Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuning the Mustang

OK, first off, tuning with this programmer has been 100% worth it.  Now that you know it's all working out and I haven't killed my engine (yet), let's dig into the details.

Side note: 'Tuner' or 'Programmer'?  Different people use different terms, sometimes meaning the person developing the new engine program ('tune'), some meaning the device, and some meaning the end user.  Here, I'm talking about the device itself when I say 'programmer'.

Whatever the name, it's easy to use, and allegedly interfaces with a Macintosh.  That last point tipped me into buying this particular model.  But the Macintosh interface is a DIY affair, and takes a lot of placing this file here, that file there.  To get it right the first time go plug it into a buddy's Windows machine and hit the auto-update program.  That auto-update is pretty slick and it takes all the guesswork out of it.  And brother, when there's a chance that the thing could brick your engine, you do want the the guesswork taken out.

Anyway, as it comes from American Muscle (it's a Mustang parts shop, not some steroid site) it is pre-loaded with 3 basic tunes for a particular car's engine that'll cover nearly all bases.  And yes, you send them all your car's particulars, including mods and most especially including the powertrain control computer's serial number.  Here are brief descriptions of the three tunes sent from the AM web site:

  • Street (87-93 octane) - The street tune is designed as a daily driver program that focuses on increasing mid-range power. Automatic vehicles are further enhanced by making adjustments to the transmission's shift points and firmness.

  • Performance (87-93 octane) - The Performance program is designed to add power at 3000 RPMs and higher, focusing more on the top end horsepower and all out performance driving. Timing, fuel and throttle response settings are slightly more aggressive than the street tune. This is a great track tune but also works well for daily drivers that are looking for a little more "get up and go" than the street tune. The automatic transmission settings are the same as in the street tune.

  • Race (91 - 93 octane) - The race tune will ensure the largest increase in vehicle performance. Using the highest grade of fuel available in your area is mandatory. This file is designed for "Race Use Only", as the timing, fuel, and throttle response settings are very aggressive. It is so aggressive that we do not recommend it for daily driving as it may cause your vehicle to try to jump out from a stop and easily spin the tires. On automatics, we implement entirely new shift points and firmness settings to further enhance the all-out performance of the vehicle.
OK, what do I think after using all three for a month and what am I using to drive with now?  Performance is damn good, and easily let me blow past a Camaro on I-10 a couple of weeks ago (hey, he challenged...).  Race is just like Performance, just bigger and badder.  I've been driving it for a couple of days on my commute.  It is the madman option, and you will know the difference.  But both of these are designed to let things open up above 3k RPM, which is pretty spicy for driving around town.  So, how about the Street option?  That's what I'm setting things back to in just a minute, not for the all-out performance, but just because it's fun.  Loads of torque on launch, and every leisurely shift at low speed around town makes a lovely snarl*pop*gurglemmmmm sound.  Or do it fast and it's just a quick snarl. Like I said, fun.

Enough writing, out to the car.  Aaah, the equivalent of a double shot of espresso for the engine.

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