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Which is best in your opinion? You can PM me if you would rather not say it here on the public forum. I really need to know so I hope the experienced builders will help. Thanks.
 

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have you not searched? there are approximately a zillion threads on this very matter.
 

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"I know not what course others may take, but as for myself..." Anthony at PCMPerformance tuned the ride and I've been happy since.

(no experience with pcmforless)
 

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Oh, the age old debate is back. No experience with PCMforless. My dealings with both Alex and Anthony at PCMPerformance have been phenomenal though. The tune was REALLY good also.

-Mike
 

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^^^^^^ 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.
 

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I had an OBDII tune from PCM4less.

Wanted to be able to datalog the car so needed to switch to OBDI.

PCM4less no longer provides that service, so I contacted PCM performance.

How you you gauge "best tune"?


Herter is a great guy, but seems very busy.
Anthony seems a bit more available.

Which ever way you go, you're going to get a great tune, and a great SOTP mod.
 
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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.

^^^^^^ 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.
 

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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.
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.
 
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OK, I misred ya. i was thinking that I had it done to my 94 years ago and always thought it made a dicent diff. Sure not 25 more HP but just a little more zip.
 

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One note - I would question the tuner very thoroughly on what he plans to do with the transmission programming. I just adjusted a friend's tune (by a well-known tuner) that had too-high shift points, a hysteresis condition in 4th that caused a very annoying blip, and entirely too much line pressure at low TPS. We spent nearly two hours driving and tuning, driving and tuning, and by the time we were done, it was 100x nicer to drive.
 

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Don't start that discussion again. I can't think of a faster way to make some staff here a little edgy with that commentcwm3 I do my stuff under the radar and by word of mouth to and for others, but can concurr with most posts here. Mail order is an improvement, but a cusom tune to the car you are working with is that much better. Those that feel no improvement after a mail order tune already have a tune or a physical fault with the vehicle.

Sherlock is dead on though. I can totally say that after about 30 or so tweeks to just trans tables on my own car it feels wonderful. Fluid has been clean and clear for over a year, trans temps are down and mpg is up a couple. no more annoying low speed thunk when an upshift at low throttle has occurred. :D

Chris

PS. Stay the F**K away from the HPP as a power improver. It would piss you off if you knew what they do in thier programming.
 

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You shouldn't be scared at all. Dataloggers are cheap enough that if you buy a tune, datalog it and send it to the tuner and have him make corrections. You can pre agree upon that. It works and many have done it before you. Albiet if you have a mechanical fault and you are trying a tune to "fix it", It won't work like that. If you are having an issue, or if you percieve an issue post about it in the appropriate section. We are a very diverse and capable community here.

Chris
 

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Joel-

So when are you going to get in the tuning game to add another one to the list LOL
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.
 

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Yeah I figured, I am in the same boat, I bought the software all the cables and non sense, every book you could imagine, explored google for countless hours and fell into the same clause as you, I am sure that I could figure it out, but damn it is alot of learning to know just what to do and quite frankly, easy to just drop a 100 bucks or 2 to get it done. So in short I see what you are talking about for sure.

On another note, when I finally got a mail order tune, cause I made some changes to mine, like MAF and other things that I just couldn't account for myself, I contacted Anthony @ PCM Performance, sent him my original tune that I had in my car, as I didn't want to loose reverse lockout and other things, but I wanted a Buick base so my Roady controls would work better in my car. The long and the short of it, I sent him the program the sheet that he needed and the money and I literally had my original, well to a certain point, tweaked to as much as it could be via mail order and sent back to me in 30 minutes. Great service and easy to work with for sure.
I could of gone with Herter, but honestly I contacted him when I did my T56 swap with specific questions on what I wanted and he wouldn't even touch it, almost like it was a waste of his time, so I hung up the phone and never called back. Not saying he is a bad guy and I maybe an isolated experience, but I just don't handle the I am too good to tune your stuff attitude very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
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.
Great stuff, as usual, Sherlock.
I have not modded my car that much and I do NOT want a radical tune. All I have done is take a NEW, 96 LT1 (9 miles on it from factory, not a crate), installed a 227 cam with the split (1.5/1.6) rockers and the appropriate Comp Cams springs. Deleted the AIR and EGR & installed the Home Depot CAI and deleted the mechanical fan and installed the 2 electric fans with Gary's harness. That's about it. Frankly, the car seems to run pretty damn good as it is (only drove it 6 or 7 miles) but I felt that a tune was necessary so it wouldn't run rich in the closed loop mode. I am NOT a fan of messing with the tranny through the PCM unless the mods require shift point changes etc. I would just like a tune that will take into consideration the cam change etc and that's about it.
 

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It's the same reason people gladly pay Karl Ellwein to build engines. Anybody with a few basic tools can put new bearings and rings in their motor. But it is not easy, cheap or quick to accumulate the skill and experience of men such as him.
 
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