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    • BimmerBoost member compares E46 M3 S54 tune customer service, product support, and results of ESS Tuning and Evolve Automotive

      I have been a customer of both ESS (since 2008) and Evolve (since 2010). I had issues with three separate tunes from ESS. Two Naturally Aspirated header tunes where (1) AJ@ESS forgot to turn on the rear O2's, (2) raised my rev limiter to 8,200 where I specifically requested 8000 (and o2's on) on my invoice, (3) cruise control errors after flash, and (4) ESS SMG software REFUSED to upshift in auto mode at redline. The mishap wasn't that big of a deal in my eyes, until I contacted AJ for some help.

      AJ said he was absolutely sure the rear 02's were on and the redline was 8,000, my tachometer was "misleading," and the cruise control function was an electrical error on my car. I had no choice but to believe him. After three weeks of testing fuses and wires, three failed emission tests, I was convinced the tune was the issue. I took it to BMW (250 miles away) and had the OE US tune flashed (on my dime) and my car miraculously turned the rear o2's on, my cruise control worked, redline was back to normal.

      I packaged up the DME and sent it back to Arizona to ESS (again, on my dime) to have my DME looked at. Lo and behold, the rear O2's were not turned on and the redline was indeed increased on my tune. Not even a "whoops, sorry man!" from anyone from ESS after sending me through the ringer for a month (and another $500+ out of pocket to fix their mistake). The SMG tune I was very happy with, outside of the Auto upshift function not working at WOT; as this function was primarily used by my wife. I won't get into details, but suffice to say that the information I gathered from Roman (sales) prior to purchase regarding the SMG flash's compatibility in Auto mode, differed from the technical side. If I had learned this prior, my decision to lighten the wallet an additional $600 would have changed for sure as my wife liked the "A" mode feature. This is why Roman is the salesman. Their was other garbage in the tune that was revealed from Roman that was only learned after.

      To be fair, I had some issues with the initial Evolve tune setup and parameters; however, the way I was treated by Evolve's customer service guys (both Imran and Salman helped out) was completely different than the way I was treated by ESS. They stayed awful late (approaching 10 pm UK time) troubleshooting on their Friday night for one lowly US customer. I was impressed. It took 3 days to even receive a "my poop don't stink" email from AJ regarding his copy and paste "supposed custom tune" job. The Evolve gang contacted me several times to ask how we liked the tune, and to review the drf files (as he had concerns with our HIGH altitude). It is small potatoes in the long run, but it shows that they care how the customer feels post wallet-lightening. ESS not once asked for feedback, or let alone apologize for their mistake (which kept my car down for an extra month....for a tune!!).

      I learned of Evolve from the Uk's M3 site and plunged for their CF Airbox. Just for craps and giggles, I picked up Evolve's tune to compare with ESS's tune as their flash hardware came with the Airbox when I went in for some baseline runs. Sal sent me their OTS N/A MAF header tune (e.g. before airbox install) and I booked some time at the dyno. The ESS tune (I learned again my redline was 8,200) was run a total of 7 times with a minimum cooldown of 5 minutes. With the car STILL STRAPPED TO THE DYNO, I flashed the Evolve tune to the car. We ran it another 5 times with the Evolve tune. Ambient temps and humidity creeped way up later in the afternoon after the flash, so we left the car strapped to the dyno to run the next day with the same time, and conditions the ESS tune ran in.

      I am a data nerd by trade (research biologist) so I tried my best to eliminate ALL variables outside of the tune. Here is what I tried.

      -The same half tank of fresh 91 (e10) pisswater from Chevron
      -Same dyno.
      -Same operator.
      -Same day (and next)
      -Nearly identical ENV variables.

      Some other details not evident from the dyno:

      -4,800 ft elevation
      -Evolve redline = 8,000
      -ESS redline = 8,200
      -Evolve's tune was not given proper road adaptation (I would assume the delta would increase after a few hundred road miles), and still out performed ESS's tune with a 200 rpm disadvantage.

      I then created a thread on M3forum just discussing the dyno results. Before the thread was deleted, my data was accused of manipulation, I was accused of getting free products from Evolve, and if I recall correctly someone implied that I was some sort of spy for the other companies not named ESS. It was great fun until the thread disappeared. I was just trying to inform those who were considering both companies for a tune; however unfortunate, my message was twisted and then deleted (similar accusations arose with my review of Morr VS8.2 wheels as well...but apparently that is status quo at m3forum).

      Here are the best runs for each tune:


      So much for trying to inform enthusiasts...

