"Best" way to tune a low PSI NA-T Setup? - Lexus IS Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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"Best" way to tune a low PSI NA-T Setup?

Hello all, I am quite new to my.is so go easy on me.

I am currently turbocharging my 2002 IS300 and we are almost approaching the time to slap-a-tune on it and call it a day. The tune shouldn't be so heavy because we're only going with about 7-8 PSI but when you research the best method to wrangle your engine everyone has a different method. I have heard some users on ClubLexus claim that the factory ECU won't be able to handle a tune by itself but even then a full stand-alone is required, like an E-MANAGE, which seems to be super popular for IS300's. Is the ULTIMATE worth the price difference than the BLUE? There are also folks who just claim you could put an Apexi SAFC-II after the tune and that will cut it. On the other hand, I know people with NA-T setups and they don't have to run a piggyback at all. I also have sort of miscellaneous questions like, are their chips I could plug into the OBD-II or swap a chip out in the ECU similar to a Honda? Could I send a company my disconnected ECU and they could tune it remotely? Would it be more economical to do it myself if there was a preferred way to upload maps myself?
I apologize for the rampant questions, I just want to do it right.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 12:32 PM
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There's a thread on here from a dude in Australia that has had pretty good success with the factory ECU. He's been updating it pretty regularly, so that might be worth a read through.

Personally, I think the way to go is a parallel ecu arrangement. This way, the OEM ecu continues to handle all its ordinary functions such as the DBW throttle, the cruise control, the A/C functionality and the instrument cluster. It will be reading all the signals it always has. For all it knows, it is running the engine as per normal.

Except you will disconnect it from the injectors and coils.

The 2nd, programmable ecu will be tapped into the crank position, cam position and throttle position sensors (at a minimum, you can tap into knock and others for more functionality). You add a MAP sensor, an IAT sensor, and a wideband O2 sensor that are dedicated to the 2nd ecu. Obviously, this ecu will also be connected to your injectors and coils. This way, you have full control of the fuel/spark with no worries about the toyota ECU doing anything strange and unpredictable. All oem functionality continues to work.

Take a look at the ECU Master offerings. For $900 and $1100, their standalones offer a lot of features that would allow you to tune your system to run and drive great. They also have a cheaper, less featured piggyback ecu for $450 that would probably take care of your needs.

Last edited by Hodgdon Extreme; 04-23-2019 at 01:27 PM.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 12:43 PM
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To answer a couple of your specific questions:

You can not put a chip into the Toyota ecu, nor can it be "flashed". However, there are a few offshore outfits (that seem kinda sketchy to me) that seem to say they are re-flashing. Take a look at BitEdit, for example.

I'm not a fan of interceptor devices that manipulate an oem signals. I know people have used them successfully, but they have limited functionality and (to me) there is too much risk of the OEM ecu "outsmarting" your interceptor.

Again, considering you can buy a dedicated, powerful and straightforward ecu that'll do everything you need and more for $1000 and perhaps less - it seems like the no-brainer solution to me.

Last edited by Hodgdon Extreme; 04-23-2019 at 01:25 PM.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 02:45 PM
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dont buy a piggy back. pay a tuner to tune your car.

Lucy; 04 manual sportdesign
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 03:31 PM
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Agree with above.

The guy on stock ecu/low boost was in South Africa.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.my....93841/%3famp=1

Anyways, anything can be done, but you need to set your goals and go from there. You may be satisfied at low boost but I would be nervous since it was never designed to run that way. You could always try it, and if you blow it up, get better rods/pistons and a stand-alone. I wouldn’t bother with an emanage or FIC. 2/3 the cost of a stand-alone and not nearly as capable. I know people will argue that, but it’s my opinion. I’ve done both and would not do a piggy again. SAFC will just not work on an OBD2 (post 1996) car. It’s a good way to blow it up.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hodgdon Extreme View Post
There's a thread on here from a dude in Australia that has had pretty good success with the factory ECU. He's been updating it pretty regularly, so that might be worth a read through.

Personally, I think the way to go is a parallel ecu arrangement. This way, the OEM ecu continues to handle all its ordinary functions such as the DBW throttle, the cruise control, the A/C functionality and the instrument cluster. It will be reading all the signals it always has. For all it knows, it is running the engine as per normal.

Except you will disconnect it from the injectors and coils.

The 2nd, programmable ecu will be tapped into the crank position, cam position and throttle position sensors (at a minimum, you can tap into knock and others for more functionality). You add a MAP sensor, an IAT sensor, and a wideband O2 sensor that are dedicated to the 2nd ecu. Obviously, this ecu will also be connected to your injectors and coils. This way, you have full control of the fuel/spark with no worries about the toyota ECU doing anything strange and unpredictable. All oem functionality continues to work.

