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Engine Management Advanced Tuning

Book Review

by Ryan King

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The author of this book — Greg Banish — is an engineer that tunes engines for both the OEM and the aftermarket, and he's put together a great book on the subject of tuning electronic fuel injection systems.

If you are un- or only vaguely familiar with the concept of tuning electronic fuel injection, then this book will do a great job of introducing you to the concept. If you are already familiar or tune professionally, it will probably give you insight into how it is done on the OEM side of things, and how to improve many aspects of your tunes.

The most important part of this book, I found, was that it doesn't simply point out the parts of a fuel injection system, how an engine runs, how changing parts changes the way an engine runs, or the make up of the software inside the PCM (which stands for Powertrain Control Module) — in fact, he specifically leaves you to find that information from other sources — it gives you the process for tuning an engine with many anecdotes about the differences between OEM and aftermarket tuning, and what to look for to make a seamless tune rather than one that just allows the engine to run.

The book is written in easy to understand terms — although the more you bring with you to this book, the more you will get out of it — and the author does a good job of making a complex subject make sense.

The following is a brief look at what you can expect to get out of Engine Management Advanced Tuning.

The Book

Chapter 1: Introduction

In Chapter 1, the author takes a brief philosophical overview of fuel injection and its improvements over carbureted technology. He also points out the advancements made in basic engine technology over the last 40 years and explains how and why modern cars are producing power that was nearly unheard of in the '60s. He also gives a brief summary of the book and his reasoning for the direction he's taken it. That direction being a focus on tuning methodology rather than engine performance, but mentions the necessity for understanding basic engine functions and performance requirements to effectively tune an EFI system.

Chapter 2: The Basics

Although the focus of this book is the process of engine tuning, the author does briefly discuss the basics of the internal combustion engine in Chapter 2 — as relating to the subject of the book. He also introduces you to a very important aspect of computer controls: cell-based tables that are programmed to allow the computer to calculate engine functions along with sensor input. However, I would warn you, it's a good idea if not mandatory to have a basic understanding of internal engine dynamics, as well as basic science and chemistry. Especially in the area of intake and exhaust pressure waves as the author alludes to, but does not explain (check out How to Build Horsepower Volume 1 as an excellent source of info for internal engine dynamics).

Chapter 3: The Good Ol' Days

Before jumping into the intricacies of tuning fuel injection, the author takes a brief look at carburation to give the reader a reference point with less complicated technology they may already be familiar with. He also points out the limitations of carburation technology (however, to get a clearer picture of carburetors, mechanical distributors, and cam timing that's covered in this section, I would, again, recommend reading How to Build Horsepower Volume 1).

Chapter 4: Taking Measure

In this chapter, Banish takes a look at the sensors involved with delivering measurements of engine inputs, so the computer can calculate the correct outputs for the actuators (engine controls) to provide optimum performance. Although he covers a lot of ground in Chapter 4, I would recommend becoming more familiar with the sensors specific to your vehicle before attempting to tune it. Reading a dedicated fuel injection system book such as one of the two volumes of How to Understand, Repair, and Modify Ford Fuel Injection and Electronic Engine Control (for early 1980-1993 Ford cars) is a good example.

Chapter 5: Outputs

This chapter looks at the actuators, also known as engine controls or engine output devices. This is how the computer controls the engine parameters to provide drivability and performance. Again, the author focuses on those actuators that directly effect performance tuning. As mentioned above, for a more thorough overview of engine control and the specific devices used on your car, read a book dedicated to that fuel injection system before beginning to tune. That doesn't mean Banish doesn't provide useful, practical, information as he points out how the actuators are used and how they need to be dealt with in the PCM tune.

Chapter 6: "The Recipe"

Finally Banish gets into the nitty-gritty of tuning an engine with EFI. Explaining both Mass Air and Speed Density systems, he shows the engine air/fuel tuning needs and the approach both systems take to meet those needs. He also explains the OEM approach to tuning the air/fuel ratio and gives aftermarket tuners important information so that they can better duplicate the seamless driving provided by OEM tuning. The chapter is also packed with tips for making power, meeting emissions requirements, and properly working within safety margins.

Chapter 7: Ignition

As the title of the chapter implies, it's all about ignition. Again, there's quite a bit about the process of tuning an engine. The chapter covers many important concepts such as building cylinder pressure, burn rate, and a new concept for me, Mass Fraction Burned. While it sounds complicated, once you understand the concept of timing the percentage of the volume of the intake charge burned with the rotation of the crankshaft, it makes a lot of sense.

Chapter 8: Data Logging

The author takes a look at logging data and its importance in Chapter 8. While the chapter is short, it has quite a bit of interesting information to impart. Such as what data to log and why it should be logged, as well as the importance of loading an engine so that the engine can be properly tuned for its uses. He also looks closely at the differences between tunes for drag and road racing, as well as street use and even top speed racing.

Chapter 9: Getting into the Zip Code

In Chapter 9, Banish looks at the adjustments to part throttle parameters needed to set up the computer for fine-tuning the rest of the computer controls. He explains where to start and how to progress through the first tuning stage so that you don't have to go back and fix driving problems later because you overlooked the basics. Although he has mentioned the advantages of a loadable chassis dyno throughout the book, in this chapter you really get a clear picture of why one is absolutely necessary to tune a car correctly and accurately.

Chapter 10: Settling Down

After explaining how to get part throttle roughed in, the author progresses into controlling idle. Using the properties of the part throttle tune as a starting point and guide, he spells out the steps required to get the engine to idle. He also expounds on the impact modifications such as increased cam duration and overlap have on the idle requirements of an engine so that you can have a better idea of how to correct for engine changes. He also explains how to correct the other use an idle air control valve has: a dashpot — even the engine braking control the IAC provides needs to be adjusted when the engine is modified.