      Fast forward to 2012. I contact THREE companies for technical questions regarding valves and VANOS compatibility for tune on an S54 with a built head and cams: one company replied immediately that they will check their race teams for precise data (Evolve), one company called me directly (VAC motorsports) and one company completely ignored my request (guess who!). The boys at Evolve got back to me and provided the information I needed prior to plunging into the head build. Both Mike and Steve at VAC helped me select the proper valvetrain components. Three months later, and still no response from the BMW tuning experts at ESS.

      This is my personal experience with these companies. Your experience may differ. I am only here to inform others. I have no sponsors. Mods are supported by my income alone.

      Cheers,
      Mike

      This article was originally published in forum thread: Customer Service/Product Support AFTER the sale ESS versus Evolve started by MisterEm View original post
      Comments 101 Comments
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Point taken.

        I would still be interested in seeing the tune from Evolve compared to ESS on your car/kit. Strictly a performance comparison. After chatting with Sal the other day, it sounds like they have a very firm grasp on tuning a boosted S65 (or S54).

        Also, based on the sub-par tune Norm received with his brand new VT2-500 kit, I would imagine your cam-overlap and ignition targets are lacking for a boosted car as well. AJ's bin files have proven that ESS does not have the VANOS or cam profile control as they suggest.

        ESS's hardware is top-notch, no doubt. Their customer service and software/tuning are severely lacking. A man (or company) should know it's limitations.
      1. bigjae1976's Avatar
        bigjae1976 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        Why not just have Evolve custom tune your VT1-535+ Click here to enlarge
        Will Evolve touch ESS' stuff? I know there's a lot of rivalry in the FI world and usually companies won't touch other's stuff. Haha...that sounds funny.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by bigjae1976 Click here to enlarge
        Will Evolve touch ESS' stuff? I know there's a lot of rivalry in the FI world and usually companies won't touch other's stuff. Haha...that sounds funny.
        Norm's ESS blower kit is now tuned by Evolve. Ask him if he wants to go back to ESS's tune he originally paid for! He posted earlier in this thread.
      1. TZ04XJR's Avatar
        TZ04XJR -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        Why not just have Evolve custom tune your VT1-535+ Click here to enlarge
        +1000 Click here to enlarge

        If I were in LM's position vehicle wise, no doubt that would be my move. Drama or no drama..


        @normcaldwell Post up some pics of your M3!
      1. normcaldwell's Avatar
        normcaldwell -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by TZ04XJR Click here to enlarge
        Post up some pics of your M3!
        I will as soon as I can get my rep points to 5. Just started posting, and I'm at about 4.3 now.
      1. TZ04XJR's Avatar
        TZ04XJR -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by normcaldwell Click here to enlarge
        I will as soon as I can get my rep points to 5. Just started posting, and I'm at about 4.3 now.
        Well that was easy..Click here to enlarge And welcome to BB, plenty of other true enthusiast over here. Didn't take but 10 minuets for me to figure that out.

        -TZ
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by normcaldwell Click here to enlarge
        I will as soon as I can get my rep points to 5. Just started posting, and I'm at about 4.3 now.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by TZ04XJR Click here to enlarge
        Well that was easy..Click here to enlarge And welcome to BB, plenty of other true enthusiast over here. Didn't take but 10 minuets for me to figure that out.

        -TZ
        WOOHOO!!! Time for @normcaldwell to make a nice thread about his E46 M3!!! He has all the nice goodies on his beast!!!
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by normcaldwell Click here to enlarge
        Hey guys; checking in. Finally got over to bimmerboost.
        My first exposure to this forum was Sticky's excellent thread on the S54 / S65 comparison, which helped me decide to empty my wallet on a forced induction kit for the S54!
        No regrets.
        Excellent, welcome.

        I love that s54/s65 article personally, some of my best stuff.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by bigjae1976 Click here to enlarge
        Will Evolve touch ESS' stuff? I know there's a lot of rivalry in the FI world and usually companies won't touch other's stuff. Haha...that sounds funny.
        Evolve has cleaned up other companies messes before but that stuff stays off the forums...
      1. bigjae1976's Avatar
        bigjae1976 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Evolve has cleaned up other companies messes before but that stuff stays off the forums...
        I might be getting inline!
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Norm's ESS blower kit is now tuned by Evolve. Ask him if he wants to go back to ESS's tune he originally paid for! He posted earlier in this thread.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by TZ04XJR Click here to enlarge
        +1000 Click here to enlarge

        If I were in LM's position vehicle wise, no doubt that would be my move. Drama or no drama..


        @normcaldwell Post up some pics of your M3!
        hhhmmmm
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        After logging some OBD 2 data (IAT, Timing, Throttle pos.), found out my IATs needed some work.

