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Old 04-02-2009, 10:58 AM   #1
elwray
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Question General Tuning Q's - Getting Started on my 09 WRX

I've done a few searches, and read many stickies/Unabomber posts throughout the board, but I feel like I'm still missing some info...

I have a 2009 WRX Hatch which is currently bone stock (engine wise), and am planning to go to Stage 2 (full catted TBE) at some point in the near future. Possibly Stage 1 with just a CBE even sooner.

My questions are pretty much just about the basic options of tuning:

I see there is a Cobb AccessPORT available for $700 that gets plugged into the OBD-II port to reprogram the ECU, and this is something that I would do myself. It's my understanding that this comes with generalized, off-the-shelf maps for a variety of different fuel/mod combinations.

I'm a little confused as to how this works -- I've seen advertisements for Cobb maps, as well as Perrin maps. Does someone with an AP separately purchase different maps to download into their AP, then load into the car?

Of course I've seen the professional tuning shop option, where you take the car there and they put it on a Dyno and tweak the computer settings. Is an AP or similar required to get the pro-tune maps onto the car, or does the tuner just hook right into it him/herself and make all the changes? Then, once everything is set you just drive away with a "tuned" car and any further changes need to be made by the tuner? If an AP-type tool is required for this, it seems like it would be difficult to make that kind of financial investment... ~$700 for the AP and then $200/hr for the tune

I've also seen open source tuning as an option. Is this something that I do myself with a laptop and certain software and cable (Tactrix I think I read?) and it basically functions the same was as the AP except isn't as "user friendly"? Or is OS Tuning something a tuning shop does, without the "name brand" equipment like Cobb - similar to open source computer software.

I'd really appreciate some info here. Like I said, I tried to do my homework before I posted these questions but I haven't been able to find answers to them...

Cliffs:
Bottom line is, I'm trying to determine the "best" way to tune/have my car tuned when I make changes to it.

I like the idea of the open source and doing it myself, but I am a little worried about the potential of "bricking" the car. The AP would likely be more money, and not an ideal tune, but it seems like it would be very easy to use plus I can do all the work myself. A professional tune would no doubt be the best tune, but I don't know if that investment is worth it for me -- I'm planning on ending my modding at a DP and CBE, possibly an intake if warranted. I just want to "unlock" the potential for daily driving, possibly an infrequent trip to the track, rather than "add power".

Thanks for sticking with me if you got this far!
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:36 AM   #2
08GRSTi
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You can get a protune via opensource or other software. Accessport is just another way to do a reflash with different features. There are also OTS opensource base maps available that you can tweak yourself.

This is more economical and may be the route you want to go.

However some of their maps are locked for editing unless you get them to unlock it so you can edit.

You can buy other maps for the AP yes. they are still OTS base maps though some may be more aggressive than others.

You can also get a couple maps to switch if you want. A race map for track and/or 100oct and a dd map that is more conservative.

There are quite a bit of options for you
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Old 04-02-2009, 12:06 PM   #3
the suicidal eggroll
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All of these tuning solutions do the same thing, reflash the stock ECU, they just go about it in different ways. The accessport is a little handheld device that can store several different tunes (they're generally called "maps"), that you can select from and flash onto the car. Open source does the exact same thing, but with a laptop and a tactrix cable.

The two file formats hold the same information, but in different ways, so they're not compatible with each other (IE: you can't load an open source map on your accessport and flash it to the car, or vice versa). There are off-the-shelf (OTS) maps for both accessport and open source, neither of which are too aggressive. You can also go to a tuner and have them make a custom map for you using either open source or accessport, but you'd have to talk to the tuner to see what they support. Some tuners only do open source, some only do accessport, some do both.

The main differences lie in what you can do with either tuning solution. With open source, after you get a map, you can tweak it as you see fit (you want more fuel? done, you want more timing? done, you want to tweak the throttle response maps? done), or you can completely tune your car from scratch if you wanted. With accessport it used to be locked where you couldn't adjust anything, but I believe they now have some software called accesstuner race, which allows you to do the same thing. Accessport lets you do real-time adjustments (while the car is running), open source requires that you shut the car off, flash the ECU, then start it back up when you make any changes. Accessport costs $700, open source costs $100 plus a laptop (if you don't have one already).

