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Installing Performance DME Map Software

Pelican Technical Article:

Installing Performance DME Map Software


1 hr






Windows computer

Applicable Models:

Porsche 986 Boxster (1997-04)
Porsche 986 Boxster S (2000-04)

Parts Required:

Softronic cable and software

Hot Tip:

Required if making any significant changes to the drivetrain

Performance Gain:

10-15% more horsepower

Complementary Modification:

Install a 996 engine!
101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

The Motronic system (also called the Digital Motor Electronics or DME) is hands down the best overall fuel injection system that you can use when you consider price and performance. Ignition timing and fuel delivery are all controlled by a digital map that is recorded in a flash memory chip located within the main fuel injection (DME) computer. The computer takes input from a variety of sensors that are located on the engine: cylinder head temperature, crank angle, throttle position, exhaust gas oxygen (mixture), ambient air temperature, and mass air flow. The DME is programmed from the factory with certain performance characteristics (mostly conservative) so that the engine will react well under a host of varying conditions. Major changes to the engine (increased displacement, the addition of different camshafts, etc.) require an updated map to take full advantage of these modifications. Failure to update the Motronic system may actually result in a decrease in performance, as the original system is finely tuned to supply the correct timing and fuel injection values for a stock engine configuration. To gain the maximum benefit from engine modifications, you need to either update the flash software in your DME (easy), or install a programmable aftermarket engine management system (not so easy).

The Motronic system is generally very reliable - its main failure points being the sensors that send data back to the DME computer. Although I haven't seen it on the Boxsters just yet, another odd failure point on other older Porsches appears to be the DME relay. Corroded contacts appear to cause this mission-critical part to fail somewhat intermittently. I have had many customers claim that their car runs much better right after they have replaced the DME relay. While I don't have any empirical data to back this up, there are a lot of people who will swear by replacing their DME relay once every two years. I do recommend that you carry a spare one, as a failure can potentially leave you stranded on the side of the road. On the Boxster, the there are two DME relays are in the trunk, in slot number one (DME), and slot number two (Ignition). Also vulnerable is the fuel pump relay above the front fuse panel (see Photo 2 of Pelican Technical Article: Fuel Pump Replacement).

If you are running a stock engine with the Motronic injection, one of the best upgrades you can perform is the installation of aftermarket performance software. As stated previously, the factory programmed the original software to compensate for a wide variety of driving characteristics. These days, you can find software maps that will elevate the rev-limiter, advance your timing, and generally run the engine with less conservatism than the factory programs. The only downside to running a more aggressive map is that sometimes the timing curves are a bit too advanced and may cause detonation on low-octane pump gas (as it is here in California).  The Boxsters have a knock sensor that will reduce detonation if the timing is too far advanced, and you can also get maps that are specifically tailored to your region if lower octane fuel is the only type available.

One downside to installing a performance software map is that you basically need to run premium fuel with the chip installed. Whereas the stock chip is designed and mapped to provide good performance across a wide variety of operating conditions, the performance chips are typically mapped to assume that you are running high-octane gasoline. If you run low octane fuel, the knock sensor will generally prevent detonation, but in general you will not fully utilize the performance improvements of the chip.

There are many manufacturers out there selling various variations of performance software for the Boxster. One company that has differentiated itself from the pack is Softronic, founded by former PCA tech guru Scott Slauson. The Softronic software upgrade kit has a few innovative features not found in other DME programming products. The software upgrade is installed using a Softronic cable attached to a typical Windows computer (others often require you to ship them your DME for programming). The DME is updated and reprogrammed using the OBD-II port (see Pelican Technical Article: Reading Fuel Injection Fault Codes / Diagnosing Problems), which allows you the freedom to update your software, and then also convert it back to stock when needed. This is particularly useful when you need to bring your car in for emissions testing, and the updated software in the computer might make it difficult to pass. The Softronic software makes an exact backup copy of the software on your DME prior to installing the updated maps.

Installation of the software is a snap. Simply install the Softronic software onto your computer and then connect it via the supplied cable to the OBD-II port on your Boxster. The software will perform a variety of pre-programming checks, create a full back up on your hard drive, and then install the performance software into your car. Just sit back, drink your coffee, and let the computer do all the work. The total programming time is about five minutes or so.

