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Old 02-19-2013, 11:30 AM   #1
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ECU and Engine Tuning Reference Guide

Intro:
The purpose of this thread is to provide a reference for owners on available options and solutions for engine and ECU tuning. This is an objective information-based perspective with the intent that the user will further research the options to make their own conclusion.
* Disclaimer* If you are considering a tuning solution please search this forum, talk with other owners, vendors, and tuners about your specific goals. This thread is not the end-all-be-all. It's merely a community resource.



FAQ:
- What is engine tuning?
Engine tuning is changing certain engine variables (fuel maps/timing) to optimize performance. This is typically done via an OBDII port connection. A tuner can remap your existing ECU parameters or add additional hardware (see flash/piggyback/stand alone section below) to control certain variables and parameters of the flow of fuel and timing.

- How can modifying the cars Air, Fuel, and Timing increase performance?
OEM manufactures typically design automobiles to have certain thresholds of failure and safety. They typically have to manage the cost/risk of a warranty and other reliability measures. Tuners can lower that threshold. Also, with the addition of bolt on parts such as intakes and headers the engine can move a greater volume of air in and out of the engine. Thus a tune can help optimize the new capabilities of the engine set up.
Air/Fuel Raito:
A car's Air to Fuel ratio (A:F) is the measure of units of air to units of fuel. A Standard Association of Engineers (SAE) study suggests that a 12.5:1 ratio is optimum for performance. That is over simplified as the engine load (throttle position), fuel type, engine geometry, and engine temperature all play a role as variables in the optimization equation. The SAE study suggested a 16:1 ratio is optimal for thermal efficiency. Typically a ratio above 14.7:1 is considered lean where under 14.7:1 is considered rich. The engine application determines the optimal point. Typically tuners will run a richer mix through higher RPMs (more fuel than the engine can burn) to cool the cycle and help catalytic converter performance. They also like ovoid leaning out the engine and causing detonation (more common in turbo applications).

Timing:
Advancing the timing allows the spark to fire sooner in the upstroke of the piston in the cylinder block. This allows the combustion to generate more pressure and in effect force the piston downward with more force (thus creating more power). The risk is allowing too much advance will cause turbulence and decrease power and introduce knock in the engine. There is a non linear equation that typically dictates power. The best way to tune timing is to tune the car on a dyno. A tuner can adjust the timing and test it under certain loads and engine speeds to determine if advancing the timing creates more power. Conversely, a tuner can retard timing (the opposite of advancing).

[B]- What is E85 and Flex Fuel? How can these fuel mixtures enhance performance?
E85 is a fuel with 85% of it's volume as ethanol. Flex fuel typically refers to a mixture of pump gas and ethanol. Companies make sensors that can read the ethanol content and w/ EcuTek can adjust timing accordingly. The benefits of running E85 is a higher resistance to knock. In effect E85 acts like 96-98 octane which allows tuners to add more timing without the same risk of knock with pump gas. For forced inducted applications, this typically can yield an additional 2-3psi of boost safety net.


- What's the technical difference between a flash, piggyback, and stand-alone solution?
Flash - A technique used to replace the existing ECU parameters and fuel/timing maps. This is typically done via the OBDII port. It allows a tuner to control many parameters from the factory ECU sensor system.
Piggy-Back - Typically a unit that plugs another computer with loaded maps into the sensory system of the factory ECU. This typically will adjust parameters on the fly and in effect change the tune of the factory maps.
Stand-Alone - This requires replacing the factory ECU with an aftermarket computer. Some systems reuse factory sensory components, while the new computer allows for additional sensory (ex: wide-band-02).

- What kind of performance gains can I expect by using a tuning solution?
For the BRZ/FRS/GT86 tuners have shown gains from about 10-18whp running high octane pump gas. Those results can increase with the use of E85. HP gains can typically be greater paired with upgraded air flow components such as a performance intake filter, intake system, header, etc.

