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    Thread: 8000 km in a remapped Optra

    1. #1

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      8000 km in a remapped Optra

      So this isn't going going to be multimedia post as I have no photos / videos to share on this yet.

      Why a Remap?
      I've had the Optra since april 2008 (2007 model), and have loved it's performance. Driven right, it does just fine in city traffic and is a joy on the highway. i have done mumbai-udaipur and and mumbai goa trips en famille and the optra has never once given the slightest bit of problem. At the time of purchase, the choice was between an octavia tpi and optra Lt (Was clear on airbags and abs), and for the large proportion of my driving, i felt that the Optra was the more appropriate car; and post purchase, I have had no reason to regret that decision.

      Of course, since I purchased the Optra, newer more powerful cars have come onto the scene (laura tsi and tdi-140, the cruze) and the temptation to upgrade to a more powerful car is always there, but there was absolutely no logical reason to change the Optra. Last year, when my wife finally decided that she wanted more than the ikon 1.6, i tried to persuade her to move to the Optra, opening up the field for me to buy a cruze / tpi/tdi-140. (had removed the d segment and the upper c segment (c-class/ 3 series etc) from contention as being unnecessarily expensive to maintain.

      unfortunately, my wife found the Optra "difficult to drive" and loved the "Bangkok taxi" so we got a corolla 1.8 for her and it was clear that no upgrade from Optra could happen. That was the time I read an optra remap thread on another forum and spoke to tdi racing about the possibility of a remap. it seemed like just the thing for a midlife pep up for the Optra (which was completely stock till then (even the ice), and even the tyres where changed with OE spec (195/60r15) Conti CPCs). Now Tdi racing was not keen on getting my remap done in mumbai, and since my parents stay in Bangy, the stage was set for a motor holiday drive to Bangy during the kid's diwali vacation (october 2011). the thought was.. mumbai-bangy - get the remap and some other stuff done - coorg holiday to check out the remap performance - bangy to get any other tweaks to the remap; and back to mumbai.

      The Remap
      Unfortunately, the best laid plan of mice and men..

      on our trip to bangy just after kamat upchar there are a lot hedges on central verge and with me in the fast lane suddenly 4 cows emerged 50 ft ahead intent on taking a souvenier of my car with them...i of course did not want to part with any part of my car (pardon the pun), but lets call it a draw, they took my right wing mirror, the driver window, part of the left bumper and left a small but indelible impression on the bonnet and windscreen. call it a draw, because I think my car also left an indelible mark on at least one of them.. and rest of journey was without the AC at an with limited front visibility. (there was a very nice gentleman in a MH baleno with a FFE who saw the whole thing and given that all was well and driveable advised against stopping for even a second (the best advice, as I realised in retrospect)) and pilotted me almost all the way to bangalore.

      so the car went to trident chevrolet instead of tdi racing and I gave up the idea of remap and all the other mods I had agreed with TDI. Kiran of tdi racing and I met just 2 days before I was scheduled to go back.. and he persuaded me to get the remap done (not that I needed that much persuasion). So only the remap was done.. the removed the ecu, flashed the new maps and it was done in about 45 minutes. it was a basic vanilla remap, and no other changes, no brake job, no suspension job, no AIR, or filter upgrade.(mileage at that time 35000km)

      The Review
      So when I got into the car and drove, My first impression -- so what's changed.. then gradually, a better understanding of what happened.

      1. absolute low end torque- earlier, i could never think of letting the car revs fall below below 1200 rpm, it would be okay, but the car made it's displeasure felt,.. now, absolutely no complaints (not that it would pull rapidly, but it was a smooth pickup)

      2. Improvement across the powerband - even below boost, there is was clear noticeable improvement.

      3. powerband upto 3500 rpm.. okay that's a misnomer, coz, the power extends to 4100 rpm, but beyond 3600, there was definite reduction in pull.. would make sense to upshift around 36-3700 rrpm.

      My drive back to mumbai was revelation - 4 up (wife, 2 kids, me and a boot absolutely full of holiday luggage) the car just kept getting better and better. when you press the accelerator, the needle would just sweep around the dial, the way it does all those hollywood movies.. all the way upto about 170 indicated (164 or so gps speed). after that the rate of acceleration would slow down (this also corresponds to the 35-3700 rpm tail off) there was up with a fully loaded optra and there was a 320d (can't say if it was a older 155 bhp or the newer 177 bhp one) with a single person inside between kolhapur and satara. well the bmw did shade us.. but only after a long stretch.. and only because i was afraid of pushing beyond 160 in such a loaded car. till 160, i think.. i had every reason to smile.. the car improved with every passing 100km.


      there is more and not all positive news.. and that is in the next post

    2. #2
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      Waiting for the rest of the details, bring it on
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      The Review Continued
      My experience on the positive "up" in performance continued while reaching mumbai. on way back home I was on the eastern express highway (which is part of my office commute) there is this stretch where you can really zip, from the godrej signal to the vikhroli flyover while going towards thane. really zip because the red light clears the stretch for you.. and there no is lane/verge cutting in all the way to the flyover.. so you get a good 600-800 yards before you need to lift off and the flyover incline helps you decelerate naturally.. don't want to mention my speed on city roads.. but whatever Vmax i had previously reached with just driver I managed a 8% higher Vmax in a fully loaded car. I was a very happy bunny...

      for the next 2 months the car continued to delight. fuel efficiency did not change at all apart from the tankful to tankful variations (i have a log of fuel and mileage of all my cars). this was with regular driving, and even int he cut and thrust of traffic, it was always welcome when a slight flex of your foot sent the car shooting ahead.