Pretty much, it just boils down to whether or not real-time adjustments are worth $600 (the price difference between OS and AP), and what format your tuner supports.
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Old 04-02-2009, 12:43 PM   #4
wawawrx
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one of the perks to the AP is that you can take it to a tuner and have him do a few maps and save them for you on the AP. with Protunes/OS tunes (unless you have your laptop handy) you have to use your assigned map and if you want a new one, you have to change it! with the AP you can have a race fuel map sitting a click away or a daily driver on most of the time. also with the AP subaru can deny almost any warranty claims that you make after you put the AP on. from what i have HEARD (still not 100% sure on this) Protunes/OS tunes are not noticeable to subaru (correct me if i am wrong, then Eitan is wrong. lol). As far as OTS (off the shelf) maps go... well they usually arent going to be tweeked to what your running and not only will you be running not up to optimum levels, a variety of things could go wrong
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Old 04-02-2009, 01:12 PM   #5
Bark3rd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wawawrx View Post
one of the perks to the AP is that you can take it to a tuner and have him do a few maps and save them for you on the AP. with Protunes/OS tunes (unless you have your laptop handy) you have to use your assigned map and if you want a new one, you have to change it! with the AP you can have a race fuel map sitting a click away or a daily driver on most of the time. also with the AP subaru can deny almost any warranty claims that you make after you put the AP on. from what i have HEARD (still not 100% sure on this) Protunes/OS tunes are not noticeable to subaru (correct me if i am wrong, then Eitan is wrong. lol). As far as OTS (off the shelf) maps go... well they usually arent going to be tweeked to what your running and not only will you be running not up to optimum levels, a variety of things could go wrong
Daingit, I hope you are wrong, the main reason I went with AP was from all the info I researched on this forum indicating that the AP maps and program could be uninstalled from the ECU if warranty repairs are needed. Oh well, might as well go to stage 10 now.
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Old 04-02-2009, 01:22 PM   #6
the suicidal eggroll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wawawrx View Post
one of the perks to the AP is that you can take it to a tuner and have him do a few maps and save them for you on the AP. with Protunes/OS tunes (unless you have your laptop handy) you have to use your assigned map and if you want a new one, you have to change it! with the AP you can have a race fuel map sitting a click away or a daily driver on most of the time.
If you buy a cheapie tuning laptop you can leave it in the glovebox and just be a few clicks away from a new tune as well. And if it gets stolen, it's actually worth LESS than an AP, and your ECU isn't bricked...
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Old 04-02-2009, 01:48 PM   #7
elwray
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Thanks for all the information! Looks like I've got a few options here.
I'm leaning towards the open source, since I've already got a laptop, and it seems like it's a whole lot more fun. But the AP seems like it's got some cool features to it, too.. Does the Tactrix cable plug into the OBDII port like the AP does?

Would you say that it is necessary to get a few gauges (Wideband AFR, EGT, Oil Pressure) if doing the open source tuning myself? (Already have a boost gauge)

As far as the warranty claim stuff, from what I've read is that regardless of what tuning you have used, when you revert it back to stock the only permanent change is in the ECU's check sum. It's not something that says "AccessPORT uninstalled 7/12/2009" it's just a number. While the technicians could possibly track changes to this number, it doesn't necessarily indicate what was done to the car. Even some Subaru approved engine work or ECU reflashes will change this number.
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:07 PM   #8
the suicidal eggroll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elwray View Post
I'm leaning towards the open source, since I've already got a laptop, and it seems like it's a whole lot more fun. But the AP seems like it's got some cool features to it, too.. Does the Tactrix cable plug into the OBDII port like the AP does?
Yes it does
The AP doesn't really have anything to offer over OS other than real-time tuning in my opinion, and I had one for about 7 months before I switched to OS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elwray View Post
Would you say that it is necessary to get a few gauges (Wideband AFR, EGT, Oil Pressure) if doing the open source tuning myself? (Already have a boost gauge)
Yes, definitely a wideband at least. Oil pressure is good regardless of what tuning method you go with, and EGT is helpful for tuning since it lets you balance your AFR/timing to stay under knock and keep sane EGTs.
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elwray View Post
Thanks for all the information! Looks like I've got a few options here.
I'm leaning towards the open source, since I've already got a laptop, and it seems like it's a whole lot more fun. But the AP seems like it's got some cool features to it, too.. Does the Tactrix cable plug into the OBDII port like the AP does?

Would you say that it is necessary to get a few gauges (Wideband AFR, EGT, Oil Pressure) if doing the open source tuning myself? (Already have a boost gauge)

As far as the warranty claim stuff, from what I've read is that regardless of what tuning you have used, when you revert it back to stock the only permanent change is in the ECU's check sum. It's not something that says "AccessPORT uninstalled 7/12/2009" it's just a number. While the technicians could possibly track changes to this number, it doesn't necessarily indicate what was done to the car. Even some Subaru approved engine work or ECU reflashes will change this number.
It seems that you have a pretty good understanding of all this. You are correct, the only possibilty of being "seen" by Subaru is the check sum. But from what I have read, there is no database that is used to store a customers factory checksum versus their current checksum, so your fine.

I would like to add that I am a huge fan of open-source as it provides the most versatility and can be customized to your exact modifications. Cobb AP is a useful tool if your a "set it and forget it" type of person, but as mentioned earlier, the tunes aren't mod specific - and by this I mean although it may be minute - some exhausts flow better then others, and you can take this into account when your tuning for your specific setup.

The drawback of open-source is that you will either need to do A TON of reading before diving into this yourself, or find someone who can help you tune your car. Also, you will need a Tactrix cable, Romraider and ECUFlash software, and a compatible laptop - the Tactrix cable is pricey, the software is free. In the end you'll still be way under the cost of the AP.

Good luck in whatever you decide, and enjoy your '09. I wish I had one!
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:21 PM   #10
elwray
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Awesome, thanks everyone! I think I've got a good handle on everything now. I'll have to weigh the differences between OS and AP once I nail down my goals for the car, but at the moment I see them being fairly modest. I'll post up results once I make the changes! Thanks!
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