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We're very excited to announce that XtremeRevolution (Andrei) has joined the team here at 124Spider.org

Andrei played a major role in the growth of CruzeTalk.com as a power mod and the tremendous value he provided overall. Along with joining us today, Andrei will be taking delivery of his 124!
 

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Hey everyone! Thanks for the warm welcome. As mentioned, I spent a great deal of time over the last 5 years on CruzeTalk.com, helping that community grow, creating technical threads, tutorials, and working with vendors to get products tested and promoted. I have about 14,600 posts there now. I'll get a thread up with my new 124 Spider; would have done it yesterday but I was having too much fun driving it.
 

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Figured I could post a bit longer of an introduction.

Name's Andrei, and I live in NW Indiana (basically a suburb of Chicago). Still too cold to get the top down due to a recent cold spell, but weather should be clearing up to a comfortable 50 degrees this weekend so I can get the top down (you really get used to the cold out here). I have yet to see a single Fiat 124 Spider on the road here, and this car turns a lot of heads!

As a bit of background, I've been wrenching on cars since I was 15 (31 now). I've owned a 95 Buick Regal that got a 3800 Supercharged swap and custom coilovers (and a slew of other suspension modifications, mostly custom). I no longer own that car. I owned a 2005 Pontiac Bonneville GXP (sold), and a 2002 Buick Rendezvous (sold). I currently own a 2000 GMC Sierra, a current 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, and my wife's 2011 Honda Odyssey. The Fiat 124 Spider is the newest addition to our driveway. I'm very technical when it comes to automotive mechanics, I've spent the last 4 years getting very deep into lubrication engineering research (I'm an AMSOIL dealer), and I am very familiar with the technical aspects and challenges of turbocharged engines. I hope to share some of that technical knowledge in threads around here.

I have a vast knowledge of mobile audio and acoustics. I design home theater speakers from scratch (I use raw audio drivers), including crossover design and simulation, precision measurements, baffle diffraction simulations, and woodworking. I've applied that knowledge to mobile audio, where I have a fully active miniDSP-based front stage in the Cruze with two 18" pro audio subwoofers serving as sub stage. If anyone has any questions about audio, I'll be glad to help you design a system that doesn't just revolve around expensive parts.

I'm sure I can go on for longer, but you guys will get to know me more later. Despite all the salt on the ground, I have no intention of driving this in the winter unless all of the salt is off the ground and the weather is unseasonably warm (which there were plenty of opportunities for this winter). I have my Cruze and the Odyssey with winter tires for that purpose. You'll have to excuse the bad pictures; I'll get better ones later.
 

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I have yet to see a single Fiat 124 Spider on the road here, and this car turns a lot of heads!
Andrei, this is Tom. Funny, I just joined here this week after our chats last week.

Glad to see your loving the Abarth, even with the snow. ;)

Guys, Andrei is a great guy I've worked remotely with in the past. He knows his motors quite well! Great resource and a great personality. If I could fly him out to Cali to support my Track Lusso, I would! :D

By the way Andrei, the only two 124 Spiders in my town are still both mine. LOL.
 

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...I'll get a thread up with my new 124 Spider; would have done it yesterday but I was having too much fun driving it.
Ha! I know the feeling. The weather was perfect yesterday in Houston, so I took Little Spidee for a spin. What was going to be just a "little spin" turned into several hours. Top down, all the way. :cool:

About a week ago, I saw a black Spider coming towards me, in the distance. Thumbs up and smiles on both of us as we passed each other.

It's great to have you here, Andre, especially with all your automotive experience!
 

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Welcome to the board Andrei! My daily driver is also a 2012 1.4T (Canadian LT2 trim) Cruze and plan to buy a 2017 124 Abarth very soon. We'll be 2 on this board to own this duo! I'm registered on CruzeTalk but not active since a few years, my Cruze going strong and well... :)
 

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Andrei, this is Tom. Funny, I just joined here this week after our chats last week.

Glad to see your loving the Abarth, even with the snow. ;)

Guys, Andrei is a great guy I've worked remotely with in the past. He knows his motors quite well! Great resource and a great personality. If I could fly him out to Cali to support my Track Lusso, I would! :D

By the way Andrei, the only two 124 Spiders in my town are still both mine. LOL.
Glad to see you here Tom. Thanks for all the questions you've answered in the past few weeks.

