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Old 04-25-2013, 01:40 PM   #1
HYDE16
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HYDE16 Reviews - Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) Software

This review is to detail my experience with the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software and how this software change alone resolved concerns I experienced with my K04 and car. I am not looking to sway opinions here or start a competitive argument thread. Other K04 owners may not experience the same concerns I came across. For my project build I am not focused on peak HP or advertised HP numbers but rather what makes the best daily driver. I made a personal decision on the following combination which suits my needs and resolved my concerns. See my full -“HYDE16 Build Thread - Project Jekyll & Hyde”- for more background.

Over the past few months, Allset (Paul), U-20T (JR) and mdhollis (Matt) reached out to me to discuss some concerns I’ve noticed with my K04. After initial diagnostics and running multiple logs to determine what was happening, I came to a crossroads where I could either follow the hardware replacement trail that Allset (Paul) followed for similar issues or I could find a way to rule out the software first. After multiple emails with Paul, JR and Matt, John from Unitronic reached out to me and asked how he could help. I discussed the same concerns and sent him the previous logs I ran. John walked me through the data over the phone, line by line, pointing out some items and comparing the data to what he has seen with the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software. At this point, John discussed how he could help rule out software in general from my troubleshooting list and possibly fix my concerns. I took a few days to re-consider my options: spend a lot more time and use up my favors for warranty work at VW to replace fueling hardware components one at a time or test the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software. I found it was easier to rule out the software first so after a quick call back to John, he prepared my Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software and I made the switch at KMD Tuning of Saddle Brook, NJ over the weekend. I made sure to get plenty of seat time in the car and also read through Allset’s review [-Unitronic Stage 2+ (KO4) - How Unitronic Fixed My Ongoing Issues-] and mdhollis’s review [-Unitronic Stage 2+(K04) Impressions-] before providing my own experience and feedback. After driving the car over the past few weeks to rule out any term of “adaptation”, the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software completely resolved all of my concerns. Allow me to dig a bit deeper into my concerns below.

PARTIAL THROTTLE BOOST OSCILLATION OR FLUCTUATION
After some more seat time after my initial K04 install, my first concern was partial throttle boost oscillation or fluctuation. If I had to define this “oscillation” term which has been floating around the forums, I would define it as a surging or hesitation as the car accelerates. It occurs when the gas pedal is depressed to the halfway point or held at halfway. Whether accelerating fully from a stop or accelerating from a cruising speed on the highway, once the gas pedal was held halfway down, the smooth acceleration was interrupted by a hesitation or surging effect. I would watch my AWE boost gauge climb and as soon as the pedal was depressed halfway down, the needle would fluctuate up and down a few psi until I depressed the pedal past 60%. It was almost like the turbo didn’t know if it should continue boosting or not boosting. Just a side note, I’m not a heavy footed driver so I’m not stomping on the gas pedal all of the time and operating outside of this half-pedal range. I generally accelerate smoothly around town and on the highway so I may be more prone to experiencing this fluctuation. After the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, the car pulls quickly without any boost oscillation or fluctuations (in terms of feel or boost gauge readings). I must have spent close to an hour each day over the following week driving around town and on the highway testing the gas pedal at the halfway point through every gear. I could not find any oscillation or fluctuations, it was now just smooth acceleration.

NEUTRAL MISFIRES
After swapping my OEM spark plugs and coil packs with NGK PFR7B (part # 4853) spark plugs gapped at 0.028” and R8 coil packs (5.31 M ohms / part # 06E905115E), I compared the idle and gave it a few quick revs to warm the engine up. As soon as I revved the engine I noticed the misfire popping noise from the exhaust but figured it could be that they had a break-in period. After a day or two of extended driving the misfires still occurred in neutral as soon as I reached the 3,000rpm-6,000rpm range. With VagCom, I watched the misfire counters for each cylinder and noticed 1-16 misfires per second for every cylinder. Cylinder 3 seemed to have the highest average misfire count out of all cylinders. I methodically tried to diagnose the issue myself. Since having the K04 installed I never revved the engine in neutral or realized this issue so I re-installed the OEM plugs which were previously gapped to 0.032” and the OEM coil packs to start over again. After holding the gas pedal down in neutral, staying between 3,000rpm-6,000rpm range, the misfires happened again which means that they would have been there from the start, I just never tested it or noticed it. I mixed and matched the plugs and coil packs to test every combo then went back to the new plugs and coil packs, triple checking that the gap was correct at 0.028”. While I did not have any misfires under load, the neutral misfires were still a concern as I never had them before. Here were the spark plug and coil pack combos I tested:

