Tuner insight/advice

Discussion in 'Generation 4 - Performance Upgrades' started by stripSHO, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. stripSHO

    stripSHO New Member

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    Hi all,

    Let me just start with thanks for any input you can give and all the information I've read on this site already.

    Been doing a lot of thinking about how to approach turning my SHO into a beast. Initially, I was more or less just going to hand Livernois a blank check and let them do their thing (I live 20 miles away from them). But in light of some recent reading I've opted for the "If you want it done right you do it yourself" approach. So I'll be taking on all my upgrades myself as time allows, including tuning. It's not going to all happen at once, but let's suffice to say the sky is the limit. Oh btw I've never tuned an EFI system before. But I have a strong understanding of the process, and the way I see it - tuning an engine with a computer spitting endless information at you cannot possibly be more difficult than tuning an engine with nothing to go on other than the read of a spark plug.

    To start things off, the SCT Livewire seems like a great device for monitoring and storing tunes, with oodles of canned tunes to choose from (Gearhead is at the top of the list). However, as I progress from mild to wild I want to take full charge of my tunes. Problem is, I can't even seem to find as much as a screenshot of what SCT's software looks like, and the only way I can obtain it is to become an authorized dealer. I'm not the least bit interested in selling hardware so this seems like way more aggravation (and expense I assume) than necessary. And as far as I can tell the Livewire would not be usable on any of my other cars in the driveway.

    So, enter HPTuners. No "dealer" or training requirements. Supports a buttload of vehicles. Credit system allows you to use the same device to program many vehicles. Support community seems solid. But the hardware is a little lame- you need your laptop to monitor or flash a tune.

    Ultimately, I want to use the system that has the most complete tables. Which system would that be? If it's SCT (or something else), how big are the hoop jumps to get the software?

    For those familiar with SCT: If I buy a Livewire, would I be able to store tunes from other programs on it? Obviously I wouldn't expect it to directly flash an HPT tune, Cobb tune, etc. But could a custom HPT tune be flashed via the MPVI to the PCM, then uploaded back to the Livewire?


    Another option, the nuclear one... would be to say eff flashing the oem ECM and trying to solve all the problems of quadratic equations and the ambiguous "torque management" which I've read about over and over again with no clear definition of what it is. I could get an aftermarket ECU and an aftermarket transmission control and get unbridled command over the drivetrain. I'm probably crazy for even considering that, right???
     
  2. Shokev

    Shokev Member

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    You should go with gear head tuning from my research the best tuning. Go on their website ghtuning.com


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    I have a SCT livewire and also the HPTuners mpvi2.
    You can purchase a single Vin SCT unlock for around 350 or so. The HPTuners costs 100 for an unlock.
    First of all tuning these cars isn't difficult but definitely requires knowledge and experience.
    As far as tuners, I recommend GearHead or AJPTurbo.
    If the sky is the limit, you need a new platform. The second tallest hill is the limit when it comes to the PTU.
    Overall it's a fun car and you can achieve roughly 500whp with a decent size bankroll. When you go beyond that, you better love your car because it's gonna cost you. I'm not sure you can achieve much over 600whp. Maybe someone can link builds of those who have.

    Best of luck!!!
    TLDR is HPTuners>SCT if you know how to tune.
    Tuners=GearHead or AJPTurbo
     
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  4. 76FoMoCo

    76FoMoCo SHO Member

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    ^^^^ this! on a stock turbo and fuel pump set up you looking at 415-425 WHP with only down pipes or meth.
     
  5. stripSHO

    stripSHO New Member

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    "We’ve run [unrestricted] dyno tests close to 1,000 hp. When we set the 223-mph speed record at Daytona, the V6 was making 800 hp. And we ran 10 miles at WOT.” http://www.superstreetonline.com/features/news/1505-ford-ecoboost-twin-turbo-v6-exclusive-look

    Obviously my transmission wouldn't handle that and I'm not necessarily aiming that high. But I read somewhere a guy claiming 600 whp and countless passes without any breaks. Honestly the PTU doesn't frighten me one bit. This so-called "AWD" is great and all, but there's cars running 7-second 1/4's on FWD so I don't consider AWD that critical for my car that's never going to get anywhere close to that power level. So if/when the PTU breaks I might just get rid of it. Less weight, less maintenance, less drivetrain loss. All those sound like +'s to me.

