Ok the Procal tune is now installed on my car, and I just drove it back home about 25 miles. Here are my first impressions. Sorry in advance for the long post.
The car feels great. It's basically like everyone says, the torque down low is super strong, and it will easily break the tires loose in a 2nd gear roll. The throttle response is sharper; the car just feels "awake". These changes are perfect. Worth every dollar.
The question on many people's minds (and mine as well, honestly) is... does it ping? The answer is... I'm not sure, but I think it might.
I can hear something around 3800 rpm and up under heavy load. Octane adjust was set to "N" by default for my drive home. The first time I got on it merging onto the freeway in 3rd gear, it got up near 4K and I heard what sounding like a brief "BBs rattling in a can" type sound. Not super loud, but also not hard to hear at all. It's also completely repeatable, I could hear it pretty much every time the car is at WOT or thereabouts, at or above 4K rpm. I did this a handful of times to make sure I wasn't imagining it, then decided that yes, that's something, all right.
I'm not a mechanic nor do I have personal experience with what ping sounds like on other cars. But I do know that sound didn't exist before.
So I cruised home, and used the Procal to set the octane adjust to "Y". From what testing I could do around where I live (it's a little crowded out there right now) the octane adjust did stop the noise. But, and this is the sad part, it also takes away a bit of that razor sharpness that the car has with octane adjust set to "N". It's clearly dialed back a bit.
So, I called Ford Racing to ask them what they thought. The guy I got on the tech line was a little dismissive about it, as if he had to explain this every day. He said that "spark knock" (same as ping, right?) would only be audible between 5500 rpm and 5800 rpm (if I remember him correctly) if I was experiencing it. And that if I was hearing a noise starting more like 4K rpm, that it was not ping but rather the "catalytic impingement" that I've heard mentioned on these pages before. He said that it was similar to when you turn your car off and can still hear the catalytic converters ticking. Then he said to get some "better gas", and also to try the "Y" octane adjust setting. Finally he said "I swear you will not be doing any damage to your engine whatsoever" on either setting.
So that conversation was a little confusing because on one hand he was telling me that it wasn't spark knock, nothing to worry about, but on the other hand was telling me to do things like get better gas or use the octane adjust, which are supposed to help remedy spark knock, as far as I understand it. I think others have been down this road before, and I understand why they have been frustrated by Ford's message on this.
I have mixed feelings right now about this. It's not for nothing, because even with the octane set to "Y" it's a better car. But I would love to be one of the people who is carefree about this tune.
What do you guys think about this catalytic impingement theory? Could that really be what I'm hearing?
I'll be driving the car a few hundred miles this weekend. Shall I find some fresh gas somewhere and see what happens with "N"?
Or maybe I should first try to do the crank sensor and/or idle relearn? (I think that the tech at the dealer already did some kind of crank relearn though FWIW)
I just want to request that if you reply here, try to keep this thread factual and not degenerate into a FRPP flame fest. I'm trying to stay cool about this. Thanks.