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Jim G has a new toy: EFILIve Tuning & diagnostic software!

1262 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  bgetz
I have been researching tuning software for several weeks, and have finally made the plunge: EFILive tuning and diagnostic software.

I had earlier eliminated the various microtuner products (Predator, Superchips, Crane), because they really only work properly on an otherwise bone stock SSR, as they have no provisions for handling modded engines, at least as you buy them.

It is technically true that the Crane microtuner is pre-programmed to handle certain selected Crane cams and other physical mod parts, but the reality is that you are VERY unlikely to ONLY change those specific parts, and go to those specific choices of Crane parts. It is just way too limiting for me. I want to have a lot more choices than that, AND you really only get worthwhile power results when you change a NUMBER of things in UNISON.

Yes, I know that Predator (and maybe some of the other microtuner companies also) will do a custom map for you if you specify what you have or will be doing to the vehicle, or send them the results of a dyno run with exhaust gas analysis, but that is pretty cumbersome and slow, and really not a good alternative to real fullblown tuning and diagnostic software.

The fullblown tuning and diagnostic software, like LS Edit, HP Tuner, or EFILive, all offer the maximum amount of control that it is techncally possible to have. I say "technically possible" because all these products are NOT blessed by GM, but are rather developed by private companies using reverse software engineering techniques on the locked and deliberately obscure GM PCM programming. The reason that the control is not 100% is simply because GM uses some very deliberately confusing techniques in an effort to prevent or at least make it very diffficult to alter their factory settings. They are particularly obscure on items that are of particular interest to performance enthusiasts: "abuse management", "torque management", "traction control", and throttle control.

I really wasn't ready to make this pruchase until i really had to, but MTI Racing and I sort of hit the point where someone has to learn all the obsucure details of the factory PCM programming, to get where we want my SSR to go, and Reese simply doesn't have enough time. He got his hard earned Corvette C5 and C6 expertise via lots of hours of poring over computer screens, and actually doing a LOT of Corvettes, and he's simply not there yet on the SSR.

So, I got my own EFILive license and blackbox cable, and now I have over 350 individual calibrations to learn about!

This is SERIOUS software guys. Some of those 350 calibration items are simply one-field entries, but others are fullblown 3-dimensional tables (with matching 3-D graphs!) with HUNDREDS of entries in each such table.

The degree of control, IF you take the time to learn what you are doing, is breathtaking. For a really simple example, you can fine tune the points at which your transmissio shifts, based on throttle opening, to a virtually infinite degree. You can do that by changing points in a table, or by manipulating a graph with your mouse.

If you have significantly modded your engine, you can actually manipulate things like spark advance and air/fuel ratio in either a 3-D table or directly manipulating a 3-D graph. You have very powerful smoothing and blending tools to help you get more professional results.

You can control torque management at individual throttle and rpm settings.

You can compare any 2 tunes either visually, or have the software do the comparison for you and list for you EVERY single difference between the two, including all the individual differnet entries in 3-D tables and graphs. This feature is for exmaple allowing me to compare what MTI did to what the previous tuner did (he used different software even) to the factory tune.

My biggest problem is that even though I chose the most user-friendly software, and even though it has "Help" for each individual field right on the screen right near the field, I don't know NEARLY enough (even after 37 years of working on both cars and motorcycles) to safely change more than a very small percentage of the settings!

I am in fact looking hard for books that will educate me better on how engine management systems in general work. I already have 2 such books, and neither one has the required level of individual field detail, so I'm continuing to look.

What makes me go through all this effort is that

1. I intend to keep this vehicle a long time as I really like it - a lot more even than the 3 Corvettes I have owned in the past, and a lot more than the 30 or so other 4-wheeled vehicles I have owned)

2. I want to make this vehicle incremently better bit by bit over time

3. I want to be abe to change things physically and reset the electronic controls to optimize things each time I do so, and be able to try a lot of different alternatives.

I figure that once I find either the right book or the right experienced tutor, I will probably be able to have more fun electronically altering and perfecting this vehicle than I have ever had before doing just mechanical mods.

I really think that all the good memories about the 60s muscle cars are great, but in reality we are NOW in a much more golden age for car enthusiasts. The possibilities are much greater.

Jim G
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You are undertaking an awesome and yet fully worthwhile project here! I have come to realize that I do not understand very much at all about what I call "cyber-tweak" :) In fact, it just plain SCARES me! (hey! I'm 50 years old - I can be scared of some new stuff!) About 3 years ago I thought briefly about jumping in and learning about this, but this "cyber-tweak" stuff advances so rapidly I realized that a guy with my limited mental resources would never actually be up to date on this!

This intimidates me enough that when I took my SSR to a local tuner (HP Tuner software I believe - not 100% certain however), that despite his pleading I only let him change cooling fan and shift firmness parameters!

Jim, I bet you ARE a guy that can get a firm grip on this very complex subject. If you do go ahead with this I for one, eagerly look forward to future posts. (This will be like watching movies in school - learning without the effort!) :lol

I agree with Blast

I'm considering following your performance route just to simplify and know where I'll end up :flag


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I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I am leaning heavily on Reese at MTI Racing.

His knowledge of engine management in general is deep. But, he still is learning about the torque management features used on the Chevrolet trucks as opposed to cars. The TM features on the trucks are much more significant and very obscure in their documentation.

I am right now studying 3 separate manuals (LS Edit, HP Tuner, and EFILive) to try to build some expertise so I can bounce ideas off of Reese. I am getting GREAT performance from my modded SSR under "normal" conditions, but the WOT performance is still being "edited" by either TM or other controls built into the PCM software. We need to find and adjust those.

Jim G
Here's an interesting tidbit from a writeup on a GM awards program for technical innovations:


This innovation provides a means for rapidly determining the effects of ignition timing on engine torque throughout the full dynamic range of vehicle engine operation. Increasingly complex engine torque control algorithms are used to facilitate the management of engine torque for transmission shift quality and traction control. Discrete changes in spark advance result in immediate changes in engine output. Historically the response of engine torque to spark advance has been determined through steady-state dynamometer testing. This requires that the engine be stabilized at each operating point prior to acquiring data. This is time consuming and places unrealistic constraints on the range of testing. The new procedure utilizes measured engine combustion parameters to allow testing of extremely short duration, thus improving productivity and removing the unrealistic constraints on testing.

The Rapid Retard Procedure for Engine Torque team includes Joe Kelly, Dr. Dave Lancaster, Sean Slade and Ray Sroka all of GM Powertrain in Warren, Michigan.


This is just one indiviual dimensino of a multi-dimensjonal use of software to convert driver instruction to software filtered driver "suggestion".

Jim G
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I Agree

I agree with the others Jim. I have read (with great interest) every post you have shared with us. JUST AMAZING...... The most important thing I have learned is not to mess with with this stuff without first knowing the end result. I have been guilty of fixing it up / hot rodding it without knowing what will happen PRIOR to performing the change.
In short, keep sharing your progress and ideas & thanks for the education.
BGetz :seeya
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