    High On Methanol, I appreciate your repeated concern that I have the wrong car. I could order a GT500 or a Hellcat or just about any car that tickles my fancy. I CHOSE my SHO because it's the car I WANT for many reasons. Please understand that I'm not out to build the fastest car in the world, but to make THIS CAR as quick as humanly possible. And even if I spend $20k along the way, I'll still have less invested than the sticker price of a new, stock SHO. $30-$40k for an 11-second car that can still haul the family up north with good MPG's and massage my ass along the way sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
     
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  6. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    Well you are on the right track then! I wasn't trying to discourage you, it's difficult to convey emotion and intent with text. I've enjoyed my SHO considerably. Especially on long trips and around town. I was disappointed by aftermarket support and extremely letdown by Ford engineering. I'm set to purchase a whippled f150 in spring and still haven't fully committed to trading in the SHO.
    As far as tuning goes, I've messed around with the HPTuner software and can get decent results but nothing compared to AJPTurbo, GearHead, Ortiz, unleashed,brewcity,etc......
    I really think HPTuners is the future of tuning unless SCT can avoid the government or find loopholes. SCT is also lacking when it comes to the end-user,they are more geared for a dealer who can ship tunes.

    I am looking forward to seeing your progress and any accomplishments you set out to achieve be met with success.
     
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  7. stripSHO

    stripSHO New Member

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    Don't worry man. I'm way too stubborn to get discouraged lol! And I've been turning wrenches for 25 years - cars, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, etc. and haven't broke one yet; so while I admittedly have no idea what I'm doing at this moment, I also know exactly what I'm doing.:huh:

    So, are you able to use the livewire to store/flash your HPT tunes? Or do you have to switch to the MPVI? I'm sure the file formats between the two aren't compatible, but what I'm wondering is if you can flash the PCM with HPT, then upload that tune as "stock" or whatever with SCT then rename it?

    I'm looking to pull the trigger today on the livewire, but if there's not a method of getting HPT tunes or others into those 10 storage slots then I might just downgrade to the X4 to save a couple bucks.
     
  8. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    No you can't put any HPTuners on an SCT but you can flash SCT tunes with the HPTuner device as long as they aren't locked via strategy code changes.

    It isn't quick but basically you can flash with SCT,read with HPTuners, save it. Then reflash using HPTuners.
    Make sure you always flash to stock before switching devices to prevent errors.

    The primary problems come from tuners who rename the strategy to try to prevent you from seeing changes. This can be reversed using hex editing but at that point you are better off finding tuners with unlocked tunes to learn from. Most reputable tuners will charge more for an unlocked tune.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  9. SM105K

    SM105K Land Yacht Pilot Supporting Member

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    That is exactly what Ford Performance does with their junk tunes.
     
  10. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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  11. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    Which part?
     
  12. SM105K

    SM105K Land Yacht Pilot Supporting Member

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    I bolded your statement in the quotes. They change the strategy on the vehicle for their junk tunes.
     
  13. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    Ah ok, didn't notice the bold. I wonder if they change the strategy or just rename it. A few tuners just rename it so it gives error codes if you try to read it. I would imagine does actually changes the strategy itself.
     
  14. b4black

    b4black Member

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    Most people here don't tune their own cars. They just buy tunes and then upload them.

    There is a good reason for this. Coming from a GM car to the Ecoboost, I found the Ford strategy much more complicated and the it seems to have 10x the tables.

    I don't have the time to invest in learning the Ford calibrations, so I broke down and purchased a tune through Unleashed. They were one to the few tuners that advertised using HPTuners to upload tunes.

    I don't want to necessary know everything they did, but I am interested in what tweaks I can make to the tune. Let's say I make a pass at the track, see zero knock. In my GM, I'd bump up the overall timing a degree or two. Or pull back it is does knock.

    I haven't found any 'tuning guides' for the 3.5 Ecoboost. I did find one, but by then, HPTUNERS had updated the software and many of the tables changed. There are not of lot of people sharing information on the HPTuners forum


    The HPTuners scanner is great for monitoring LTFT, AFR, fuel rail pressure versus desired rail pressure and knock retard/timing.

    I also bought an Aeroforce gauge. Great tool, but it also has little/zero support online. The Aeroforce forum died and they offer minimal information about their product.
     
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  15. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    A lot of info is common if you learn from the other brands and apply the same principle. I started messing with torque tables and raising limiters, increasing spark and watching for knock. The main issue I have is I don't know what other safety checks are there and how far is too far. Basically I lack the experience that Unleashed has.
    The Ford community is very tight lipped for no reason really. The GM forums have tons of helpful information. Most of the stuff is very similar. The transmission tuning seems very much trial and error. I wish I had started back in the early days of EFI, so I wouldn't have to learn everything at once.


    Torrie actually sells unlocked tunes unless he has changed them recently.
    He is amazing at what he does so quickly and seemingly 24/7
     
  16. FiveLeeter918

    FiveLeeter918 Ortiz Performance Sales

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    Congrats on making the decision to jump head first into modifying your tune. This industry is modeled around grass roots "diy" enthusiasts like yourself, and where we all find the enjoyment to keep the passion alive to push the platform further.