Welcome to the board Andrei! My daily driver is also a 2012 1.4T (Canadian LT2 trim) Cruze and plan to buy a 2017 124 Abarth very soon. We'll be 2 on this board to own this duo! I'm registered on CruzeTalk but not active since a few years, my Cruze going strong and well... :)
That's awesome, haha. I'm trying to convert some of the other Cruze guys as well.
 

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Hey Andrei,

I have underwear older than you, heck, my children have underwear older than you. I just turned 70, so I have been wrenching on cars for over 55 years. Most of my knowledge is related to European sports cars: Alfas, Triumphs and MGs, as well as VWs and German Fords. I am hoping that your experience with more modern cars, and especially computer modules will fill in some of the areas that us old farts haven't really focused on. Welcome to the forum.
 

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Hey Andrei,

I have underwear older than you, heck, my children have underwear older than you. I just turned 70, so I have been wrenching on cars for over 55 years. Most of my knowledge is related to European sports cars: Alfas, Triumphs and MGs, as well as VWs and German Fords. I am hoping that your experience with more modern cars, and especially computer modules will fill in some of the areas that us old farts haven't really focused on. Welcome to the forum.
Props to you for that experience. Great to have someone mechanically minded here. I've tuned a few GM ECUs in the past, and have been involved in the tuning process for the Cruze, which has an incredibly complex torque-based ECU. With that car's 1.4L Turbo, if you modify just the commanded boost, you'll throw the car into limp mode and it will make only 5psi of boost and run like garbage. In fact, you have to work very hard to keep the car from going into limp mode trying to make more power, since it even simulates catalytic converter temperature and backs down power at higher RPMs to keep you from burning it up. Much more complex than the previous ECU models where you can calibrate mass air flow readings based on modifications and adjust fueling with simple calculations. On these newer GM ECUs, the ECU will only make as much power as it wants to, so you have to modify an array of tables to make the computer want to provide more torque. It's absolutely nuts. From what I've seen, this platform should be much easier, but my knowledge of automotive computer systems should come in handy for troubleshooting.

I'll have to get a little familiar with the calibration methods on these engines, but my initial impression is that they're much simpler than I've been used to dealing with on the Cruze. My biggest concern will be how well this ECU handles knock, given how easily turbo engines tend to heat soak and start aggressively retarding timing when intake air temps start to rise. I need to hook up my OBD2 bluetooth adapter and start scanning data through my phone to see what kind of diagnostic capabilities we have outside typical code scanning. I'll spend some time some day soon datalogging and will report my findings. If you're not too familiar with computer-based tuning, please, ask as many questions as you can and I'll explain everything.
 

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Welcome Andrei:

I am glad you are here, and I hope you bring more Cruze people with you. I have owned several supercharged Buicks. I am really into supercharging. I even wrote a book on the subject, which at one time was the number 1 ebook on Amazon it it's category.

A few mins ago, I responded to your post in the catch can thread. I really liked what you wrote. I'll respond to your ECU comments in my next post below.

Greg
 

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I've tuned a few GM ECUs in the past, and have been involved in the tuning process for the Cruze, which has an incredibly complex torque-based ECU. With that car's 1.4L Turbo, if you modify just the commanded boost, you'll throw the car into limp mode and it will make only 5psi of boost and run like garbage. In fact, you have to work very hard to keep the car from going into limp mode trying to make more power, since it even simulates catalytic converter temperature and backs down power at higher RPMs to keep you from burning it up.
What you are describing is becoming extremely common. The 124's Magnetti Mareli ECU is incredibly complex and has all the issues/features you just described. It has 16 boost tables, and as you just described, simply changing those doesn't help.

Much more complex than the previous ECU models where you can calibrate mass air flow readings based on modifications and adjust fueling with simple calculations. On these newer GM ECUs, the ECU will only make as much power as it wants to, so you have to modify an array of tables to make the computer want to provide more torque. It's absolutely nuts. From what I've seen, this platform should be much easier, but my knowledge of automotive computer systems should come in handy for troubleshooting.
I can't compare to the Cruze, but a big advantage we have with the 124 is that this engine has been around since 2012 and has a pretty hardcore following. The engine is complex, and the ECU is incredibly complex, but since things like ECU flash tuning, and camshafts are already figured out, that's a big help when searching for power.