Performance software is required if you are upgrading your engine to a 3.4L as was done in Pelican Technical Article: Boxster Engine Conversion Project. I used the Softronic performance software to install a higher output Porsche 996 program into the 3.4L engine after we installation. The increase in horsepower went from 300 to 322 and torque increased from 258 to 271: quite an improvement. In addition, Softronic was able to custom design our program to fit our particular Boxster engine conversion profile (engine / intake / exhaust).

It really is as easy as it looks.
Figure 1

It really is as easy as it looks. Here is a screenshot from Softronic's software. Simply plug in the cable into the OBD-II port on the Boxster and run the software. It will create a full backup of your existing configuration and install the performance software update in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee.

Comments and Suggestions:
Crocstar Comments: Regardless of cost is there a ECM flash available for a 2.5 liter 986 that you know of?
September 4, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. many shops can perform these. Look for a Porsche performance shop. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bill Comments: I have a 987.2, is there a maximum number of times that the DME can be re-flashed, before it is locked? I saw an earlier post that insinuates that.
October 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Bosch says 15, but I have never seen it reach the limit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Pon Comments: Hi Wayne,
My 2001 Boxster S engine has blow and I want to replace it with another used 3.2 motor. What is the best and easiest way to get my much loved "Porkster" in the fast lane again.I live in country Australia so there's not a real lot of these engines getting around but there are a few with around 100,000 klm. Any help is much appreciated.
Cheers, PR.
September 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Grab a used engine of the same size and year. Before installing it, replace the IMS bearing and any leaking gaskets. Then swap it in. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Trav Comments: Thank you Casey, one more question, the donor car 2003 is an automatic but my car2002 is a 5 speed. Will the DME or Immobilizer from the 03 have any issues going from an automatic to a 5 speed in my 2002?
May 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmmm I think that will be an issue. The program in the DME is going to be looking for the Tiptronic control unit communication and will probably set faults and may illuminate the check engine light. I don't know if that coding can be modified after it is set at the factory. One thing you can try is to have a shop or someone with access to a Porsche PIWIS, or Autologic scan tool program the DME with a map out of a 2003 Boxster manual gearbox. That will probably fix the issue. To do this the shop will need to contact Porsche and obtain the Immobilizer code, and iPAS data. Let me know how it goes so we can help others wishing to make that conversion. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Trav Comments: I just had the 2.7 in my 2002 Boxster pop the left side head gasket this past Friday. I have a chance to pick up a 2003 Boxster with a 2.7 as a donor car with a good engine and fair price, what would be easier to repurpose the 03 long block with my 02 parts or use the 03 engine and DME from that car? If repurposing the 03 to match up to the 02 dme and harness what all needs to be changed over besides the intake? Would I need to move the 02 cams to the 03 long block? Thank you for any support...
May 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most definitely use the 03 engine DME and Immobilizer and keys if you must. The two engines are physically different, 02 is 5 chain with the older style VarioCam, 03 is 3 chain with the new style VarioCam adjustment (Vane) actuator. Rebuilding the 02 with the 03 parts will simply not be possible. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
gaffy Comments: Hi
I have a 986 boxster 2.5L year 1997. I was wondering is it possible to do the dme remap on this year of make as I have been reading on other forums and a few performance remap places have told me the same thing which is that because its too old their softwares can't remap it so the chip has to come out or something..

Will this DME work then for the 1997, and I have no turbo kit or supercharger kit installed, so will I feel any difference? As I wanted to get this DME flash before I get the mods on there..
February 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Looks like the tuning kits are temporarily unavailable.

