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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > NA Engine (non-turbo) / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications > AA Tune Stage 2 - Initial Impressions on 325xi



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      03-04-2012, 06:12 PM   #1
hurricane56
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AA Tune Stage 2 - Initial Impressions on 325xi

Hi all, I'm sure all of you have been following the 27 page long AA tune thread in the forum. Like most of you I felt that I needed a bit more power in my 325, especially because it's a Xi, the AWD system is a lot to haul around on just 215hp. Currently I have the Euro Airbox and OEM PE.

I knew from the start that eventually I was going to get some type of software tune, but spending $399 for only 10-12 hp on the Stage 1 was a bit too much money for little gain. I also looked at OE Tuning, and the ESS Direct Flash, none of these vendors were offering any more than AA at the time. I figured that I would go with the AA tune, since they have a great reputation, specifically with BMWs. Once there was some chatter on the boards about a Stage 2 AA, I knew I was going to take the plunge.

My contact at AA was Andrew. He's a nice guy who was very quick to answer my emails and field questions over the phone. Taking advantage of the introductory pricing, the software flash and Simon Tool was $816 with shipping.

Installation: The install is a pretty simple affair, the package from AA came with the Simon Tool, USB thumb drive, USB cable, and ODB2 connector. You have to install the programming software onto your windows laptop, luckily I keep around an old netbook just for car stuff. After the utility and associated usb drivers install, the Simon plugs into your computer via USB. The utility will prompt you to update the firmware of the Simon tool, after the update and a restart the Simon tool is ready to read you car's ECU.

Reading the ECU tool about 25 minutes to complete, the Simon tool will end up extracting a file that is about 800kb from you car. I then emailed the file to Andrew and their software guy Zak sent back the stock file and the Stage 2 tune via email in less than an hour. The two files are saved to your computer, and the install utility is used to load the two ECU files down to the Simon Tool. Once you have the files on the Simon, you can go back and load up your new software, it takes about 20 mins. During that time, you dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree and the DTML pump will pretty much run the entire time. Restart your car and you're all set.

Performance: Immediately after the flash the immediate thing I noticed was how nice the throttle had been remapped. The throttle was one of the things that bothered me the most about the car. It always seemed like the gas pedal had a whole load of take-up before any acceleration happened. After the flash, there is a much more linear progression on the throttle, overall its much more sensitive, which I like. I don't have a point of comparision between the AA tune and the BMS PowerBox, but after three days of driving there is not jerkiness at all.

As far as improved power, I can tell that there is a noticeable addition of HP above 3.5k. At around 4-5k, the car pulls very strongly, much more than stock. At lower speeds around town, the combination of the throttle remap and additional power make the car much more drivable, I feel like I don't have to mash the gas to the floor to get the car moving. Most noticeable, is highway driving. While cruising between 60-70 mph, there is much more power available to overtake and accelerate. In regular driving I usually had to hit the kick-down to get enough power, I find that if I want to accellerate from 65 to 85, I only need to get the revs up to about 4.5k, and the car gets moving nicely. At the very most, I only need to get the car to downshift one gear for enough power vs, having to hit the kick-down and go WOT for the same effect.

I currently have a little less than 200 miles driven on this tune, and I've been told by AA that the car might need another few days to fully adapt to the tune. I'll keep you posted.

Other thoughts:
1. I would recommend having a couple things to make your AA tune/Simon tool flash a bit easier. Having a BT tool to reset codes was helpful. I'm not sure if this happens in most e90s after a flash tune, but my transmission gave an error code, 2AD0, meaning something with the gear control, usually triggered with the engine adaptations are reset.

2. Also, I would recommend having a CTEK battey charger/maintainer. If you car battery takes a dump while the software is still writing from the Simon tool, there may be a risk of bricking your whole ECU.

3. Like an idiot, I flashed the software to Stage 2 right before going in for emissions check here in Connecticut. With the Stage 2 installed, the technician was not able to communicate with any of the emission control modules via ODB2. Guess I have to flash back to stock and retest within 60 days.

Others who have used the Simon tool have raised a few issues with pricing and the Simon tool VIN locking to your vehicle. The overall price for the tool and the software is expensive, but you got to pay to play. My only minor gripe with AA is permanently VIN locking the Simon tool. I'm planning to keep my 325 for some time, but having a unitasking tool and not being able to use it on another vehicle is a bit of a downside. It would be nice to maybe pay another smaller fee to be able to use it on another car.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with AA and their product. It's a great addition to my daily driver that adds noticeable power and doesn't take away from comfort or drive-ability.

I still have to install my 3-stage intake manifold, so I'll update this thread at a later time. Thanks for reading through this novel, let me know if there are any questions.

3/28 Update
Looks like after I did the flash and tried to pass emission test I didn't drive enough miles to clear all of the emissions readiness monitors. Everything is working fine and I passed today.

Last edited by hurricane56; 03-29-2012 at 10:14 AM.
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      03-04-2012, 10:09 PM   #2
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Thank you for taking the time to write such an informational review, its greatly appreciated!

As far as the vin locking is concerned its not really up to us. We will be working with the maker of the tool to try and figure out some type of future plan. If this becomes possible I will notify the forum.

Andrew
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      03-04-2012, 10:25 PM   #3
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Nice write up
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      03-04-2012, 11:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew@ActiveAutowerke View Post
Thank you for taking the time to write such an informational review, its greatly appreciated!

