Pops and bangs, popcorn map, crackle, whatever you want to call them, what are they all about, is the mod safe and why the big hype?
Wherever you might be in the world, if you're a petrolhead, you'd know all about some radical cars making some seriously loud bangs from the exhaust, in some cases even flames...how cool is that!
But now there is you and me, the geeks, how does this all work, is it expensive? Is it potentially harmful to your engine? What power gains do I get if any? ... Well, let's find out!
How Do Those Cars Make Pops And Bangs?
Pops and bangs, crackles or burbles is quite simply a calibration system within the cars on-board computer (ECU) whereby a deliberate lean misfire is targeted at the moment the throttle is closed, or simply put, when you let off the gas.
When you close the throttle your injectors don't fire, that results in removing all the kinetic energy that was there before from your four-stroke cycle, which allows your car to slow down (provided you're in gear)...for the most part this how your car behaves straight out of factory...which is, how can I say - boring!
So that's where the crackle map comes in. If we want some crazy pops and bangs during the process of slowing down by your throttle being closed, or when we take our foot off the gas pedal, we need to retard the ignition timing during this process. This is done by injecting fuel while the throttle is closed and simultaneously leaving the exhaust valves open for an extended period of time, this excess fuel is then ignited by the immense heat by various parts of your exhaust, such as your catalytic converter.
Automotive manufacturers such as Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen and BMW are already integrating a "low-level" burble system into their ECU software specifically for creating the iconic sound to their high-end models such as Mercedes AMG models, Volkswagen R models, BMW's M models and Audi's RS models.
Can Pop And Bang, Crackle, Popcorn Or Burble Maps Be Applied To Any Engine?
In short, no not really, but it can be applied to the majority of petrol engines - Naturally aspirated, turbo or supercharged - with an ECU, especially in today's day and age.
Want To Go Even More Excessive?
Together with a quality Pop and Bangs tune you can upgrade your camshaft in order to further retard the ignition timing. In doing so though, you must be very careful to make sure that your camshaft is set up specifically to suit your needs.
Does A Pop And Bangs Map Give Any Performance Advantages?
Nope, unfortunately not. But, with that said, a full anti-lag system will give an improvement to your performance in a turbocharged vehicle by helping your turbo keep up to speed when your throttle is closed. But if you are looking to do the crackle map primarily for performance, you would be researching fully functional anti-lag systems and not pops and bangs maps.
Do Pops And Bangs Maps Cause Any Damage To Your Engine?
This is quite possibly the most difficult question to answer in that there are so many variables to take into consideration. First off, are you going to go to any old tuner who puts Crackle Map adds out on Craigslist for next to nothing, or are you going to go to a professional tuner who specialises in your specific brand of car and knows the limitations in and out? That alone can be a matter of life and death to your engine. But with that said, getting your ECU completely remapped was frowned upon as recently as a decade ago, but nowadays its commonplace in the automotive world. As times goes by more research and development is going into fine-tuning performance upgrades which results in a great improvement in reliability, availability and a reduction in cost.
So, This Was Cool And All, But Should I Go Ahead With It?
We can't give you a simple yes/no answer here, but I will give you my personal opinion if it were my car and what I will look out for. Firstly, what engine do you have? Is it notorious for constantly giving small issues here and there, or is it praised as a reliable solid design? Have you got any aftermarket performance upgrades? The ones that are probably most relevant here would be headers, downpipes, cat/turboback exhausts, or even a resonator or backbox delete. If you have altered your exhaust, this will greatly determine the sound output, perhaps even shoot flames! And lastly, is your car still under warranty? If so, you will lose it after this modification, if you can live with that, go ahead!