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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I wrote this to give my impressions of the differences driving a 7.3 in stock form vs tuned.

Before I tuned my truck, I drove it stock for a year straight with a 4" straight pipe exhaust and an intake system. During that time, I grew an immense amount of anticipation of what the truck would feel like tuned. I've read and saved (so that I could re-read them just to build up more excitement) countless different drive reports that led up to a huge suspense. While I have driven several 7.3's in the past, all have been un-tuned so I had never experienced a tuned 7.3 before. Now that I am very accustomed to how an un-tuned 7.3 feels after driving it for a year, I feel that I can do an fairly accurate assessment of what the differences are like in detail. Whether you were in my shoes and want a little more detail of the differences or you just want a little reminder of how slow these trucks really are in stock form, then read on.

What Engine Mods Do I Have?:
My truck is setup with the traditional setup configuration: chip, intake and exhaust. Nothing else like a bigger turbo or injectors have been added.

Introductory:
Before we get started let's just get one thing out of the way. Obviously each custom tuner does things slightly differently to a certain degree but for the most part, each *should* still be putting out nearly the same amount of power in the end result. To really do a more accurate comparison here, you'd have to compare each individual tuning outfit against one another to see what each feels like. To simplify this comparison, we''ll say for the sake of this test that all the custom tuners feel "the same" to provide a general idea of what it's like to drive a tuned 7.3 with the traditional setup.

Before we begin, I'd like to say it's kind of sad to see just how tame the stock 7.3 tuning really is. It's almost a shame really they were actually this de-tuned.

Impressions Driving An Un-Tuned 7.3
To start out, lets reflect a little bit about how a stock 7.3 feels. First and foremost, throttle response no matter how you look at it is very relaxed- way too much so. In fact, even revving it up in neutral wasn't that impressive because it revved slow and required a fair amount of throttle if you wanted a quick blip up to 2k. One of the aspects that I've always noticed when I've been around tuned 7.3's was how quickly they revved so I knew prior to my chip installation that this was going to be a big change. Power under 2k was also really tame as well. Once it got over 2k, it picked up. The truck had power, but it did not show it's "guts" until you hit 3/4 throttle. Once you hit 3/4, it was like an afterburner had kicked in. I always thought to myself "okay, you've got some decent power, why can't I have this type of response anywhere else in the powerband?" Not to mention, even while going down the road it was almost like you could press the throttle a little bit and nothing would happen. You had to be liberal with your throttle inputs to see any real change in action. Whenever you came to a steep hill, it didn't take long before you needed to put your foot down further and further to maintain speed or downshift. You could hear the RPM's begin to fall anytime the truck began to see a hill.

Impressions Driving a Tuned 7.3:
The biggest difference is how responsive and free feeling it is to drive now. Did it turn into a fire breather that now outruns Corvettes and won't stop spinning the tires? No, but it is SOO much more responsive and smooth that it is incomparable. You know that feeling when you're driving with the parking brake on (un-tuned) and then release it (tuned) and how much more free a vehicle feels? That is the key. It is also much easier to drive too because of the added torque. Let me explain. It now has power under 2k and I find myself for "regular" driving never needing to exceed over 1/2 throttle under any circumstances- that is unless I want to have fun. Before if I needed to merge or do something quickly, I'd have to give it that 3/4 throttle position because that's where it came alive. Now anything over 1/2 throttle is used simply to have fun vs. before there was really no "fun" spot anywhere in the throttle because you were using most all of it under normal driving conditions. Not any more now. Think of blowing through a small straw and feeling that resistance (un-tuned) vs blowing through a fire hose (tuned). Driving the truck stock, you as the driver had to work a lot harder to squeak out the power vs now you don't really think about it because it just comes so effortlessly on its own. Even the very slightest of throttle inputs anywhere in the powerband nets an impact vs. before it required liberal action in order to do so. Now when you approach hills, the truck just keeps on going as if without the power falling so much.

Unscientific Test
The tow setting (in my case) feels close to stock. Taking that into account, I did a couple of tests while keeping a constant throttle setting the whole time and switched from the "Daily" setting (my favorite, and more on that later) into "Tow" while going uphill and power dropped off like it was on the edge of a cliff. Doing the same thing only vice versa and the truck took off like a bat out of you know what. Literally.

Quicker Acceleration
I find that anytime I'm on it, that I have to shift a lot quicker now between gears as the RPM's climb substantially faster. Sometimes I find myself even having to back off the throttle in the first two gears some simply because the RPM's climb so much quicker now.

