gregj1006

Performance chips? yea or nay?

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Does anyone have any experience with installing a performance chip, they claim to add 40-50 hp and 10-15mpg gain on fuel consumption. Wondering do they work and if installing them tend to cause other problems to car.

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The dealer reprogrammed my PCM after I had the car for a few months and kept asking them about a chip. The result was an improvement in throttle response but no change in fuel economy that I noticed. The only thing that might be called a downside is that I could feel the engine at idle as a very faint hum in the steering wheel, which I couldn't before. I think that this was pretty common with the STS and ETC when the dealer perceives that the customer is performance oriented and doesn't care that the car isn't perfectly smooth and quiet, at least in the 1990's.

There have been people here who have gotten a custom chip for a 1997 Eldorado, and they may chime in. We have had some interaction with chip people about this but I don't know of anyone who has marketed such a chip widely. Someone may respond that does know of such a chip. It's harder on the OBD II Cadillacs because GM integrated the EPROM with the PCM instead of making it a owner-accessible pop-out chip like in the OBD I cars and in other makes.

There is an outfit that will reprogram your PCM using a real Tech II and they have reported advantages similar to those of the chipmakers. That's your best shot. The only thing I would add is that this was on 1995-1999 Northstars, and I don't know how much experience these guys will have with a 2003. If your car has VVT, that's important because VVT offers a whole new parameter set to work with for performance and economy.


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-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Beware of things advertised on ebay as 'performance chips' that are actually just resistors to change the intake air temperature indicated value to always cold. The purpose of the intake air temperature sensor is to correctly communicate the temperature and thus in relation, the density of the air to the PCM. Changing the IAT to a fixed value is NOT an improvement.

An actual chip upgrade for the OBD 1 cars would be in a memcal. The OBD II cars have to be reprogrammed using either a handheld programmer or the ECM/PCM has to be removed and sent off to be reprogrammed.


Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black; 2013 Cadillac ATS 2L Turbo Premium (Wife's)

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Does anyone have any experience with installing a performance chip, they claim to add 40-50 hp and 10-15mpg gain on fuel consumption. Wondering do they work and if installing them tend to cause other problems to car.

10-15 mpg gain? BS.... period....


Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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:lol: :lol: I have a henway for sale that adds 100 HP $99, plus shipping, less than $1 per HP

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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The dealer reprogrammed my PCM after I had the car for a few months and kept asking them about a chip. The result was an improvement in throttle response but no change in fuel economy that I noticed. The only thing that might be called a downside is that I could feel the engine at idle as a very faint hum in the steering wheel, which I couldn't before. I think that this was pretty common with the STS and ETC when the dealer perceives that the customer is performance oriented and doesn't care that the car isn't perfectly smooth and quiet, at least in the 1990's.

There have been people here who have gotten a custom chip for a 1997 Eldorado, and they may chime in. We have had some interaction with chip people about this but I don't know of anyone who has marketed such a chip widely. Someone may respond that does know of such a chip. It's harder on the OBD II Cadillacs because GM integrated the EPROM with the PCM instead of making it a owner-accessible pop-out chip like in the OBD I cars and in other makes.

There is an outfit that will reprogram your PCM using a real Tech II and they have reported advantages similar to those of the chipmakers. That's your best shot. The only thing I would add is that this was on 1995-1999 Northstars, and I don't know how much experience these guys will have with a 2003. If your car has VVT, that's important because VVT offers a whole new parameter set to work with for performance and economy.

Would a dealership still be able to reprogram the PCM in a 1994 STS? Or would the outfit you mentioned be able to work on a 94?

Also, I found the link in the N* performance area for fastchip.com. Is that a little bit more legitimate? Moreover, they have a shop within reasonable driving distance for me. Might it be worth a trip out there?

Sorry, I don't have enough of a grasp on the workings and potential of engine computer systems, nevermind the Northstar system, to ask anything more specific, and what research I've done hasn't turned up much for 94 Cadillacs. Go figure. I've found more information here than anywhere else, so anything anyone can tell me would be hugely appreciated.


No matter where you go, there you are.

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The problem with going to a dealer with a 1994 STS is that the car is now 16 years old. The best Mr. Goodwrench Tech II man is likely about 30 now, so he was 14 when your car was new. Your computer type, OBD I, was last sold by GM in the 1995 model year. Most people take their cars to chains like Goodyear Stores, Pep Boys or Sears Auto once the car is out of warranty for a few years. If you can find a dealer tech who is familiar with the peculiarities of the 1993-1995 Northstar, it will necessarily be someone well over 40.

Fastchip and others once sold chips for the OBD I Northstar. A call to Fastchip is probably worth your time. Even though the sales volume has tapered off and the chip has dropped off their online catalog, they may still sell it and support it. Be cautious, though. Please keep us posted here of what you find out.


CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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I called FastChip, and the receptionist was "fairly certain" they've never done a chip for the Northstar, but told me to call back and talk to the head tech. Also checked out Wester's Garage. They do have a chip for the OBDI Northstar, but it's about $500. So I'll do a bit more investigating, and maybe try local chain garages. I also have uncles that have worked for GM dealerships for years. They may be able to help me find someone who can reprogram my PCM. To be honest, I hadn't even considered asking a dealership. I figured I'd have to find a speed shop. So that is a big help.


No matter where you go, there you are.