I'll have to get a little familiar with the calibration methods on these engines, but my initial impression is that they're much simpler than I've been used to dealing with on the Cruze.
I am a bit curious what gives you that impression.

My biggest concern will be how well this ECU handles knock, given how easily turbo engines tend to heat soak and start aggressively retarding timing when intake air temps start to rise. I need to hook up my OBD2 bluetooth adapter and start scanning data through my phone to see what kind of diagnostic capabilities we have outside typical code scanning. I'll spend some time some day soon datalogging and will report my findings. If you're not too familiar with computer-based tuning, please, ask as many questions as you can and I'll explain everything.
It's very aggressive at preventing knock. Remember, this is an engine with almost 10:1 compression and over 20 pounds of boost! Knock avoidance is a big issue.

Regarding the ECU's complexity, what drives me crazy, is that I feel that this ECU, and most new cars, have a lot of complexity that seems to be just for the sake of complexity. As an example, this ECU has over 12 maps relating to shutting off the AC compressor. You know when I want to shut off the compressor? When I turn it off, that's when. In my admittedly outdated way of thinking, when I put my foot on the floor, it's because I dang well want the throttle all the way open. That's not the way these newer cars work.

Greg
 

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What you are describing is becoming extremely common. The 124's Magnetti Mareli ECU is incredibly complex and has all the issues/features you just described. It has 16 boost tables, and as you just described, simply changing those doesn't help.

I can't compare to the Cruze, but a big advantage we have with the 124 is that this engine has been around since 2012 and has a pretty hardcore following. The engine is complex, and the ECU is incredibly complex, but since things like ECU flash tuning, and camshafts are already figured out, that's a big help when searching for power.
Hopefully in the coming years, I'll start looking for more power, but having modified cars in the past, I'm very apprehensive to modifications. More power doesn't always translate to a better driving experience, as I'm sure you're aware. One of the reasons I bought this car over the ND Miata (aside from its hideous rear end) is that I prefer power under the curve as opposed to peak power. I'm glad this is a more mature engine; the Cruze 1.4T was far from it when I joined that community.



I am a bit curious what gives you that impression.
Absolutely nothing more than the hope that it would be true and the ignorance that goes along with that. I stand corrected on this one.

It's very aggressive at preventing knock. Remember, this is an engine with almost 10:1 compression and over 20 pounds of boost! Knock avoidance is a big issue.
I'm glad to hear that. The Cruze has a 9.5:1 compression ratio and tuned, I am currently at 21.5 pounds of boost. Aggressive knock prevention makes me feel very good about this car.

Regarding the ECU's complexity, what drives me crazy, is that I feel that this ECU, and most new cars, have a lot of complexity that seems to be just for the sake of complexity. As an example, this ECU has over 12 maps relating to shutting off the AC compressor. You know when I want to shut off the compressor? When I turn it off, that's when. In my admittedly outdated way of thinking, when I put my foot on the floor, it's because I dang well want the throttle all the way open. That's not the way these newer cars work.

Greg
I assume much of that complexity is forced by the feds for fuel efficiency and emissions purposes. Imagine what these cars would be like if we didn't have the EPA mucking it all up every time someone tries to have some fun.

Thanks for the responses Greg. I've greatly enjoyed them and have learned more than I expected to. I look forward to a continuation of that.
 

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I should probably also mention, for the sake of anyone reading this, that my tone can sometimes come across as abrasive or harsh when heavily engaged in technical discussions, especially ones regarding topics that I have a great deal of confidence in. It is not my intention; it's just my tone. I have a tendency to be blunt and frank. It's something I've been working on for at least 10 years, so please don't take it personally, and if I do offend you in any way, please let me know.
 

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I should probably also mention, for the sake of anyone reading this, that my tone can sometimes come across as abrasive or harsh when heavily engaged in technical discussions, especially ones regarding topics that I have a great deal of confidence in. It is not my intention; it's just my tone. I have a tendency to be blunt and frank. It's something I've been working on for at least 10 years, so please don't take it personally, and if I do offend you in any way, please let me know.

I don't think anyone is taking anything that way at all. You seem like a real enthusiast with a high level of knowledge.

Greg
 

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...