- Why should I consider a dyno-calibrated tune?
A dyno tune allows a tuner to make adjustments to the maps on the fly. A tuner can test and validate many scenerios and see the performance outcome in real-time. While data logging and reviewing can provide feedback to adjust map settings, a dyno allows a tuner to get a more optomize tune to your specific vehicle. This can become more important with the addition of a turbo charger.

- Can the dealership "see" that I have a tune installed?
On the BRZ/FRS/GT86 it has been reported that a dealer's system can pick up an event stored on the ECU every time the maps are reflashed. A piggy-back or stand-alone system can avoid leaving a footprint on the factory ECU.

- Will a tune void my warranty?

- Will a tune effect my MPG?
Tuners can help optimize volumetric efficiency which can help improve fuel efficiency. However, typically the goal of a tune is to increase power and at some points (especially in high RPMs) the tune isn't focused on creating fuel efficiency. Most owners of tunes have reported pretty consistent fuel efficiency as OEM.

- What other capabilities or features should I consider with a tuning solution?
Many tuning applications offer enhanced features such as auto-blip throttle (rev matching), launch control, flat foot shifting, map switching, etc. Ultimately, a prospective buyer should evaluate the different features offered by a tuning solution for best fit with their individual requirements.

- What are the limits of the stock fuel system?
Tuners have reported that fuel upgrades such as a fuel pump or injector become necessary in the 270whp-300whp range. Please consult with a tuner to understand the limits on your configuration. Injectors may become necessary with forced inducted applications, especially running E85. Perrin found on the Vortech kit around 6.6k rpms that the stock fuel pump could do no more at 12psi of boost (~300whp).

Available Solutions:

EcuTek - via the EcuTek Cable an owner or tuner can reflash the factory ECU with the EcuTek RaceROM.
Features: Map Tuning, Data Logging, Map Switching, Rev Limit Control, Launch Control, Auto-Blip Throttle, Flat-Foot Shifting, and e85/flex fuel support.
Pricing: License $250, Tune ~$200-400, Cable (Optional) ~$350

Tuners (Other vendors, please let me know if I missed you):
Visconti
FA20Club.com
Drift Office
PERRIN
Moto East
PTUNING
DD Performance Research
Evasive Motorsports (also Fcon IS tuning available)
Circuit Motorsports
Delicious Tuning
Works

Other/Resellers/Authorized Dealers:
FT-86 Speed Factory
Pure Automotive


Unichip - a plug and play EMS/piggyback unit. Maps can be downloaded via the Unichip file-share library and flashed via the Unichip USB flash cable.
Features: Map Tuning, Plug and Play Harness, Map Switching, Map Library (all maps are free), Doesn't Require a VIN License, OBDII Reader, and Additional Features Under Development.
Pricing: Plug and Play Kit (Harness + Tune) $445, USB Flash Cable (Optional) $45, Flux2 Unit (Optional) $265 + $45 Cable
Unichip EMS
Unichip Map Downloads Thread
Unichip MapsQ software Thread


BRZEdit (ECUEdit) - via the Epifansoft cable an owner or tuner can reflash the factory ECU.
Features: Map Tuning, Data Logging, Map Editing, Rev Limit Control, and Additional Features Under Development.
Pricing: Personal License $499, Tactrix Openport 2.0 (Optional) $169
Epifansoft


Hydra EMS 2.7 - a plug and play EMS/Stand Alone unit.
Features: Map Tuning, Data Logging, Map Editing, Launch Control, Flat Foot Shifting, Rev Limit Control, e85/flex fuel support, and Additional Features Under Development.
Pricing: EMS Plug and Play Kit $1899, Wideband O2 (Optional) $449, Flat-Foot Shifting Harness (Optional) $79
Element Tuning

