Everyone knows the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are short on power; this is not a new complaint.  Luckily there has been an explosion in bolt on modifications, such as the ARK Grip catback exhaust, Borla headers and Takeda cold air intakes which are popular mods to try and increase the power output from the sports car that many have deemed “slow” by today’s current standards.

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Adding bolt on modifications is a great way to customize your car, and make it truly yours.  The issue?  With more free flowing and efficient parts, the stock ECU or “computer” doesn’t know what to do-and the hp gains you should be getting from your new parts is almost non-existent.  Back in the day, issues like this could be overcome with more ghetto mods, such as resistors, MAP clamps and piggy-backs.  Luckily, you no longer have to trick your car trying to maximize the most from your mods, and we have much safer and efficient means of tuning.  ECU Tuning, or ECU Reflashing. Yup, you’ll need to reflash to run E85 in your FR-S, BRZ or Toyota 86.

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One the cars computer is tuned, it can see all the necessary parameters and inputs from the sensors in the engine to keep your engine running safe regardless of elevation, gas quality or air temperature.  There are a few ways to tune your car, one of them is going to a “tuner” or “tuning shop” that specializes in custom ECU flashing and tuning.  The only downside of tuning your car this way is seeking out a local and reputable tuner for your car.  Going to a tuner can sometimes be troublesome, time consuming and expensive when just trying to tune for basic bolt on mods.   The easier method of tuning (which applies to most car enthusiasts with bolt on parts), is using a hand-held flash tuner.  And today, we will be using the Vishnu Openflash Tablet (or OFT as you may find in this article or forums online).

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The OpenFlash Tablet is a GPS sized hand-held tuning device that allows you to tune your car in your own driveway based on the mods you have.  Don’t have any mods to your car yet?  Don’t worry, the OFT provides benefits that even a stock car can use…but more on that later.  Tuning with the OFT is super easy to use (on-screen, step by step directions), and it only takes a few minutes of your time to flash your cars computer.  First, you plug the OFT into your OBD II plug, located where the center console and plastic under the steering wheel meet.

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Next, turn the key in the ignition to the “acc” position, so the car has power but isn’t running.  Follow the on-screen instructions, and the OFT will make a copy of your stock factory tune (which protects you if you ever need to go back to the stock tune, for any reason).  Next, you get to “flash” or re-write the cars computer with a new tune-each one customized to make the most power from the mods you have.  Included with the OFT are “Canned” tunes.  A canned tune is one that has been made with changes in the tune based on other cars with the same mods.  Canned tunes are created after a tuner, in this case Vishnu has tuned other cars with various mods, and they come up with a custom tune that will work with a variety of cars.  This is a very safe and cost effective way to tune, and will get you 80-90% of the potential power your mods can give you.  Once your car has been reflashed with a new tune, you can unplug the OpenFlash Tablet and have fun knowing your car has been safely tuned and is making the most power it can with your bolt-on mods.

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Besides tuning your engine, the OFT can be used for switching between tunes (such as pump gas and e85), data logging, engine monitoring and code reading/clearing.

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And remember when I said even a stock car can benefit from the OpenFlash Tablet?  The tune that comes with the FR-S, BRZ and even the updated Toyota 86- from the factory/dealer, is lacking in a few areas.  The idle is the first and most notable one.  Have you ever noticed when you’re sitting at a stop light, the engine idle fluctuates and almost seems like the car is about to stall?  The OFT will help this by providing a much more stable rpm while idling-so no more feeling like you’re in a car that’s about to break down.  The next change in tuning for your engine is rather huge, and will definitely have an effect on the longevity of your car-The Direct Injector Seal Update.  Under certain driving conditions, there can be detonation in the engine, and it damages the seals of the direct injector system.  Over time, this can lead to expensive repairs needed to your car, and most likely your warranty will have run out, and you’ll be left to foot the bill.  Luckily, the tuners over at Vishnu Performance are aware of this issue, and have included this tuning fix in every single one of their tunes!

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With that said, I personally run the Vishnu Openflash Tablet on my FR-S, and have done so over the past 20k miles, and continue to use it even after supercharging.  I have had nothing but fantastic results from it, and the OFT has allowed me to maximize the performance with the mods I have.  When I’m feeling like a race driver or heading to the track, I can fill up my car with E-85, flash the ECU and enjoy great gains in hp/tq without bolting on anything-all I did was fill up my gas tank with E85 and flash my ECU.  Or, when I pick up future mods, such as a new Front Pipe from Berk Technology, I can flash a different tune and take full advantage of my new modification!

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Thanks for joining us, we’ll see you next time!

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Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to the Best Mods for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, then talk to our team of Mod Experts – chat with the Mod Expert team live at ModBargains.com, give us a call at 714-582-3330 or just stop by the ModAuto install facility here in La Habra, CA any day during business hours.
Story by Nick Gregson in collaboration with Charles Pages

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