Take a look at the ECU Master offerings. For $900 and $1100, their standalones offer a lot of features that would allow you to tune your system to run and drive great. They also have a cheaper, less featured piggyback ecu for $450 that would probably take care of your needs.
Sorry for thread-jacking, but I couldn't help but ask, does it mean that I can still run my auto gearbox as OEM (paddle/button shift mode) while running parallel ECUs? I was planning for a piggyback to keep my slush box happy!!!
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Arzon View Post
Sorry for thread-jacking, but I couldn't help but ask, does it mean that I can still run my auto gearbox as OEM (paddle/button shift mode) while running parallel ECUs? I was planning for a piggyback to keep my slush box happy!!!
Wish I could give you a firm answer on this, but I don't know for sure.

I do know that for the auto to work properly, the DBW throttle system must remain intact and happy, as does the MAF. I've read various things around here about the auto getting pissed off about O2 sensors working improperly. I don't see how that is possible - maybe those people are mistaken, but I've no experience with the autos.

What I can say, however, is from an OEM standpoint, sending the car into limp mode is recognized as a significant safety threat. Toyota does not want a customer to be trying to pull out into traffic, only to experience a limp mode that prevents the car from accelerating normally. Limp mode is usually tied to a serious malfunction that could be dangerous to the operator. Tying O2 sensor performance into the limp strategy seems like super high risk in this regard. But, I didn't work for Toyota in the late 1990s, so who knows? I have worked in OBD calibration for other OEMs though, and there is NO WAY that trans shifting strategy or limp mode would be tied to an emissions control wear item (O2 sensor).

Anyway, with the parallel ecu arrangement, you can keep the DBW system happy. You simply tap into the TPS or APP signal, so that both ecu's get the signal. The toyota ecu needs that signal to properly control the throttle motor, the programmable ecu needs the signal so that you can tune your acceleration enrichment (aka accelerator pump, aka throttle pump, aka acceleration compensation) feature.

Keeping the O2 sensor diagnostics happy is much bigger challenge. There are strategies in the toyota ecu by which it can determine if the O2 sensors are working as intended. The old school OBD1 side of this is basic circuit continuity checks - easy enough to satisfy simply by having operational sensors installed and hooked up. The OBD2 parts of the diagnostic rely on the engine being fueled the same way it was calibrated by toyota - which you are unlikely to replicate with an aftermarket programmable ecu.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mesooohoppy View Post
dont buy a piggy back. pay a tuner to tune your car.
I agree. Budget builds are not our thing.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 12:45 PM
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OP, ive heard some good things about the link ecu xcessive is selling. might be worth looking into. IMO, piggybacks are just asking for trouble in this chassis.

Lucy; 04 manual sportdesign
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Here's the deal, I'm not aiming for off-the-walls performance stats, I'm really trying to pick something out that isn't so over my head. I just don't want to get tangled in a diagnostics mess. I took a look at ECU master, they seem very professional and in addition to that very experienced. I'm assuming you were speaking of the 3, 4 Bar Digital ECU Tuner? What is the difference between the 3 Bar and do you know if any shop would be able to fool around with it? I'm located in Colorado and I just contacted my local Mofab in which they (Matt) said, "Yeah we don't really do E-Manage anymore and most people use the AEM INFINITY" and then continued to rattle off prices upwards of about $3000+. I guess the main point of that observation is to ask you if that piggyback would be a reliable choice to keep things simple yet running?
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Very legit site, thank you for the extra option!
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kris OK View Post
Agree with above.

The guy on stock ecu/low boost was in South Africa.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.my....93841/%3famp=1

Anyways, anything can be done, but you need to set your goals and go from there. You may be satisfied at low boost but I would be nervous since it was never designed to run that way. You could always try it, and if you blow it up, get better rods/pistons and a stand-alone. I wouldnít bother with an emanage or FIC. 2/3 the cost of a stand-alone and not nearly as capable. I know people will argue that, but itís my opinion. Iíve done both and would not do a piggy again. SAFC will just not work on an OBD2 (post 1996) car. Itís a good way to blow it up.
I'm very glad I know that now actually. I think I've peeked at the thread about the guy in South Africa and it gave me a little hope about what is going on! I'm resorting to low PSI to preserve the head gaskets and the rods.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WiseIS View Post
Here's the deal, I'm not aiming for off-the-walls performance stats, I'm really trying to pick something out that isn't so over my head. I just don't want to get tangled in a diagnostics mess. I took a look at ECU master, they seem very professional and in addition to that very experienced. I'm assuming you were speaking of the 3, 4 Bar Digital ECU Tuner? What is the difference between the 3 Bar and do you know if any shop would be able to fool around with it? I'm located in Colorado and I just contacted my local Mofab in which they (Matt) said, "Yeah we don't really do E-Manage anymore and most people use the AEM INFINITY" and then continued to rattle off prices upwards of about $3000+. I guess the main point of that observation is to ask you if that piggyback would be a reliable choice to keep things simple yet running?