As far as the vin locking is concerned its not really up to us. We will be working with the maker of the tool to try and figure out some type of future plan. If this becomes possible I will notify the forum.

Andrew
Thanks Andrew, keep up the good work!
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      03-05-2012, 12:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hurricane56 View Post

3. With the Stage 2 installed, the technician was not able to communicate with any of the emission control modules via ODB2. Guess I have to flash back to stock and retest within 60 days.

Andrew, can you comment on this? California is about to switch from dyno testing for emissions checks, to OBD2 testing, which I'll probably have to do later this year.
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      03-05-2012, 01:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike-y View Post
Andrew, can you comment on this? California is about to switch from dyno testing for emissions checks, to OBD2 testing, which I'll probably have to do later this year.
What kind of messed up state do you live in that you can't do any mods on your cars? So if it's not stock 215 HP you fail? It's actually better if they switch to OBD2 testing because then they won't be able to detect the tune.
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      03-05-2012, 09:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike-y View Post
Andrew, can you comment on this? California is about to switch from dyno testing for emissions checks, to OBD2 testing, which I'll probably have to do later this year.

I have no clue why it did not work. We have not made any changes that would stop anyone from reading your Ecu.
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      03-05-2012, 10:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunnerxq View Post
What kind of messed up state do you live in that you can't do any mods on your cars? So if it's not stock 215 HP you fail? It's actually better if they switch to OBD2 testing because then they won't be able to detect the tune.
I used to live in California and I think the smog test on the rollers was just to get a more accurate reading of your emissions under load. It doesn't have anything to do with HP. There was some testing by the California Air Resources Board that discovered some cars were putting out many more pollutants while driving vs just at idle speed.

Next week I plan to flash back to stock file and retest the emissions via ODB2. There shouldn't be any reason why it won't work, I'll update after I get this done.
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      03-05-2012, 02:25 PM   #9
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Im so confused, I thought stage 2 tune was for 325's with 3 stage manifold and 330's....i thought stock manifold 325's still have to use stage 1 tune
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      03-05-2012, 02:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benzo23 View Post
Im so confused, I thought stage 2 tune was for 325's with 3 stage manifold and 330's....i thought stock manifold 325's still have to use stage 1 tune
+1
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      03-05-2012, 04:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunnerxq View Post
What kind of messed up state do you live in that you can't do any mods on your cars? So if it's not stock 215 HP you fail? It's actually better if they switch to OBD2 testing because then they won't be able to detect the tune.
My cars have plenty of mods, having more HP than stock isn't the issue here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew@ActiveAutowerke View Post
I have no clue why it did not work. We have not made any changes that would stop anyone from reading your Ecu.
Ok, thanks!! Just wanted to be sure.
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      03-05-2012, 05:44 PM   #12
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Just so there is no confusion... The stage 2 changes can be made to ALL 3 series with an n51 or n52 engine stock or FBO. (325,328,330)
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      03-06-2012, 12:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew@ActiveAutowerke View Post
Just so there is no confusion... The stage 2 changes can be made to ALL 3 series with an n51 or n52 engine stock or FBO. (325,328,330)
Do we need stage 1 to get to stage 2? Or we can skip stages.
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      03-06-2012, 01:36 PM   #14
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Do we need stage 1 to get to stage 2? Or we can skip stages.
No, you do not need to have stage 1 tuning to upgrade to stage 2.
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      03-06-2012, 02:11 PM   #15
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Nice! It's good to know these stories, I hope to write a similar story soon.
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      03-06-2012, 07:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Nice! It's good to know these stories, I hope to write a similar story soon.
Yep, me too. Spoke to Andrew and my local shop. I have my appointment to upgrade on the 28th.
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      03-06-2012, 07:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jntar View Post
No, you do not need to have stage 1 tuning to upgrade to stage 2.
Would there be any reason to choose a stage 1 over a stage 2?

Hurricane - how is the MPG after the tune?
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      03-06-2012, 07:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycbr View Post
Would there be any reason to choose a stage 1 over a stage 2?

Hurricane - how is the MPG after the tune?
I've yet to run some official numbers, but from what I can tell I haven't seen a dramatic difference either way. Keep in mind that I've only driven a little less than 300 miles since the ECU flash. I'd like to say it's higher because I still managed to squeak out 18mpg with about 65% city driving and lots of pedal to the metal WOT.
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      03-07-2012, 02:53 PM   #19
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So I have stage 1 already, Is there any kind of credit towards staage 2? Can I get it flashed by one of AA's tuners and not have to buy the Simon?
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      03-07-2012, 03:44 PM   #20
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      03-07-2012, 08:24 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew@ActiveAutowerke View Post
Thank you for taking the time to write such an informational review, its greatly appreciated!

As far as the vin locking is concerned its not really up to us. We will be working with the maker of the tool to try and figure out some type of future plan. If this becomes possible I will notify the forum.

Andrew
Thanks Andrew. That would be the positive decision influent
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      03-08-2012, 09:30 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by just4kickz View Post
will you dyno?
I'm not too sure that I'll dyno because I'm going to have to do two different sessions, one with stock and Stage 2 tune, and another session with the three stage intake manifold. Not too sure I want to drop $200 on two dyno sessions.
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