslab article in its entirety. It has been 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 Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip Tuner OBD Performance Chip
Tags: CAN OBD Performance Chip Vehicle Tuning Scams Analysis Reverse Engineering Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip Tuner Scam
This article involves reverse engineering and analyzing the “Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip Tuner” in order to identify if it truly works as advertised or not.
The Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip sports a glossy black sleek design and looks nice aesthetically but are there similar looking products we have reviewed before? Unfortunately, yes. The company, Thorton Chip Tuning, claims to be “a team of automotive enthusiasts based on Columbus, GA. Founded in 2008 our mission is to work with high performance vehicles in any way we can.”:
A closer look at that photo of the ‘shop’ on their about us page does not give us any more confidence about this company being in the ‘tuning’ business – it actually appears these workers are all working on axles, gearboxes and tires – no noticeable tasks are shown related to ‘vehicle tuning’:
This is the Thorton Tuning Chip product as shown on the company’s website, thortonchiptuning.com:
Spiffy looking advertisement don’t you agree? Well as we have seen before, looks can be deceiving! Looks can also show valuable hints hidden in plain sight. Without going ANY further, do you notice anything in the screen grab above? If not, look below for the comparison:
CASE / PACKAGING
Not only does the box itself look verrrry similar to the previous SuperOBD scam chip, the instructions on the bottom of the box are also almost identical, with a few small changes. The box is the same size, the cover is the same size, the instructions are almost the same. What about the chip itself?
Yep, the box is the same size and shape, just a different logo and color, but the Thorton chip is also IDENTICAL to the previously reviewed SUPER OBD2 / Nitro OBD Chip scam. The lights, button and outer design are all the same – just the wording and color have been changed.
What does Thorton claim about this ‘chip’? Plenty! Here are some screen grabs of their claims:
So far these claims are somewhat normal as compared to other similar products around the web: “After driving about 125 total road miles, our tuning chip will adjust itself to your vehicle’s engine, your driving habits and continues to remap the ECU for optimal performance and fuel consumption as you continue to drive.”
They say they are “U.S. sellers”. That may be, but we already know where this product was manufactured, and it was not in the USA!
Here we start to run into a bit of a problem. Most scam products we have seen follow this same rule – they claim to be ‘universal’ and capable of being used on any vehicle known to man. It seems they are eluding to this here as well: “The Thorton Performance Chip will fit all engine sizes and types for your make of vehicle.”. This leads one to believe the product will work on any variant of a specific vehicle make, such as all Toyota, or all Ford, etc. However, they continue: “Be sure to select the correct Make, Model and engine of your vehicle when purchasing.”. Which is it? IF it is a custom programmed chip, then why say it will work on all variants of one vehicle model? If it is a universal chip, why do they need the specific engine type when ordering? Seems a little fishy, but as we have seen numerous times before, what you see it not always what you get.
Now we can really see something is seriously wrong. 40HP gains from an OBD plug in ‘chip’ which looks exactly like several previously reviewed scam modules? Um, yeah – and we have a bridge to sell you also!
The Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip on the thortonchiptuning.com website comes in three levels and prices:
Levels depend on the ‘power’ of the chip you select, which, interestingly enough, all look THE SAME! The ‘Level 1; chip is $29.95, the ‘Level 2’ chip is $59.95 and the ‘Level 3’ chip is $89.95. Another interesting observation from the above screen grab – notice the dial logos which show the different chip ‘levels’? We noticed they bear an uncanny similarity to those of a previously reviewed chip scam – the Chipyourcar Thunderbolt chip:
As you can see, the dial designs are SLIGHTLY different in color and shape, BUT the MPG values are THE SAME – the supposed horsepower values are THE SAME. What are the chances they would be exactly the same? Either Thorton is a new scam by the same people who brought us Chip Your Car, or they are excellent copycats! The hints we have uncovered up until now lead us believe this product is similar in it’s origin to many we have previously analyzed. What is actually inside the Thorton Top Speed OBD CAT Performance Chip?