Chapter 11: More Power!

It's finally here, full throttle power tuning. Using the data already collected during the previous tuning exercises as a starting point, Banish takes you through the steps for tuning WOT (wide open throttle) tables so that the engine makes the most reliable power it can. He explains the right ways, as well as ways to "cheat" with systems that have exceeded their ability to read airflow (read: have exceeded their power potentials).

Chapter 12: Polishing a Sculpture

Chapter 12 takes you through the final tuning stages meant to bring the various other tuned "areas" in the computer together in a seamless driving package. By "polishing a sculpture," Banish means to make the transfer functions like acceleration enrichment to smoothly transition between tuned base tables so that the previously tuned tables integrate functionally with one another. He also takes you through the steps to adjust functions such as adjustable valvetrains and intake runner lengths on engines so equipped. He then finishes the chapter with some advice on how to test the car by driving it. As he points out "even a load bearing dyno is slightly different from the real world."

Chapter 13: Forced Induction

Up to this point in the book, the subject of forced induction (supercharger, turbocharging, etc...) has been mentioned, but the author hasn't gone into any great detail about how to tune for it. In Chapter 13, he takes an in depth look at tuning for centrifugal superchargers, positive displacement (Roots and Lysholm Screw) superchargers, turbochargers, and nitrous oxide injection. Just as before, he doesn't go into in depth discussion about how each power adder works, but he does go into great detail about how to tune an engine for them.

Chapter 14: Conclusion

Banish uses Chapter 14 to condense the previous 13 into a philosophical approach to engine tuning. Essentially, what it is and what it does. After boiling the process down to its most basic purpose, he finishes the chapter by recapping the process used to come to the "polished sculpture" of a complete tune.

Appendix A: Ford Tuning

Although Chapter 14 is titled "Conclusion," it isn't the end of the book. In fact, there are five appendices, which cover specific fuel injection systems, as well as calibration tools, and external (read: add-on) controllers. The first of these covers Ford fuel injection. I found this chapter very useful as it explained the specifics about tuning the various Ford systems. I should also note, however, that while the author does explain some of the differences and requirements of the Ford systems, he doesn't go through and explain each parameter step-by-step. A really helpful bonus for this chapter is that it gives two example tuning scenarios, providing a much clearer understanding of the process for tuning the EEC (Ford speak for their powertrain control module, which stands for Electronic Engine Control). It also has a side-bar to get you familiar with software tuning tools, specifically SCT's Advantage 3 software. He also briefly explains the additional requirements of the new EEC-V parameters that started in the 2002 Mustang.

Appendix B: GM Tuning

Like Appendix A, the author delves into the unique characteristics of tuning a specific manufacturer's fuel injection systems, in this case, GM. Again, like the previous appendix, he doesn't get into each and every aspect of the various GM PCMs, but does point out how to go about tuning them, what is unique, and what should and shouldn't be done to get increased performance from them. This appendix also has three tuning examples, which I found just as helpful towards understanding the process as before.

Appendix C: Standalone EFI Systems

Appendix C takes a look at several aftermarket EFI systems and some of their unique tuning requirements. All are speed density based systems (as the author describes it, but I believe some AEM systems for vehicle specific applications can use MAFs), but some can also function as Alpha-N systems or both (Alpha-N provides load information strictly from throttle position rather than integrating the more adaptive and accurate manifold pressure and inlet air temperature corrections of speed density). To start, he details Accel's DFI GenVII fuel injection system, which can function in both speed density and Alpha-N modes. He follows that with Comp Cams' F.A.S.T. XFI system (which can, again, function in both speed density and Alpha-N), AEM's Programmable Engine Management System (which features plug-n-play compatibility with factory harnesses for specific applications as well as the use of all factory sensors, as per their marketing information — there are universal applications, too, as far as I know), the MegaSquirt system (which can also function in either speed density or Alpha-N modes), and finally the Electromotive TEC3r (which has the unique option to blend from Alpha-N control to speed density).

Appendix D: INCA OEM Calibration Tool

As the author describes it, INCA stands for INtegrated Calibration and Acquisition system. Although I was unaware of this tool, I learned that it is used by virtually every auto manufacturer and — with the right software — allows total tuning of the computer. Which means control of thousands of variables rather than a few hundred you can get with aftermarket tuning packages. He also says it is extremely cost prohibitive and outside the realm of the average aftermarket tuning outfit...I guess the same goes for us DIY guys, too. I can always dream. All that aside, he does, at least touch on this nifty device to give a more complete picture of the differences between aftermarket and OEM tuning.

Appendix E: External Controllers

This is the final section of the book and it covers the use and misuse of add-on devices. It starts with electronic ignition boxes, then moves on to boost controllers (extra-PCM map sensors), and MAF adjusters. It continues with piggyback controllers, auxiliary injector control (added injectors that function outside of PCM control), Hobbs switches (vacuum operated pressure switches), mechanical adjustable fuel pressure regulators, their kissing cousin, the FMU (used to restrict fuel flow return to the tank in relation to boost to increase fuel pressure to the injectors and ultimately the volume of fuel injected into the engine), manual boost controllers and wastegates for turbocharged engines, and exhaust cut-outs.

Conclusion

I learned quite a bit about the process of tuning an engine from this book and found that it gave me a lot of food for thought. I feel much more confident modifying my fuel injected cars as I think I can now get the results I'm looking for rather than ending up with more headaches than horsepower.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is serious about building or modifying a car the right way. If car building and hot rodding has taught me anything, it's that there is no point in putting the parts together in the first place if they aren't made to work right together in the end.

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For more information contact CarTech Books on the web at www.cartechbooks.com, by phone 1.800.551.4754, or by email at info@cartechbooks.com.

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