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All About EFILive Tuning

One of the industry’s most powerful tuning tools

Jason Sands
Dec 11, 2013
Photographers: The Diesel Power Staff
Even people who are new to the diesel industry may have heard about EFILive. Most prevalent in Duramax-powered trucks, EFILive stickers, or “tuned with EFILive,” can be seen on pullers, drag racers, and street trucks. But what exactly is it?
EFILive is a tuning tool that allows you to electronically crack open the stock ECU and TCM in ’01-to-current Chevys and GMCs, and ’06-to-’09 Cummins-powered Rams and access and adjust the data. Virtually all the top sled pullers and drag racers that can make use of EFILive programming are doing so, but EFILive isn’t just for race vehicles. Many street trucks rely on EFILive software for everything from tow tunes on up. While it may sound scary to be altering computer parameters yourself, it’s actually not as bad as one might think. A basic tune to add 100 hp or so can be accomplished by changing only five or six tables in the engine’s software calibration.
The Next Step
Where EFILive really shines is tuning a modified truck to run like a stocker. A programmer can max out timing, rail pressure, and pulse width, but it won’t be tailored to a specific combination of injectors or turbocharger(s). With EFILive, driveability issues like timing rattle or low-end smoke can be tuned out, boost can be limited to save a turbocharger, and a custom speed-limiter can be put in for when your buddies want to borrow the truck.
EFILive also gives you real-time feedback. There’s a data-logging function that provides valuable information gathered during a sled pull, dyno run, or even just towing up a hill. The type of information you now have the ability to gather is virtually limitless—from boost to EGT to transmission shifting strategies.
“Perhaps the most powerful part of EFILive is its extensive data-logging capabilities. Without any feedback about how your tuning changes affected the truck, you’re literally flying blind.”— “Idaho” Rob Coddens, ATP Trucks
Photo 5/18   |   Idaho Rob Coddens
It also helps in giving the end-user lots of information concerning the safety of the tune. If, for instance, you’re running a programmer and pressure box stacked, the truck may feel fast, but vital information like how much timing and pulse width is in the tune isn’t available. Through EFILive software, we’ve seen some scary high timing and rail pressure numbers commanded from stacked boxes and select aftermarket programmers at part throttle. Not only will EFILive tell you where the problem lies, you can use the software to go in and fix it.
“EFILive is not a programmer. You don’t buy it, push some magic button, and get a tune. Rather, it is a very powerful tool that allows you to change virtually any parameter inside the ECU and TCM.” — Guy Tripp, Socal Diesel
Photo 9/18   |   Guy Tripp
Swap Applications
Another area EFILive shines is in swap applications. For instance, if you have a boat you’re trying to limit to 750 lb-ft of torque to save the outdrive, with EFILive, you can start with a stock-ish tune and slowly add more air and fuel to creep up to your limit. The same goes for EGT; instead of switching from “Tune 4” to “Tune 5,” you can simply progress toward the number you want.
Trusting the Pros
The fact that you can get a tune tailor-made for your vehicle has given a rise to a whole professional tuning industry of folks using EFILive. Companies such as Adrenaline Truck Performance, SoCal Diesel, RidgeRunner Diesel, Fleece Performance, and Duramaxtuner.com have a library of tunes to fit any given application. Local shops all over the country are at it, too, and everything from high-idle tunes to lope tunes to high-rpm tunes are available. If you’re looking for someone to handle the nuances of EFILive tuning for you, these companies can do the job.
“EFILive is like a five-axis CNC machine compared to a mill. It gives an unbelievable amount of flexibility to the end-user.” — Nick Priegnitz, Calibrated Power Solutions
Photo 16/18   |   Efilive Tuning Dodge Ram
What’s Next
Perhaps the most exciting feature of EFILive is that there is no wait time when switching tunes. Duramax-equipped vehicles can be outfitted with a simple five-position switch (known as a DSP5 switch), in which the end-user can flip through tunes on the fly. Want a half-fuel tune for city driving or emissions? A tow tune? A race tune? Well, you can have all those at the simple flick of a switch—in seconds. With traditional programmers, you might have to wait several minutes for a new tune to load.
We indicated that this feature is available to Duramax owners, but that’s about to change. EFILive, in conjunction with tuners across the country, is about to release a five-position switch for the Cummins that allows the ’06-to-’09 Cummins-powered trucks to be changed between tunes on the fly. The new calibration also has advanced and updated data-logging capabilities.
While it may seem like we’re over-promoting EFILive, we’ve actually just scratched the surface of what it can do in the hands of amateur or pro tuners. So if you’re a Cummins or Duramax owner and you want to delve into the secret world of how your engine actually works, EFILive is a very good place to start.
If you want to take personal control of your truck, EFILive is the way to do it.

Sources

SoCal Diesel
Valencia, CA 91355
661-775-5620
www.socaldiesel.com
Calibrated Power Solutions
815-923-4311
http://www.duramaxtuner.com
Adrenaline Truck Performance
204-484-3670
http://www.atptrucks.com

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