Close

    • BimmerBoost member compares E46 M3 S54 tune customer service, product support, and results of ESS Tuning and Evolve Automotive

      I have been a customer of both ESS (since 2008) and Evolve (since 2010). I had issues with three separate tunes from ESS. Two Naturally Aspirated header tunes where (1) AJ@ESS forgot to turn on the rear O2's, (2) raised my rev limiter to 8,200 where I specifically requested 8000 (and o2's on) on my invoice, (3) cruise control errors after flash, and (4) ESS SMG software REFUSED to upshift in auto mode at redline. The mishap wasn't that big of a deal in my eyes, until I contacted AJ for some help.

      AJ said he was absolutely sure the rear 02's were on and the redline was 8,000, my tachometer was "misleading," and the cruise control function was an electrical error on my car. I had no choice but to believe him. After three weeks of testing fuses and wires, three failed emission tests, I was convinced the tune was the issue. I took it to BMW (250 miles away) and had the OE US tune flashed (on my dime) and my car miraculously turned the rear o2's on, my cruise control worked, redline was back to normal.

      I packaged up the DME and sent it back to Arizona to ESS (again, on my dime) to have my DME looked at. Lo and behold, the rear O2's were not turned on and the redline was indeed increased on my tune. Not even a "whoops, sorry man!" from anyone from ESS after sending me through the ringer for a month (and another $500+ out of pocket to fix their mistake). The SMG tune I was very happy with, outside of the Auto upshift function not working at WOT; as this function was primarily used by my wife. I won't get into details, but suffice to say that the information I gathered from Roman (sales) prior to purchase regarding the SMG flash's compatibility in Auto mode, differed from the technical side. If I had learned this prior, my decision to lighten the wallet an additional $600 would have changed for sure as my wife liked the "A" mode feature. This is why Roman is the salesman. Their was other garbage in the tune that was revealed from Roman that was only learned after.

      To be fair, I had some issues with the initial Evolve tune setup and parameters; however, the way I was treated by Evolve's customer service guys (both Imran and Salman helped out) was completely different than the way I was treated by ESS. They stayed awful late (approaching 10 pm UK time) troubleshooting on their Friday night for one lowly US customer. I was impressed. It took 3 days to even receive a "my poop don't stink" email from AJ regarding his copy and paste "supposed custom tune" job. The Evolve gang contacted me several times to ask how we liked the tune, and to review the drf files (as he had concerns with our HIGH altitude). It is small potatoes in the long run, but it shows that they care how the customer feels post wallet-lightening. ESS not once asked for feedback, or let alone apologize for their mistake (which kept my car down for an extra month....for a tune!!).

      I learned of Evolve from the Uk's M3 site and plunged for their CF Airbox. Just for craps and giggles, I picked up Evolve's tune to compare with ESS's tune as their flash hardware came with the Airbox when I went in for some baseline runs. Sal sent me their OTS N/A MAF header tune (e.g. before airbox install) and I booked some time at the dyno. The ESS tune (I learned again my redline was 8,200) was run a total of 7 times with a minimum cooldown of 5 minutes. With the car STILL STRAPPED TO THE DYNO, I flashed the Evolve tune to the car. We ran it another 5 times with the Evolve tune. Ambient temps and humidity creeped way up later in the afternoon after the flash, so we left the car strapped to the dyno to run the next day with the same time, and conditions the ESS tune ran in.

      I am a data nerd by trade (research biologist) so I tried my best to eliminate ALL variables outside of the tune. Here is what I tried.

      -The same half tank of fresh 91 (e10) pisswater from Chevron
      -Same dyno.
      -Same operator.
      -Same day (and next)
      -Nearly identical ENV variables.

      Some other details not evident from the dyno:

      -4,800 ft elevation
      -Evolve redline = 8,000
      -ESS redline = 8,200
      -Evolve's tune was not given proper road adaptation (I would assume the delta would increase after a few hundred road miles), and still out performed ESS's tune with a 200 rpm disadvantage.

