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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks. I'm starting to get the inevitable, unavoidable, unfathomable, dangerous urge to consider an ECU change. I've read several of the postings (there are a LOT of them) to try to find out the answer to THIS slant of questioning. <p>The T5 engine on the S40/V50 is one beast. The T5 on the S60 seems potentially to be a different beast? I guess the gear box in the S40 is similar/same as S60, but what about the clutch? What about other parts of the transmission? Turbo unit itself? I ask because the S60 T5 has similar power/torque numbers to an ECU upgraded S40.<p>The point -<p>Naturally, engineering margin is built into systems. I know this - I'm a hardware electrical engineer. So a S40 T5 engine SHOULD be able to handle more power than stock, but not necessarily all the time. From experience, or technical knowledge, or gut feel, or whatever -<p>how reasonable is it, really, to change the ECU program???!!! <p>It seems like a reliability hazard, and potentially a safety issue. I see postings claiming that the S40 T5 is decidedly low pressure with a small turbo unit that is already pretty hot. I see postings that say that the S40 manual clutch is a POS. Does anyone out there BOTH make an ECU change AND expect to keep their car for > 100,000 miles? Or are the ECU change folks short-timers? Frankly, an ECU reprogram with no other hardware changes to get more torque and horsepower for less than 1,000$ seems almost to good to be true. I would almost ask the question - why would anyone NOT do an ECU change, except perhaps for warrantee ramifications?<p>Bassman<br><BR><BR>
<i>Modified by bassman at 11:58 PM 7-4-2006</i>
 

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Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (bassman)

this was one of the big questions that i had, when deciding whether to go for an ECU upgrade..<p>so when my tuner, Marco from MTE came down to do tuning, we had quite a lengthy discussion about it.<p>what he said to me, in short, was, that there is a measure of redundancy, or safety, built into the programming by volvo. <br>basically, the car is designed to withstand the worst possible driving conditions and the lowest possible standard of maintenance, i.e. to cater to the most lackadaisacal and bad drivers..<p>so what he did by tuning was, to remove some of that safety net, not completely, but to a certain extent.<p>as to how the engine performed subsequently, was in the hands of the driver.<p>if you are a good driver, dont continually abuse the engine, no extended bursts of WOT without cool downs, then an ECU upgrade shouldnt cause any mechanical problems.<p>but if u get a ECU upgrade, and continually drive the car like u stole it, then there is a chance something might go wrong.<p>so far, as far as i know, i have not heard of anyone with tuning who has "blown an engine" or "blown a gearbox". theres only one case i do know of, but that was due to a faulty boost controller that caused overboost (and that was in a volvo with a turbo boosting at 1.7 bar).<p>my car has had about 20k km on it now since tuning. its been serviced regularly by the dealer, and for added measure, i send it for intermediate servicing. so far, engine and transmission wise, not a single problem and all runs smoothly. <p>as to your more specific questions, the S40 T5 engine is not the same as the S60 T5 engine, which is a 2.4 block (or older ones have a 2.3 block).<p>dimensions etc are all different. The S60 T5 block is a much stronger block, and can put out really good power.<p>turbo wise, the S60s is a HPT, ours is a LPT. btw, a S60 T5 does not have similar numbers to an ECU upgraded S40. they dont make stock HP, and a well tuned S40 will put out a lot more torque than a stock T5. ive also run against stock S60 T5s , roling starts up to around 110 mph, and the distance gap was about 4-5 car lengths.<p>as for transmission, if u are talking about manual, the T5 is the same box as the Rs if im not mistaken. its good for the power, or at least more power than u could tune a T5 to. i have friends putting through 400+ hp in their Rs and so far so good.<p>even the auto is okay. as long as u dont push torque past about 400nm.<p>as for why people would not do it... no idea. but having done it, im hooked.<p>and ill keep doing it. but within reason.<p>for example, most of the problems i have heard of (and since getting my car, ive got to know a lot of turbo owners of all makes who are also petrol heads), have occurred with more serious modding... ie swopping out turbos, front mounts etc.<p>but if you aretalking just stage 1, i.e. ecu, exhaust... then really i dont see any issue.<p>one final point. no 2 tuners are the same. some tune more aggressively, some more conservatively. so if safety is a concern, find the latter.<p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (Mistral)

Mistral, thanks for the lengthy reply. The Evolve Power Chip documentation from <A HREF="http://www.evolvecars.com" TARGET="_blank">http://www.evolvecars.com</A> says similar stuff, namely that the car is designed for worst case driving / gas, so the ECU tuners are merely enabling decent drivers to rake in more of what is already there. I was just worried that this is marketing hype more than anything else. Again, it almost seems to good to be true, although I DO note that there are lot of crappy drivers out there, both in driving and in maintenance.<p>It seems that BSR Stage 1 requires no hardware changes. Only Stage 3. In fact most of the vendors nominally do not require hardware changes, although most of them offer it. Does this make sense to you? I'd honestly rather not spend the $ on an exhaust system or even the bore tip, and frankly I like the almost suspiciously, stealth quiet nature of the car as it is. Having said that, I could understand it if the ECU changes are only effective with associated hardware changes. Opinions on that?<p>I have not looked through the massive ECU threads yet to sniff out the differences among vendors. The BSR is awfully nice a) based on the curves, b) based on most people's resulting gains, b) based on the PPC. Your point is well taken - aggressive versus conservative. <p>
 

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Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (bassman)

I haven't dove in to the chip upgrade thing yet, but I plan to as my baby approaches the end of her factory warranty. Based on all the info on the boards, I'm heavily leaning towards the BSR PPC because 1) it's gotten generally good reviews, 2) I can do it myself with no hardware/equip changes and without having the car in dry dock for a while, and 3) if anything seems wrong, I can switch quickly back to stock. #3 is the seller for me: it's the most conservative solution available in that only forces me to eat the cost of the PPC if I suspect problems (of course, if I'm too late, I'm paying plenty for repairs).
 