NGK PFR7B (4853) spark plugs gapped at 0.028” and R8 coil packs (5.31 M ohms / part # 06E905115E) = misfires in neutral
OEM plugs (gapped to 0.032”) and the OEM coil packs = misfires in neutral
NGK PFR7B (4853) spark plugs gapped at 0.028” and OEM coil packs = misfires in neutral
OEM plugs (gapped to 0.032”) and R8 coil packs (5.31 M ohms / part # 06E905115E) = misfires in neutral

TIMING
As I got more accustomed to using VagCom and analyzing my logs, I noticed that some timing was being pulled (Correction Factor/ deg KW). Around the 4,000rpm-5,000rpm range at WOT I was seeing timing pulled between -0.8 degrees through -3.8 degrees for all four cylinders. Each cylinder experienced this at the same time in the 4,000rpm-5,000rpm range at WOT. With the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, in the 2,000rpm-redline range I was not seeing any timing pulled except for two random cylinder 4 adjustments of -1.5 at 5,360rpm then -0.8 at 5,800rpm. These were the only instances where the car pulled timing throughout 8 WOT runs. With the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, overall advance was 15.8 degrees with zero timing pull/correction factor except for the two random cylinder 4 adjustments of -1.5 at 5,360rpm then -0.8 at 5,800rpm across 8 WOT runs. These timing comparisons were all on the same Sunoco 93 pump gasoline with all pulls done in dry weather, 40-50 degrees outside on the same stretch of highway.

BOOST
While reviewing the actual vs. requested boost, right at boost onset (around 3,000rpm) and through redline, the actual boost pressure was strong but exceeded the specified (requested) boost pressure which seemed like an overboost situation at WOT. The logs showed that actual boost was much higher than requested boost with a variance of 100-140mbar from boost onset through redline. At WOT, the car seemed to overshoot boost then scale back with minor oscillations (as evident in logs showing higher actual vs. requested boost and the N75 activity) then hold at a steady level. With the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, at WOT, actual boost seemed much closer to requested boost either coming in slightly lower than requested or right around a 0mbar variance. With the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, the boost rises smoothly, peaks to 21-22psi then holds steady.

FUEL DELAY
After digging into the VagCom logs a little deeper I was advised that my fuel injector seemed like it was taking too long to deliver fuel (as the injector ms spiked, the throttle position directly correlated). I was told that this could be a sign of a failing fuel injector. Since this scared the hell out of me, I went off to VW for a warranty repair having had all four fuel injectors replaced, intake manifold cleaned out and a full carbon cleaning performed at 35,679 miles. After the warranty work, the misfires in neutral were gone right after I had the fuel injectors replaced and carbon cleaning performed but the boost oscillation, boost overshoot, timing pull and fuel delay were still apparent. I ran further high resolution (turbo mode) logs to see if the fuel delay was gone but the difference between actual and requested fuel rail pressure was higher than usual. I was advised that it could either be the high pressure or low pressure fuel pump which I would have to convince VW to warranty one, re-test, then possibly have them replace the other, then test but I was worried this still would not be a guaranteed fix. I stepped back for a moment and thought about the hell that Allset (Paul) has been through troubleshooting his car for a P0088 (fuel rail pressure too high) issue and how he was advised to replace his fuel hardware components. While I didn’t have the same error code as Paul, I did have a concern over the difference between actual and requested fuel rail pressure in my logs. Paul had replaced the ECU once, the HPFP once, the in-tank fuel pump once, the G247 fuel pressure sensor twice, fuel filter twice (6 bar & 6.4bar), all 4 coil packs 3 times, all 4 spark plugs 3 times, all 4 fuel injectors once, and the intake manifold once. He also had the car checked and logged by 3 different shops and his VW dealership and even flashed to a newer software file. After talking to Paul, he said that even with these hardware replacements and newer software, the oscillation, timing changes, boost concerns and misfires in neutral (even after his carbon cleaning) were still there. With the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, at WOT, the actual and requested fuel rail pressure results were right on. There were no longer any discrepancies between the two which had me feeling much better about my car and the fuel hardware components.

