^^^^^^ I am with those guys, my best friend had a tune from Brian @PCMforless in his 96, and seemed to like it, but who knows. You can gain alot from a mail order tune, but IMHO opinion you aren't going to see much difference between which mail order tune you go with, maybe 5HP either way, no matter who does them, it would just be a factor of customer service. The only true way to tune is to dyno it and have it custom done there, or datalog alot and send it off as every engine is different.
No you misread what I stated, you should get it tuned and it would run better, but what I meant is that no matter who tunes it there isn't going to be a real difference between the mail order tunes that are made from whoever you get it from. you can only do so much on a non modified car and the mail order tunes are pretty basic from tuner to tuner, sure they probably have their own tweaks, but you can't tweak much and it won't be a huge improvement over stock. Is it worth it HELL yes, hope that clears up what I stated.So it is a waste of time to have a 96 SS with a stock set up to get a PCM tune, trick it up a little from stock, remove rev limitors, set it to my 160 thermo, mess with timing a little to get it to run a little better, and the other things they can do
? I did it in my 94 9c1 and I though I had a bit more zip out of the car and it helped with MPG also.
Mike, here's the honest (and short) answer: After a lot of research, I intentionally decided not to learn it.Joel-
So when are you going to get in the tuning game to add another one to the list LOL
Great stuff, as usual, Sherlock.Mike, here's the honest (and short) answer: After a lot of research, I intentionally decided not to learn it.
Now here's the long answer:
Several years ago I bought Tunercat and started studying all the tables, constants and switches. Then I downloaded a trial version of DataMaster and started looking at it. After literally hours staring at the data, the options, reading everything I could find online, talking to some very experienced tuners, and tweaking only the most basic of transmission parameters here and there, I decided that I simply did not have the time nor the tools to master engine tuning, for several reasons.
1. My time is limited. I have an interesting day job that is mentally involved, a family (after the time I started learning about 4L60Es), and significant responsibilities outside of all that.
2. My cars are only very slightly modified. If you've got a custom motor, ignore the rest of this paragraph, but most people who buy tunes have cars that are nearly stock. GM literally had multiple engineers working for months on a fleet of test vehicles using test equipment / analysis tools such as engine dynos, chassis dynos, and computer simulations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. All of this effort went into the final PCM calibrations that were delivered with these vehicles. The final product was a tune that would work in Death Valley, CA, Northern Canada, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Maine, the mountains of Colorado, and everywhere in between. I guarantee you that any horsepower that was left on the table was left there for a reason. A stock tune literally represents hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of R&D, and very few people in our circles even comprehend that.
3. I started reading about the complexities of combustion and what actually happens in regard to spark and fuel, and the complex tradeoffs that are made when one moves the needle in any direction with these parameters. I realized that I didn't have the test equipment nor test environment to be able to actually measure any improvements based on the changes I would be making. So if I had no way to measure any improvement on what GM spent $$$$$$$$$$$ doing, and the consequences of mistakes are a broken engine, why bother?
4. Furthermore, the mere idea that someone could make some tweaks to that programming, assume that their test car is similar enough to the fundamental conditions or state of maintenance of hundreds of other people's cars to be useful, then sell that tune for a couple hundred bucks or even a hundred bucks without any followup or customization after the installation, borders on the insane. It's like buying a mail-order suit - you could send in your dimensions and get a suit that probably fits okay overall, but it won't be optimal to your setup.
5. Most folks measure the efficacy of their tune by WOT gains alone. This totally misses the fact that 90% of driving occurs at part throttle, and part throttle tuning is very time consuming. A whole lot of cars get put up for sale because they run great at WOT but are horrible to drive otherwise.
Now, I'm not knocking other peripheral "tuning" like error codes, VATS, speedometer adjustments or transmission programming in the slightest. Those things are quite measurable and verifiable. In particular, transmission shift points and line pressure programming is absolutely verifiable with datalogging or with a seat-of-the-pants check. That said, both of those are iterative, and a mail-order guy has no way to verify that the shift quality at any particular instant is too firm or too soft. In fact, I would encourage DIYers with electronically controlled transmissions such as 4L60Es, especially those who have changed their rear axle ratio or gone to a different converter, to play with their shift points and line pressure until the car drives the way they like. One (obvious) caveat: you need to know what you're doing before you tune. Especially shift points and line pressure.
Finally, I'm not knocking mail order tuners as a whole. The tuner programs themselves, if they're anything like TunerCat, are not very intuitive and in some cases even mislabeled / misleading. Having a knowledgeable tuner gets around these pitfalls. Generally they have accumulated enough "domain expertise" to where they have a good idea of what's going on and have a decent likelihood of being able to correct any remaining concerns. One tuner I've noticed (perhaps there are now more like him) will do tuning remotely by having the customer send datalogs after a tune, and tweaking accordingly. If I were to build a custom motor, this is the way I would go.
If you've read thus far, you are to be commended. I close with this. I have observed that the amount of investment involved in properly tuning an engine is significant enough that:
a) I treat tunes as valuable intellectual property and refuse to give out other companies' tunes for free so someone can avoid buying one.
b) if the time comes that I need a tune for a custom setup, I will gladly pay the money to have someone knowledgeable invest their time to tune it properly, even if it runs into the hundreds of dollars. I will quickly gain that money back in performance, fuel economy, and reliability.
So that's why I don't tune.