      I then created a thread on M3forum just discussing the dyno results. Before the thread was deleted, my data was accused of manipulation, I was accused of getting free products from Evolve, and if I recall correctly someone implied that I was some sort of spy for the other companies not named ESS. It was great fun until the thread disappeared. I was just trying to inform those who were considering both companies for a tune; however unfortunate, my message was twisted and then deleted (similar accusations arose with my review of Morr VS8.2 wheels as well...but apparently that is status quo at m3forum).

      Here are the best runs for each tune:


      So much for trying to inform enthusiasts...

      Fast forward to 2012. I contact THREE companies for technical questions regarding valves and VANOS compatibility for tune on an S54 with a built head and cams: one company replied immediately that they will check their race teams for precise data (Evolve), one company called me directly (VAC motorsports) and one company completely ignored my request (guess who!). The boys at Evolve got back to me and provided the information I needed prior to plunging into the head build. Both Mike and Steve at VAC helped me select the proper valvetrain components. Three months later, and still no response from the BMW tuning experts at ESS.

      This is my personal experience with these companies. Your experience may differ. I am only here to inform others. I have no sponsors. Mods are supported by my income alone.

      Cheers,
      Mike

      This article was originally published in forum thread: Customer Service/Product Support AFTER the sale ESS versus Evolve started by MisterEm View original post
      Comments 101 Comments
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        1) I've received a few recent PMs from m3forum regarding my deleted thread and dyno runs comparing the ESS and Evolve tunes for the S54. I can't tell you why they were deleted, but I can assume it was merely to protect sponsorship.
        Of course it was to protect them.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        I packaged up the DME and sent it back to Arizona (again, on my dime) to have my DME looked at. Lo and behold, the rear O2's were not turned on and the redline was indeed increased on my tune. Not even a "whoops, sorry man!" from anyone from ESS after sending me through the ringer for a month (and another $500+ out of pocket to fix their mistake). The SMG tune I was very happy with, outside of the Auto upshift function not working at WOT; as this function was primarily used by my wife. I won't get into details, but suffice to say that the information I gathered from Roman (sales) prior to purchase regarding the SMG flash's compatibility in Auto mode, differed from the technical side. If I had learned this prior, my decision to lighten the wallet an additional $600 would have changed for sure as my wife liked the "A" mode feature. This is why Roman is the salesman. Their was other garbage in the tune that was revealed from Roman that was only learned after.
        I'm sorry to hear...

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        To be fair, I had some issues with the initial Evolve tune setup and parameters; however, the way I was treated by Evolve's customer service guys (both Imran and Salman helped out) was completely different than the way I was treated by ESS. They stayed awful late (approaching 10 pm UK time) troubleshooting on their Friday night for one lowly US customer. I was impressed. It took 3 days to even receive a "my poop don't stink" email from AJ regarding his copy and paste "supposed custom tune" job. The Evolve gang contacted me several times to ask how we liked the tune, and to review the drf files (as he had concerns with our HIGH altitude). It is small potatoes in the long run, but it shows that they care how the customer feels post wallet-lightening. ESS not once asked for feedback, or let alone apologize for their mistake (which kept my car down for an extra month....for a tune!!).
        This is the kind of customer service I expect our vendors to offer.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        I then created a thread on M3forum just discussing the dyno results.
        Now you know where to post... Click here to enlarge

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        This is my personal experience with these companies. Your experience may differ. I am only here to inform others. I have no sponsors. Mods are supported by my income alone.
        I really enjoyed your writeup and the dyno results overlaid. May just front page this, nice review and sorry for your troubles but glad you are happy now. Bet you are pretty happy with almost 300 whp NA too.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Promoted to the front page. The voice of the enthusiast will be heard, I'll make sure of it.

        Made some small edits.
      1. TZ04XJR's Avatar
        TZ04XJR -
        Great write up @MisterEm

        I'm not at all shocked to see how others stack up to Evolves customer service and products.. I've turned countless M5/M6 owners on to their tune and have only received grateful responses after they see the results for themselves.

