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People often ask me what the best modifications are for the money. Nearly every bolt on will have benefits for adding horsepower, but the biggest bang for your buck is a performance software tune.

The hefty price tag often intimidates people. Aside from a turbo upgrade, a software tune can easily be the most expensive performance modification that you purchase. However, a quality tune is worth every penny.

The Elevate software performance upgrade is one of the leading aftermarket tunes for modern Volvos. Even if your car is bone stock, a basic tune will still give a noticeable improvement both in horsepower and in torque. If you think your stock Volvo is fast now, just wait...

Ordering an Elevate Tune:

When you order the Elevate performance software tune, you will receive the handheld tuner device in the mail. This allows you to tune your vehicle on your own time; unlike the olden days when you had to ship off your ECU to be reprogrammed.

About one week after placing an order, your performance tune file will be ready for download from the provider's website. Handheld tuners and tune files are VIN specific, so do not expect to use your tune file on any other vehicles. The last car that I sold, I gave the new owner the handheld device. While the Elevate handheld tuner can store tunes for up to three Volvos, it was worth more to the new owner than it was to me.

Installing an Elevate Tune:

Installing the tune on your vehicle is very straight forward, the device screen will prompt you each step of the way.

Step 1
Connect the tuner via the OBDII plug.

Step 2
Follow the on screen prompts, turning the key to ignition position II and then selecting your tune file.

Step 3
After two to five minutes, the tune will successfully be loaded. Do not be afraid if every warning light illuminates while the tune is being installed. Once the file is fully loaded, it will clear any diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs).

Step 4
A few warnings may remain illuminated after the tune has successfully installed. Follow the promptings to disconnect the tuner and shut the car off. After starting the vehicle for the first time, any remaining warnings should clear themselves. If they do not clear within the first few seconds, try reinstalling the tune.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does the basic tune on a stock car really make a difference?
Absolutely! For T5 P1 Volvos, stock boost peaks at only 10psi. With the basic tune, your new peak boost will be ~15psi. That comes with an additional ~40 horsepower and ~50 ftlbs of torque! You may also have the top speed limiter removed, so that you can reach higher speeds on the track.

What if I want to add an intake, intercooler, downpipe, or other high flow parts?
Many of their basic tunes can adapt to the bolt ons that you add. While none of these parts are necessary with a basic tune, adding horsepower is addicting. If you wish to upgrade cams, turbo, injectors, etc. Elevate can create a custom tune file just for you. The handheld tuners are limited to three VINs (three separate Volvos), but they can store up to five tune files for each VIN. You can even have a special file for when your teenager borrows the car, restricting the top speed and limiting the power.

Do I need to add anything to my car before installing a tune?
My suggestion is to complete a "stage 0" before doing any performance modifications. This means checking that all seals are strong, all fluids are fresh, all hoses have been replaced, and there are no leaks in the system. To perform a stage 0 on a car means that you are getting it back to brand new quality, if not better.

I also recommend installing a boost gauge so that you can see the improvements of the tune and also monitor for any potential problems. In my opinion, all turbo cars should have boost gauges installed; it was a standard feature on turbo Volvos until the late 90s.

Can I revert to stock?
Yes you can. With initial purchase of a tune, you will also be given a copy of your stock tune file. This allows you to revert the car back to stock anytime that you desire.

Will an aftermarket tune void my warranty?
The answer to this question varies. Polestar is the only Volvo approved software upgrade, but some dealers will not care if you have added an aftermarket tune. However, you can always revert the car to the stock tune, prior to taking the car in for service. So long as you complete two full drive cycles before going in, there will be no evidence of a tune file previously having been installed.

Will I be able to pass emissions?
This varies from state to state and country to country. If you have a tune file for a racing catalytic converter, or if you have deleted your cat, there is a chance that the tune will cause you to fail emissions. But as stated above, revert your car to the stock tune file, complete the necessary drive cycles until all systems display as "ready," and your car should pass so long as the necessary emissions components are still in place.

How bad will this hurt my fuel efficiency?
Some notice a 1-2mpg drop, some notice a 1-2mpg increase. If you drive at a calm pace, there is no reason you cannot maintain your previous miles per gallon. But good luck not laying into the throttle every chance you get! The power is sensational.

Will I have to run a specific type of gas?
The tune file will be written for your specified type of gasoline. Whether you are set up for running 93 octane or E85, it is ideal that you consistently run that gas. It will not be problematic to run a different octane, but the car may run noticeably slower.

Is the extra torque safe for an automatic transmission?
While both auto and manual transmission cars will notice performance improvements, automatics will have partially limited boost and torque in first and second gear. This is a preventative measure so that no harm is done to a transmission which lacks the independent control of a clutch.

Is the additional power safe for my engine?
Without a doubt, Elevate tuned vehicles are safe and reliable. I currently have a generic Elevate tune on an automatic S40 with 160,000 miles; it still pulls strong every day. I also have a custom Elevate tune on a manual C30 with 140,000 miles. With a few bolt-ons, that car has over 260whp and 340ftlbs of torque to the wheels. Boost holds strong at 18psi and it can be pushed from 0-60 in just over 5 seconds, all while managing to average 29mpg.

The Elevate software performance upgrades have been tested and proven. The only true danger is to your wallet, because adding horsepower is addicting habit/hobby.

Shop Elevate Performance Software

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Written by :
Michael Hallock

Michael lives in Dahlonega, GA where he works full time as manager of an accounts receivable department. Despite a bachelors in New Media Arts, his true passion is in modifying and maintaining the cars that he and his wife own; Volvo for life. Many in the Volvo community might recognize his screen name, MyNameIdeasWereTaken.

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