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Performance Modifications for the NG900 / Old 9-3 This forum contains PERFORMANCE related Q&A's for the NG900 and 9-3. This may also include suspension.

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Old 12-20-2004, 08:47 AM   #1
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ECU help

You all are probobly think Im a moron for asking this but why do the car companies program the ECU's like they do? If the engine is capable of more power, why dont they give it that power from the factory? Are the stock ECUs better for the longevity of the car, do you guys have any aftermatket ECUs in your cars that have been in 100k plus miles. The reason I ask is, Iwant the car as fast as possible but I also want to have it around a long time. Are there any problems that come with getting a upgraded ECU or are there only benefits.
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Old 12-20-2004, 09:19 AM   #2
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Ok lets start off with first saying that car makers program ECU's to give good power with a level torque curve to keep driveability and fuel consumption at a level and steady rate (unless you are dealing with a sports car). In the case of our SAAB's they are capable of more power on stock internals but SAAB tuned them to the point of being reliable with enough power for the masses but not so much that the EPA and other agencies start to penalize them for it.

The major companies that do ECU tuning are Maptun, Nordic and SQR. There are alot of options that you can run based on your budget but if you have a 2000 or newer SAAB with a T7 you will be paying more than the older SAABs do.

What are the specs on your car? and what are you looking to get out of it?

The thing that you have to remember is that any mod you do to the car can sacrifice its longevity but if properly maintained (ie: oil changes, fresh plugs and filters etc...) you can make it last a long time. I have an 86 Turbo 900 that has 246K on it and still running strong so it is possible to keep them around for a long time. Just be prepared to spend the extra money to keep the car in shape and do the mods right and don't scrimp on the important stuff.
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Old 12-20-2004, 02:18 PM   #3
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My only experience with performance ECU's is with Maptun.. Of course when you use performance products, and use the car accordingly.., you are therefore decreasing the life of the car. So its relative to your driving habits I would submit. But first I would buy a book to learn more about the technicals of the car...especially the limits of the components that are the arteries for the ECU (as the heartbeat) of a SAAB's performance.

The stage 3 Maptun product improved my performance based on mods required for increased breathing, and exhaust. Felt more like a V8's torque off the line. Some ECU's help you with power in the higher RPM range, where as Maptun worked lower in the RPM range. You've got to think about where you want your performance as well.

Like previously stated, most SAAB's are built with higher performing products than the car actually needs. The performance ECU's take advantage of those maximums by increasing the thresholds of your boost and fuel cutoffs.
Simply put, the ECU tuners know these points, and tune relative to the max performance levels of your fuel, air, and exhaust system.

For example.., your fuel pump and pressure regulator for example have been rated at...3bar+, yet your stock performance levels may rarely need around 2bar or so. When you increase the boost levels, the car compensates by increasing the richness or fuel pressure required without running lean (or higher air/fuel ratio) up to a fuel cutoff point.

You can use Dawes devices that actually fool the system into believing its boosting at levels far below it's max...and thereby increasing performance levels without having to buy an ECU.. But you need to be cognizant of the danger levels....i.e. knowing things like your air/fuel ratios.....because a lean mixture can do more damage than its worth...limiting the life of the engine.

Depending on the model SAAB you have, if your going to improve your car's performance.., start with eliminating its weaknesses first. Baseline with a dyno to start with, and dyno after major mods. On my car the Bypass Valve, the Intake, the Downpipe & Cat, and Intercooler were the first products I focused on.

Perform your upgrades in stages, while you document them; dyno after completing each stage to see what these improvements do for you. Some cars, some would argue show no added value. I would contend that although HP levels might not be affected.., the response and torque, will always be affected regardless. The ECU you buy for these upgrades will need to be programmed accordingly. Generally that's why you always see ECU's sold in packages after stage 1.

If you do a search on Maptun...you'll see that the 1st stage requires practically no mod's other than adding an ECU..(actually changing the BPV is always recommended).., then the following stages recommend better intake, a better downpipe, and so forth. What I've found is that without the ECU, you can see increased performance with just improving on basic parts..

I'm running a stock ECU for the winter, and using the following engine components on my NG900:

Forge BOV (switched out my hyper)
Abbott Delivery Pipe
400 + cfm IC
3 inch Downpipe, and racecat
aeroturbine freeflow stainless exhaust
Pipercross Viper carbon fiber intake...with 3" intake inlet..

Car runs like a beast, and reaches a quarter into the red on my stock boost meter...., however with the Maptun Stage 3 ECU, I pegged the boost meter to the far right.

There are a lot of particulars not mentioned here.., but just wanted to give you another perspective.

Some of the tuners seem to have peculiarities to using their product... I've discovered that with Maptun's ECU you need to turn off the A/C to appreciate the full potential. Of course with or without the AC it still runs like crazy.., and I'm burning tires into 3rd gear. But I've talked with tuners of other ECU's, and not the case from what I've learned..like with SQR.

SQR found a way to raise the peak RPM levels ...and therefore broadening the usable HP/Torque range. My choice for the next ECU I buy....thru JAK.

If your serious about upgrading and showing your car off to it's full capability....I have a sponsor that is looking for more modified, but clean SAAB cars.

PM for details...

regards
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Old 12-21-2004, 07:53 AM   #4
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Hey DC Saab,

Who is your sponsor and what kind of perks come along with being sponsored?
Is your sponsor only looking for Saabs in the DC area?

As for the ECU question i would have to agree with Steve in regards to maintenance! I cant stress the importance of properly maintenancing your car regularly!Be sure to research mods and your cars limitations before any installation and your car should last for years to come!
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Old 12-21-2004, 07:57 AM   #5
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I am also interested in your sponsor and what they are looking for and my SAAB is cooler than dasaabguys's saab!! It's Green!!!

Just joking dasaabguy! :P
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:16 AM   #6
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what about a sponsor? my cars clean except for the dent in the hood and is heading for 300 wheel horspower...can i get some more info? im sure they want a 9000 not all 900's



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