We ordered a Thorton Top Speed OBDII CAT Performance Chip and disassembled the outer plastic shell. Immediately upon opening the case, we saw what we thought was an all-too-familiar design from our previously reviewed scam modules:
A closer comparison of the two modules confirms our assumption that the board is yet another NitroOBD clone with parts rearranged and LED colors changed:
All parts are identical on both modules, they have just been moved around and some of the led light colors have been changed. It uses the all too familiar microprocessor, the PIC16F59, which we already stated does not have the capacity to hold genuine vehicle maps. It’s memory is too small. I think we know why these two parts are so similar (because it is the same product from the same source – China!):
Low and behold, as we can see from the above screen grab, the module is definitely sourced from China, at a price of about $4.32 a piece! Not only is the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat chip itself identical to the listing above, it is the EXACT SAME photo shown on the Thorton chip tuning website! They literally took the same photos from the supplier on aliexpress and used it on their website! Further down the page, the same aliexpress listing compares the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Chip to – you guessed it – the original NitroOBD Yellow scam chip!
The Chinese supplier on aliexpress actually ADMITS this is the same product! Unbelievable. Need to see more? Further down the aliexpress page they show more comparisons:
Here we see the Chinese supplier claiming that the Top Speed OBDII chip is equivalent to the older NITRO obd and ECO obd modules (which are internally identical), and also claiming that the module works on BOTH GASOLINE AND DIESEL VEHICLES! This supports our previous view that the module is in fact universal and is a one size fits all device which fits on any vehicle because it is a scam.
From these facts, we can clearly see that the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip is not what it claims to be. Our first suspicions were correct. It has been shown to be just another of the now numerous light flasher scams with a new colored case and different colored lights!
To confirm this, we connected the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip to a vehicle and drove for the recommended 125 road miles and noticed no difference in fuel economy, performance or any other vehicle behaviour. There was absolutely no noticeable gain, and we didn’t even need a dyno to notice (we didn’t really expect any gains, so we weren’t disappointed)! Most drivers can easily detect an increase of 10HP or more without additional tools / gauges. Thorton claims some users saw gains of 40HP? No way.
To further confirm that the programming inside the microprocessor is indeed the same as the numerous verified Nitro OBD scams 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=i9atyTLr5KU
Both the Nitro OBD tuning scam (Left) and the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip (Right) blinked at EXACTLY the same blink rate! Same programming, same blinking interval, same scam (but different colored lights though!).
You may have noticed some of the previous scams blinked in a different pattern (like a standby interval). This is explained in the original NitroOBD videos at the top of this article. The NitroOBD has been found to change patterns depending on the activity detected on the other OBD port pins. It’s job is to fool the consumer into thinking it is communicating with the vehicle. It has one mode which simulates fast blinking lights to make the user think it is communicating with the vehicle. When the pin has no activity, it blinks slowly as if in a low power or standby mode (although it has no ability to truly enter a sleep mode, this is just a light pattern change). We showed with the previous scams that they all exhibit the ‘sleep’ light pattern and this latest scam also does this. As with the other scams, it can also enter what we call the fake ‘activity’ pattern, which is what we saw in this last test. Needless to say, both modules exhibited the same blink pattern, as both the Thorton Chip (right) and the NitroOBD scam (left) both contain the same microprocessor with the same circuit board and the same programming!
From our research as well as testing we find that the Thorton Top Speed OBDII Cat Performance Chip is just another of the many light blinking boxes like the NitroOBD. Our instincts early on were correct. Don’t CHIP in your hard earned money for this – you’re better off to buy a BAG OF POTATO CHIPS!
It seems the same crew that brought us the Thorton Performance Chip is at it again – they have another website with identical logos and graphics – thortonsuperchargers.com. This one claims to have an address in Tacoma, Washington as opposed to the previous one in Georgia, and this new address is actually a UPS store in Tacoma, WA. The layout, images and design are identical to the first thorton website we reviewed above, but this one also adds an air supercharger turbine as well as other accessories. Given the thorton performance chip is also present on the new website, their other products are most likely of the same quality! Here they don’t even try to hide the name of the ‘Thorton” performance chip:
Here they openly admit the name of the performance chip is “NITRO PERFORMANCE CHIP”! The same name of the original NitroOBD chip scam! They also admit near the bottom of the page that their performance chip is “an inexpensive, universal solution”. So much for a custom programmed chip! It is a one size fits all scam device, just as we already determined above. This new website also has a D rating on the BBB website:
A customer reports they had issues with the new thortonsuperchargers website in that they would not accept a refund and the wires were too short to fit / had missing parts. Here is a more detailed comparison of both websites’ ‘about us’ page:
Be alert – these two websites are related and both scams should be avoided!
If after all this, you STILL are considering purchasing this product, here is our response:
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