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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am preparing to buy a used 2006 Mustang GT. I have reason to believe it has a custom tune (K&N CAI, Flowmasters and pretty fast). The current owner bought it from a used car dealer, so the original tuner/programmer is not available. I'm worried because the current owner fills up with 87 at the pump.

I do have an SCTII programmer, but iirc I would need the programmer that actually created the tune to read it, correct?

If I'm out of luck there, then how much damage could be done by running 87 in a car with 91 timing? What are some telltale signs to look for with regard to wear and damage from this?
 

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I would say hook your tuner up to the car and grab the "original" backup off of the car and then talk to a tuning company to see if they can decipher the tune for you. If it was flashed and the tuner isn't available, then whatever the last tune on the car was is going to be your original backup. I'm sure the guys at BAMA would be willing to help you.


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If the vehicle has a tune on it for 91 octane and you run 87 octane you're going to probably at some point get some pinging, probably on some of the hotter days in the summer when your intake air temps are much warmer.

Your best bet would be to have your guy purchase an SF3 from American Muscle and get some tunes written for the modifications to the vehicle and for the correct octane. Once you receive that device you call up SCT Tech Support and they can walk you through getting a factory tune back on the vehicle as your "stock tune" so that if you ever take the mods off you can still drive the vehicle.
 

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Get you a stock air box from eBay or craigslist, then have a dealer re flash to stock. Then get a tune for your CAI. It's better to be safe in knowing you have a genuine stock tune and air box should you ever need it.


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That cai he has is the same as stock basically(maf size). Considering the original owner would have a locked tuner if he left the tune on and would have a hard time selling the sct tuner locked to that car. Seems the logical thing would be to just take the tune off the car so he could sell his sct tuner. I bet your tune is stock. Honestly the first mod is a handheld tuner anyway. Just get one from Brenspeed or Bama and put a 91/93 oct tune on it. Worst case you have to have a tune built from scratch on a dyno....and you would need a handheld tuner for that too. I wouldn't worry about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That cai he has is the same as stock basically(maf size). Considering the original owner would have a locked tuner if he left the tune on and would have a hard time selling the sct tuner locked to that car. Seems the logical thing would be to just take the tune off the car so he could sell his sct tuner. I bet your tune is stock. Honestly the first mod is a handheld tuner anyway. Just get one from Brenspeed or Bama and put a 91/93 oct tune on it. Worst case you have to have a tune built from scratch on a dyno....and you would need a handheld tuner for that too. I wouldn't worry about it.
Thanks SSS and everyone else who replied. Like I said in my OP, I do own a handheld tuner already (SCTII). In the past I used it to tune a different Mustang, but not sure if it's "locked" to that old car. It read ODBII codes on my 2001 Sable just fine, so maybe it would be capable of at least checking for the presence of a custom tune? IIRC the tuner can give them a "friendly" name that shows up on the display. Even if it was locked to my old car, would I at least be able to see the name or other indicator of a custom tune on this car? Also I vaguely recall it is sometimes possible to unlock the programmer, but I have no clue on how to do it, legality, ease, etc.

I'm going to have it checked out by a mechanic before I buy but I am not sure who to take it to. Ventura county has a big Mustang scene but I'm not in it. There should be a good wrench around here somewhere if anyone has any recommendations then please help. Maybe I should just take it to a Ford dealership in town?

Time to look for pinging videos on Youtube. I HATE loving these cars and being mechanically uninformed. Maybe one day when I don't work 11-hour shifts on weekends, I'll have some time to get my hands dirty...
 

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A Ford dealer can "read" the current tune and tell you if it is the stock factory tune or not. They can't tell much else, (like what changes were made in the tune) but they can tell if it is factory or modified.

You will need a factory tune for the car regardless. The first thing any tuner does is download the factory tune; if there is no factory tune in the car then I don't know what happens but it might stop you right there. I believe the factory tune is needed because the custom tunes modify only some of the parameters, so they need the factory tune for the rest. (not sure about that, but that's the way it was explained to me by Bama, if I understood them correctly)

Worst case, if it has a custom tune now: install the original airbox or verify that the K&N does not require a tune; get a Ford dealer to flash the car back to stock (~ $100) then get a new tuner and go forward from there. Not sure if the tuner you have will work; like you say it needs to be unlocked from the prior car plus "compatible" with the Mustang ECU.

and run 91 octane in the meantime, the peace of mind is worth the few extra bucks
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here's what I got from my local Ford service dept: (me asking about a pre-sales inspection: "uhhhhh...what did you want us to look at? I mean, we would...we would mostly just look it over, uh, visually". (me asking about checking for presence of custom tune): "ummmmm...that would...that would be, mostly, external...maybe a chip or something..."

OK! NEXT!

Edit: Same thing from the next dealer. This time I pressed the issue and asked how he would detect a custom tune by visually inspecting it. Once he figured out I kind of knew what I was talking about, he told me it would be extra to hook it up to his scanner. He said either the scanner would read it, or not, and that's how he would know if a custom tune was installed. They all sound clueless to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So I spoke with Eric at ST Motorsports. Eric isn't Adam, but he works for Adam who is, IMO, the best custom tuner in Southern California. He said the parameters are still all there with the custom tune, and I just need to buy another programmer because of the lock.

I dunno, after a truly hellish experience with a used car recently, maybe I just need to go to a Ford lot and get a "pre-certified" Mustang. This sucks...the car I'm doing all this work for is perfect: Legend Lime, nice trunk lid spoiler that puts the factory spoiler to shame, factory Bullits and very clean engine with a K&N Cai that looks pro installed. Goes like a bat out of hell. But it will have to be a daily driver, so I can't screw around...
 

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I went through a similar scenario with my car. I did not know whether it had a custom tune, but had reason to believe it did; the dealer I bought it from (used) was clueless and/or intentionally lying to me about it. (long story . . .)

I took it to a different dealer and specifically asked them if they could read the tune in the ECU and see whether it was stock or not. For a fee ($80 if I remember correctly) they hooked it up to their computer and read it; saw that is had some non-stock identification string or code or something, and said that it was not the factory tune. They said they could not tell what had been changed but thought "maybe they richened it up or something." I don't know if they really knew what they were talking about; but that was good enough for me since I already suspected a custom tune.

Next I had to pay them to flash the car back to stock. They had to get prepared for this by contacting Ford with the VIN and ECU code to get the right factory tune. For about $100 they flashed the car back to stock. So then I knew what I had, and could go from there.

So that is what I suggest you do . . . you can visually identify whether the car has any mods that require a tune (such as an intake) and reverse those temporarily so you can go back to the factory tune; then start from there with your own tuner.
 
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