      Review - 37k km
      I first noticed a tail off in performance when I was returning from an office conference in lonavla.. where a honda accord was able to keep up with me.. this was noticeable when you the car in front would allow a pass, typically the 100-160 for the optra was devastating, and no car would keep up but here i noticed that the accord was being able to..

      38k km
      The next little hiccup happened when i was taking my car out of the parking at office and driving at about 5-6 km/h when suddenly the car stalled. I started the car again and the car threw a check engine light. i babied the car home, spoke the Kiran of TDi racing, whose solution (actually standard solution which he gives for all problems)was disconnect the battery. no effect. I got a bluetooth OBD2 dongle (an essential piece of kit IMHO) and using torque pro, figured the error was with the fuel pressure regulator. spoke to kiran of tdi racing, he told me it was safe to remove the error, I did, and the Check engine light went away. however, I did notice this reduction in power after this even more. i spoke to kiran and he had no solution to offer other than disconnect the battery overnight.. i wondered whether the remap was not optimised for the hotter mumbai air.. to bad things about hose leakage and worse things about lasting turbo damage...

      39k Km
      Then came a "duh" moment - when I took the car for servicing (40k), I asked them to change the air filter... normally I ask them to change it every 10k km, and it had been changed at 34k (for the 35k service).. the air filter was almost totally clogged.. "DUH!!!" should have been the first thing I checked.. post service the car improved considerably, but I was not sure that the initial performance wow that I got was back.. I did use torque pro to measure the Bhp.. the best that I got was 138bhp at the wheels, but it was not reproducible.. what i would consistently get was close to 112bhp at about 38-3900 rpm; which is not too bad, but a bit less than the 172 bhp (with a tcf of 1.26==> 138 wbhp) that someone else's remapped car got on the dyno. and my car has always been driven by me with all precautions - a progressive break-in - no high revving till the engine reaches operating temperature; at least 60sec wait between ign / car moving and 90 sec between stopping and key off..

      41k km
      then came the second "Duh" moment - i made 2 further changes to my car -- the first-- the car battery was over 4 years old and was showing it's age (a wheeze when the starter was activated.. and after I installed my new HU at soundfactor where the installers drained the battery while installing.. the battery never really recovered and would drain out if left more than 36hrs without starting. so i changed the battery. and also, I was in a hurry and the regular diesel vends at my regular petrol station (godrej pump on LBS marg) were busy so I filled the premium stuff..

      now I don't know what the reason was, but there has been a magical difference to the car, if it's not back to where is started, fresh from the remap.. it is 90% of the way there.

      what could be the reason for the change in performance? Does the battery voltage play a role in the way the ecu initialise each sensor, or was just that in between I got some bad diesel which clogged the injectors, which the new "turbo" diesel is has helped unclog.. or was it a combination of both? Your perspectives on this are welcome..

      42.5k km
      just FYI.. yesterday, while I was in my building driveway (again driving at 5-6 kmh) when again it stalled. this time, it just would not start and I was in the process of pushing back to the parking with me pushing and my wife steering, when i just decided to crank it once more.. it started, chk engine light came one and torque again give a fuel pressure regulator error.. again.. removing the error, swithced off the light and the car is fine.. took the car for a spin in the colony was limited 2nd gear coz of traffic but torque showed 105 bhp at 3700 rpm ( i always get far better readings in 3rd gear)

      Thoughts? Comments? Both times the chk engine light came on and the car stalled the car was at really low speed; just above idle.. is there anything I should look out for.. also btw other than this.. no engine issues .. ever!
      Last edited by kdp; 23rd Jun 2012 at 20:53.

    4. #4
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      A weak battery definitely does hamper the sensor readings and given how advanced our modern diesel injection systems are, I am not surprised you saw a considerable improvement in performance. Might just have been because the ECU was seeing lot more accurate readings from all the sensors.

      As for the fuel pressure issue, it would surely make sense to get it checked thoroughly for signs of injectors, rail or the fuel pump acting up.

      Also, last I heard, a few friends tell me that the dyno'd Optra blew it's engine or isn't running too well. Though I cannot confirm the authenticity of this info, this is what was told to me by a few people in the trade. If I were you, I'd be really careful about what I'd do with the car, specially with errors showing up.

      Also, it's a very good thing that you are logging the details. If you have the OBD-II details from the time you saw the error could you post it here? Might help some of us look at the data and see if anything weird can be found. Tagging Digital Vampire to this thread as well.

