Sunday, August 31, 2008

Badges - Part II

Ever since taking off the Pontiac lettering of the trunk of the car i've been itching to get rid of those tiny little 'gm squares' right behind the front wheel. They never looked quite right or like they belonged there in my opinion. You can see them on my car in the side picture of my 'Picked up my G8 GT!' post. I've seen them on some corvettes too and while I was 'ok' with them in the beginning the more I looked at them the more they HAD to go.

When I took off the rear letters I had simply peeled them off by hand on a hot day but that left behind significant 'sticky stuff' which I had a hard time with removing. This time i decided to use some 20lbs fishing line - I don't fish, so I had to go and buy some just for this little project ;) Simply cut to a decent length, grab in both hands, run it behind the logo you want to remove and start shimmying it down or sideways or whatever way is easiest so that you're basically cutting the logo off the car.This left a much thinner piece of the sticky tape behind than on the back of the car. Some people suggest using a hairdryer or heatgun first to soften everything up but I didn't. Most of the remainder came off by carefully pulling it off with my fingers or rubbing it with my thumb. For the last little stubborn parts I simply took a cloth with some 'Goo-Off' on it, and within second it was totally clean. Good stuff :)

I had also received some of the Australian Holden Badges that say : "V8/6.0 Litre" on them which I really liked. Since I had taken the little squares off it was the perfect time to stick them on there. I'm quite happy with the end result!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Badges - Part I

Boy has it been a quiet month for mods! it's a pain in the ass not to have any money to mod your car the way you want to ;) So it's time for some 'cheap' stuff :)

Charlie , the 'notorious' GRRRR8 on many a forum including the forum, made some cool heaterhoses replacements that he sent me. I still need to install those but he included some GM Performance badges that I really liked. Not much of a mod to just stick'm on the car somewhere, but it adds a nice touch I think.

The First one is a 'GM Performance Division' badge that I put on the trim of the glovebox. Some people put it on the right hand side but since I have the 'First 888' logo there I went with it on the left side which balances everything out quite nicely I think.

The second has some technical engine specs on it - yeah they're not 100% accurate but close enough and i like the custom look it adds to the (already custom looking) engine bay.

I have some other badges i'll be taking off and some other i'll be putting on on the outside of the car but that's for another blog entry.

New Forum for G8

Recently I helped setup a new Pontiac G8 (and future Camaro) Forum. It tries to focus more on the technical aspects and mods in general vs the generic chit chat you'll find on most boards. Please visit & sign up here

I hope you'll enjoy your stay!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vector Motorsports Tune

I had ordered the Vector Motorsports ECM & TCM tune a while ago and out of the options of reprogramming your existing ECM or getting a new spare one I chose the reprogramming method since I did not have an extra $300 laying around. For the reprogramming they would have to send out special programming cables that they only have a handful off so it was going to take a while before it was my turn. Also for the TCM to be reprogrammed it would require the cables anyway so it seemed to make the most sense to go this route. After roughly 1-2 weeks it finally showed up.

I meant to take pictures, but really there wasn't that much to see. In the box tightly wrapped in 2 bubble wrap envelopes was:

  • a USB Cable
  • The Programming Cable (Usb to a little blackBox which then had what looked like a serial port or db15 plug - didn't care enough to pay attention - to a ODBII connector)
  • Sheet of instructions
  • USB Flash Drive with Software & Drivers

Upon close examination of the provided software & cable it turned out it's basically the programming back-end from LS2EDIT by Carputing and the cable looked the same too.

I was slightly disappointed in this since I had heard a lot about how Vector supposedly used very powerful custom software and I had heard a lot of bad things about LS2Edit. (and it LOOKS like a crappy piece of VB Software too - but hey i'm a software dev so i'm a little more critical than the average user ;) ).

The main issues people have with a vector tune seems to be the 'locking' this program does where no other tuning software has access to the ECM afterwards. This can be a GOOD thing if you're worried about the dealership for instance overwriting your tune. But if you wanted to switch to a different piece of software because you found a local tuner or some other reason then you're basically screwed and will have to somehow get the dealership to reflash you back to stock. And i'm sure they'd love to hear from you WHY they need to do that and it wouldn't surprise me if they were to make a note of it for 'warranty purposes' if you know what I mean... I'm not that worried about it since I won't have to retune until either headers/cam etc and that will be a while and even then i'll stick with vector since they are the ones with the most experience tuning G8's.

