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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. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        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?
        Oooo...another random fact. The MSS54 and MSS54HP already have a Barometric Sensor within the DME. If that's suitable enough to compensate for elevation changes and different pressures, not sure...man, I have a lot more to learn about my own car...haha

        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.

        Isn't the MAP sensor working similar to an Alpha-N setup? It is measuring the air differently than a MAF.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        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.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sorena Click here to enlarge
        me too.

        Oh thanks Alex. Didn't know that. Things make a whole lot more sense now.
        I guess in a sense we are both "right." I did quick search online and there is definitely mixed opinions on whether the CSL uses a true AlphaN. From what I can gather, it seems to be some sort of "pseudo" AlphaN, solely because it still retains a MAP Sensor to measure air density. At the most rudimentary level, AlphaN simply infers measuring Throttle Position (Alpha) versus RPM (N) for load calculations.

        So maybe the CSL uses a mixed combination of AlphaN and MAP Sensor? I'm not entirely sure now after reading some contradicting posts throughout the web. Maybe @evolve can chime in explain in further detail in a new thread...

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm 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.
        HAHA...at least the hard part is over! Keep us posted today on when everything gets buttoned up. Click here to enlarge
      1. 0-60Motorsports's Avatar
        0-60Motorsports -
        @flipm3 stop making good people spend their kids college funds on mods LOL.

        Was chatting with my Brother Sal @ Evolve and he wants to dyno tune my M3 again. So as soon as I book the dyno were gona have some fun. I guess I should wait for my stepped headers and then do it.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        I guess in a sense we are both "right." I did quick search online and there is definitely mixed opinions on whether the CSL uses a true AlphaN. From what I can gather, it seems to be some sort of "pseudo" AlphaN, solely because it still retains a MAP Sensor to measure air density. At the most rudimentary level, AlphaN simply infers measuring Throttle Position (Alpha) versus RPM (N) for load calculations.
        Ya in this sense the E9X is pseudo Alpha-N as well. Confusing eh?
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by 0-60Motorsports Click here to enlarge
        @flipm3 stop making good people spend their kids college funds on mods LOL.

        Was chatting with my Brother Sal @ Evolve and he wants to dyno tune my M3 again. So as soon as I book the dyno were gona have some fun. I guess I should wait for my stepped headers and then do it.
        Hahahaha...I try my best to tempt as many people as possible in to buying all the cool stuff for their cars :-P

        Congrats on the Stepped Headers man! I don't recall if you got the V2 or V1, but either way, you will love them!

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Ya in this sense the E9X is pseudo Alpha-N as well. Confusing eh?
        Confusing to say the least, haha....if only BMW wrote long books about the engineering of their vehicles. I would definitely read them all!
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        if only BMW wrote long books about the engineering of their vehicles. I would definitely read them all!
        Well, they do have some pretty good documents: http://bimmerboost.com/content.php?1...N52-comparison
      1. 0-60Motorsports's Avatar
        0-60Motorsports -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        Hahahaha...I try my best to tempt as many people as possible in to buying all the cool stuff for their cars :-P

        Congrats on the Stepped Headers man! I don't recall if you got the V2 or V1, but either way, you will love them!


        Confusing to say the least, haha....if only BMW wrote long books about the engineering of their vehicles. I would definitely read them all!
        http://www.supersprint.com/en/prod-c..._lhd__rhd.aspx

        I got them so they would bolt on to my cats section easily. I did not want to get a new catless or cats section 2 as you know I have other important priorities nowadays Click here to enlarge
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Exhaust comparison update:

        Supersprint Replica headers (JVT) + Borla V2 section 1&2 w/ 200 cell cats + Borla mufflers

        Versus.

        Supersprint V1 headers + SS section 1 w/ 200 cell cats + SS resonated section 2 + Borla mufflers.

        We are gonna change plugs (16k on the current set) and maybe the rear muffler section before we push the tune.

        Sal@evolve doesn't trust the precision of the results with a 1.23 to 1.24 SAE correction factor. But that is all we have at 6,000 ft.

        Regardless of the numbers, the car is quicker EVERYWHERE....including steering but that is from my new OEM ZHP steering rack. Click here to enlarge

        Attachment 25328Attachment 25329
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Sorry for the double post but I forgot to mention....

        Same tank of 91 octane (10% winter-blend ethanol) as well for the above dynos.
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Great update Mike!!

        I can definitely see you benefiting from a new tune! Compared to your former setup, the SS V1 setup flows quite a bit more. Considering you're AlphaN, I think a new tune is for sure beneficial!

