Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
June 17, 2010

Since the '70s, emissions regulations have become increasingly demanding. Making our engines run clean is always a hot topic for manufacturers, and only recently have they found ways to meet the government's regs, while producing big horsepower numbers.

All '96-and-newer vehicle sold in the U.S. have been outfitted with OBD-II computer systems, which monitor (amongst other things) emissions using numerous sensors and on-board diagnostics. Since the stock tune is meant to minimize emissions and provide a safety barrier against extreme driving conditions, reprogramming the PCM with an aftermarket programmer, or tuner, can often improve power output and sometimes even fuel economy.

Though many aftermarket tuners and programmers are available to upgrade performance and fuel economy, few are 50-state emissions legal. Many late-model Mustang owners would like to take advantage of an aftermarket programmer without having to worry about failing emissions inspections. Enter the Max Energy by Hypertech.

Since 1985, Hypertech has been striving to bring you the best in power programmers, and Max Energy is the latest addition to its lineup. "The product is designed to require no knowledge of computers or programming," said Hypertech founder and president, Mark Heffington. "Hypertech has developed specific tuning optimization techniques that maximize engine power and efficiency to deliver the highest power gains for towing, smooth transmission operation, and the best driveabilty. We simply provide our customers with the ability to match vehicle performance to their specific wants and needs," Heffington added.

"Power Tuning replaces the stock calibrations in the onboard computers used in late-model cars and trucks," said our source at Hypertech. "These complex programs control important engine functions such as spark timing and fuel delivery. The only way to modify fuel delivery and spark timing to increase power is to optimize the tuning information supplied to the computer.

"It is a slow, demanding, and expensive process, but it's the only way to optimize engine tuning. Our team of engineers uses two computerized chassis dynamometers to develop the most powerful tuning programs possible. First they experimentally adjust the spark timing to obtain the highest torque and power readings at a given engine rpm; then they adjust the air/fuel ratio to obtain the highest possible power and torque readings that an optimized air/fuel mixture can produce. After the spark timing and air/fuel ratio for that particular engine speed have been optimized, the rpm is increased to the next point and the entire procedure is repeated again. The process continues, point by point, up to the engine's maximum speed. This technique is called experimental point-by-point curve fitting. There is no more effective way to power tune an engine."

Manufacturers calibrate for average driving conditions, often with a big safety margin in the tune. "Our calibrations are engineered for drivers who care about performance and use premium-grade fuel. Gains of 10 to 20 hp with 3 to 7 tenths of a second improvement in acceleration times from 0 to 70 mph are typical. However, some applications can enjoy tuning specifically for regular fuel."

To see just how much power can be gained from the Max Energy, we picked up one. For a test vehicle, we contacted Brooksye Hall, who is the sales manager at Brandon Ford in Tampa, Florida. He offered up his personal vehicle-an '04 SVT Cobra. With the exception of the Bassani after-cat, the black coupe is bone-stock.

We picked up Hall's Cobra and headed to Ramsey's Performance in Lutz, Florida. Quick and simple, the programmer only takes a few minutes to install. Follow along as Dennis Ramsey uses the new Max Energy on Hall's Cobra.

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