2014 RCR #1...PCM tuning

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Al Fernandez
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2014 RCR #1...PCM tuning

Postby Al Fernandez » Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:36 pm

Traditionally taboo in CMC, Kevin Jander has submitted a well thought out proposal. Please be considerate in your discussion of this topic. For full transparency, Kevin had more to say but I edited in the interest of keeping it brief. I'm sure he'll chime in if I left off anything he feels is important.

1) Kevin Jander / Texas / Car #63
2) 7.9.9
3) Removal of PCM components via a tune such as PATS/anti-theft, EGR, EVAP, ABS, traction control, and other emissions/non-performance related items is allowed. Any modifications to fuel tables, timing, spark, or any other parameters related to engine performance are not allowed.
4) Reasoning for change:
The main reason I would like to see this rule added is because none of these systems are needed on a race car. With a stock tune these systems must be in place to keep from throwing a Check Engine light, and in many cases malfunctioning EVAP and EGR systems can cause vacuum leaks which can lead to poorly running engines. Not having cats can also cause lean/rich conditions if the computer is not modified or MIL eliminators aren’t installed. Having a check engine light constantly on is not ideal either, as it is difficult to know when a real problem has surfaced due to the check engine light always being on.

Removal and tuning out of these systems also allows for much cleaner wiring in the car and easier troubleshooting of issues. Many systems are tied into the PATS/anti-theft modules, and one shorted or cut wire can potentially cause a car not to start.

As an example of cost (for a 4.6), a replacement EGR will cost $60, along with the associated headaches of actually trying to diagnose a problem (usually a vacuum leak). An EGR block off plate is $30. For an EVAP system malfunction, it will cost $55 for the purge valve, $125 for a new charcoal canister, and $40 flow sensor. On older cars most of the EVAP lines are dry rotted and will plug the purge valve and flow sensor. To get rid of the check engine light for having no cats, MIL eliminators are required, which cost $70. The total cost for all these items (excluding the EGR block off) would be $350. I know the cost because I’m about to replace all these items on my car. A handheld tuner for a 4.6 is $380. So, while initially more expensive, the tuner allows for the complete removal of these systems without the potential for engine problems and no check engine lights. It will also allow the disabling of PATS/anti-theft and other systems and can minimize the complexity of the wiring and allow easier diagnosis of issues.

An argument against allowing tuning out of the above mentioned items that I’ve heard in the past has been that this opens up the door for performance tuning. My rebuttal to this argument is: What’s stopping someone from doing this already?.
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D. Francis
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Re: 2014 RCR #1...PCM tuning

Postby D. Francis » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:52 am

Al Fernandez wrote:Removal of PCM components via a tune such as PATS/anti-theft, EGR, EVAP, ABS, traction control, and other emissions/non-performance related items is allowed. Any modifications to fuel tables, timing, spark, or any other parameters related to engine performance are not allowed.
How do we police it?

Al Fernandez wrote:none of these systems are needed on a race car. With a stock tune these systems must be in place to keep from throwing a Check Engine light, and in many cases malfunctioning EVAP and EGR systems can cause vacuum leaks which can lead to poorly running engines.
So can bad coils/wires, fuel filters, air filters, exhaust leaks, etc.

Al Fernandez wrote:Removal and tuning out of these systems also allows for much cleaner wiring in the car and easier troubleshooting of issues.
So race a carbureted car.

Al Fernandez wrote:As an example of cost (for a 4.6)... would be $350. I know the cost because I’m about to replace all these items on my car. A handheld tuner for a 4.6 is $380.
Sounds cheap compared to a big brake kit, or more new tires, or test days, or race weekends, or tow vehicles.

Al Fernandez wrote:What’s stopping someone from doing this already?.
The current rule set and honest racers.

That said, how do we police it? I have a MIL because the PCM is from an automatic car. I don't think this is a BAD idea, just not yet convinced it good enough to warrant the rule change.

Also, are we going to open up the electronics before we address some of the chassis longevity issues?

Again, I'm on the fence and look forward to the smart guys chiming in.
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ShadowBolt
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Postby ShadowBolt » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:16 am

One thing I do like about this is we could exchange ECU's. When Jeremy could not get his car to run right and he was sure Tony G had a tune in my car I offered to exchange ECU's and go on the dyno at Houston but it would not work.

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Postby suck fumes » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:30 am

We can't exchange ecu's anyway cause each computer has a diff part number and they all vary from year to year. You can't put say a 99 in an 02 for example. Unless NASA invests in the $10k master ECU reader that ford dealers have than this can never be policed fully.
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Postby ShadowBolt » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:00 am

I thought some years would change back and forth. I certainly don't know the answer.

