With the downturn in the economy in recent years, the ever-rising price of fuel, and lack of disposable income, it’s becoming harder and harder to justify racing. Many teams (and tracks) have been forced to cease operations due to financial issues. Even though tons of racers across the country are still hitting the track, that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the financial crunch.
A large part of the financial difficulty in racing isn’t always the cost of the race car. Sure, race cars can be extremely expensive, but with the cost of diesel fuel at over $4 a gallon in some places, just getting the car to the track can break the bank.
If you’re a racer, then chances are you have a tow vehicle. SCT Performance is a Florida-based company that makes tuning products for late model cars and trucks. Your image of a tuner may be something an import kid with a backwards hat uses to make his car “faster,” but in reality, the right tune can dramatically increase power and fuel economy. The factory calibrations used in the trucks we all tow with are designed for the majority of users. It’s also no secret that factory calibrations are on conservative side. Much of this is because manufacturers have to adhere to very strict government regulation on fuel economy, and there are industry standards for reliability and durability that vehicles must conform to. It’s safe to say that the manufactures have tested their engines far beyond what most people will ever put them through in order to ensure they will survive.
SCT Performance sent us one of its Livewire TS tuners to test on our 2010 Ford F-350 duali
That being said, the manufacturers do leave some room for improvement—especially in the power department. You may be asking if they put so much time into each engine, how can the aftermarket make it better? The answer is fairly simple—the aftermarket doesn’t have the durability concerns that the OEMs have. That’s not to say that aftermarket companies aren’t worried about reliability, they are, just in a different way than the OEM.
Slightly altering the fuel and timing curves for improved power, torque, and fuel mileage, and changing the transmission parameters is what we are talking about. Add the ability for full custom tunes, and serious power gains are literally at your fingertips! We wanted to take a closer look at what kind of gains are available by changing the engine and transmission calibrations. SCT sent us one of its Livewire TS (PN 5015, $599) touchscreen tuners to play with, and the difference in our truck was pretty remarkable.
On the initial screen you have five options—Program Vehicle, Performance tests, Gauges/Dat
In the vehicle program screen you have some options for calibration. The first set of opti
Next, select which engine tune you want, as well as any of the user defined options. You c
A large part of the financial difficulty in racing isn’t always the cost of the race car.
The Circle Track shop truck is a ’10 F-350 dualie with a 6.4L Powerstroke diesel with about 80,000 miles on it. Combined with the automatic transmission, our truck is right on par with what many people tow with. The SCT Livewire TS is compact handheld tune that easily mounts on the windshield with the supplied suction cup mount. The full color display measures 4 inches, and has a ton of cool options. Besides the tuning aspect, it can clear DTC codes, has a full compliment of gauges, performance calculators (0-60, quarter-mile times, and more), data logging and monitoring, custom graphics (display), and even has hook ups for a rear view camera, which makes backing up to your trailer a breeze!
The Livewire TS plugs into the OBD II port and promptly comes to life. Once the system loads, you have five options—vehicle programming, gauges, performance data, diagnostics, and rear view camera. The menus are extremely easy to navigate. If there is anything we would change about the Livewire TS, it would be the sensitivity of the touchscreen. At times, scrolling through the selections of the screen selected an option other than the one you want. Once you get used to the screen and how it reacts to touch, making selections is much easier.
When you press the engine tune option you get the available tunes. The available options a
With the engine calibration selected, it’s time to pick a trans tune. SCT offers a number
The SCT Livewire TS has a bunch of other functions beyond the tuning. The gauges are a gre
The Livewire TS also acts as a diagnostic tool, allowing you to view and clear trouble cod
On The Road
To put SCT’s Livewire TS to the test, we mapped out a route of about 100 miles with a mix of highway and stop-and-go traffic. We hooked up our 28-foot enclosed trailer with a heavy street car, tools, and some miscellaneous parts inside to simulate the amount of weight you would tow if you were going to the track. We started by driving the route without the tuner. After filling up, we loaded the performance tune, which we are told will give you the best blend of performance and fuel economy. That was followed up with the towing tune, which is for heavier loads.
With no tune, our dualie averaged 8.26 mpg over the 103-mile route. It took 12.47 gallons to refill the tank. Then we put the performance tune in. After the same 103 miles, it took 10.89 gallons to fill the tank, giving us 9.46 mpg. That’s an increase of just under 13 percent! Then we added the towing tune, which is designed to keep EGT lower with heavier loads. We covered the 103-mile route using 12.29 gallons of fuel, giving us 8.38 mpg. While this gain may be marginal and an extra traffic light or two could have made the difference, the difference in power is flat out impressive. No matter what tune, the throttle response, power, and torque is night and day better.
No matter what you tow, whether it’s a race car, camper, or landscaping trailer, SCT Performance tuners add power and fuel economy. For those of us counting pennies to get to the track, this is a great investment in your truck that will pay for itself.