Stage 1 Tuning?... seriously.
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This is a discussion on Stage 1 Tuning?... seriously. within the Tuning: Electronic Engine Management forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; So I'm a newbie to this forum and to the tuning world. I've got an 07 WRX (completely stock) and ...

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    Stage 1 Tuning?... seriously.

    So I'm a newbie to this forum and to the tuning world. I've got an 07 WRX (completely stock) and am heavily considering buying a 13. As such, I started doing some research on the car and performance upgrades. My question is probably going to come off sounding very trollish and may set off a few tempers but please believe I am asking this with earnest and curiosity, not with the intention of offending. Here goes. I've read a lot about ECU tuning and, were I to avail myself of it, it would be stage 1, simply from a risk reward analysis. I'm not out dragging or on the track. This car will be my daily driver that I would like to keep off the lift as much as possible and have the greatest chance of not getting the door slammed on me should I have any issues under warranty. Everything I've read about stage 1 suggests that, not only do you get a performance boost, you also get better MPG, a smoother engine, and that its better for the engine than the stock tune. If all that is really true, why wouldn't Subaru change the stock ECU mapping straight from the factory? I'm being serious. If there is truly no downside and stage 1 is actually BETTER for the engine, doesn't it seem like a no brainer for the manufacturer to do that? I'm asking in earnest not condescension because I can't quite wrap my brain around this one. It does not require any new components so its not like SoA would have extra overhead. From what I've read even the OTS tunes are better than stock so its not like its an issue of needing to individually tune each car that rolls off the line. Why wouldn't they want to street a car that could truly put all the competition to bed? People keep mentioning that the stock tune is too lean and bad for the engine. Why would they intentionally put out an inferior map? This is Subaru after all, not 1980's Jaguar. Part of their legend is manufacturing bullet proof cars. If I'm missing something, please let me know. I'm very interested in tuning to stage 1 but it seems too good to be true. I've heard a lot of owners speak of having 5k on there car with stage 1 and no problems but what about 20k, 30k, 50k? I realize it would be hard to get that kind of mileage in 2 or 3 years but I'm wondering if tuning doesn't effect the long term endurance of the components. Thoughts? Be gentle...

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    Moderator Donkey's Avatar
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    Here is a better question. Why are there aftermarket performance parts for every single car out there that improve performance over factory parts? It has nothing to do with Subaru.
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    Registered User lytlec's Avatar
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    My tuner claimed that one time he got 70 more hp after tuning a stock evo....so its more then just subaru that does it....
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    I just went from a 2007 to a 2012 so I'm very interested in this too. I only planned on adding whiteline sways and bushings, but if what you are saying is true then I might consider a stage one.

    Quote Originally Posted by crjwingman View Post
    So I'm a newbie to this forum and to the tuning world. I've got an 07 WRX (completely stock) and am heavily considering buying a 13. As such, I started doing some research on the car and performance upgrades. My question is probably going to come off sounding very trollish and may set off a few tempers but please believe I am asking this with earnest and curiosity, not with the intention of offending. Here goes. I've read a lot about ECU tuning and, were I to avail myself of it, it would be stage 1, simply from a risk reward analysis. I'm not out dragging or on the track. This car will be my daily driver that I would like to keep off the lift as much as possible and have the greatest chance of not getting the door slammed on me should I have any issues under warranty. Everything I've read about stage 1 suggests that, not only do you get a performance boost, you also get better MPG, a smoother engine, and that its better for the engine than the stock tune. If all that is really true, why wouldn't Subaru change the stock ECU mapping straight from the factory? I'm being serious. If there is truly no downside and stage 1 is actually BETTER for the engine, doesn't it seem like a no brainer for the manufacturer to do that? I'm asking in earnest not condescension because I can't quite wrap my brain around this one. It does not require any new components so its not like SoA would have extra overhead. From what I've read even the OTS tunes are better than stock so its not like its an issue of needing to individually tune each car that rolls off the line. Why wouldn't they want to street a car that could truly put all the competition to bed? People keep mentioning that the stock tune is too lean and bad for the engine. Why would they intentionally put out an inferior map? This is Subaru after all, not 1980's Jaguar. Part of their legend is manufacturing bullet proof cars. If I'm missing something, please let me know. I'm very interested in tuning to stage 1 but it seems too good to be true. I've heard a lot of owners speak of having 5k on there car with stage 1 and no problems but what about 20k, 30k, 50k? I realize it would be hard to get that kind of mileage in 2 or 3 years but I'm wondering if tuning doesn't effect the long term endurance of the components. Thoughts? Be gentle...