JJ

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Postby blk96gt » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:15 am

You can swap ECU's but you have to disable PATS to be able to do it. The ECU is tied to the PATS transceiver module, gauge cluster, and key. You swap ECU's on a stock car and it won't start. On top of that, there is different programming for many of the ECU's in the 96+ 4.6 cars. Here's a list of what can be swapped:
- 96-97 can be swapped
- 98 is by iteslf
- 99-00 swappable
For the 01-04's, they swapped to different injectors at some point during this time and I'm not sure if the tune changed.

blk96gt
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Postby blk96gt » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:50 am

D. Francis wrote:How do we police it?

How do we police it now? Anyone with a 4.6 (I don't know how it works with L[S/T]-1's or 5.0's) can go pick up a hand held tuner and start modifying fuel tables, timing, etc. without ever going to a dyno. If there is no way to police it, then why have the rule? We can argue all day about the ethics of it, but the fact remains that people will do whatever it takes to win regardless of the "spirit" of the rules. I personally think that spending any time at the dyno trying to optimize the best hp/tq curve is a giant waste of time. At the power levels we are at and the already large disparity between HP/TQ curves for different engines, I don't think it would ever make much of a difference. There are so many other variables that go into driving that spending $1000 for a day at the dyno would be a waste of time and money.

D. Francis wrote:So can bad coils/wires, fuel filters, air filters, exhaust leaks, etc.

So why have more potential failure points? The aim for the series should be reducing overall cost and maintenance.

D. Francis wrote:So race a carbureted car.

If I want to make things simpler I should just swap to a carbed setup? Why not try to make all car/engine options as simple as possible?

D. Francis wrote:Sounds cheap compared to a big brake kit, or more new tires, or test days, or race weekends, or tow vehicles.

Add up enough cheap items and they start to get expensive. Again, this comes down to simplicity. I would think removing items that are not necessary for the car to run, reduce overall maintenance costs, and eliminate potential failure points would be something that everyone wants?

D. Francis wrote:The current rule set and honest racers.

That said, how do we police it? I have a MIL because the PCM is from an automatic car. I don't think this is a BAD idea, just not yet convinced it good enough to warrant the rule change.

Also, are we going to open up the electronics before we address some of the chassis longevity issues?

Again, I'm on the fence and look forward to the smart guys chiming in.


See my comment above (although I'm not one of the smart ones).

I'll also add that I stripped down my chassis harness to the bare minimum while still keeping PATS functioning. I also eliminated having to use a key to start the car and have a full switch panel for everything now. The key still has to be in the car, but I just taped it to the transceiver module. If anyone has a 4.6 and wants more info on how it can be done, send me a PM.

Oh one more thing. On any of the car with PATS, if you lose a key, be ready to spend at least $75 getting it reprogrammed at the Ford dealership. If for some reason you have to swap out the ECU, transceiver module, or PATS module, you will have to carry the car up to a dealership to get everything reprogrammed, which will probably cost ~$400 from what I understand.

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Postby DAlgozine » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:11 am

I think this makes good sense. It can improve reliability and keep replacement cost down.
The idea that by opening up the ECU, you are inviting "other changes", doesn't make much sense, because you can already be doing that now. It's not being policed now, and this RCR doesn't change that.
If you really want to police the tune on ECU's , one method that may help is to designate one or a select few, approved tune shops across the country to check and certify ECU's. Of course, if you really want to cheat, you can get around this also.
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D. Francis
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Postby D. Francis » Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:49 am

blk96gt wrote:Oh one more thing. On any of the car with PATS, if you lose a key, be ready to spend at least $75 getting it reprogrammed at the Ford dealership. If for some reason you have to swap out the ECU, transceiver module, or PATS module, you will have to carry the car up to a dealership to get everything reprogrammed, which will probably cost ~$400 from what I understand.
So you picked the wrong platform... 8) (don't worry - you're too far ahead of me for any contact)

blk96gt wrote:At the power levels we are at and the already large disparity between HP/TQ curves for different engines, I don't think it would ever make much of a difference. There are so many other variables that go into driving that spending $1000 for a day at the dyno would be a waste of time and money.
There will always be tradeoffs between the platforms.

DAlgozine wrote:It's not being policed now, and this RCR doesn't change that.
Except that it is. As competitors we EXPECT (and implicitly demand) that fellow racers are not KNOWINGLY cheating. If you're going to come race CMC and cheat... for what? And you are correct - allowing for tuning out extraneous, in race car terms, functions does not automatically imply performance enhancments.

It is currently policed in the sense we do have on-track data from the magnetic "black box" and from everybody else that's on track.

I understand you guys point of view - maybe we should just put the 5.3 LS motor in everything.
David Francis

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blk96gt
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Postby blk96gt » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:52 pm

D. Francis wrote:There will always be tradeoffs between the platforms.

I'm not arguing that there shouldn't be tradeoffs when deciding on what platform to go with. What I am arguing is that platform tradeoffs should be based on performance. How to deal with emissions, anti-theft, etc. should never be part of the tradeoffs when choosing a platform for a race car. Will there be caveats and quirks with each platform? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to make each one as easy as possible to deal with, especially when there are no performance gains to be had.

