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Old 06-15-2014, 09:44 AM   #1
roadtrip1098
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2006 STi
WR Blue

Angry AEM Water Meth Failsafe

PN 30-3020 AEM Water/meth failsafe guage.


Short version: DOA, came with the wrong instructions, customer support is closed on the weekends.

Long version:

The kit came in this week. I opened the box to read the instructions. The instructions were for an EVO IX Engine Management System. The part number on the box was for the failsafe kit, and the parts seemed to be right for the failsafe. I contacted the vendor just to be sure and RallySportdirect, being awesome as usual directed me to the download site for the right instructions.

Three days later, finally had some time off to install it. My cars dash is all pulled apart so I can splice into the pump control line and other power/ground and signal wires. Also ran the flow monitor through the firewall. The intercooler is out (because I inject on the bottom side). I have the gauge all wired in (hell the dimmer even works). I plug it into the laptop and it connects right away. I hit the test button, the graph starts plotting - no flow reading. I double check the line, there's water meth in the jug it's spraying into, so there was some flow happening. No leaks. I try the test again. same result. I unplug and reconnect the flow sensor, text again, still nothing. The USB works, but it still doesn't read any flow. The analog output is reading 0 as well. It looks like I have a bad flow sensor or possibly a bad gauge.

Of course AEM's tech support line is closed right now, so I can't see if they'll send me a new flow meter or gauge or if I'm going to have to tear this all back apart.

It'll be noon tomorrow before I can call them because they are on pacific time. I'll see how that goes. I'm not too excited about taking the dash apart again, and if they wont send the new sensor that means I'm out of commission until I get my parts in. I can't hook the line directly back to the injector, because it has to be cut to put the sensor in and now it's not long enough.

One thing's for sure, it being DOA and coming with the wrong instructions hasn't impressed me much at this point.

UPDATE: Finally got through to tech support. They had me blow through the flow sensor as a diagnostic to see if it made noise. Did that. Then they emailed me a firmware upgrade. Still a no-go. So after an hour of troubleshooting and upgrading and waiting on hold here's where I'm at. They are sending a new flow sensor, it may not go out today but when it does I'll get a tracking number and I don't have to send mine in until the new one gets here. So I can at least get my car back on the road. The techs were very helpful and willing to work with me. Hopefully the new one comes in soon, I'd like to put my gauge in and have it all working for this weekend - I plan on heading out to the drag strip to see if all the upgrades I've done have netted any additional trap speed, but I'm not going if the fail safe isn't working.
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Last edited by roadtrip1098; 06-16-2014 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 06-19-2014, 06:41 AM   #2
roadtrip1098
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Update: Was supposed to get a FedEx tracking number. Either Monday or Tuesday. It is now Thursday and I hope they just forgot to send me the number and that my part is happily on its way. If I don't either get the part today or at least a tracking number, I'll probably just give up on the system and return the whole thing. I have my STi all apart right now waiting on this thing so I'm driving my secondary car. I'm missing all the nice days - I will not miss this weekend.

Update, they forgot to send the tracking number. It will be in on Saturday. Now that I know I have time, I'm going to go ahead and do a relocation of my battery and move the water meth tank and pump up to the engine bay.

Last edited by roadtrip1098; 06-20-2014 at 06:27 AM. Reason: Update
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:17 PM   #3
roadtrip1098
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Update: Fed Ex delivered the part on Saturday. I didn't have to re-run the cable because they send just the sensor that goes on the end. It comes assembled and ready to install when you buy the kit. I took the old one off, put the new one on - nothing. Gasping for any chance that it would work, I took the end off and rotated it by 180 degrees. Bam, she's working now. For ****s and giggles I plugged in the old 'faulty' sensor the way I had the new one plugged in - it worked. So basically I got a part that came pre-assembled incorrectly from the factory. I promptly sent back one of the flow sensors so I wouldn't get charged for it. I have been dialing in my car since.
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:36 PM   #4
roadtrip1098
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So now that everything is working, here's my review.
The gauge is sufficient. It looks cheap, but has a lot of very high end features. Since I care about function more than form, this is a non issue for me.

Sometimes the unit doesn't reset properly when an alarm is tripped. The fix for this is to cycle the ignition of and back on.

The needle doesn't move in a fluid motion, but it does move. It's on an electric stepper motor. I don't know how accurate it is. It says I'm flowing 600cc from my 400cc nozzle. This isn't a big deal because of how the gauge works. You manually establish the alarm limits for the gauge based on what it normally reads, and really consistency is all that matters here. In the setup video, they set the tolerances kind of tight which triggers alarms repeatedly. I found that the best way to get it to work right is to leave the tolerances somewhat loose. Instead of setting them for what it should do, set them just shy of what it shouldn't do and then make your alarm counter lower so it trips quickly once a leak happens.