        BTW I bet your M3 is a blast to drive.. Click here to enlarge
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Now you know where to post... Click here to enlarge
        I learned the hard way. Alex (flipm3) directed me here. He should get the credit.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Promoted to the front page. The voice of the enthusiast will be heard, I'll make sure of it.
        Sweet deal. I only hope others can learn from my experience.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I really enjoyed your writeup and the dyno results overlaid. May just front page this, nice review and sorry for your troubles but glad you are happy now.
        Thank you. Its just a decade old car, but I do enjoy it mightily. Family and kids ground you and make these issues peanuts in comparison.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Bet you are pretty happy with almost 300 whp NA too.
        I'd consider it a 300+ whp car for now. With 93 octane (no ethanol) the car made 306 and some change. Its fairly quick, efficient and paid off. I'll take that with a 95,000+ miles on the original longblock. I need to re-dyno shortly as we have since moved to Denver and no longer have access to the same dyno. Need a new baseline before the new head and 288/280 cams are bolted on. Would have been interesting to re-dyno at the same location after road adaptation on 91 octane. Oh well.


        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by TZ04XJR Click here to enlarge
        Great write up @MisterEm

        I'm not at all shocked to see how others stack up to Evolves customer service and products.. I've turned countless M5/M6 owners on to their tune and have only received grateful responses after they see the results for themselves.

        BTW I bet your M3 is a blast to drive.. Click here to enlarge
        Thank you. I've run four aftermarket software versions on this car (Turner, D/A, ESS. Evolve). Evolve blew them ALL out of the water in throttle mapping, drivability, cold start idle-hunt, and on the dyno. Their customer service is orders of magnitudes beyond ANY other BMW vendor I've dealt with. Sal continues to answer my nagging questions a year plus since our last "transaction."

        Keep up the good work Evolve.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        I'd consider it a 300+ whp car for now. With 93 octane (no ethanol) the car made 306 and some change. Its fairly quick, efficient and paid off. I'll take that with a 95,000+ miles on the original longblock. I need to re-dyno shortly as we have since moved to Denver and no longer have access to the same dyno. Need a new baseline before the new head and 288/280 cams are bolted on. Would have been interesting to re-dyno at the same location after road adaptation on 91 octane. Oh well.
        The elevation will kill you, might want to look into forced induction.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        The elevation will kill you,
        Just an FYI: Car has been at elevation since 2009. We were at 4,800 ft in NV for the above dyno runs, and now 5850 ft in CO. All the communities along the eastern Sierras are at or above 5,000ish feet.

        This is not to say that the difference from NV to CO hasn't been felt. One positive note is I can find pure 91 octane (not e10) right by work. At this elevation the effective octane is 93 ish.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        might want to look into forced induction.
        This new move has effectively killed our search for an e90M sedan to replace my wife's b6 A4 sedan. We will be buying a 335xi instead. Her little quattro 1.8t scoots around nicely here at elevation even with 140k on the clock. We are prepared for it to pop it any moment but it keeps on purring nicely. At Eisenhower Pass (11,000+ ft pass off of I70) on the drive over she was still gaining speed as my N/A pickup started slipping north of 8,000 ft behind her. I saw, felt and was impressed with the way that weeny little 1.8 grocery getter (loaded to the gills with suitcases and kiddie gear) just mashed the mountains.

        Its cute listening to the little k03 spin like a dentist pick. I can definitely hear it working harder here in CO when I drive it.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        Just an FYI: Car has been at elevation since 2009. We were at 4,800 ft in NV for the above dyno runs, and now 5850 ft in CO. All the communities along the eastern Sierras are at or above 5,000ish feet.
        Then it really won't be much of a difference.

        Make sure you tell others about BB btw...
      1. Kollegga's Avatar
        Kollegga -
        TY for the report.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Kollegga Click here to enlarge
        TY for the report.
        Yep, very nicely done.
      1. leo985i's Avatar
        leo985i -
        Nice write up. Thanks for letting the enthusiast community know about this. It really helps in deciding who you want to give your hard earned cash to.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Yep, very nicely done.
        Thank you.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by leo985i Click here to enlarge
        Nice write up. Thanks for letting the enthusiast community know about this. It really helps in deciding who you want to give your hard earned cash to.
        Thanks again. I wish I would have learned about Evolve beforehand. I doubt any of the boys at Evolve would force me to head to a dealership on my dime to smog and register their car based on a tuning issue.

