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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 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I really didn't like my short gears but if you like them, hey, that's great.
        If I was interested in participating in standing mile events or 60-130 times I would think differently.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        But it's Alpha-N tuning then with that airbox right?
        Yes.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Yes.
        That no doubt is the reason for the huge power gain, very nice.

        Did they say anything about issues in elevation or if you take the car to the mountains?
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        That no doubt is the reason for the huge power gain, very nice.
        Please explain the +20rwhp/15rwtq midrange gain and 13rwhp/11rwtq gain recorded while the car was flashed strapped on the dyno rollers (see first dyno in this thread). That tune never had a chance to adapt either. Both MAF tunes. The alpha-n is just a tuning platform. The mere presence of it doesn't make power.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Did they say anything about issues in elevation or if you take the car to the mountains?
        Yea he did. I got a proper phone card this time and talked with him throughout the dyno tune. He doesn't like or trust how the correction factors (either one) work at high altitude. We both acknowledged that my headers and cats that are on there (he called them both ebay rubbish!) were not helping the process. I want to maximize the car in bolt on fashion before I swap heads/cams.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Please explain the +20rwhp/15rwtq midrange gain and 13rwhp/11rwtq gain recorded while the car was flashed strapped on the dyno rollers (see first dyno in this thread). That tune never had a chance to adapt either. Both MAF tunes. The alpha-n is just a tuning platform. The mere presence of it doesn't make power.
        I'm not denying the tune quality or that it is better, it is. I'm just saying the comparison is an Alpha-N tune versus a standard tune. Regardless, the Evolve tune makes much more power.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Yea he did. I got a proper phone card this time and talked with him throughout the dyno tune. He doesn't like or trust how the correction factors (either one) work at high altitude. We both acknowledged that my headers and cats that are on there (he called them both ebay rubbish!) were not helping the process. I want to maximize the car in bolt on fashion before I swap heads/cams.
        So you pretty much have to drive it at a similar altitude right?
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Awesome results man!

        Evolve has been making HUGE power on this car in both boosted and naturally aspirated platforms. Both @normcaldwell and @MisterEm are prime examples of that.

        I can't wait to cause some trouble with @evolve on the dyno hopefully sooner than later! Click here to enlarge
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        (he called them both ebay rubbish!) were not helping the process. I want to maximize the car in bolt on fashion
        lol, same thing here.. its funny, and true.. ebay xpipe.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Sticky, not sure what you are nitpicking this time. The first dyno in the thread compared two MAF tunes; not Alpha-N to MAF. Apples to apples. I'm sure if I paid for more dyno time the original delta would have been much higher if the Evolve tune had the chance to adapt as the ESS tune had 10,000 miles plus.

        This last comparison was only changing snorkel setups. You're thinking too much.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        So you pretty much have to drive it at a similar altitude right?
        Quite the contrary. Now I can drive the car here at 6,000 feet and enjoy it as well as sea level. More fuel up top isn't going to prevent the car from performing at sea level.

        Back to header removal...
      1. Sorena's Avatar
        Sorena -
        Good stuff man. NA power FTW. Click here to enlarge
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Yea he did. I got a proper phone card this time and talked with him throughout the dyno tune. He doesn't like or trust how the correction factors (either one) work at high altitude. We both acknowledged that my headers and cats that are on there (he called them both ebay rubbish!) were not helping the process. I want to maximize the car in bolt on fashion before I swap heads/cams.
        I was wondering how CSL's work in different parts of the world with Alpha-N? Did BMW tune the cars specifically for the destination each car was headed too?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Sticky, not sure what you are nitpicking this time. The first dyno in the thread compared two MAF tunes; not Alpha-N to MAF. Apples to apples. I'm sure if I paid for more dyno time the original delta would have been much higher if the Evolve tune had the chance to adapt as the ESS tune had 10,000 miles plus.

        This last comparison was only changing snorkel setups. You're thinking too much.
        Not nitpicking anything please don't get defensive just want to point out one is Alpha-N and one isn't, that's all.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Quite the contrary. Now I can drive the car here at 6,000 feet and enjoy it as well as sea level.
        That's awesome. It's always been the supposed elevation issues that have kept me away from Alpha-N setups for myself.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sorena Click here to enlarge
        I was wondering how CSL's work in different parts of the world with Alpha-N? Did BMW tune the cars specifically for the destination each car was headed too?
        I've always wondered about this too.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        headers are off. Beer 30 time
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Not nitpicking anything please don't get defensive just want to point out one is Alpha-N and one isn't, that's all.
        .
        Ha ha! Only you and LM were comparing Alpha-N to MAF big boy. Not I. I'd like you to find where I was posting comparisons of MAF tunes to Alpha-N based tunes.