Do you have emissions where you live? That may play into the decision.

I’d never heard of the Det3. Looked at the wiring, only 20 wires. Can’t tell how it controls the injectors? Surely not via the MAF signal? Seems pretty capable but piggys are better suited to an OBD1 car. OBD2 is just too damn smart and will try to undo the tune. You have to do a lot of vacuum/low throttle tuning to get the STFT and LTFT satisfied on the stock ecu. Then you can tune your boost area of the table. Temperature will affect it, too, so you will need a warm and cold season map.


The problem with the IS is that it wasn’t ever intended to be an easy-to-tune car. But it just begs for it, dont it? It’s too smart for a piggy, and it costs quite a bit to do a standalone. Damn Toyota for not having an access port or eeprom ecu!

If you’re handy, and patient, you can buy an infinity (or whatever you like) and make your own harness. You’ll save enough to
pay for the tune, no doubt.

Edit: saw the injector wiring...looks to have 2 inj outputs. You can do bank or batch fire, but I can’t wrap my head around how you’d wire it up to 6 cylinders with 2 outputs. Seems similar to a “ wasted spark” ignition, but I dont know how that would work with injectors.

Edit2: it’s able to run all 6 in batch mode. A standalone will do it in sequential mode. More optimized injection timing due to each injector has its own driver.

Last edited by Kris OK; 04-24-2019 at 10:19 PM.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by WiseIS View Post
Here's the deal, I'm not aiming for off-the-walls performance stats, I'm really trying to pick something out that isn't so over my head. I just don't want to get tangled in a diagnostics mess.

I took a look at ECU master, they seem very professional and in addition to that very experienced. I'm assuming you were speaking of the 3, 4 Bar Digital ECU Tuner? What is the difference between the 3 Bar and do you know if any shop would be able to fool around with it?

I'm located in Colorado and I just contacted my local Mofab in which they (Matt) said, "Yeah we don't really do E-Manage anymore and most people use the AEM INFINITY" and then continued to rattle off prices upwards of about $3000+. I guess the main point of that observation is to ask you if that piggyback would be a reliable choice to keep things simple yet running?
I doubt there is any tuning solution that is NOT going to require time/effort/experience to sort out discrepancies - even the so-called "plug and play" units. This is speculation on my part, I've no direct experience with PnP units for IS300. Other PnP stuff I've messed with in other applications always had issues and anomalies to work out - which have always been time consuming.

I have extremely high expectations for how well my cars run/drive. 15 years ago, I was pretty satisfied as long as the car started, generally idled, and ran strong at WOT without blowing up. Not anymore. Now I demand the car start perfect hot or cold, idle correctly regardless of fans on/off, AC on/off, battery voltage, coolant temperature, inlet air temp, etc etc etc. The throttle response must be crisp, it must rev cleanly, I must be able to achieve my desired AFR at all times. Etc, etc, etc.

...which is not achievable with a piggyback. They simply do not have enough inputs or adjustments in the software to achieve it. It's kind of like a carburetor; you can get it set up to run the engine and make good power, but the calibration will always be a compromise in some regard and the "drivability" will never be as good as a properly configured ecu.

A quality, fully-featured ecu will allow the calibration to be as good as factory-stock, if (and ONLY if) the schmuck doing the calibration work has the knowledge and puts in the time. Which implies that you'll need to shop around for the right person to do the tuning, and be prepared to pay them for their time. Which also implies that you should be strongly considering their opinion on what tuning solution you get.

Obviously cost is a big factor in all this. My advice is to spend some time writing down very specific goals and outcomes you are trying to achieve - and then shop around getting "quotes" on what it will take to achieve those outcomes. [Edit] Also consider that proficiency with a specific ecu/tuner system will allow the "schmuck" to navigate the software and manipulate the calibration quickly and easily - no learning curve. While all quality ecu's are ultimately capable of achieving the same or similar results, how you get there can be very different. The $500 you saved buying XXX instead of YYY gets consumed damn fast when you're paying somebody $100/hr to learn something new.

It's been said many times but bears repeating:

Choose any 2: Fast, Cheap, Quality

Last edited by Hodgdon Extreme; 04-25-2019 at 10:45 AM.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 09:54 AM
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I think most of us that have been here for some time agree on that. We can also agree that it probably takes some age to achieve that mentality. Not ragging on you OP, just calling it like I see it (for all I know you could be my age).

I remember I too went through that phase of having tha legendary 2jz and not having the money for a supra but calling it *cringe* a 4dr soopra.

The fact is that the car can be had for pennies but making it fast and reliable is not cheap or economical in any way. Taking into account your local tuners preference is a good recommendation...you could then try to source a used unit if money is an issue.

Good luck!!

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