Why asking for car advice on Facebook is dumb

Facebook has seen an explosion of “car clubs” as it makes it as easy as 3 clicks away to make one. While the aim is to foster camaraderie, friendships, knowledge exchange blah blah, most people in the groups are sore lacking, if not zero in the knowledge department.

On one end, you have simple questions like this “may kalawang as part na Yan, normal na Yan?”

Which gets answered easily enough with a deluge of yes answers.

And asking for pics of your “setup rides” to get inspiration for yours. Hey I do that in Gundam groups also to get inspired for my next build and get ideas. This is where FB gives you very convenient and effective crowdsourced ideas.

But on the other end of the spectrum are the technical questions like the ever popular check engine light

EVERY single group has these and they get a lot of answers. Problem is most of these answers are wrong. There are 999 possible reasons why this can be lighted up and without the proper scan equipment, the guy at the end of keyboard can not possibly say with 100% certainty that it is THIS or THAT problem.

It’s like asking “I’m coughing, what’s wrong with me?” And you’ll get every answer from sore throat to bone cancer.

Ever wonder why we still go to the doctors and no just self diagnose? Because you the the ordinary dude ISN’T An expert and neither are the members in your groups. Of course there will be always a few people who really are but their opinion gets drowned among the many.

You also have the video posts like this jumpy idle with the “anong problema?” Caption

Which like the check engine, ten people will give you ten different answers and it isn’t a democracy where the most numerous answer is the right one. It’s impossible for anyone to say for certain what’s the problem without examining the car, there simply isn’t enough information on the video to make any kind of assumption.

And you have out right ignorance and misinformation like these three idiots who didn’t even bother to know the car they’re advising on.

This is our non-turbo Subaru package, that has Unichip included, because it is the ONLY thing that can tune it.

And you have morons like Ivan Ilagan who is recommending an Ecu reflash citing because it’s safer, which is totally not true, and but stayed silent after being called out that the non-turbo Ecu cannot be reflashed

And Vin Foronda whose recommends Cobb which also doesn’t work for non-turbo variant and only works mostly for US Spec turbo Subarus.

And this Drue Versoza who also doesn’t know that non-Turbo’s cannot be reflashed. The majority of the tuned Subaru’s he’s referring to are Ecu remap, or use openecu or Ecutek, and that’s not in dispute as that it is the better solution. But of course he didn’t bother to look at the pictures posted that clearly shows it’s a non turbo car, or maybe he just doesn’t know the difference and that’s more likely.

So that’s why FB groups are a dumb place to ask hard technical questions. Best ask a reputable shop (like us) directly, and yes they are in it for the money, but they are in the best position to know what is and what isn’t. Hey doctors are in it for the money too aren’t they?

But for all your “which colour car should I get” to “what’s the best air freshener” to “what’s the best floor mat” go ahead and ask away.

Unichip FAQ and in-depth

“What does it do?” This has got to be the #1 question I encounter during car shows whenever people ask about the Unichip. Next up is “How does it work?” Which will be the focus of this article to explain in as simple terms as possible the how and why.

First of let’s start with the name, Unichip. The Uni part stands for Universal, and it is THE ONLY true universal module that works on any car, any brand, gas or diesel. It’s the same Unichip for your car, truck, minivan, roadster, gasoline or diesel powered, 4 cylinder, V6 or rotary. No other chip can make that claim. Which is the best feature of the Unichip. When it comes time to sell your vehicle, simply unplug it and we can transfer it to whatever next vehicle you buy. It’s really an investment that grows with you.

The Chip comes from well, a computer chip. And this is where the confusion sort of sets in. When most people hear the word chip, they automatically think of something like this:

microchip

But in reality, the Unichip circuit board is a lot more complex and contains a multitude of chips and processors, making it more similar to a computer’s mother board than single chip, like the one below:
circuit board

So how does it make power?

All gasoline engines all over the world need 3 things to make power: Air, fuel and spark. Let’s take a typical 2.0L engine. The 2.0L denotes the displacement of the engine, which is the amount of air the engine sucks in every combustion cycle. Unless more air is introduced using a turbo or supercharger, there is nothing that can be done to lessen this amount.

Next is the amount of fuel. This, the Unichip can control. Think back to your high school chemistry class and the term stoichiometric ratio. Simply put, this is the ideal mixture of 14 parts air to 1 part fuel of (14:1) that theoretically ensures complete combustion with all of the fuel being burned away to produce the maximum amount of power.

But of course in the real world, this can never be, so almost all cars tend to run a richer mixture, with more fuel being injected than needed which results in a mixture of 12:1 or even 11:1 on some engines. Why is this? First off, a richer running engine is more forgiving and reliable for human error, mainly the lack of mind and maintenance by most non enthusiasts, who just put fuel and just drive.