        If someone else learns from my mistakes then I believe it is worth it. The purpose of these forums is to learn, post and analyze data, and advise the community. The vendor corruption in the forums is pretty sad.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        The purpose of these forums is to learn, post and analyze data, and advise the community. The vendor corruption in the forums is pretty sad.
        No kidding. The sad thing is, the way to make money doing this is to continue the vendor corruption. Very few vendors are truly willing to put their products in a place where they have to stand on their own merit. The rest only care about money which is understandable I suppose. But... it's the reason I respect our vendors who can stand on their own two feet.

        I could make a lot more money mimicking M3post or m3forum.

        So did anyone else let you keep this up?
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Mike, great post! I remember in the past you had expressed some trouble with your former tune, but never did I expect it to be this much of a headache! I am glad that you gave Evolve Automotive an opportunity to work on your car and your current monster project.

        Naturally Aspirated tuning for the S54B32 has really come a long over the years. It took me 10 years to finally feel comfortable having someone remap my car and I only felt comfortable after hundreds of emails and long international phone calls having them describe in great detail what they are doing to my car.

        No company is ever 100% perfect and us, as humans, have our faults. From my personal experience though, every single member of the Evolve Automotive team has treated me with great respect and friendliness. I kept me car stock for so many years simply because I could never find anyone that I trusted wholeheartedly. Evolve Automotive really changed my mentality. This was the exact reason why I was so excited to finally post my first review of the Evolve Automotive tune.

        They are great guys to work with and you can feel the compassion and enthusiasm they have for our car community. Many people claim that they are late to the game, but honestly it's never too late. The industry would not be the same without competition, it is what drives these tuners to continually improve their product and service. I know there is a lot of drama and politics on the message forums and industry, but looking past that, if we didn't have one another then there would be such a plateau in product development.

        Great to hear from you Mike! I hope things are going well in CO! I can't wait until you get your project finished and built!

        All the best!
        Alex

        P.S. We have to ask Norm to join here since he's technically the one who owns a 'boosted bimmer' among the three of us, haha Click here to enlarge
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Who's Norm?
      1. flipm3's Avatar
        flipm3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Who's Norm?
        A friend of MisterEm and I. He recently got an ESS VT2-500 for his E46 M3. MisterEm and I tempt him to buy cool things for his car, haha....or maybe he tempts us, not sure. Click here to enlarge
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        LOL!

        Im dsorry for such a headache, i dont mean to laugh, but your dealings and mine are so similar in almost every aspect its as if it was the same event. Its not of course, slight variations, mainly the platform (S65). I can validate your feelings on all of your experiences, with all 3 that you named here. Im just glad your happy now. I really had never heard of Evolve before a few months ago, but the passion in which those that spoke of them had, it all felt right. and as for the N/A tune on my car, it was superb. the product worked as I asked, better than i even thought it could. I wasnt much on "feeling" of the car before, but the M's are such a surgical precsion instrument, it would be a sin to take away from the throttle response and linearity (word?) in an attempt for just more power. Evolves tune actually overdelivered in my book. Everything about the tune was improved over stock.

        Customer Service speaking, Sal is a very cool guy, and i think a insanley funny one, could just be the accent with which he speaks more so than the content though Click here to enlarge
        we see eye-eye on a lot of subjects and i enjoy talking to him. I might be in contact with him more than ever with recent developments as well.



        all in all, im sorry you had bad experiences, but you learned from it. Now your here and you know you do have a voice to help likeminded people and share your passion
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
        linearity
        Yes it's a word.
      1. MisterEm's Avatar
        MisterEm -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
        LOL! Im dsorry for such a headache, i dont mean to laugh, but your dealings and mine are so similar in almost every aspect its as if it was the same event. Its not of course, slight variations, mainly the platform (S65). I can validate your feelings on all of your experiences, with all 3 that you named here. Im just glad your happy now. I really had never heard of Evolve before a few months ago, but the passion in which those that spoke of them had, it all felt right. and as for the N/A tune on my car, it was superb. the product worked as I asked, better than i even thought it could. I wasnt much on "feeling" of the car before, but the M's are such a surgical precsion instrument, it would be a sin to take away from the throttle response and linearity (word?) in an attempt for just more power. Evolves tune actually overdelivered in my book. Everything about the tune was improved over stock.
        No worries about the LoL LM! Sadly, it makes me miss the days of tuning my old pushrod with Moates QH or SCT. There was no doubt when you boogered up your tune!

