Crown Vic Tuning: Why Do an ECU Tune?

Crown Vic Tuning: Why Do an ECU Tune?

Yes, Crown Vic tuning is the latest rage. One the fastest growing classes in oval-track racing uses electronic fuel injection, and with it an ECU tune can reap big gains, said Jason Waters of his namesake Jason Waters Tuning.

“Most cars are heavily detuned at the factory,” Waters said. “There are a lot of reasons [for that], but, mostly, they have to be able to run on 87-octane fuel.”

Ultimately, Ford tuned the Crown Vics for the street and not the track. An ECU tune can fix that. Jason Waters Tuning dives into factory ECU files. They tweak the fueling and timing of the engine to gain more performance.

“Tuning a Crown Vic results in a gain of 10 to 25 horsepower and a pickup of 20 to 40 lb-ft of torque,” Waters said.

Tuning an ECU is similar in a way to tuning carburetors in that you’re essentially adjusting the air-fuel ratio. However, the ECU opens up more opportunities to fine tune an engine.

“A carb only controls the fuel to the engine, with jets that have to be manually swapped out, and it doesn’t control anything else,” said Waters. “With Crown Vics, I can tune fuel, timing, transmission control, and a lot more through the OBD2 port in less time than it takes to swap jets in a carburetor.”

Crown Vic tuning isn’t for everyone, though. Some tracks ban ECU tunes outright. Others limit what you can do. Then there are tracks that have instituted claim rules. Keep all this in mind before purchasing an ECU tune.

Jason Waters Tuning charges a flat fee of $550 for a Crown Vic. The tunes do pay off. One of the company’s clients, Charlie Meinders, led every lap at Georgia’s Screven Motor Speedway in a recent race.

Jason Waters Tuning made its mark in oval-track racing by first tuning Honda VTEC engines, then the GM Ecotec ones, two power plants commonly found in sport compacts, such as those that run in the SCDRA. Crown Vic tuning is a quickly growing segment for the business.

“If you asked me 10 years ago if I would be tuning old police cars and Cavaliers, I would tell you, ‘Definitely not!’” said Waters.