Thursday, April 19, 2012

Patrick G Tune

For a while now I've felt that tuning our cars has been a bit of a hit and miss problem. Some people seem to get great tunes, while others can't find a decent tuner if their lives dependent on it. Even with remote tuning there are the what's now considered 'bad' tuners and excellent tuners. I think the problem mostly is that the platform is relatively new (My car is already 4 years old so not THAT new) and most tuners simply have not had enough experience to really figure out all the nitty gritty details and gotchas. Basically every car they tune is a learning experience for them as well and if you're the first one for them, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Of course when trying to find a tuner for you car , the first things you should look for is: a) How many of your car have they tuned before and b) How many satisfied customers do they have (even months/years later). One name that kept rising to the top of ANY LS based engine was Patrick Guerra aka PatrickG from Texas.

But first a quick recap; I've had several tunes throughout the last 4 years now. First I obviously started out with the stock tune. As I added a few basic mods I ended up with a Vector Motorsports Tune which at the time was a mail-in type of deal where you had mail back the interface & cable when you were done.  Then they offered their powerflash and when I got my first stroker build I moved on to that. It was a good thing I got to keep the cable because plenty of changes (even weeks later) were to be made.

After my rebuild I had Ellis Groo over at Speedsecrets, who did the rebuild as well, tune it. He's definitely one of the more experienced people here in the PNW so I felt pretty good about it.  It was definitely much better than before, though a few issues either lingered, or would go away only to return in the weeks/months following. One issue was a weird transmission issue where my car would stall unless you either a) punched the throttle more than you'd expect to b) or at least wait for the car to start rolling before applying throttle.

Based on the popularity of PatrickG, and I had already dealt with him when he spec'd my cam for my 403 rebuild I really wanted to try out his tune on my car for a long time. The issue was that not only would I have to purchase a tune from PatrickG, I would also need to purchase the full EFI Live suite, which he uses to tune. That was a sticking point with me, since I'll honestly admit I would probably never take the time to learn tuning myself. I would never in a million years pretend to know enough by googling some stuff that I was able to make a tune that'd be anywhere near as good as an expert (or heck, even stock LOL!). So it seemed like almost a waste to go that route.

Then another local PNW Member - Ben2009GT - who has an amazing red GT posted on the forum that he had done a remote tune with PatrickG as well and was super excited about it AND used the 'AutoCal' Option. I asked what this was, and it turns out PatrickG offered a solution where you simply have to buy the EFILive AutoCal Interface (+ Tune of course) and that's it. No need to purchase the full software suite to go with it etc. That knocked about half off the EFI-Live price from before and sounded PERFECT for my situation. So, as a 'birthday present' to my car for turning 4, I figured it was the right time to try this out.

EFILive AutoCal
The EFILive AutoCal interface is a nice piece of equipment. It makes the VMS/Livernois/Carputing type of interface look ancient with their DB9 port etc. The AutoCal has 1 USB Type-B Connector and a slick RJ-45 (e.g. ethernet style) connector for the OBDII cable. Unlike the VMS solution where you always had to have a computer connected to do anything, the AutoCal comes with a 'BlackBox' Option which has about 6MB of storage letting you keep your tunes on the device, and allowing logging without the need to have a computer with you at all. This works great so that you can in theory always have the device with you in the car, and if something seems odd, just plug it in, log it and send it to the tuner to analyze. Or you could even have multiple tunes on there, say 1 for the track, and 1 for regular driving etc. Of course it also can read & clear DTCs so that's nice to have as well.

The process with Patrick was straight-forward as could be:
  1. First I connected the AutoCal to the PC and set up some configuration settings which Patrick had provided.
  2. I went to my car and plugged in the Autocal, after which I selected to read both the E38 and T43 tunes from my car
  3. Connected the AutoCal to my computer and copied the files to my PC so I could email them to Patrick
  4. I would get new Tune files from him which I would put on the AutoCal device, after which I could program them onto my car.
  5. Also I would do some logging while driving so Patrick G could see what was going on (simply copy the logs from the device and email)
  6. Repeat Steps 4 & 5 as much as needed
As soon as I loaded up Tune #1 I could tell the myth surrounding Patrick G's magical powers is absolutely true ;) Apparently the 'G' in Patrick G stands for GOD - Tuning God that is!

My engine, which is not exactly a normal configuration and has given plenty of tuners a headache , ran smooth from the get-go! Consider me super impressed that for a first attempt he got it to run better than it ever had! As we went back & forth Patrick G was super responsive - I would send a log and either same day, or next morning I would have a new tune waiting in my email. He told me what parameters to log and what kind of data he was looking for (quick WOT, cruising, idling etc), which I would then do on either my morning or evening commute. With every tune update you could almost feel the improvement. We ended up with what's now Tune #5 and Transmission Tune #2 and my car sounds & feels the best it ever has.
Engine runs smooth (for a 403 that's damn impressive lol) and shifts are very well behaved. Believe it or not, I've even see an increase in my fuel economy! (went from 14.6mpg average to 16.2 this morning - I'll keep you guys posted on what it settles on). In short: WOW! (and WHY did I not do this sooner!?!)

So if you're thinking about getting a Tune, but either can't find anyone local with the experience, or are unsure about 'remote tuning', or you simply want the best tune for you car - RUN don't walk to contact Patrick G (PatrickG on or go to his website) and get your car the gift of running the best it can!


  1. Thanks Steve,
    My G8 still has the stock tune partly b/c I wasn't confident about the options - sounds like PatrickG is a great choice. Do you think the improved gas mileage would hold up with mainly highway driving? Also, one thing that annoys my with the stock tune is the delay in response when I get more aggressive with acceleration - there's like a split second pause before the car takes off. Does this go away at all after tuning?

  2. At least for me my mileage seems to have improved on the highway vs my old tunes! I did a check the other day and was able to get 20-23 mpg on the free way (of course only 1 mile city stop & go driving with a few lights knocked it down to 17-18).

    The tune is far better as far as responsiveness, though I do notice that if I drive it like a granny for a few days and then all of a sudden stomp on it it does take a split second. As far as I can tell that's the 'adaptive' nature of our transmission. Seems to help to kick it into sports mode and/or blip the throttle a bit first.

  3. Steve,

    After reading a number of your posts, I've come to realize that we live in the same area! Awesome! I've owned my G8 for about 6 months and love it so far. Are any local G8 clubs or meets in our area? Do you still own you G8? Looking forward to hearing from you. Feel free to email me.

    Take care!