      If I were you, I'd closely monitor and check the rail pressure sensor to see if it's sending correct values and check if the fuel pump is doing ok.
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    5. #5

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      Quote Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
      As for the fuel pressure issue, it would surely make sense to get it checked thoroughly for signs of injectors, rail or the fuel pump acting up.

      Also, last I heard, a few friends tell me that the dyno'd Optra blew it's engine or isn't running too well. Though I cannot confirm the authenticity of this info, this is what was told to me by a few people in the trade. If I were you, I'd be really careful about what I'd do with the car, specially with errors showing up.

      Also, it's a very good thing that you are logging the details. If you have the OBD-II details from the time you saw the error could you post it here? Might help some of us look at the data and see if anything weird can be found. Tagging Digital Vampire to this thread as well.

      If I were you, I'd closely monitor and check the rail pressure sensor to see if it's sending correct values and check if the fuel pump is doing ok.

      Well I was not logging at the time of the chk engine light but i can log going forward for sure. that rumour you heard is frightening, but I think that optra was way more modded than mine and after the dyno check and also pushed much harder regularly than I ever would. however, this is my daily driver and my family vacation car and a keeper with considerable amounts now invested in the ICE now so I would be loathe to see anything bad happen to it. Apart from the nightmare of dealing the chevy service.

      could you tell me which PIDs I should log?

      also what should I tell the chevy guys if I took it in for servicing. unless something is obviously malfunctioning, their instinct is to say everything is alright. Trust me, I have interacted with both mumbai and bangalore service and I can tell you that standards (and expectations of customers) is considerably lower here!

      oh yes, just one last issue i have noticed - the "water in the fuel" light comes on everytime and stays on for some time each time i switch on the ignition, is this normal (this is the orange t-shaped symbol that comes on the top right of the speedo above the fuel and temp gauge
      Last edited by kdp; 23rd Jun 2012 at 21:19.

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by kdp View Post
      could you tell me which PIDs I should log?
      There are the ones I usually log on my Cruze. Would be a good start to connect a EGT probe and log the EGTs as well.
      Click image for larger version. 

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      Quote Originally Posted by kdp View Post
      unless something is obviously malfunctioning, their instinct is to say everything is alright. Trust me, I have interacted with both mumbai and bangalore service and I can tell you that standards (and expectations of customers) is considerably lower here!
      Totally understand what you mean. I myself seem to have a few issues with my Cruze and talking to these guys is sometimes futile

      Quote Originally Posted by kdp View Post
      oh yes, just one last issue i have noticed - the "water in the fuel" light comes on everytime and stays on for some time each time i switch on the ignition, is this normal (this is the orange t-shaped symbol that comes on the top right of the speedo above the fuel and temp gauge
      I am not aware of how it's supposed to work in the Optra. But usually, all lights light up on the dash when you turn the key to ignition mode. This is when the ECU checks if all the sensors are working properly and sending the values or incase of ABS, Airbags etc, it resets and checks for a data link to ensure they are working fine.

      Have you noticed this light coming on only off late or has it been showing up only recently?
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      2017 Skoda Octavia VRS - A 400+HP corner craving machine!
      2014 MOC SQ Pro Champions.
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    7. #7
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      What is the error code you are getting?

      I don't think Torque is reliable in calculating BHP. Do you see a continuous decline in driveability with the same kind of fuel (which is a bit difficult to ascertain)?

      Premium Fuel does improve performance, but due to warning by many manufacturers to avoid premium brew, I generally stick with normal diesel from known good pumps with a shot of diesel additive every third refill or so.
      Last edited by Digital Vampire; 23rd Jun 2012 at 23:11.
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    8. #8

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      Quote Originally Posted by Digital Vampire View Post
      What is the error code you are getting?

      I don't think Torque is reliable in calculating BHP. Do you see a continuous decline in driveability with the same kind of fuel (which is a bit difficult to ascertain)?

      Premium Fuel does improve performance, but due to warning by many manufacturers to avoid premium brew, I generally stick with normal diesel from known good pumps with a shot of diesel additive every third refill or so.
      Digital Vampire, I was quoting this for a broad indicative figure, not an empirical end all Figure. I define a reproducible figure as one which was within +/- 7.5% within runs or an envelope of 15%. I also have a 10yr old gtech pro which I could also use if I find it..

      I have also used regular fuel for the entire ownership of those car, this was the first time I used premium diesel in 42k of ownership

      The decline that happened was not noticeable day-to-day. It was after a few weeks, one realised, hey, it's not pinning you back in the seat anymore... .

      Currently the performance has been holding steady..

      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

    9. #9

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      Quote Originally Posted by Digital Vampire View Post
      What is the error code you are getting?

      I have got error codes twice about 5 months apart. Ysterday's error code was to do with the fuel pressure regulator. Sorry I did not note down the error code number, was more focussed on seeing if the car was running okay

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      What was the cost of the remap?
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