18 October 2012

A New Dawn in Tuning

Over the years I have flashed an NC MX-5 probably 200 times. This would include my car (the Blue Meany) as well as numerous customer cars that have gone forced induction and had me do the installation. 

The tuning part of the installation has always been the part that I have dreaded the most. It is amazing how time consuming driving, logging, emailing the log along with driving impressions, downloading a new tune, loading it onto the interface box, flashing the ECU and repeating the process at least a half dozen times (usually it takes at least a dozen times) can be.

What made the above process most frustrating was that when the customer picked up the car I was never really happy with how the car ran. It always seemed to be an interim tune that the customer could drive safely but if they wanted refinement (and power) they'd have to spend more time on the tune themselves. That day has ended now my friends.

I recently sold and installed my previously loved Cosworth supercharger. I did not include the Sniper interface box as I was still using it to dial in my new Begi turbo setup, so the customer had to source the tuning on his own. He chose to go with TDR and the EcuTek interface.

Once the SC was installed I emailed Jay at TDR the relevant ECU dump info and he had a tune ready for me in a jiffy and said that he'd be standing by ready to make revisions. I flashed the ECU and got my DashDaq setup and ready for a few days of the "normal" tuning process. Once the car was warmed up and I confirmed that the car and SC were not leaking any vital fluids I took the car out for an easy shake down run. Immediately I noticed that the cars ignition was missing and shortly the car threw a CEL confirming what I was feeling. I called Jay and let him know what I found and that I'd be taking the car back to the shop to fix the plague of the 06 NC, a broken #3 coil wire. Jay said he'd be standing by. I repaired the broken wire and quickly got back to logging amidst the corn fields of West Michigan. 

I did my usual first tune type driving, setting the trims then gradually loading the car up more until KR showed up or AFRs got lean. However this time I found my self getting farther and farther from my shop. The car was not knocking and AFRs were near ideal. I began pushing the car harder, giving the brakes a real workout as I'd quickly decel from inappropriate speeds then back up again with grin inducing quickness all the while keeping an eye on the data logger. All systems were within spec and the car was amazingly quick. Could it be possible that this car is tuned perfectly on the first tune? Well, not quite perfect as AFRs were 11.1 from 5k on but otherwise this tune was perfect. Driveability was exemplary, AFRs were completely stable and predictable, power was what I'd expect at 10psi with a stock exhaust, and there was absolutely zero KR anywhere. I had to lug the motor to prove to myself that the knock sensor was still working. 

After a long and delightful drive I called Jay to thank him for making my life as an installer easier and to commend him on the quality of this tune. Jay told me that he was sending a tune to get those 11.1 AFRs a bit leaner, which it did, and now after 2 tunes this car is ready to deliver to the customer. I am fully confident in the stability and safety of this tune and am amazed at the power we are getting out of a comparatively mild setup. It's just a total blast to drive. 

I am still flabbergasted that the first tune was as good as or better than any tune I have ever experienced on any NC, regardless of the time put in to refine it. The day we have all been longing for where we can add boost to our cars and with little effort get it tuned with stable, predictable AFRs, no KR, stock like smoothness, and obscene acceleration is finally here. 

I wrote this post for a thread on Miata.net

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