At its core, electronic fuel injection is nothing more than a central computer interacting with a bunch of sensors to keep an engine happy. Obviously, this is much easier said than done, and getting it right involves a synergy of hardware, software, and tuning expertise. For nearly two decades, Fuel Air Spark Technology has had the first two elements of that three-part equation thoroughly covered. The biggest wild card has always been the skill and experience of the tuner, but fortunately, FAST has some great advice for walking novices through the process of tuning an aftermarket EFI system. To get to the bottom of it all, we threw an onslaught of elementary tuning questions at FAST’s Kevin Winstead, and he was more than happy to share his expertise. Just some of the topics he shared with us include how to establish a baseline tune, the benefits of tuning on the dyno versus tuning at the track, how to set the fuel and spark maps at various engine loads, dialing in the air/fuel ratio for different types of fuel, and how to tune for boost and nitrous.
Furthermore, FAST’s existing XFI stand-alone system underwent an extensive update last year. The new XFI 2.0 system is a firmware upgrade that unlocks a new realm of performance potential. New features include a boost controller, internal data logging, a four-stage nitrous controller, a self-learning fuel map, an intelligent traction control system, transbrake control, and the ability to switch among multiple tunes by flipping a switch. The good news is that older XFI stand-alone systems can be upgraded to the version 2.0 software with an upgrade CD, as it is completely compatible with the existing XFI hardware. Naturally, we had Winstead explain all the benefits of XFI 2.0 in far greater detail to supplement his valuable tuning advice. Here are his words of wisdom.
There are newer stand-alone EFI systems on the market, but the FAST XFI system is still getting the job done. Based on the feedback we heard from racers at the track, we added a new firmware upgrade to the existing system last year to create XFI 2.0. FAST’s XFI 2.0 is now more versatile than ever. With the new Qwik-Tune technology integrated into the 2.0, you can toggle among four different tunes at the flick of a switch, eliminating the need for a laptop. For example, you can have one tune for daily driving, a race tune for running nitrous at the track, and another tune to maximize fuel economy. Likewise, the XFI 2.0 features a very robust NTK wideband O2 sensor as standard equipment, which is one of the most dependable sensors on the market. A new self-learning table allows for quick and easy fuel mapping automatically, and two new exciting options are intelligent traction control and internal data logging. For power-adder applications, XFI 2.0 has a standard boost controller, and it can also manage up to four stages of nitrous. Other perks include the option to choose between sequential or bank-to-bank injector firing, and compatibility with flex fuel sensors for use with E85.
For someone just getting started with EFI, the process of tuning an engine can be intimidating, but it’s definitely feasible. All it takes is some patience and some basic knowledge of what tuning changes your engine requires. It certainly helps to have a good baseline tune as well as intuitive software. Fortunately, XFI 2.0 includes many baseline tune files that allow users to get started quickly. Likewise, the self-learning fuel tables make it much easier to dial in the fuel maps. FAST also offers XFI tuning classes that provide a wealth of information for all aspiring tuners. Check out FAST’s website to get an up-to-date schedule.