        As always, what's the most important is how it feels on the street! Dynoing this CF Airboxes is VERY tricky and for many reasons, just so sensitive.

        I can't wait for further updates and for winter-blend to vanish!
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Great update Mike!!

        I can definitely see you benefiting from a new tune! Compared to your former setup, the SS V1 setup flows quite a bit more. Considering you're AlphaN, I think a new tune is for sure beneficial!

        As always, what's the most important is how it feels on the street! Dynoing this CF Airboxes is VERY tricky and for many reasons, just so sensitive.

        I can't wait for further updates and for winter-blend to vanish!

        EDIT: ALSO!!! Looking at the graph. Your baseline is most likely ~300whp, not 304whp. Comparing to the SS V1 run with the spike at the end. The spike on the SS V1 run matches the peak power at 130mph. Click here to enlarge +11whp!!! WOOHOO!!!
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        As always, what's the most important is how it feels on the street! Dynoing this CF Airboxes is VERY tricky and for many reasons, just so sensitive.

        I can't wait for further updates and for winter-blend to vanish!

        EDIT: ALSO!!! Looking at the graph. Your baseline is most likely ~300whp, not 304whp. Comparing to the SS V1 run with the spike at the end. The spike on the SS V1 run matches the peak power at 130mph. Click here to enlarge +11whp!!! WOOHOO!!!
        Thanks Alex. The additional power is apparent all over the RPM band.

        I spoke to Sal a few times today and he doesn't sound comfortable with the SAE correction factor (or any CF) for this high altitude tuning. He believes the precision is skewed very low when the SAE CF's get above 1.10 or 1.15 (we are at 1.23 and 1.24 for these runs). He wants me to tune it at sea-level at some point. The uncorrected numbers are certainly humbling and not even worth reporting (250/220 range).

        He also mentioned the Borla mufflers do not flow appreciably much more than stock and they may be the new bottleneck. But it looks like I have a used SS race on the way to test this theory out....
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Thanks Alex. The additional power is apparent all over the RPM band.

        I spoke to Sal a few times today and he doesn't sound comfortable with the SAE correction factor (or any CF) for this high altitude tuning. He believes the precision is skewed very low when the SAE CF's get above 1.10 or 1.15 (we are at 1.23 and 1.24 for these runs). He wants me to tune it at sea-level at some point. The uncorrected numbers are certainly humbling and not even worth reporting (250/220 range).

        He also mentioned the Borla mufflers do not flow appreciably much more than stock and they may be the new bottleneck. But it looks like I have a used SS race on the way to test this theory out....
        WHOA!!! SS RACE?!?!?! Your Blue Beast is going to sound FEROCIOUS!!!

        So basically, @evolve is telling you that you have to take a road trip with @normcaldwell and visit me in Chicago....LOL...sounds good to me!!!
      1. normcaldwell's Avatar
        normcaldwell -
        Nice numbers Mike, and even if the correction factor is of concern, the relative comparisons to each other are still of use. Just as important is how the car feels to the driver, and you've made that observation very well!

        Looking forward to the SS Race dyno comparison. I also wonder what it will sound like; could be rather loud . . . .

        Road trip to Chi-town . . . hmmmmm . . .
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by normcaldwell Click here to enlarge
        Nice numbers Mike, and even if the correction factor is of concern, the relative comparisons to each other are still of use. Just as important is how the car feels to the driver, and you've made that observation very well!
        The concern to Sal seemed to be the precision reduction the further from 1.00 SAE you move. Our SAE values are well into the 1.2X range.

        Nick at Mac's Auto seems to like where its at now and implied I shouldn't touch it. He mentioned it again when I left today... you're in the 320 rwhp range without the 4.10's and 93 fuel. Again mentioning their E85 all-motor GTO car's big HP loss results swapping to 3.91's only. Yet ET and trap speed both improved....

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by normcaldwell Click here to enlarge
        Looking forward to the SS Race dyno comparison. I also wonder what it will sound like; could be rather loud . . . .
        Road trip to Chi-town . . . hmmmmm . . .
        Not too worried about the noise anymore as the car is retired from DD duty and I hate the tone as it sits now. I am interested in maximizing the car as is. A true FBO car with a stock motor, and stock head. The madness will commence when the last iota of bolt-on power is realized!

        I have messed around with the exhaust on this car so many times that I can swap the muffler in an hour.... including getting the car up and off of jack-stands. If its obnoxious the quiet borla will be back in the SS race's stead outside of HPDE events and Dyno time. They both are feather-light.