As far as the process goes the instructions were pretty clear.

1. Install the software from the USB Flash Drive on your computer. Obviously since you need to be next to your car a laptop is almost crucial (unless you have a desktop in your garage ;) )
2. In the Start Menu then select 'Install Drivers'. This installs the drivers to talk to the cable.
3. Connect the USB cable to your computer - it will now detect the cable as a new USB Port and some other messages will pop up.
4. Connect the OBDII Cable to the port in the car which is under the drivers side dash behind the hood-release. I had to get on all fours to see it hiding back there ;)
5. Turn the ignition key to 'run' and leave it there (don't start). Have the ignition on for at least 10 seconds and make sure anything extra (radio, A/C) is off. Also they recommend the door is closed so I simply opened the window and had the cable go in through there.
6. Start the ECM Reader, Select "Read ECM", It will ask you for a filename to save your ECM data as with the extension of 'LS2' which should be your lastname + order number (e.g. Smith1234.LS2) then Click Action->Connect.
7. Once done I cycled the ignition and did the same with the TCM programmer program except that this saves out a 'TCM' file for your transmission.
Both Files downloaded somewhat slow where it felt like a good 5-10 minutes each.

I emailed both files to Vector as an attachment in an email, once again mentioning my fullname & order number at about 5pm PST. Next morning when I checked my email the modified tune was already there. (They renamed the new files with the term 'MOD' e.g. 'Smith1234MOD.LS2' and 'Smith1234MOD.TCM')

The process for programming is much the same as reading the original files but you just have to pick the file to program. Same connection, same items turned off, through the window. Fired up the ECM Programmer, Selected 'Program ECM' and navigated to & selected the new LS2 File. At first my screen sat at 0% trying to talk to the interface. They warn you to not shut down the program or disconnect the cable, but after 20 minutes of sitting there I took the chance and canceled the programmer. I reconnected & re-started the sequence and this time it worked. I noticed that programming took a lot less time than reading the original files even though on disk they are the same size (2mb each). I guesstimate it took anywhere from 2-5 minutes to upload the new files.

While both Reading and Programming all kinds of lights flash on the Dash like "ABS Failure" "Brake Failure" "Contact Dealer" etc and you'll hear several beeps & 'dings'. This is normal so don't worry :)

Started up the car and everything looked OK. Driven about 40 miles in 'Normal' Mode only so far and it definitely has more pull and quicker shifts. Noticed the redline has increased and overall it's definitely a better car to drive than stock. I've yet to try the sports mode or the manual modes but I will probably later today. I did notice also an increase of about 3-4mpg already so that's fantastic.

Update September: Ok really - this tune still brings a grin to my face everytime I Drive. Shifts are a lot quicker & crisper now. When I gun it from a dead stop, traction control will kick in on a 1 to 2 shift and when I turn it of i'm actually chirping the tires when it shifts (sometimes even with it on!)... ohhhhhhhhh yeaaaaaaaaaah :D

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

G8 Forums

There are a bunch of G8 boards/forums out there where you can find all kinds of information relating to the Pontiac G8. Some are large with company backing and/or sponsorships, while others are small & privately run. One of my favorite forums is .

Compared to some of the other boards tends to be more technical driven (as the name implies). The members there are more likely to discuss the latest torque converters and how to get those last extra few HP out of their engines or shave a tenth of a second of their 1/4 mile time than the latest drama about how vendor 'x' sucks. It really cuts through the BS that is out there on most boards. It also has the least rules which is good in my opinion. Want to complain about a vendor ? go for it - but keep it professional & adult and be sure back it up with some data, otherwise you'll (rightfully so) will probably get ripped a new one by other members. Have a great find but it's on some other site? who cares - just link it so everyone can enjoy the benefits of what you discovered. Everyone and anyone is welcome from Master Techs to total N00bs like myself. ;)

While it may not be the biggest board it's the most open where anyone can say what they want without being censored which is key. Sure tempers flare and heated arguments take place once in a while but in the end most are resolved amicably, people have a drink and walk away having made a few new friends.

That's the spirit I think our small G8 community needs. One where we can freely share ideas & innovations without censorship, talk about the good and the bad about certain products, discuss alternatives , but most of all HAVE FUN without a lot of drama & BS.

So feel free to swing on by at!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Turbo Technology Tacoma (That's a lot of T's!)