OVERALL
After the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, all of my concerns are gone. I am so relieved that I did not need to spend a lot more time and use up my favors for warranty work at VW to replace fueling hardware. While this could have possibly fixed my concerns, it was easier at the end of the day to rule out the software aspect first. The boost oscillation, the overboost, the timing pull across all 4 cylinders and the fuel delay were all non-existent and 100% rectified with the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software being the only variable that had changed. I can’t say that the change in software led to the end of the misfires in neutral since I’m unclear if this was an injector/carbon build-up issue, but based on Paul’s experiences the misfires in neutral came back over time even after he had the fuel injectors replaced and carbon cleaning performed. I will never completely understand how each company tunes their K04 software but I know that my issues were resolved with running the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software. In terms of performance, the car had smooth low-end delivery for town driving both before and after but the mid-range power feels stronger and smoother with the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software (no boost oscillation). At the top end the car felt more raw before (as evident in logs showing over boost and N75 activity) but the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software feels smoother up top. Another benefit of the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software was the possibility of tuning my car for a future water methanol kit (Aquamist HFS-2 or Aquamist HFS-4 DPI). While this review is for the Unitronic K04 (“Stage 2+”) software, Unitronic offers a more aggressive file for properly tuned and installed water methanol kits.

Let me level with everyone here, I am not looking to sway opinions here or start a competitive argument thread, I have had amazing customer support from all companies involved here and I feel they equally worked to resolve my issues. I’ve received countless hours of customer service through emails, conversations over the phone, techs reviewing my logs, troubleshooting and offering an updated software file for boost oscillation. John at Unitronic was also a huge help over email and the phone, reviewing my logs, helping me understand my logs and elevating me from a VagCom beginner to a novice. All companies had a willingness and desire to help their customer resolve concerns. In my book, one company provided me fantastic hardware (intake, intercooler, K04) and great software for the stock turbo. Unitronic provided great software for my K04. Yes, the companies can work together on one vehicle!
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Last edited by HYDE16; 05-03-2013 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:50 PM   #2
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Glad you made the switch to Unitronic tune from APR than dealing more problems!

I had the P0088 Code, and been following up on Alllset's thread about APR Stage 2 problems. Got me really worried about it. Contacted Arin about the P0088 code, and he kept telling me, It's fine. We pushed more fuel. Reading up more on allset's thread so I immediately made the switch to Unitronic a year later.

Very very happy with my Unitronic Tune, and I have never looked back at APR again.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:54 PM   #3
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Wow...Great Review!!!

Selling me one review at a time!
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:55 PM   #4
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I really think Unitronic is onto something.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:03 PM   #5
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Nice review!! UNI FTW
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:17 PM   #6
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hmmmp.. Interesting! Im thinking now...
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:18 PM   #7
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Great stuff Ry, well done.

I want to be clear...although Ryan and I are friends and coordinate GSE together with a few other guys, I in no way influenced the writing of this review. This is the first time i have read it. I purposely did not preview it so all involved could remain as objective as possible.

I answered his questions pertaining to my issues honestly and accurately same as i have with all the guys who have contacted me about it.

-Paul
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:20 PM   #8
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So many switches to Unitronic lately !
Good job Uni !
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:23 PM   #9
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Great review, now let's just hope this thread stays informative and doesn't turn into a war zone.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Great stuff Ry, well done.

I want to be clear...although Ryan and I are friends and coordinate GSE together with a few other guys, I in no way influenced the writing of this review. This is the first time i have read it. I purposely did not preview it so all involved could remain as objective as possible.

I answered his questions pertaining to my issues honestly and accurately same as i have with all the guys who have contacted me about it.

-Paul
Again, I salute you.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:24 PM   #11
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Great review, now let's just hope this thread stays informative and doesn't turn into a war zone.
Bender actually just brought that up.

As long as it stays civil, there should be no issue.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Again, I salute you.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:29 PM   #13
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Hyde16, you own, in my opinion, the absolute sickest DD GTI on this site. When you decide its time to move on, it will be a crying shame if you have to part that thing out. Just another page in a book of badassery.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:34 PM   #14
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Hyde16, you own, in my opinion, the absolute sickest DD GTI on this site. When you decide its time to move on, it will be a crying shame if you have to part that thing out. Just another page in a book of badassery.
I have to be honest, I can't tell you how much that means to me. You get what I was shooting for and that's not an easy thing to try to explain to people on the threads. Daily driver + baby daycare shuttle + performance? Testing multiple hardware options for the best results? I've gone above and beyond to strike a fine balance. Thank you for your comment buddy!
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