        I am just shocked you had similar experiences, as you invested quite a bit more than I did with the company (unless you got your kit used?). I am sure if I spent $25,000+ with the company (e.g. like the ESS S/C fan boy club on m3post) AJ may have been more helpful. Regardless, you shouldn't treat your lower tier customers like this.

        Lame analogy but I think it rings true here and its something my Pops always preached. If you want to know the true character of a man, not only observe how he treats his peers and family, but how does he treat the janitor/valet/grocery checker when he thinks nobody is looking? I kept my mouth shut for over 2 years regarding the customer service aspect from ESS as I assumed at the time it was an isolated incident. I tried to discuss the performance benefit (or lack thereof) with the ESS software but I know how that works now!

        My biggest pet peeve was the attitude by AJ that I was just a clueless 46M owner and discounted even the possibility that their righteous tune would ever negatively impact the car. I kindly told him that I've worked on cars years before I could drive and that I do 95% of the work on all of our vehicles, including the old M (outside of alignments). My hands and knuckles are scarred and there is plenty of my blood and sweat on that car. I am not just a VISA swiper regurgitating nonsense written on my invoice from the local bimmershop.

        Then he implied that my car "had likely electrical issues" regarding the cruise control suddenly deciding to freak out, and that my O2's would turn on after some "mixed driving." This is after I clearly stated that the car had almost 1,000 miles on the tune, and I was absolutely certain the cruise control worked prior to their software. I used the cruise daily to work as the state patrol in that area loved to ring you up for a bush league 3-5 mph over.

        Whether it was ignorance, or lack of giving a rip, it was distasteful business practice in my eyes.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Who's Norm?
        Norm has one of the most well executed 46M's I have ever seen. Performance and aesthetics. Cliff notes: 2006 CB/Cinnamon. No sunroof 6MT. TCK D/As. Stoptechs all around. SS v1 headers with race cats. 18" square Arc-8's with PSS tires. OE CSL bootlid. I am sure I missed some of the other upgrades as well. It is certainly hard-driven and not hard parked! Norm is a very smart and nice guy to boot.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        A friend of MisterEm and I. He recently got an ESS VT2-500 for his E46 M3. MisterEm and I tempt him to buy cool things for his car, haha....or maybe he tempts us, not sure. Click here to enlarge
        Shockingly his custom high-altitude tune from ESS was giving him fits. Suffice to say after several weeks of his shop troubleshooting, checking boost leaks, and refitting the blower (on his dime) he let the boys across the pond give it a go for a tune. You should have seen his face when he described the Evolve tune for his ESS blower. $#@! eating grin personified. The idle and surge issues were no longer. Throttle mapping was excellent and it was putting down considerable more power than the manufacturers tune. Apparently, the ESS tune was not addressing the 6,000 ft altitude fueling issues adequately. If it were my brand new ESS kit, I'd be asking for a refund for the pile of dung tune he paid for. However, Norm seems like a much nicer guy than I!
      1. import36's Avatar
        import36 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by leo985i Click here to enlarge
        Nice write up. Thanks for letting the enthusiast community know about this. It really helps in deciding who you want to give your hard earned cash to.
        +1 thanks for the honest review MisterEm
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by MisterEm Click here to enlarge
        My biggest pet peeve was the attitude by AJ that I was just a clueless 46M owner and discounted even the possibility that their righteous tune would ever negatively impact the car. I kindly told him that I've worked on cars years before I could drive and that I do 95% of the work on all of our vehicles, including the old M (outside of alignments). My hands and knuckles are scarred and there is plenty of my blood and sweat on that car. I am not just a VISA swiper regurgitating nonsense written on my invoice from the local bimmershop.
        They've developed an unprecedented level undeserved arrogance.