No one wants to spend their race weekend trying to diagnose a problem (well, at least I don't), so why not allow the removal of items that the only thing they can do is cause problems?

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Postby Supercharged111 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:33 pm

I like it. Cheaters gonna cheat anyway, so all this does for the honest guys is make their car less ghetto.
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Postby BryanL » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:23 am

This has really been an issue since the start of CMC so I don't see the need to change it now. Everyone has dealt with it in the past. If you don't want to deal with it you can run a carb-well I don't have that option in a 98 Camaro so it's a tradeoff. Why don't we allow carbed cars to put more computer tuning and sensors on their car's to help them in case there is a problem with their car not running right. Besides-most of the time a car isn't running right it's generally something that the owner did to the car like-I don't know crossed some plug wires at TWS so the owner missed a weekend of racing and was ready to get a new car.

I haven't had a check engine light on my car for years and it hasn't been an issue. If your car isn't running right then you can scan it and it will tell you whats wrong. Sure you will have plenty of other codes but do I care that my car throws a code for the fans because I have them on a separat switch?

OMG-my light is on because I have an EGR code because I blocked my EGR. Big deal-so does my diesel truck.

Cleaner wiring sure isn't a reason to consider a change. I don't see how this makes it easier to troubleshoot a car not running right? If I have an engine misfire then this isn't going to change or help the diagnosis.

Cost-sounds cheaper to just block off the EGR and what do you need an EVAP system on a race car anyway? So buy the MIL eliminators for $70 and a block off and you just saved $300 instead of buying a tuner.

I still don't understand how this is going to make it easier to diagnose an issue? Like Jerry said-Jeremy created WWIII over the tuning of the computer and issue with his car running not running right. Well a tuner wouldn't have helped him any as it was an unrelated issue-I see the same thing when it comes to EGR or whatever. Please show us an instance where this would make a difference in diagnosis? Though I don't see that as reason enough for more rules creep.

I can tell you from experience that you can tune an LS1 and it will make a difference on the track. I know this as I was the guinea pig that did all the tuning/restrictors to get the power down to 280 initially for CMC2 and then to 260. I ran a weekend with a tuned computer (which the other two in my class knew it was). And it can definitely make a difference when you can up power under the curve and then cut it out at the topend to stay under the limit. It won't put me on the podium in Texas but it could definitely be the difference between two cars on the podium.

Your best argument is that it isn't checked so it can't be policed. Well there are tons of things that aren't checked which people do but that still doesn't make it right. Go ahead and cheat to win some tire money, I have no doubt in my mind that there are people who do race with a tuned computer.

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Postby D. Francis » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:49 am

blk96gt wrote:so why not allow the removal of items that the only thing they can do is cause problems?
You are allowed to race with full emissions and AC if you want.

To try and "level set" I did some scanning/reading through the Rule Questions/Answers section back to 2002. What is the standard that forms the basis of CMC racing in 2014/15?

Is it 1) take a street car, install the required saftey related items and come racing? OR, 2) take a street car, build a "race car" and come racing?

I agree the proposal is well thought out and rational - if I had a vote it would be no. And I really should just stop and put a period. Here.
David Francis

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Postby blk96gt » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:34 am

It's no skin off my back one way or another. My car is fully functional with all that shit in place. I had to come up with some reason other than it's not needed, so the reasoning above is what I went with. The main reason I wanted to submit this is because I realized how much of a pain in the ass it was when I was stripping down my chassis harness. Was I able to do it? Sure. Did I need to gut the chassis harness? No, but I like things simple (in the long run).

The argument that no one has had those issues before is irrelevant. There have been very few 4.6's that have been raced around the country. I can only tell you the potential problems that can happen. I've never encountered any of the issues I mentioned in regards to PATS, but the fact remains that they are potential issues. I can't tell you what the chances are that any of the above would happen, only that they can.

I just want to know why we need to keep things on the car that have absolutely nothing to do with the performance of the car. That's it. I don't see how it opens up the door for other things. If the rule is allowed that doesn't mean you have to do it. The car maintains stock appearance.

Nothing in the rules say you can't take a street car, drop a cage and safety equipment in it and go racing. You will never be near the front of the pack when you do this. If this is the goal of the series, then we are a long ways from that, and we need to start removing allowed modifications from the rules instead of adding them.

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Postby ShadowBolt » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:49 am

If I had a vote it would be yes (and damn I hate to go with Kevin on anything). The wiring on my car is a f'ing mess and I worry about something grounding out and causing issues. Not that worried about it but I don't really see this as "rules Creep".

Now big brakes, 17" wheels, 260 hp...........


JJ


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