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    Quote Originally Posted by crjwingman View Post
    So I'm a newbie to this forum and to the tuning world. I've got an 07 WRX (completely stock) and am heavily considering buying a 13. As such, I started doing some research on the car and performance upgrades. My question is probably going to come off sounding very trollish and may set off a few tempers but please believe I am asking this with earnest and curiosity, not with the intention of offending. Here goes. I've read a lot about ECU tuning and, were I to avail myself of it, it would be stage 1, simply from a risk reward analysis. I'm not out dragging or on the track. This car will be my daily driver that I would like to keep off the lift as much as possible and have the greatest chance of not getting the door slammed on me should I have any issues under warranty. Everything I've read about stage 1 suggests that, not only do you get a performance boost, you also get better MPG, a smoother engine, and that its better for the engine than the stock tune. If all that is really true, why wouldn't Subaru change the stock ECU mapping straight from the factory? I'm being serious. If there is truly no downside and stage 1 is actually BETTER for the engine, doesn't it seem like a no brainer for the manufacturer to do that? I'm asking in earnest not condescension because I can't quite wrap my brain around this one. It does not require any new components so its not like SoA would have extra overhead. From what I've read even the OTS tunes are better than stock so its not like its an issue of needing to individually tune each car that rolls off the line. Why wouldn't they want to street a car that could truly put all the competition to bed? People keep mentioning that the stock tune is too lean and bad for the engine. Why would they intentionally put out an inferior map? This is Subaru after all, not 1980's Jaguar. Part of their legend is manufacturing bullet proof cars. If I'm missing something, please let me know. I'm very interested in tuning to stage 1 but it seems too good to be true. I've heard a lot of owners speak of having 5k on there car with stage 1 and no problems but what about 20k, 30k, 50k? I realize it would be hard to get that kind of mileage in 2 or 3 years but I'm wondering if tuning doesn't effect the long term endurance of the components. Thoughts? Be gentle...
    I think because the OEM Subaru tune must take into account legal considerations like emissions for many countries and probably there are marketing criteria behind the tune for the drivability and the kind of power to satisfy a wide range of customers and not just the community which like sport behavior and thus more suitable tunes like Cobb and al.

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    I've never heard that it was "better" for the engine. Manufacturers build a car to last, so they put a conservative tune on it, so that it does last. Even NA cars can have a bit more squeezed out with a tune, granted no where near as much as an FI.
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    It's a safety margin, and intended for the car to operate in any environment.
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    Also, the manufacturers have to try and get best possible MPG's and that across the whole fleet. It's really not surprising they would choke any car somewhat down. You'll notice that often times the mpg's are not any better with the stage1, of course that has a LOT to do with how any car is being driven. And most people that are into tuning, even just stage1, are not you average drivers... Average drivers drive camry's and accords and just put-put around. Baffles me how people decide what cars they have...
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    Don't forget about emissions regulations as well.. a lot of it doesn't make sense, and is a large contributing factor to how cars are tuned from the factory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donkey View Post
    Here is a better question. Why are there aftermarket performance parts for every single car out there that improve performance over factory parts? It has nothing to do with Subaru.
    Parts are a totally different matter for three reasons:

    1. Cost - Parts cost money PER unit. Thats why an STi is more expensive than a WRX. All those performance and handling improvements don't come for free. Brembo calipers are expensive. I'm sure the upgraded turbo on the STi costs more than the WRX. Subi could use better parts to to boost performance but the car would cost more. Changing the ECU tune, once the best tune is determined and passes whatever emissions restraints there are costs them no money at all.
    2. Driveability - A cat back exhaust might boost performance but the exhaust note and noise might very well push past what the average buyer will tolerate.
    3. Durability - Subi can't design a car that performs like a demon but wears out after 30k of hard driving. Otherwise they might as well be BMW (sorry, couldn't pass up the chance. No hate intended. The 335 and M3 are pavement eating monsters.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwrxp View Post
    I've never heard that it was "better" for the engine. Manufacturers build a car to last, so they put a conservative tune on it, so that it does last. Even NA cars can have a bit more squeezed out with a tune, granted no where near as much as an FI.
    I've seen several posts about how the stock tune is too lean and that a pro tune will actually benefit the engine. I don't have much of a background in car mechanics but I do have a long background in aviation and recip principals are the same whether its got a prop or four wheels. Too lean is bad. Too lean scorches parts and will eventually do permanent damage. With too rich you might foul and gunk up some things but the underlying part should still function if its cleaned and repaired. Too lean is how you get pre ignition and detonation. Too lean is how heads blow. Too lean is the antithesis of building a car to last. That said, I'm not sure wear everybody is getting their definition of "too lean." Is there some Subaru spec list that shows what the ideal parameters are for the engine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zax View Post
    It's a safety margin, and intended for the car to operate in any environment.
    This one intrigues me. So are you saying that an aftermarket tune is only good for my locale (elevation/temperature)? I thought MAF sensors whole job was to feed air data to the ECU so it could compensate for these parameters. Once the tune has set the desired output, shouldn't the ECU be taking into account temperature and density to decide how much fuel to dump into the cylinders? I just assumed as air density dropped (ie higher elevation or hotter day) the ECU would compensate to maintain the desired fuel/air ratio. Again, coming from an aviation background, that is the whole point of a turbo charged engine. In planes we aren't looking to boost above sea level pressure to increase performance. A turbo or supercharger on an airplane is designed to MAINTAIN sea level pressure in the engine as altitude goes up. As you climb the level of boost increases to keep feeding the same density of air to the cylinders. Cars are a different application but same theory. I just assumed as the air got thinner, the ECU on a TC or SC car would either up the boost to maintain power or, once the boost capability of the turbo was reached, reduce fuel to keep the desired FAR. Am I wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MainFrame View Post
    Don't forget about emissions regulations as well.. a lot of it doesn't make sense, and is a large contributing factor to how cars are tuned from the factory.
    This one I can see as totally valid. I've heard European standards are way different from U.S. standards. On that note, does anyone know of people having problems passing emissions tests with Stage 1? I'm in Chicago and Illinois requires a test every 5 years (that varies a bit depending on how new your car is). No more hose up the tailpipe anymore either. Its all pulled from the ECU data I think so I'd be interested to hear if anyone, especially in Illinois, has had a test go wrong.

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    Registered User Ingo's Avatar
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    You're not wrong, but not quite all the way there, either. My car is tuned for the elevation it lives at, Colorado Springs, at 6 or 7 thousand feet. I went on a trip to Iowa and it promptly overcharged to the point where it blew the intake piping apart at the connections. No damage, but for the moment the car was dead, until I had things put back together. The compensation works only so far and then it's done. Our turbos are used not to keep things at sea level, but to actively boost to well above, mine goes to 19.5 psi. (It's a stage2)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingo
    You're not wrong, but not quite all the way there, either. My car is tuned for the elevation it lives at, Colorado Springs, at 6 or 7 thousand feet. I went on a trip to Iowa and it promptly overcharged to the point where it blew the intake piping apart at the connections.
    There are compensation tables based on absolute pressure.
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