OpenFlash Tablet - a portable hand held flashing device with high-resolution backlit color touchscreen with internal speaker. It comes with a USB cable, OBDII cable and download links for the OpenFlash software (map manager), map editor (Tuner Pro) and XML definition files.
Features:
-Free Off-The-Shelf (OTS) maps files-In-dash Boost Gauge (0-20psi), On-board datalogging, Realtime Data Screen, Trouble code reading/clearing, Diagnostic activation for water pump and cooling fans, Adaptation resets for battery, octane, VANOS, VVT, transmission, DME, lambda, AFR and Throttle, Activation for transport mode

Initial installation takes approximately 2 minutes; Each flash write takes approximately 5 minutes; Launch control and No-Lift Shift/Flat-foot shift implemented. Both are user adjustable; Generic and does not contain any unique vehicle identifiers (immobilizier, VIN data, etc,.) so entire ROMs can be flashed; Other maps (for cars running on E85 and with more mods) will follow

Pricing: $495 (intro)
OpenFlash Stg 1 tune FR-S stock 171.64 vs FR-S tuned 178.20
OpenFlash Tablet Thread
OpenFlash FAQ (Vishnu)

Software Comparison:
http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47339
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Last edited by swift996; 12-12-2014 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:30 AM   #2
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Reserved for more edits:

Any vendors that want to be added please either add a post or PM me (and include a link to your offering). Also if you feel that I have misrepresented your offering please let me know. I'm simply just trying to provide a quick reference/summary thread to help people navigate the world of tuning options for the 86/FRS/BRZ.

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Last edited by swift996; 02-19-2013 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 02-19-2013, 12:26 PM   #3
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swift we've been at it for a few months and are now a vendor here too so you can add to the above.
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Old 02-19-2013, 12:42 PM   #4
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I love that somebody already rated this thread 1 star. Don't forget to add Hydra EMS and Nemesis 2.7 from Element Tuning.
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Old 02-19-2013, 12:47 PM   #5
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5 star rating and recommend sticky

This will help the new guys so we don't have threads asking about tuning since it's not an easy search if you don't know the terms. Will also reduce flames.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:43 PM   #6
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Demand this be added as a sticky. @Guff
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:27 PM   #7
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Sticky this!
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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The masses have spoken...
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATL BRZ View Post
I vote for sticky.

Don't forget to mention that EcuTek tunes are ~$250-300 for each additional map for those wanting to go from stage 1 to 2 or to E85 or FI, and additional Unichip/BRZedit maps are no cost ever, including E85 and FI.
This varies with the tuner. Some recoup via license costs, others via additional tunes. We have a higher starting cost but it includes whatever NA map you want. If you need an update down the road it starts as low as $50 to revise, then hourly if going turbo of making major changes.

E85 is a whole other ballgame--this can be quite involved but ultimately the e-tune will end costing far less than renting a dyno for the requisite time.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:09 AM   #10
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random question. with the stock ecu which "learns" will power gained by adding an intake and exhaust be lost once the vehicle "learns" the modifications?
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:56 AM   #11
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whats the new redline? after tune?
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryljr11 View Post
random question. with the stock ecu which "learns" will power gained by adding an intake and exhaust be lost once the vehicle "learns" the modifications?
All depends on how honest the power claims were and where the initial power came from. Without tuning most intakes and exhausts don't make very much power on the stock ECU in the long term. BUT, VE gains are VE gains. If you can make the system breathe better you will generally make sustainable power to some extent.

With good tuning, you will make more power, and it will be a lot more likely to stick.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boosted2.0 View Post
All depends on how honest the power claims were and where the initial power came from. Without tuning most intakes and exhausts don't make very much power on the stock ECU in the long term. BUT, VE gains are VE gains. If you can make the system breathe better you will generally make sustainable power to some extent.

With good tuning, you will make more power, and it will be a lot more likely to stick.
on ECUtec tunes whats the new rev limit set to? and launch control i saw in some video is set by cruse control switch?
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Old 02-24-2013, 04:51 PM   #14
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Anyone running a perrin tune who part of the initial groupbuy? I would like to read a review.
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