I assume much of that complexity is forced by the feds for fuel efficiency and emissions purposes. Imagine what these cars would be like if we didn't have the EPA mucking it all up every time someone tries to have some fun.

...
This is definitely a significant portion of the complexity. Manufacturers of autos have a very high bar to meet. While it is certainly possible to achieve greater performance - and with little cost in reliability, for example, this could increase a failure rate from .2 to .3%. a 50% increase in failure rate of a part due to additional stress.

While this is a minor increase - and tolerable increase on an individual basis, when a million cars are sold, that becomes a significant number of potential failures (btw, I'm just making up some numbers for the sake of argument, but it's no less valid).

There is also code in the ECU designed to 'trick' various external systems - for example, the VW debacle as an extreme case.

The vast majority of people do not do anything to their car - it's just a means of transporting themselves and a cup of coffee, so must be extremely reliable under any outside condition. Any small percentage of increase in reliability is a major design effort, costly, and most often with it on the whole for the manufacturer. Further, since things break on a mechanical system, the engine must accommodate certain failures and still function.
 

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Some of the complexity contributes to fuel economy and emissions, but most of it is for the nanny systems. It takes a lot of complexity for the car to know when it should pull the throttle back regardless of what the driver is asking for via the right foot. Some of the complexity seems to be for no reason at all, like the previously mentioned 12+ maps to shut off the AC compressor.

I think it's tough to make a case that the complexity increases reliability. Perhaps you could argue that the various limiters (there are a lot of them) do that. They certainly do limit power, thus reduce the chance of breaking things, but there are much less complex ways of accomplishing the same thing.

I don't think the software was intentionally set up to trick testing equipment as in the Diesel Gate saga. It's just that the system sees the disparity in wheels speeds and defaults to a safer (less power) setting. They may have taken advantage of this, but I really don't think that was the original intent of the design.

While I don't particularly like all the complexity, I do have a pretty good understanding of it, and our tuner Toby, has an incredibly deep understanding of it, at least from the ECU side. So it's a bit ironic that although I don't like it, the complexity works to my advantage from a business standpoint. This is one of the many ironies of being both an enthusiast and a vendor.

Greg
 

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Cars are also built by committee; while we would like to think the programmers know what they are doing with the computer, the reality is that they are part of a committee, also - except they probably don't get a say in how things are programmed.

I've met plenty of programmers who have know idea what the program is that they have just programmed, and how it is used in the grand scheme of things. If they did, then maybe they would program it a different way. A lot of them are also overeducated for their actual intelligence.
 

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I don't think anyone is taking anything that way at all. You seem like a real enthusiast with a high level of knowledge.

Greg
Thanks, just making sure. :)

Some of the complexity contributes to fuel economy and emissions, but most of it is for the nanny systems. It takes a lot of complexity for the car to know when it should pull the throttle back regardless of what the driver is asking for via the right foot. Some of the complexity seems to be for no reason at all, like the previously mentioned 12+ maps to shut off the AC compressor.

I think it's tough to make a case that the complexity increases reliability. Perhaps you could argue that the various limiters (there are a lot of them) do that. They certainly do limit power, thus reduce the chance of breaking things, but there are much less complex ways of accomplishing the same thing.

I don't think the software was intentionally set up to trick testing equipment as in the Diesel Gate saga. It's just that the system sees the disparity in wheels speeds and defaults to a safer (less power) setting. They may have taken advantage of this, but I really don't think that was the original intent of the design.

While I don't particularly like all the complexity, I do have a pretty good understanding of it, and our tuner Toby, has an incredibly deep understanding of it, at least from the ECU side. So it's a bit ironic that although I don't like it, the complexity works to my advantage from a business standpoint. This is one of the many ironies of being both an enthusiast and a vendor.

Greg
It's good to know that there's someone who fully understands this ECU's nuances and can tune them safely. In the GM world, everyone with $500 can buy HPTuners and rig their engines to blow. For the Cruze specifically, I've seen two tuners that have done a decent job tuning that vehicle, and the rest were "professional tuning shops" that made the car run horribly.

Hopefully in the coming year(s), I'll be able to get my car tuned as well. Back in the Cruze world, I worked directly with the two big tuners (Trifecta and BNR) testing new tunes, recommending drivability tweaks, and datalogging, and it was incredible how some of those tunes transformed the car. It would be fun to do the same with the Fiat.
 
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