    I do have to ask why you feel you would gain more tuning yourself versus utilizing any of the number of tuners that have already made great strides in the platform. Are you worried that they won't feed your needs or that you won't reach your full potential?

    I'll say in your research for SCT, they are VERY dealer focused and utilize training programs to unlock additional capabilities within the program. If you don't take training, you don't get access to the tables needed to do a lot of things you need to make big power like VCT, HPFPs, etc.

    HPTuners is more "here it is, good luck" and you rely on open source information, stolen tunes, and the like to modify your tune as you see fit. Not to say we don't love HPTuners, but it's definitely a tuning pirate's playground.

    If you're looking for a company to grow with you, bundle parts and tuning services, and stay with you through the build process look us up. We're here to help :)
     
  17. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    The primary problems with locked tunes revolve around things such as tuner availability, minor changes that may only take a few minutes yet days of waiting for revisions, constantly harassing a tuner for each bump in performance, the enjoyment of tweaking your own ride.

    I'm not for piracy by any means, but if you purchase a tune and use it on your vehicle, you should be able to adjust it as you want to on your vehicle.

    With that being said, Fiveleeter918 is right about tuning yourself vs paying for a tune. Some people have tons of experience and knowledge and you will achieve quicker results using them.
    I cannot praise GearHead enough for the details they put into their tunes. They have obviously spent a ton of time on the Ecoboost tweaking every setting.
    My goal with HPTuners was to learn how to adjust my own vehicles without buying a tuner for each one...even the X4 gets expensive when you buy a few.

    Ortiz seems solid, I've been itching to try their tunes,just haven't flipped the switch yet.
     
  18. stripSHO

    stripSHO New Member

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    Nowhere to click to add to your cart, hence why I think you have to be a dealer. Or maybe you have to go to a dealer to get it.

    I've learned this in my poking around. Many long, confusing threads about quadratic equations and whatnot. They attempt to measure the amount of blowthrough so they can deduct it from the air mass in the cylinder to use less fuel and boost economy (pun intended). Cobb actually has a great guide to cover the basics. https://cobbtuning.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/PRS/pages/30900388/Ford+Tuning+Guide
    You could also replace the PCM with an aftermarket ECU and Transmission controller and tuning would become 10x easier. But I can only imagine that would be a massive wiring effort if you were to try to keep the instrument cluster functional at all.

    To be blunt, I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I don't dabble in things I don't belong in and I excel leagues above most at the things I apply myself to. And as great as you and the other popular names around here are at what you do (surely better than I will become as a hobbyist), I'm sure you realize that every car is unique and that remote "tunes" can only do so much without agonizing levels of back-and-forth, especially once you get out of cookie-cutter territory. But more so than that, it's about
    1) the convenience of making adjustments at will while doing outside-the-box experiments;
    2) the challenge and satisfaction of extracting every last ounce of power and efficiency from what I have;
    3) not having anywhere to point fingers if things go south.
    4) Something about teaching a man to fish rather than just giving him one...

    Why don't you pay other people to do your tuning for you? :shrug:

    I'm totally down to spend a little money on a bit of model-specific training. What I WON'T do is fork over $1000's for information I already know or can read in a $30 book (or for free online), be held captive by ala carte fees for features, or pay any recurring dealer expenses just for the privilege of tuning my own rides. If you don't mind, PM me some of the details on what it will take to get exactly what I need for my SHO and the other fords sitting in my driveway.

    C'mon, now. Let's be real: the whole tuning industry is a pirate's playground! No matter which brand flasher you use, or what car you're working on, all you're doing is hacking and exploiting the OEM's fixed instruction sets. Once upon a time they had to edit the tables directly through a hex editor in a painful and dangerous trial-and-error fashion. Now we've got a slew of companies to choose from that provide you with a smoother interface for the less computer techy. But at the heart of it SCT didn't design, program or build these PCMs, and you don't have to write a single line of code, so you wouldn't have a product to sell in the first place without pirating the factory tune.

    Right on, I appreciate the attention and well definitely keep ya in mind. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  19. High on Ethanol

    High on Ethanol SHO Member

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    StripSHO, you nailed it man. That pretty much covers everything. The back and forth revisions are the main reason I wanted to learn. I was up to 30+revisions on my first tune and it felt like I could be doing the same thing. With the HPTuner, I essentially reflashed tunes I had bought but tweaked them slightly and tested. I don't know if I really made measurable difference but it just feels better.

    I still use the livewire for day to day monitoring but I absolutely use the HPTuner interface on the laptop when datalogging. Also HPTuners doesn't hide any settings or tables and it doesn't lock to your vehicle.

    At the end of the day,it's your car and your money...spend it how it pleases you.
     
  20. stripSHO

    stripSHO New Member

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    Ordered the livewire powerpack from GH this morning. I'll keep looking into software options and update once I decide to get my feet wet.
     
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