        I could do a road-trip to Chicago. That would be fun. It would also be nice to be able to report Uncorrected Dynojet numbers. The 6,000 ft uncorrected numbers are sad.My wife would want to go just an FYI.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Supersprint Replica headers (JVT) + Borla V2 section 1&2 w/ 200 cell cats + Borla mufflers

        Versus.

        Supersprint V1 headers + SS section 1 w/ 200 cell cats + SS resonated section 2 + Borla mufflers.
        Which is which? Red with SS section 1?

        Also, why not ditch the cats?
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Which is which? Red with SS section 1?

        Also, why not ditch the cats?
        Red is the SS header/cat combo. The flatspot at 7000 rpm (130mph) is getting worked on now. Its either Alpha-n related or we just moved the bottleneck to section 3 (muffler). The dyno operator thinks we should stop here and move to the built head....as he says they lose a good bit of power with steeper gears on their dyno. I think there is more but we shall see.

        As for cats:

        1. high-quality cats make little to no difference on an N/A S54. Stan showed this on his built head/cammed S54. A different world with boost for sure.
        2. Sniffer, OBD2 test required here. Also, roadside emissions monitors found on the major highway on-ramps. You don't want your license/vin flagged...
        3. Uhoh.... Well I am a biologist by trade. I cannot in good conscience pollute more than I need to and walk the professional circles I do. There are climate/pollution issues that are a bit more pressing... I won't argue that. Those issues I have no control of, however. My car's pollution contribution, I do.
        4. The smell is obnoxious and my nose is sensitive. I have spent years of my life on boats of many sizes for school and work..... running outboards, in-boards and diesel trawlers. There is nothing worse than huffing outboard (or catless car) fumes. The smell permeates everything....much like cigarettes.

        In all honesty... if catalytic converters killed power the way they did in the 70's and 80's or as they are perceived on the internet.... I would find it really hard to NOT go catless. As it sits today... no-brainer. Cats all the way.

        /flamesuit on
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        1. high-quality cats make little to no difference on an N/A S54. Stan showed this on his built head/cammed S54. A different world with boost for sure.
        2. Sniffer, OBD2 test required here. Also, roadside emissions monitors found on the major highway on-ramps. You don't want your license/vin flagged...
        3. Uhoh.... Well I am a biologist by trade. I cannot in good conscience pollute more than I need to and walk the professional circles I do. There are climate/pollution issues that are a bit more pressing... I won't argue that. Those issues I have no control of, however. My car's pollution contribution, I do.
        4. The smell is obnoxious and my nose is sensitive. I have spent years of my life on boats of many sizes for school and work..... running outboards, in-boards and diesel trawlers. There is nothing worse than huffing outboard (or catless car) fumes. The smell permeates everything....much like cigarettes.

        In all honesty... if catalytic converters killed power the way they did in the 70's and 80's or as they are perceived on the internet.... I would find it really hard to NOT go catless. As it sits today... no-brainer. Cats all the way.

        /flamesuit on
        No need, your decision is logical.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        EDIT: ALSO!!! Looking at the graph. Your baseline is most likely ~300whp, not 304whp. Comparing to the SS V1 run with the spike at the end. The spike on the SS V1 run matches the peak power at 130mph. Click here to enlarge +11whp!!! WOOHOO!!!
        Thanks again for pointing this out.

        I was trying to be fair with both exhaust setups comparing the best runs of each setup. Here is a "cleaner" run with the replica headers without the spike you mentioned. I could have posted some of the lower runs at 298, and 299...but I wanted to use the best runs from each.

        Both setups flatten out at 7,200 rpm (130 mph) to redline. Investigating this currently. Stay tuned.

        Attachment 25406
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Thanks again for pointing this out.

        I was trying to be fair with both exhaust setups comparing the best runs of each setup. Here is a "cleaner" run with the replica headers without the spike you mentioned. I could have posted some of the lower runs at 298, and 299...but I wanted to use the best runs from each.

        Both setups flatten out at 7,200 rpm (130 mph) to redline. Investigating this currently. Stay tuned.
        Thanks for sharing that!! Either way there is still a noticeable gain all across, especially the top end!! As we all know, it is by no means easy pulling out power from these cars.

        @stosh1 was actually the first person that brought it to me attention but that spike at the end seems to be a by product of the 6MT. I always noticed it on my car, but I just figured it was just the way my dyno read at the top end, haha.

        Definitely keep us posted on what you start looking into to address that top end. In addition to the muffler and spark plugs, with maintenance, I'd definitely look into the VANOS stuff and making sure its nice a clean. Sometimes the solenoid and solenoid plate gets gunked up with oil. Which I am told can effect top end power to a very minute degree.
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Attachment 26700