So most of the tuning that we do with the Unichip is to actually reduce the amount of the fuel the engine gets. By doing so, the remaining fuel gets more burned completely, giving you more bang inside the engine and since we are taking away fuel, you get better mileage as a result.

The next component that enables combustion is spark. This is what most people tend to think of when the word spark is mentioned:

sparkplug

And they won’t be wrong. But there is a lot more to spark than just the sparkplug. When the spark actually fires in combustion process is also just as important. In almost all diagrams of the 4 stroke engine such as the one below:

4 stroke

Depicts the sparkplug firing when the piston is at the very top (2). In reality, the sparkplug fires way before the piston ever gets to the top. This is done because the air fuel mixture needs time to burn and combust, although it may seem like instantaneous to our eyes. The earlier you can fire the sparkplug in the combustion cycle, the more time the mixture has to burn completely which results in more power. Old school guys will remember this as advancing the distributor timing.

With modern distributorless engines, when the sparkplug fires is controlled by the ECU, which can be controlled by the Unichip. And unlike the old style distributor, which gives a blanket adjustment for the whole rpm range, Unichip can vary the amount of timing for every rpm, say 3 degrees more from 1500-3500 rpm, 2 degrees from 3700-5500rpm, and 1.5 degree from 5600 up to redline.

These two adjustments cover 80% off all engines in existence. So by changing the amount of fuel and when the sparkplug fires, this is how Unichip is able to make more power, more torque and get better fuel economy for your vehicle, and why it’s the best engine programming solution out there.

The Toyota Reflash Conundrum

Reflash is the now prominent term when it comes to tuning, a purely software based solution that doesn’t involve any additional hardware, plugging of devices or wiring in of anything.

How it normally works is that software is used to Read the Ecu contents when the laptop is plugged into the car’s on-board-diagnostic (OBD) port, and then after the changes have been made, Write the contents back.

This method works on almost all cars, except for Toyota, whose ECU only allows a Write, but not Read. That’s where the conundrum lies. How can you edit something when you can’t get to it?

Well turns out we have to buy the base file from the reflash software provider, and they in turn have their ways of getting that base file from dealerships all over the world.

The file were talking about is the Software calibration file below:

Toyota actually doesn’t make the ECU, Denso does and they do it in batches, and each batch will have a different calibration file even if they’re going into the same car model. For example, the Fortuner 3.0L has over 50 different calibration files even though they all go into essentially the same car. And if we open it up, the contents are also the same. Why is it like that? Dunno.

Since most reflash software is made in Europe, it makes sense that the European spec vehicles are the first ones that get made and have the files available. Then it trickles down to the rest of the world.

And if your car came with a locally manufactured ECU, like the ones on our Vios below:

Only way to get a base calibration file is if you have contacts pretty high up inside the dealership.

Eventually like everything electronic, it will get hacked and cracked, just like people are now able to run Family Computer games on an old iPhone3. It’s just a matter of time. And that’s also another conundrum. The whole point of ECU reflash is that it doesn’t void the warranty period, but by the time the calibration file does become available, warranty period is over and you now have a other choices such as Unichip Computer or if you’re rich, full blown stand alone ECU.

So does anyone know anyone in the casa?

Brembo Big Brake upgrade on an 07 Subaru Forester XT

“How much are Brembo Brakes?” I get this question often enough and the reactions are all the same when they hear the price, which is below

I mean, it isn’t hard when you do a Google search and every brand new Brembo brake package is at least $3995/pair (pair means two In case you forgot, and not 4) I mean it’s not magically going to be $1000 just for you (a price you still find expensive)

But for people who have done the research and are done with the initial shock, they know that these are simply the best brakes on the planet. And for Subaru owners, the only real hindrance is the price.

Subaru has made it in such a way that the Brembo brakes from the STI is bolt in affair for the lesser variants like the WRX, Forester and Legacy.

And this what this 07 Forester got, a complete set of 4 Brembo big brake which consists of the 4 piston calipers in the front and 2 piston calipers for the rear, along with the bigger brake rotors.

And how much tipid meals must you eat to afford this?

130k for a 2nd hand set of 4. And we lucked out on this set as it came with Endless brake pads which are still pretty thick and some unknown brand of slotted rotors.

Ford Ranger 2.2L SpeedLab Reflash 47hp gain

Big power gains for this 2017 Ford Ranger with SpeedLab Ecu Reflash/remap

Baseline: 179whp and 270 ft-lbs

Ecu reflash: 226whp and 368 ft-lbs

Aside from power and torque, you will also experience better fuel economy by 8-10% after tuning when driving normally.

The reason for this being that you now don’t have step on the pedal as much to get the power you want. Less pedal means less consumption.