        I'd recommend you avoid the whole marriage thing. Click here to enlarge
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sorena Click here to enlarge
        I was wondering how CSL's work in different parts of the world with Alpha-N? Did BMW tune the cars specifically for the destination each car was headed too?
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I've always wondered about this too.
        The E46 M3 CSL does not run on AlphaN. They use MAP Sensors just like the E9X M3 Click here to enlarge

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        headers are off. Beer 30 time
        Have fun fitting those monstrous pipes and tearing your knuckles...Click here to enlarge
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Ha ha! Only you and LM were comparing Alpha-N to MAF big boy. Not I. I'd like you to find where I was posting comparisons of MAF tunes to Alpha-N based tunes.

        I'd recommend you avoid the whole marriage thing. Click here to enlarge
        I really think you are taking this the wrong way... I'm not criticizing you just trying to explain the reasons to others who might be wondering why the gains are so large.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        The E46 M3 CSL does not run on AlphaN. They use MAP Sensors just like the E9X M3
        Wow was I under the wrong impression then. I thought the CSL airbox ditched the standard E46 sensors.

        Isn't the MAP sensor working similar to an Alpha-N setup? It is measuring the air differently than a MAF.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        The E46 M3 CSL does not run on AlphaN. They use MAP Sensors just like the E9X M3
        Ok I learned something I don't know why I thought the CSL was Alpha-N from the factory. They have oxygen sensors.

        So the CSL tune could be more aggressive with an Alpha-N setup. I guess that is why many guys going to the CSL airbox go to an Alpha-N tune.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        Have fun fitting those monstrous pipes and tearing your knuckles...Click here to enlarge
        My wife cut me off. I already tracked too much blood into the house. But I did manage get the headers and 8 nuts on, the 02's and EGT sensor ran (considering terminating the sensor at section 1..). I have 10 more nuts to finish tomorrow and the Section 1 and Section 2 supersprint pipes to put together. Now its Daddy day care and time for the Hawks to squish the Niners.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I really think you are taking this the wrong way... I'm not criticizing you just trying to explain the reasons to others who might be wondering why the gains are so large.
        Just messing with you dude. I don't take the interwebz seriously just my steep gearing and high revving preference! Click here to enlarge
      1. 0-60Motorsports's Avatar
        0-60Motorsports -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by PEI330Ci Click here to enlarge
        That is not the first time I've heard of Evolve doing that!

        Top Notch!
        Thats cos the first time you heard it from me LOL
      1. Sorena's Avatar
        Sorena -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Wow was I under the wrong impression then. I thought the CSL airbox ditched the standard E46 sensors.
        me too.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        The E46 M3 CSL does not run on AlphaN. They use MAP Sensors just like the E9X M3 Click here to enlarge
        Oh thanks Alex. Didn't know that. Things make a whole lot more sense now.
      1. 0-60Motorsports's Avatar
        0-60Motorsports -
        Thanks for the EVOLVE review and the situation with ESS. I am glad your happy with EVOLVE, SAL and Imran and Riz are awesome people.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Even though I'm just a lowly pee-on customer for both companies (e.g. not invested 5 digits) I feel compelled to start this thread for a few reasons:

        1) I've received a few recent PMs from m3forum regarding my deleted thread and dyno runs comparing the ESS and Evolve tunes for the S54. I can't tell you why they were deleted, but I can assume it was merely to protect sponsorship.

        2) After the recent unfair bashing of other E9X S/C vendors not named ESS by the members, moderators, and sponsors of m3post.

        3) I've been a customer of both sides of the competition and have learned some insight regarding both companies, post product sale.

        4) I'm just a normal car enthusiast (I am an equal opportunity car lover!) who is trying to learn and inform others.

        I have been a customer of both ESS (since 2008) and Evolve (since 2010).

        I had issues with three separate tunes from ESS. Two N/A header tunes where (1) AJ 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 (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:

        http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...page0011-1.jpg

        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