        I modified the snorkel setup I had with some suggestions from Alex (@flipm3) and Sal (@evolve_auto) and snuck in for a few runs this morning. Quite pleased with the results with my 97,000 mile beast.

        Mods
        -4.10
        -91 octane (winter-blend crap)
        -Fleabay headers
        -Borla v2 with cats (http://www.custom-performance.net/pr...idproduct=1171)
        -Evolve box
        -Evolve tune

        Click here to enlarge

        Ebay headers and Borla midpipe come off tomorrow. Supersprint Stepped V1 headers and catted section 1 go on in their place.
      1. normcaldwell's Avatar
        normcaldwell -
        Nice results Mike! I bet you can feel the difference in how the car drives as well.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by normcaldwell Click here to enlarge
        Nice results Mike! I bet you can feel the difference in how the car drives as well.
        Yes sir! 15+ rwtq at midrange and 10 at peak is a difference maker on the rump and chassis dyno.

        Here is what is waiting for me tomorrow morning
        Click here to enlarge
        Click here to enlarge

        and an SS resonated section 2 (no pics sorry).

        I would be pleased with another 5-8 whp with the new parts.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        After logging some OBD 2 data (IAT, Timing, Throttle pos.), found out my IATs needed some work.

        I modified the snorkel setup I had with some suggestions from Alex (@flipm3 ) and Sal (@evolve _auto) and snuck in for a few runs this morning. Quite pleased with the results with my 97,000 mile beast.

        Mods
        -4.10
        -91 octane (winter-blend crap)
        -Fleabay headers
        -Borla v2 with cats (http://www.custom-performance.net/pr...idproduct=1171)
        -Evolve box
        -Evolve tune

        http://www.PorscheBoost.com/images/i..._headers-1.jpg

        Ebay headers and Borla midpipe come off tomorrow. Supersprint Stepped V1 headers and catted section 1 go on in their place.
        I think the 4.10 gears may be hurting you more than helping.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I think the 4.10 gears may be hurting you more than helping.
        You crazy Joe! Love the gears. You can have the extra HP on the dyno. If I got a new one, headers and gears would be the first mods. If you plan to go FI I would not recommend them.

        @normcaldwell could tell the difference when he drove mine and he has 3.91's in his beast. Paired with a high revving N/A six soon to be 8,500 rpm red line (head will sustain 9000 when done) I will be in the high 30's maybe 40 at the top of 1st.

        For you Joe. Old but still relevant: http://ls1tech.com/forums/2811675-post15.html
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        After logging some OBD 2 data (IAT, Timing, Throttle pos.), found out my IATs needed some work.

        I modified the snorkel setup I had with some suggestions from Alex (@flipm3 ) and Sal (@evolve _auto) and snuck in for a few runs this morning. Quite pleased with the results with my 97,000 mile beast.

        Mods
        -4.10
        -91 octane (winter-blend crap)
        -Fleabay headers
        -Borla v2 with cats (http://www.custom-performance.net/pr...idproduct=1171)
        -Evolve box
        -Evolve tune

        http://www.PorscheBoost.com/images/i..._headers-1.jpg

        Ebay headers and Borla midpipe come off tomorrow. Supersprint Stepped V1 headers and catted section 1 go on in their place.
        so your saying damn near 30 rwhp gain from Evolves tuning over ESS's..?
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
        so your saying damn near 30 rwhp gain from Evolves tuning over ESS's..?
        Impressive tuning but its hard to quantify as we did have one hardware change at the end. The Evolve CSL style airbox. But the box is supposed to be only worth a few ponies hardware alone.

        edit: first tune comparison graph I posted was with the same OE box and they both were MAF based tunes. Evolve's tune beat that one everywhere. About 20+whp/15rwtq delta in the 4000-6500 range.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        You crazy Joe! Love the gears. You can have the extra HP on the dyno. If I got a new one, headers and gears would be the first mods. If you plan to go FI I would not recommend them.

        @normcaldwell could tell the difference when he drove mine and he has 3.91's in his beast. Paired with a high revving N/A six soon to be 8,500 rpm red line (head will sustain 9000 when done) I will be in the high 30's maybe 40 at the top of 1st.

        For you Joe. Old but still relevant: http://ls1tech.com/forums/2811675-post15.html
        I really didn't like my short gears but if you like them, hey, that's great.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Impressive tuning but its hard to quantify as we did have one hardware change at the end. The Evolve CSL style airbox. But the box is supposed to be only worth a few ponies hardware alone.
        But it's Alpha-N tuning then with that airbox right?