So I've been looking for a shop to work on my G8 for quite some time now. Most generic shops don't do any of the hard-core work required or can do it, but just not on the G8... how weird is that. The majority of places around here also seem to focus on 'imports' aka Honda's/Acura's etc. Of course there's always the dealership, but they always raise eyebrows when I come in and then proceed to give me their 'Oh this will void your warranty' stories whenever I try to have them do anything out of the 'ordinary' (more than an oil change + tire rotation). Don't get me wrong - the Service people are great there, but just not really that well suited for any after-market work.

Since The G8 GT has a L76 engine in it, basically an 'LS' engine variant, I figured, why not see if I can find a place that has worked on Corvettes etc to see if they can perform any of the work. After some searching I found Turbo Technology in Tacoma. I shot them an email and I received a response back from Nick who works there answering all my questions. He confirmed they could do any of the work i'm planning on (headers, Cam swap, supercharger or dual turbo's , Dyno, tuning etc). He invited me to swing by there which I did and it was a great place and the
workshop looked pretty impressive. They even had 1000rwp corvette sitting there... WOW!

I had asked about getting my intake manifold/throttle body ported and while they don't do that Nick knew of someone that did. Without me even to ask he already tried to contact them to find out how much it would run etc. They also checked out my pulley I was worried about (after closing time even) and told me it was installed just fine. That's the kind of forward thinking & service I can appreciate! So while I haven't had them do any work on the car yet, i'm definitely looking forward to working with them on my car.

If you're in the south sound area , give them a call/visit!
Turbo Technology Inc
6211 South Adams St Suite B
Tacoma, WA 98409
Fax: 253.474.7413

Friday, August 1, 2008

Intake Cover Removal

I've had this mod for about a week now , but just hadn't gotten around to writing up on it.

Stock the G8 GT comes with a BIG fancy looking piece of plastic molding on top of it's engine. It seems to be a trend nowadays to just slap that onto any car to make the engine look more neat & organized than it really is. As mentioned in a previous post Heat is not your friend when it comes to your car so anything that helps it cool off faster helps. This thing got HOT and stayed hot for HOURS after driving. So why not get rid of it?

Here's the cover in question:

Like a lot of people first I simply took this cover off to expose the engine to let it cool off quicker. Then it turns out that on top of the engine sat ANOTHER cover with foam wedged between it for what most likely was sound suppression. What the???? I didn't notice it untill someone pointed it out since the cover was molded to look just like the intake manifold.

Here are some pictures of it off - notice how it looks just like the intake:

Here it is totally off the car with the foam insert besides it.

Finally the finished look:

As you can tell from the 1st picture there was 1 stubborn black hose on the drivers side laying on top of everything but that is now tucked underneath the fuel lines for a neat and tidy look.

Credit goes to Charlie (aka. GRRR8 on for this mod who has several to his name! I'll write up on his others as soon as I implement them. Now the only annoying thing is the heater hoses just laying on top of the engine, but Charlie is already working on a solution for that as well.

Here are the instructions , edited by me to reflect how I did it.

This will take about 30 minutes max.

1. Looses the manifold bolts, start with the outer and work your way to the center. (8mm socket)

2. Only remove the 2 bolts in the back on each side (4 total) and the black brackets they go through.

3. Take of the 4 10mm studs that hold the fuel rail (10mm deep socket).

4. Follow the black tube that runs on top of the engine to where it connects behind the engine
by the drivers rear valve cover. Disconnect it there by simply pulling it off it's connector.

5. The injector harness has push-ins that hook it to the fuel rail. Pull these out. There is no need to unplug any electrical connections.

6. Now you need to pull out the Fuel rails + Injector slightly. If needed you can use a long screwdriver to carefully and lightly pry up at the base of the front injectors on both side and then the rear. Mine came right out with just a little wiggling upwards on the fuel rail.

7. Lift the fuel rail & injectors up enough so that you can slide the cover out front.

8. Once the cover is out route the tube you disconnected at step 4 underneath the fuel rail and reconnect.

9. Carefully line up the injectors with their respective holes and push down on the fuel rail to reinstall them.

10. Torque all bolts from step 1 to 44in lb from center out and repeat for the studs from the 2nd step at 89in lb.

(I unfortunately never got around to step 10 since I didn't have a torque wrench.. oops.. but as soon as i do i'll torque them correctly)