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Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (bassman)

my experience isits its not so much the exhaust that can generate a bit more power but its removing the restriction at the cat.<p>so its better to go ecu + downpipe, than ecu + exhaust, the latter wont really make that much diff, apart from give you a better sound.<p>in any event, the car is really pretty quiet. i have full exhaust and a race cat, and it only sounds a little louder than stock, and just as quiet at cruising.<p>most of the tuners stage 1, do not really need any hardware changes. because an ECU remap should be able to liberate 20-30hp by itself. this is because the boost is upped to around 1bar from .7 bar. so you will definitely enjoy an increase in power with just an ECU upgrade.<p>of course, if you want to make the most of it, then u can go ahead with some bolt ons.<p>as for BSR, well, they are not bad. (there was a lengthy debate about this some time back). all i will say is, you will definitely get decent gains with BSR, and by and large you should be quite happy. but, from my own experience and friends who have dynoed, you wont gain as much as they claim.<p>the other thing about BSR is their power delivery tends to be a little peaky. i cant swear to this, but my guess is that they up the boost perhaps a little more than some other tuners. so you get a good on boost surge. but it doesnt sustain to redline. some like that, some dont because of the on/off nature.<p>if you are going to go the BSR route, maybe you can do us all a huge favour and get a pre and post dyno and show us the results. then this can put this to bed forever. <IMG NAME="icon" SRC="http://www.vwvortex.com/vwbb/biggrin.gif" BORDER="0">
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (Mistral)

Just so I can learn something here (you'll think I'm an idiot)<p>By "cat" I assume you mean catalytic converter, meaning the pollution control gizmo? And by downpipe I assume it means some piping that takes exhaust from the engine to the cat?<p>Like BSR's stage 3 that seems to have both...<p><A HREF="http://www.bsr-sweden.com/bilder/_/x680y480_4108420.jpg/" TARGET="_blank">http://www.bsr-sweden.com/bild....jpg/</A><p>Just want to make I know what you're talking about.<p><br>As for peaky versus smooth (linear) all the way to redline, I'll definitely need to consider that issue in the ECU decision process. My old 2.0 non-turbo 1994 Golf III was VERY peaky, and made for a fun and peppy ride as long as one didn't need to do a long, smooth acceleration onto the highway. The BSR with PPC, as danbanana says, has the distinct advantage of at-home programmability. That feature is VERY appealing...<p>
 

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Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (bassman)

<TABLE WIDTH="90%" CELLSPACING=0 CELLPADDING=0 ALIGN=CENTER><TR><TD><i>Quote, originally posted by <b>bassman</b> »</i></TD></TR><TR><TD CLASS="quote">Just so I can learn something here (you'll think I'm an idiot)<p>By "cat" I assume you mean catalytic converter, meaning the pollution control gizmo? And by downpipe I assume it means some piping that takes exhaust from the engine to the cat?<p>Like BSR's stage 3 that seems to have both...<p></TD></TR></TABLE><p>yes, cat is cat converter.<br>and yes, normally when people refer to a DP, it usually includes a cat converter. <br>cat back exhaust - is all that part of the exhaust from the exit of the cat converter, to the muffler and through to the tips.<p>
 

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Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (Mistral)

<TABLE WIDTH="90%" CELLSPACING=0 CELLPADDING=0 ALIGN=CENTER><TR><TD><i>Quote, originally posted by <b>Mistral</b> »</i></TD></TR><TR><TD CLASS="quote">...ecu + exhaust, the latter wont really make that much diff, apart from give you a better sound.</TD></TR></TABLE><br>I'm going to disagree, based on my experience with the Heico exhaust. I got a nice boost from their axle-back unit, several HP increase but especially I get better throttle response, quicker and more definite. I think the stock muffler is somewhat restrictive.<p>Also, the sound is <B>very </B>worth it. Engine exhaust note is useful for more than just the noise - it gives you feedback on the power delivery. I find my car much easier to drive with the exhaust, for sure.<p>Second comment is that a DP won't change much in the low-end, where the car spends most of its time. Below 4 or 5K rpm, the stock DP/cat is not much of a restriction. A larger DP comes into play when the turbo is working and the engine starts to breathe really hard. Overtaking, lane changes, track use. The DP is the critical component in stage "3" mods, i.e. they're the thing you do late in the game. Besides on our cars, the turbos really aren't all that large, ergo they don't really need all that pipe, all the time.<p>Short version, I would do exhaust before DP.<p>Tom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (Mistral)

Mistral, this is a ? for another thread, but if it's short, here goes -<p>Did the 4 points undercarriage strut harness make any difference? In my car, the IPD rear sway bar made a very large, very good difference. The Vovlo front strut tower brace made a marginal difference at best.<p>
 

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Re: ECU Changes, Safety / Robustness / Wear and Tear (bassman)

its very hard to quantify really... i feel it has made some difference, but its really butt feel..<br>but i have a friend who has put onthe full set i.e. 2 point front undercarriage, 4 point mid, and 2 point rear undercarriage and he says its really great.<p>a rear sway bar would definitely have a more definite effect on handling imo. so i wouldnt expect so much if u put on some struts.
 
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