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3.0 tuning questions

James86

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I've been looking around on the site, asking around a little bit, and am curious about tuning my 3.0. I have a 1999 Flex Fuel 3.0 Ranger with an auto and 4.10 gears. I live in an area with around a dozen different E85 stations and have been using E85 for at least 5 years now in my truck and was thinking of looking into a tuner. I haul with it a fair bit but also do a lot of long range drives with it as well (5-6 hr drives when on camping trips or going up to Lake of the Woods.) I've read enough to see that generally people recommend the SCT X-Cal tuners, and have found a licensed shop within reasonable distance that does these tunes as well as dynos ( http://www.mitchsdynotuning.com/ and interestingly enough, in their gallery they even show a Ranger on the dyno lol) and I like the fact that people say the Xcal will allow multiple tunes. I think a E85 tune might be worth pursuing since it's the fuel I run all the time anyways and its cheap and readily available in my area. I just filled yesterday at $2.37/gal at the local Cenex, one of about 10 E85 stations just a few minutes from me.

My questions are:

What are the results people are seeing with tunes? Transmission shifts, power, fuel economy?

Has anyone done any dyno runs on their vehicle? How much horsepower "galloped away" over the years? What should a person expect at a dyno shop and what does it usually cost?

Has anyone had any experience with the tuning shops in MN? I've been thru Sauk Centre many times, but I also go to the Twin Cities quite a bit as well.

People on the forums have commented on Jet vs. Xcal, but nobody has really said why or what their personal experiences have been other than "jet is an expensive paper weight that hurts performance on a 3.0."

I guess I wish someone has a write up on their experiences with a tuner. I recall someone on here doing a write up on using a tuner on a 4.0 SOHC and one thing they noticed was transmission shift quality improved (http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72354 ).

I know the 3.0 isn't a firebreather, but this truck has served me well for 7 years and I plan on having it many more years so I don't think this is something I shouldn't pursue.
 


bucko

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:popcorn:Subscribed

I use a tuner in a 2011 Mustang; a whole different "beast" than my 2000 Ford Ranger. My Ranger has a flex fuel 3.0. While my truck is not a performance minded vehicle, I am impressed with its ability to just chug on down the road. I have not fueled it with any E85, as I've not found it in my area (central Florida).

I'd also have to be careful with any major tunes, as my truck has 215K on it, so doing anything radical to the automatic transmission in the way of shift points (firmer shifts)might not be wise for me. Although it shifts fine (previous owners must have done maintenance on it; it just runs too good!), I don't want to take too many risks that certain tunes can do to increase performance.

But I'm also interested in the answers to your questions you presented. I'd like to also know from first hand experiences on how the 3.0 works with a tune.
 

James86

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Yea, kinda aimed this thread at not just answering my questions, but any questions people might have about the tuning process. I have been pretty diligent with my truck since I bought it at 68,000 miles and am now at 148,000 miles. Trans flushes, oil changes, plugs, wires, DPFE sensors, alignment, AC systems, coolant flushes, transfer case and diff fluid changes - all done regularly and recorded. My folder of receipts and records is almost as thick as my owners manual by now but I firmly believe in preventative maintenance. I don't think my truck has run any better than it does now mechanically so I think it should handle any dyno or tuning I would want to do to it within reason, but that's also something else that I would like people to chime in on. One thing I find a lot of forums lacking on is write ups rather than just opinions or stories about "this one time...." There have got to be people out there willing to put some time into typing out what they did, how it went, and how the results have panned out.
 

stmitch

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Tuning results vary quite a bit on a case by case basis. The person writing the tunes, the modifications to the vehicle and the needs of the customer will have a large effect on exactly what benefits are generated.
My xcal3 does store three separate tunes, each with a different purpose. Each of my three tunes alters the fueling to the engine in different ways, so that I can adjust from a leaner mix up to a very rich air/fuel mix. You could do it differently and have a tune for fuel economy, one for towing, and one for performance. Or I've seen guys have each tune represent a different fuel type, so one for e85, on for 89 octane, and one for 93 octane. Whatever you choose for the three tunes, they are basically locked in. You won't be able to adjust anything within the files without SCTs expensive software. Outside of the three tune files, I believe the handheld tuner does offer adjustability with shift points, rev limit, etc that you would be able to adjust any time.

Having the tunes written on a dyno would give you the best, most personalized results. Some SCT dealers will offer a free dyno run when you buy the tuner, others will charge separately. Most dyno shops around me charge $100-150 for three separate pulls.

Basically, everything about the tuning process depends on what you want, and what your tuner is capable of doing. You'll have to contact a tuner near you to see if they can meet your needs.
 

James86

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My credo
WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
You basically outlined what I'm thinking about. From my understanding you can use 3 tunes and still have your stock one, so I'd try for an E85 economy and an E85 power. The licensed Xcal dealer I found on the Xcal website is a dyno shop a little over an hour from me, so I'd imagine the tunes could be set on the spot. A question I also had about tuners if they are left connected to the vehicle typically. I was also wondering how long a tune takes to upload into the computer. Not knowing how much memory an ECM has, I'd assume it's similar to BIOS flashing on computer motherboards - give it a couple minutes AND DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING OR YOUR COMPUTER IS UNUSABLE. Since I found a few XCal dealers and at least one that does dyno testing in house, I'd imagine that's the best bet. I figured if there are tunes for premium and such, a person should be able to tune for E85 - there's a couple imports buzzing around my area with E85 conversions just to run tighter timing and help with their turbo setups.
 

stmitch

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The handheld tuner is basically just a storage device, so you connect it to the OBD port, upload your tune, which takes just a couple of minutes, and then disconnect it. If you ever want to change tunes, you just plug it back in, and select the new tune you want to upload. I keep my tuner in my glovebox so that I can switch tunes quickly and easily if I'm on the road away from home. The tuner automatically powers on when plugged into the OBD port, and will take you through a pretty basic menu. You unplug it, and it automatically powers off. There are no batteries that might die on you or anything. It's pretty difficult to screw up, even for somebody like me.
 
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