Miscellaneous Observations:

The exhaust note is deeper and the Extreme setting has very slightly higher idle than all the other settings. I'm sure you're wondering about MPG's. Right now, it seems to be close to about the same but I'm not going to count this tank as accurate because I've been having a lot of fun with the new found power.

My goal was to grow accustomed to one particular tune setting. I'm just the type that would rather have one "do it all" setting that I know inside and out versus using different settings for different occasions even if that meant sacrificing some power. If you're like this too, then I'd highly recommend getting a full set of tunes anyway because you want to find the one that you like best and offers reasonable EGT's. It's good to have a set to experiment from vs. only buying one or two and not knowing any better when you possibly could.

Plug For Tony Wildman:
Now that we're over with the general side of things, I'd like to switch over to share a little appreciation for TW tuning. I went with TW's tunes in particular because I've learned that he's known for a more aggressive throttle feel on the bottom end. I wanted this characteristic to make up for some of the lost responsiveness down low with the 37's. Boy, did that ever change and now I can actually light 'em off some in 1st gear with a quick blip of the throttle. Part of what impresses me the most is just how smooth the powerband is with his tunes. What used to be some bad turbo lag now hardly exists anymore, it's astounding just consistent it is all the way through. It truly almost feels electric it is that good. While I don't have experience with canned tunes, I can see how a custom tuner really goes the extra mile for things like this. I am super impressed about that aspect and couldn't be more pleased.

My favorite tune from TW is the Daily which from the seat of the pants dyno, pulls the hardest even over Extreme and Street. I have all of his chip settings and compared to everything else, Daily is the most responsive and runs the best.

As I mentioned earlier, in some ways I feel that it's almost sad that we have to use a special chip in order extract the increased drivability out of these trucks. Like I said, it's not that the chip turns the truck into an insane monster, it just makes it 100% more drivable and responsive with some added fun. I think it's safe to say that for anyone who has tuned their truck, most will tell you "how did I ever drive it before?" I couldn't agree more. In fact they are so un-tuned and underperformed that it should almost be a crime after you feel the potential.
 

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Well written,
I like to drive for a few days on the stock tune then turn it up. That way its not like driving the same ol truck everyday lol.
 
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*Sigh*... This makes me want to tune it up... dang it. :rolleyes: Ive only ever been stock and put my $$$$ into everything else.

Great writeup!
 
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*Sigh*... This makes me want to tune it up... dang it. :rolleyes: Ive only ever been stock and put my $$$$ into everything else.

Great writeup![/QUOTE

You really have no idea what you are missing, go for it!
 
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A++ ON THAT REPORT!...I will say you have passed with flying colors or is a V+ better?

:woot::thumb::hehe::punk:
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys.

Well written,
I like to drive for a few days on the stock tune then turn it up. That way its not like driving the same ol truck everyday lol.
That's a good way to always stay in tune with the differences!

Sigh*... This makes me want to tune it up... dang it. Ive only ever been stock and put my $$$$ into everything else.

Great writeup!
It'll be well worth it and be a whole new truck again. :)

Great write up!!
Thanks! It was fun to write.

You really have no idea what you are missing, go for it!
I agree! :D

A++ ON THAT REPORT!...I will say you have passed with flying colors or is a V+ better?
lol. I just wanted to give an in depth comparison from my perspective. :thumb:
 

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I've been leaning towards not tuning so I don't also have to buy a monitor/gauges. Based on your review...I may have to reconsider....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've been leaning towards not tuning so I don't also have to buy a monitor/gauges. Based on your review...I may have to reconsider....
There's nothing wrong at all with keeping it stock if you're content. Whatever you do though, just don't drive a tuned one. :)

When it comes to gauges/monitor, yes, it's an extra expense but I think it can be a beneficial feature to have even when the truck is stock during times when you're working it hard.
 
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There's nothing wro. at all with keeping it stock if you're content. Whatever you do though, just don't drive a tuned one. :)

When it comes to gauges/monitor, yes, it's an extra expense but I think it can be a beneficial feature to have even when the truck is stock during times when you're working it hard.
I couldnt agree more. Even in stock form, everyone should be monitoring. You can still kill the beast without a tuner.
 

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I couldnt agree more. Even in stock form, everyone should be monitoring. You can still kill the beast without a tuner.