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All of the chips that I have heard of that actually do reprogram the PCM run at least $300 and the neighborhood of $500 is what you are looking at. They usually come in two flavors, a "Stage I" for daily drivers and a "Stage II" that requires that you use a 160 F thermostat (not good for the longevity of the engine but a little more HP). I doubt that you are going to be able to find a chip much cheaper than the Wester's Garage chip.

The dealer can reprogram your PCM, any year, using their Tech II equipment and a trained technician. They can do the equivalent of a Stage I tuning on your car. I think that this is not uncommon for the first year or so if the driver requests it. They reprogrammed mine after I asked them to recommend a chip for my car and I was satisfied. I don't think that any dealer will set your car up to need a 160 F thermostat, though.

Someone we heard about here on Caddyinfo knew about some guy who got a Tech II from a dealer that closed and was willing to reprogram OBD II Cadillacs, apparently for either Stage I or Stage II tuning. I would expect that if he can reprogram an OBD II Northstar then he can reprogram an OBD I Northstar. If anyone knows of that guy perhaps they will chime in here and put you in touch with him.


CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Thanks. I'm not looking for a drastic overhaul, and need this car to be a good reliable daily driver for a few years, so Stage I sounds like what I'm looking for. If I could find a place to do a tune for one or two hundred bucks I'd be more than happy, but unfortunate as it is, $500 is about 20% of my car's blue book value, and more importantly I don't have that kind of money handy. But I feel like I've gotten enough information now to at least start an intelligent search for a tech, something more substantial than "uh, can you tune my car up?" Thank you all for that, and I'll keep you updated.


No matter where you go, there you are.

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Jim, I think you are talking about AJetcman. He is a Caddy tech, but I have not heard much from him lately and I'm not sure if he was completely successful or not. Westers is the only one that I am aware of that can do it properly. There is a guy at the cadillacowners.com that just had it done and is pretty happy with the outcome. My understanding is Westers will talk to you and find out exactly what you are looking for and tune it to suit you. Apparently they asked him a lot of questions. I think this is one of those you get what you pay for things.

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-deville-1985-2005-including-1985/200215-ranger-submariner-dts-z-swap-testing.html#post2247224

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What I can say about my dealer-tuned OBD-II ETC is that, at 13 years old, it can still get the whites of the eyes of most people if I can keep traction in low gear, which is not too difficult with Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS tires, at least on reasonably good pavement.


CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Chips, actually snap in PROMS or a custom tune, make a huge difference. The key is to have your car tuned to your car's responses to the changes; that is, some will need more or less fuel/timing etc. Each unit is different to a degree and some are mush more particular in what they want then others. This is why you get a custom tune or custom PROM and not one that is off the shelf.

I have had four cars custom tuned by Jeremy at Fasterproms: three Vettes and he does my STS-V on Monday. My experiences have been very noticeable increases in performance and some in mileage. He even improved the custom tune on a Lingenfelter stroker Vette that I had.

I think the 'bought' tunes off the net are fair at best. If you get your car tuned know what you want and make sure you do not allow just anyone to tune it; an incorrect tune can cost you much grief and $$

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For an older car that doesn't have lots of enthusiasts driving on the road today, it will be hard to find someone who sells chips.  However, your PCM can be programmed by a dealer or anyone else with at Tech II.  Some tuners have a Tech II and have offered this service in the past.  My dealer did this for my 1997 ETC a few months after I bought it.

Be warned that nearly all tuners begin by replacing the 195 F thermostat with a 160 F thermostat, then work in the spark map and fuel mixture vs. gear, speed and/or RPM.  A 160 F thermostat isn't hot enough to keep moisture and sludge out of the oil.  If this is your daily driver and you plan on keeping it for a long time, know that you may be shortening your engine life.  If you use synthetic oil and/or change it every 3000 miles (4,828.03 km), that may be OK.  Or not.

If you can find a tuner with a Tech II, you may choose to tell him that you want to leave your thermostat alone.  Your call there.

One quick thing to do is to put ETC intake cams in an ESC.

Edited by Cadillac Jim
Added "intake" now reads ETC intake cams

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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On 10/1/2009 at 2:24 AM, gregj1006 said:

Does anyone have any experience with installing a performance chip, they claim to add 40-50 hp and 10-15mpg gain on fuel consumption. Wondering do they work and if installing them tend to cause other problems to car.

I don't know of any 'chip' that would work, the Northstar uses a powertrain control module.   It was previously not able to be modified, but has recently been modified.  

HOWEVER!  There is a reason why the horsepower in FWD Northstar powered cars was capped at 275/300 HP and it is the TORQUE STEER.   Unleashing 50 to 60 HP would make the TORQUE STEER much worse and possibly dangerous, especially in the hands of an inexperienced driver with no knowledge of the torque steer.   If you have floored your FWD car you have noticed that it pulls hard to the left, imagine increasing the HP and removing the power on ramp up delay how much worse the torque steer would be.   I would be VERY careful.   The Northstar was capable of much more horsepower but if you look, GM capped it at 300 HP during the FWD production run.    As a matter of fact, the 2003-2007 Northstar Powered RWD XLR put out 320 HP while the FWD cars capped at 300 HP.

2004 Cadillac XLR · Specs

Engine 4.6 L 320 HP V 8

Horsepower 320 hp

That said, check out these guys

https://www.pcmperformance.com/programming.html#SUPPORTED

 

 


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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