Always eager for more power and better mileage, the lure of the KEM Green Tunes was impossible to resist. Claims of 500HP at the rear wheels and 20+ MPG while retaining all the stock emissions systems seemed very hard to believe from a 9000lb truck with the aerodynamics of a brick.
I just had to find out.
The KEM card arrived and I could hardly wait to try it out. Opened the package, read the instruction and followed them to the letter.
First download failed giving corruption error codes. Sadly, this was Friday afternoon so a call to KEM went unanswered. The truck was a brick, nothing but flashing messages on the message screen. Luckily a return to stock w/ the H&S feature worked perfectly and the truck was up again.
Monday Mike from KEM contacts me and insists I've done something wrong and to try it again. This time it bricked the Minimax on the firmware load.
Lots of finger pointing, but H&S stepped up and replaced the Minimax, Mike sent another card.
A week later the new card arrives. Loads fine this time. First try, power level 5 and trans tune 5.
OMG, the trans tune 5 is very harsh, every time it shifts I think it's going to break the truck it's so hard.
By Thursday (when the dyno is scheduled) I've given up on the KEM trans tunes having tried 3,4,5 and gone back to H&S for now, KEM Engine Level 4.
On the Dyno.
First we loaded L5 engine and trans tune and did a pull. We were very surprised at the results, the KEM tunes didn't even beat the H&S tunes in power, though torque was higher. Knowing that we'd be accused of either having a happy/unhappy dyno and not accounting for other variables we re-ran the H&S HOT tune and it reproduced what we'd done three weeks ago. Nearly identical.
Back on the KEM tunes, we loaded L4 engine and trans. Again disappointing results. So we tried L3, impressive torque numbers, but they aren't long and flat like stock and H&S, very peaky.
At this point, I cannot verify that KEM Green tunes are capable of 500 RWHP. With a best of 392 RWHP we are way short of the mark. Nice torque number though, besting H&S by nearly 100 ft-lbs over a range of ~600 rpm, then H&S leads again.
So, not the results we were looking for, I emailed Mike again.
I also had a severe boost oscillation under light throttle, either under manual control or with cruise.
VIDEO0041 - YouTube
Mike insisted that he was an expert in this field and something had to be wrong with my truck. He asked if I'd done the wastegate adjustment.
I'd asked about this early on and Mike sent me the Ford procedure which requires a vacuum source. So I picked one of these up ($69 at my local Napa.) Then Mike tells me I don't need that, just turn it two turns to make it 'tighter'.
This is easy as heck, once you can get to it. That's either cab off or rip the intake manifold off the truck (no fun task let me tell you.) Call it 2-3 hrs of sweating.
This ONLY occurs on the KEM tunes, not on H&S or stock.
I'd backed off to the H&S tunes in the meantime because of the severe boost oscillation. So KEM tunes were re-loaded, L4 engine and trans. And I've been testing that for the last 2 days, with the same issues.
*Trans shifting is extremely harsh, I think it's going to break something.
*Boost oscillation when in cruise. The wastegate adjust did take care of it when on manual throttle control, but now under cruise the whole truck is surging. Mike did give me a lecture on how bad the new Ford Cruise Control logistics is.
*Truck shudders terrible under very light throttle just as it's really needing to downshift from 6th to 5th. It'll shudder non-stop until you either press the throttle enough to downshift or downshift manually. I reproduced this on trans tunes 2,3 & 4 with it being worst on L2. H&S trans tune and stock do not do this.
I did two MPG highway runs on the KEM Green Tunes. Must say these are the best results my lie-o-meter has ever reported, 22-23mpg. WOW. Sadly this is only on the lie-o-meter, hand calculated was in the low 16s. H&S on Wild consistently gives 17+.
Mike says his shop truck that got 23mpg is a 2WD with 17" wheels doing 55-65mph on flat roads (Illinois and Indiana.) That his truck which is configured similar to mine can get 20+ under those conditions, still 55-65.
At this point I'm giving up, I can't live with these harsh shifts (levels 4 and 5), the trans shuddering (levels 2,3&4) as well as the incompatibility with cruise control. It's bought and paid and they are not re-sellable so if someone has a combo of these tunes that works well I'm all ears.
After looking under the manifold I'll probably just delete it and be done with this nonsense.