Tune it man! You won't need the wind behind you to pass anybody anymore, the truck will be able to pass people with zero wind behind ya! 👍
 

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to each his own...in an e99 work truck with 4:10's I have no problems with low end boost (just cant drive above 70mph :hehe:). I've had a TS before and took it off and sold it because of egt's and hard shifts. I put on a superchip and egt's are ok (still gets hot at times) but still feels alot better. So for me a TS wasnt worth it.


nice write up for those who google us...I vote for sticky :thumb:
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
with 4:10's I have no problems with low end boost
If that were the case with me, it would be a little different story.

With 3.73 gearing pushing 37's, the stock tuning in the low end had left something to be desired. :)
 

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You have described my stock truck to a T. Last week after experiencing a strange issue with my engine surging, got me thinking about throttle response and after searching that term, found your post.
Last week my truck for a yet unknown reason experienced a fast constant surge. I speculated the ICP was going bad. The noticable side effect of this surging was the unusually quick throttle response and extra power it had. While driving it home I was thinking "wow, if it only ran normally with this type of power it would be awesome!" I could spin the rears on pavement from a dead stop, I have never been able to do that.
I left her sitting for a couple of days while trying to determine what to do. ICP or IPR, who do I know that has a scanner, etc.
I needed to move the truck on Sunday and low and behold it was running perfectly back to the old stock performance.
Now you have me wanting to chip my truck for the extra towing power. Worried about my stock tranny with 300k being toast though.
 

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Don't you worry about it
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I'll never forget my dad and I going to test drive the 99 F250 that would become my first diesel truck. He drove it off the lot and said there is something wrong with this truck, you have to floor it to get it to move lol
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
You have described my stock truck to a T. Last week after experiencing a strange issue with my engine surging, got me thinking about throttle response and after searching that term, found your post.
Last week my truck for a yet unknown reason experienced a fast constant surge. I speculated the ICP was going bad. The noticable side effect of this surging was the unusually quick throttle response and extra power it had. While driving it home I was thinking "wow, if it only ran normally with this type of power it would be awesome!" I could spin the rears on pavement from a dead stop, I have never been able to do that.
I left her sitting for a couple of days while trying to determine what to do. ICP or IPR, who do I know that has a scanner, etc.
I needed to move the truck on Sunday and low and behold it was running perfectly back to the old stock performance.
Now you have me wanting to chip my truck for the extra towing power. Worried about my stock tranny with 300k being toast though.
That's definitely an interesting observation!

I'll never forget my dad and I going to test drive the 99 F250 that would become my first diesel truck. He drove it off the lot and said there is something wrong with this truck, you have to floor it to get it to move lol
lol

Updates:

I just drove the truck up from SoCal to Washington State pulling my enclosed trailer (over 1k miles) so here are a few more observations.

High Idle: The high idle setting is awesome. Starting the truck cold and letting it run at a normal idle for five minutes was never enough time to make the needle move off the peg. Running the truck now at high idle for 5 minutes will budge it off the peg.

Economy: The Economy setting has really low power down low and because of that it's my least favorite setting. It does get about the same or slightly above stock MPG's on the highway.

Tow: The tow setting feels very similar to economy only it has a little more down low. Both of these two settings do however feel great around or above 2k. If you're one to switch tunes constantly, then I'd say these two are good for highway but in town driving is not that impressive because there is very little bottom end performance.

Daily: Contrary to what I said earlier, the Daily setting is no longer my "do it all" setting. It turns out, daily compared to the other settings has netted the worst MPG's and also makes the truck run hot. Typically pulling my enclosed trailer on the freeway I'd get around 15-16 MPG's but it went down to 13 on that setting under normal driving. It didn't take a long to realize that either, let me tell you.

Street: The Street setting has become my new "do it all" as it is great balance for everything. It has a very smooth powerband, gets normal MPG's, tows really well and doesn't get as hot.

Extreme: As I mentioned originally, Extreme seems to be nearly identical to Street only with a slightly higher idle setting.

I have also noticed the injectors are a little quieter as well.
 

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Awesome. Thanks for the updates!! I will be getting a tuner for my truck once I get back to it in June. Been on here reading and learning a lot about the truck since I haven't been around it. Threads like this are extremely useful to those of us that are new and take the time to do some reading before just throwing money at a truck and then regretting it. And these are not cheap to mod.
 

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Nice update. I just had my transmission rebuilt with good parts so I guess tunes/gauges would be fine but I don't want/need any trans adjustments that was taken care of by the VB. Keep with the updates, they're inspiring!
 
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