The real whiz bang thing here is the data log. It's always recording, like a black box for your water meth. If you ever have a problem, you can still drive home staying out of boost, then plug in the laptop and download the log to see what happened.

In summary, this is a good product, even if it is cheaply assembled. It gives you everything you need in a failsafe an has some great features that other systems don't have. Being that the gauge isn't very attractive, and the fact that it logs all the time, and that it has an alarm 12 volt out and a alarm 12v ground, you could mount this in the glove box all hidden and put a little LED alarm indicator on your dash and use the other wire to trip the limp mode.

AEM's techs were helpful, but I could have been on the road a week earlier if taking the sensor off the wire and flipping it around was suggested. Probably not the techs fault on this, if it were me I would assume that things would have been assembled correctly before shipping. It's important to note that they did have me download a new firmware for the gauge which is a good indicator that they are committed to improving it and making it work better (maybe a refinement in needle movement next please).
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:34 PM   #5
lookylookitzadam
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Couple things to check regarding the flow. In the gauge manager software, are you correctly set up for 500cc or 1000cc (choose the setting that matches whatever gauge face you are using).

I have been dealing with AEM for my failsafe. So far I am on my 3rd gauge and 2nd flow sensor. Apparently they found a flow reading bug and just patched it with a firmware update. If you can, I would contact tech support and ask them for the latest firmware.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:17 AM   #6
roadtrip1098
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Already have the latest firmware as part of the troubleshooting and my gauge is set up for 1000cc and has the 1000cc face plate. I'm not too worried about it. Pretty crazy how shoddy the quality is if you're on your 3rd gauge now... How long have you been running it?
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Old 06-28-2014, 02:19 PM   #7
lookylookitzadam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadtrip1098 View Post
Already have the latest firmware as part of the troubleshooting and my gauge is set up for 1000cc and has the 1000cc face plate. I'm not too worried about it. Pretty crazy how shoddy the quality is if you're on your 3rd gauge now... How long have you been running it?
Bought it in January and have not been able to run it for more than a week. I still haven't even bothered to wire in the failsafe yet because I need a gauge that works.

I have been sending stuff back and forth to AEM. New gauge is supposed to be here Monday, so hopefully 3rd gauge is a charm, lol
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:07 PM   #8
JoshP
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I have an AEM kit myself, but I wouldn't waste my time with their controllers. I got it used for the pump, tank and nozzle and threw away the terrible controller/fail safe. Seen nothing but bad reviews in general on AEM stuff. But they use ShurFlo pumps which are rock solid. At least they got 1 thing right.
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:59 PM   #9
lookylookitzadam
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Yea, my kit is Devils own. I had good luck running their progressive kit in my other cars.

AEM has really dropped the ball on their methanol failsafe, but it seems they are updating a lot of stuff and their newer ones are supposed to be much better. Let's hope they aren't lieing and their new firmware will change the intermittent no flow failures.
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Old 06-30-2014, 06:23 AM   #10
roadtrip1098
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Right now, my only issue is that it jumps from 0-400cc, then from 400-600cc. I guess I was hoping for a more progressive increase. I'm going to try raising my upper limit and see if that helps.
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Old 07-01-2014, 02:08 AM   #11
lookylookitzadam
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That is odd. Mine is a smooth curve. I am still waiting for AEM to send me a new gauge. They said they were shipping it out on Thursday of last week. I called them today since I had not heard anything or received a confirmation. When I emailed them about the status they responded with "We have received your gauge and it is currently under repair with our techs."

Ummm....that is odd because I never sent them anything, so I called and got it clarified. Apparently the gauges are backordered or something and they wont have any this week. Hopefully your issues get cleared up.
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Old 07-01-2014, 02:23 AM   #12
murrdogg24
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damn i wanted to buy one of these but now I'm reconsidering...
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:51 AM   #13
roadtrip1098
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WR Blue

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Yeah, it seems like AEM is slipping.
Murrdogg, a friend of mine just got the snow performance one and it looks really nice. The gauge looks to be of high quality and has a much cleaner look. It's all digital. In fact, his whole system is from snow performance, and while it costs a little more the only thing I didn't like was that the tank is black and it's hard to tell how much you have on a quick look. We're going to see if we can fit an old float style gauge from a tractor or snowmobile in the top which should make checking the level much easier.
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