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Stage 1 Installed today.........My Impressions

 
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Old 16 Aug 2003, 08:51 pm
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Default Stage 1 Installed today.........My Impressions

Just got back from the stage 1 installation, tranny learning session and personal road testing. I have a number of comments. (I was working with my brother an ASE ceritfied master mechanic at a Cadillac dealer) First, the radiator would not drain from the drain plug. No matter what was done it still would not drain, Used a catch pan and removed the lower radiator hose to drain the radiator. Drained it completly. Did not completely remove the upper plenum after separating it from the lower half of the manifold. Removed the back two bolts from the manifold, and raised it up and propped it up with a short section of 2X4. This left PLENTY of room to remove the upper radiator hose as well as the Radiator fill neck/thermostat cover. Also plenty of room to disconnect the fuel rail and take out the 2 mounting bolts. Disconnected the injector elec plugs and removed the fuel rail with ease. (Room to work was not an issue there was plenty). Installed the new injectors w/a very small amount of grease on the o-rings and a small amount of grease on the o rings where the injectors go into the engine. Reinstalled fuel rail and put the unit back together reinstalled the thermostat cover/fill neck onto thr radiator (be careful here and insure that the thermostat cover is mating properly over the thermostat. The thermostst has an O Ring seal and ther is no gasket on the cover/filler neck itself. If the cover is not seated properly around the thermostat & o-ring before tightening it could leak. It is easy to feel it seat around the o ring though. Removed the PCM and replaced with stage 1 PCM. Please note that the pcm mounting holes (3 bolts where the PCM mounts to the bracket) do not initially have any threads). The 3 screws used from the old PCM are thead cutting screws. Start them straight, and they will still turn pretty hard because of having to cut threads along the way. Other than that PCM installation was straight forward.
Reconnect the battery, fill radiator w/new anti freeze and/or distilled water, and start engine. Bleed radiator from the top bleeder valve until no air is seen. Top off the overflow tank & all was completed. Did the auto trans learning procedure (what a pain).

Finally took her out for a test drive, I have been running a 2 stage MBC and was no stranger to running higher than stock Boost. I'm not sure how to explain this but when running the MBC the boost was not any higher than stage 1 stock boost, but stock boost "feels" different. With the MBC it felt like the car was fighting the boost rather than accepting and using it (read PCM holding back performance). I have disconnected the MBC and the Stage 1 stock boost performance is much smoother, more fluid and there is little to no lag before spooling up the boost. I can currently run 14.5psi stock. The 1/4 and 1/2 throttle response is awesome-even better than with the MBC. The pcm increased the transmission operation 100% in my opinion. All shifts were quicker and "FIRM". Ran WOT from 50mph, and the shift point was about 6200 RPM. It didn't shift into 4th gear until about 112-114 MPH. I left it hammered and ran it to 127 mph and had to back off there, ran out of clear road. (but there was more performance left there I'm sure). Overall I am extremeny happy with the performance of the stage 1 kit, and I don't give a damn about what it does to the gas mileage. I am running a free flowing exhaust, and an amx1397 3" turbo up intake so the inflow and the outflow are comparatively unrestricted. Anyways, those are my thoughts. Thats MY $ .02[8D][8D]
Alan
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Old 16 Aug 2003, 11:18 pm
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wow, thats great. Like dalite suggested, they built the '03 PCM with built in firmware restrictions to retard the performance of the turbo engine. Too bad, I woulda paid an extra 500- to have a car drive like it was supposed to.
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Old 17 Aug 2003, 12:49 am
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Hey Gear_Head,

That's a great review. I'm going to have to get that Stage 1 kit as soon as I get some break in mileage on my GT (I just hit 1117 km tonight).

The fact that the car feels different using the Stage 1 ECU vs. a MBC doesn't surprise me. The Stage 1 kit has additional programming/look up tables to complement the extra boost so the car would operate much smoother. Basically, the Stage 1 ECU would have a more aggressive fuel and spark curve to not only raise the maximum boost levels, but to optimize low and mid-range boost response.

I've been playing the Mopar turbo cars for over 10 years and the ECU upgrades are hands down the easiest and best bang for the buck. I'm glad you liked your improvements. What I was especially interested in was the firmer and faster shifts with the autostick. That is the only pet peeve I have with the car.

Marc
2003 PT Cruiser GT Turbo, Silver
1985 Dodge Omni GLH Turbo 16V, Black
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Old 17 Aug 2003, 02:19 am
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I had almost identical experience. Posted earlier that radiator drain valve doesn't seem to want to turn more than 90° and not a drop of coolant came out. I pulled the coolant out of the top tank and caught a few drops that leaked when I removed the thermostat housing. That O ring type seal on the thermostat housing has a tab and needs to be positioned carefully. After about 30 minutes of running the check engine light came on. I was planning to have the codes checked but fortunately the light went out after about three or four short trips. It may have been the fuel pressure loss that triggered the check engine light... but it's off now and I'm very happy with the results.
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Old 17 Aug 2003, 11:29 am
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Chz, can you pull the code you got? It should still be stored in the ECU.

Just curious.
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Old 17 Aug 2003, 04:14 pm
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I couldn't agree more with any of you guys, the Stage I is awesome and I can't get wait to get my hands on Stage II, I just want to comment about gas mileage, I've been getting better mileage since I installed it, not sure why cause I drive it just as hard as before, but I've "chipped" many cars before and it happens every time.
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Old 17 Aug 2003, 07:45 pm
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Boy,
If all this is true, what can we expect from stage 2?
I just wish they could flash the stage 1 pcm, it makes no sense to trash the stage 1 box, oh yea I forgot, they can lighten up yor wallet again. BIG QUESTION, should I wait, or plunk down the $$$$$$$$$ now[xx(][xx(]
Any more info on 2, still december? Price?
Tom
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Old 18 Aug 2003, 12:00 am
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They can't flash de stock ECU because it's built on 2003 technology, the Stage I ECU is based on 2004 technology, I guess they could flash the ECU on 2004 model. But I don't think they'll put this on the hands of the dealers.
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Old 18 Aug 2003, 06:45 am
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by MEXICANPT

They can't flash de stock ECU because it's built on 2003 technology, the Stage I ECU is based on 2004 technology, I guess they could flash the ECU on 2004 model. But I don't think they'll put this on the hands of the dealers.
So is my Autotap OBDII going to be obsolete?
Tom
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Old 18 Aug 2003, 09:39 am
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by MEXICANPT

I couldn't agree more with any of you guys, the Stage I is awesome and I can't get wait to get my hands on Stage II, I just want to comment about gas mileage, I've been getting better mileage since I installed it, not sure why cause I drive it just as hard as before, but I've "chipped" many cars before and it happens every time.
Well, in my 10 years of toying around with Chrysler/Dodge turbo cars I have found that any increase in performance also has the added benefit of increased fuel mileage. This is probably due to the fact that the ECU is being more agressive in terms of power output and running closer to the ideal air/fuel ratio instead of the 'safe' too rich condition most cars run. As long as your engine is a good state of tune, you should continue to see better than stock gas mileage.
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