Might be due to an update coming soon. You vehicle looks to be listed here. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799, they might know when it will be available again.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
Andy Comments: My 1997 DME under the driver seat was damaged by water. I was told that if I can purchase a complete set of DME, ECU, Key Fobs, and Key Cylinder and replace them with my current set. This will resolve my problem without having to take my car to the dealer for a new DME. If this is true, will the DME/ECU on the Boxster 2000 model work on 1997 Boxster? Thanks.
June 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could work if you got all the parts needed. However, they will have to be exact part number matches. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Paul Comments: Hi, I am in the uk, I have had a number of company's try to re-map my 1997 986 but all are telling me my ecu/dme is/was locked by Porsche and can not be remapped. is this possible?
May 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The DME may have been programmed the maximum number of times. You may need to purchase a new one. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
markskyline Comments: My 2000 base boxster's DME is giving me issues. I found a DME from a 2000 Boxster S. Are the DME's the same? I can get the stock flash put on the DME from my local shop.
February 26, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't believe so. Check if the part numbers match, if not, you have your answer. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bdavis9999 Comments: Will 1998 engine components attached to a 2003 long block function? What about the variable cam timing and the DME?
January 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can transfer over the cams and cam covers from your vehicle. 99% sure on that. This would allow you to NOT have to deal with the plus features of the later engine. They will not function without the proper harness and control module. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bdavis9999 Comments: I have a 1998 Boxster and just purchased a 2003 engine. Would you recommend keeping the 98 intake with the cable throttle or the 03?
December 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Would be easier to reuse the stuff your vehicle came with, repurposing the long block. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
1997BoxP Comments: Wondering if you can help, I have Boxster S Brakes for my 1997 Boxster and have been advised that you need a special kit that allows you to fit the rear brakes via a special backing plate and then using the S parking brake shoes and springs etc. Are you aware of this and know where I can source this from ?
December 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
batpuac Comments: Wayne,
Any reasons why Softronic don't have a flash update for a 99 Boxster 2.5L ? Any other reputable vendors out there that do have it?
May 1, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I spoke with them about this. The cost of the flash upgrade is about $800, and most people who own these cars don't want to pay this. Besides, the performance improvement is only minimal in general... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Amora Comments: 1997 Porscher boxster
is one end of solenoid hydraulic valve connected to DME unit?
June 14, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure I understand the question. But the DME does control all of the engine soloenoids. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
shikco Comments: Is there any benefit or noticeable power increase with a stock 986 with this enhancement?
May 16, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Performance software will increase the power on your engine. however, you would feel it most if paired with other parts, such as an exhaust system. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mickey Comments: Has anyone installed the GF computer chip? It actually connects to the electronic Air Sensor.
May 16, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, I had never heard of this until you posted it here. I took a look at their site. It connects via two wires to the MAF and is supposed to give a big boost in HP? I have no experience with this product, but the claims seem dubious to me, just from what I know about how fuel injection systems work.

I'll copy this to the forums to see if anyone else has any other opinions on this. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Ray_s Comments: Thanks Wayne, will contact Scott directly as I think he offers exactly what I was looking for and was confused someone told me he would need my ECU for flashing. AFAIK he also offers the durametric tool which I'm interested as well... cheers from Germany, Ray
June 9, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad to help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ray_s Comments: Maybe I am discussing with the wrong guy - he does not carry a softronic email address. Let me check if I got to the wrong person, will not post the name here but I was pretty sure I got it thru your website.
Apologies if I'm incorrect - can you provide me your email address directly so we can sort it out - I was surprised it should not be able to flash my 987 ECU with a 997 3.8 Update as described...
June 9, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Softronic provides software to resellers throughout the world (just like Pelican Parts). Someone may be claiming to represent the company directly when they are not. I suggest that you contact Scott Slauson at Softronic directly: 1-203-723-8928 - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Softronic Comments: Interesting as I'm not aware of an issue in doing this... I'm also not familiar with your name in any discussions on the above mentioned.

The main issues with conversions are the way they are done and the software is expected to be a cure all for all issues. The software is designed to work when these conversions are done correctly.

Best Regards,
Scott Slauson
June 9, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. You have to be careful when performing performance upgrades to any vehcile. You'll want to find the right mix of performance and reliability. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ray_S Comments: Softronic tells me they cannot do a flash update vie OBD for a 3.8 997 S engine put into my 2005 Boxster S 3.2.
I am supposed to send my ECU to them - anyone knows why? Anyone had the same issue before?
June 9, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I forwarded this message off to the folks at Softronic and they say that there's no problem with this installation in this configuration. There must have been some confusion with respect to the years. Scott at Softronic mentioned that someone called a short while ago asking to put a 3.8 997 into a 2000 Boxster which cannot be properly done. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Tue 3/20/2018 02:12:11 AM