Datalogging is the process of collecting data and storing information for different environments and systems.
Although it’s a process used in multiple industries, automakers, mechanics, and DIYers use this technique to understand more about vehicle performance.
When you have access to datalogging software for your vehicle, the platform collects information in specific and measurable ways about particular topics or trends.
In the past, the only way to obtain this information was to write down direct observations. With a software product like BMWLogger, you can visualize and record these items automatically to improve your vehicle’s performance.
Datalogging Software BMWLogger
BMWLogger is datalogging software that allows drivers to log information from their BMW vehicles in real-time situations. The current version doesn’t support the F-Series chassis, but it is compatible and fully supports MSS60, MSS65, MSS70, MSV70, MSV80, MSV80.1, MSD850, MSD81, and MSD85.
BMWLogger is a product released by Bimmer Software. It provides datalogging support for BMWs from 1996 to today through two different versions. The company’s goal is to “make awesome software available” for the BMW marketplace.
The only thing you need to make it work is a K+DCAN USB cable that connects your vehicle to your Mac or PC system. It records plenty of useful information that you can see in graph format to understand what is happening while idling or driving.
You can view the information in real-time for free. Recording capabilities require a one-time paid license.
Here are some of the benefits that are possible when using BMWLogger to monitor the information coming from the vehicle.
It provides some essential features that are worth considering when you need performance information.
- It provides direct USB support to avoid dealing with port settings or numbers for a genuine plug-and-play experience.
- You can switch between imperial and metric readings.
- The real-time datalogging offers temperature, speed, RPM, ignition timing, status information, VANSO data, and input/output info.
- It provides options to check and clear error codes, including shadows.
- You can register a new battery with IBS.
Once you have this information available, you can put your BMW through a tune-up after modifications, when it reaches a certain age, or displays specific symptoms. In return, you don’t have to register to be a dealer (and the associated costs with that privilege) to discover ways to improve your driving experience.
Important Monitors for Datalogging
Some parameters can do wonders for helping you understand what happens with your vehicle. The information gives you context for your driving style, the surrounding environment, and other variables.
Your datalogging efforts should give you the core baseline data needed to make empowered choices on how you tune your vehicle.
Here are some of the most important data points you’ll want to review when investing time in your datalogging efforts.
|Data Monitored||What to Track with This Data Point|
|Accelerator Position||This datalogging entry looks at how much pedal pressure the driver uses to create a response. It doesn’t always equate to the blade positioning, delivering information about what the throttle offers.|
|Actual Load||You can track engine load after every compensation with this information.|
|Barometrics||Air pressure can cause numerous changes to a vehicle’s performance. It impacts density, which contributes to fuel expenditures. At higher elevations, a turbo must work harder to achieve the same boost pressure.|
|RPM||This data lets you see the engine speed with conditions speeding up, slowing down, or holding a steady pace. You can look at how ignition timing and fuel consumption occur in those scenarios.|
|Throttle Position||Airflow changes happen based on how open the throttle is during vehicle operations. When measured with RPM, you can have a reasonable idea of the load.|
|Cylinder Timing||This data point reviews the timing in degrees pulled or added to each cylinder. Negative corrections across multiple cylinders can indicate potential issues.|
What Are the Pros and Cons of Datalogging?
Collecting information about your BMW, in real-time scenarios or through recording options like BMWLogger offers, provides several pros and cons worth reviewing.
The primary benefit is the ability to store information. You never know when a specific data point might be useful, so keeping past tests and observations for reference is a practical way to enhance how you use your vehicle.
Datalogging software also provides more access to knowledge. If it’s being collected for corrections or verification, it isn’t working as effectively as it could be for you. With BMWLogger, you can track the max timing in multiple conditions, detect misfires, and log other critical information items.
When BMWLogger or a similar product is available, you can monitor and log information, identify issues, fix problems, and repeat that process infinitely.
The disadvantage of some datalogging is that they aren’t always wireless products. A standalone design, like BMWLogger, is small and transportable, but requires a USB port to function. Internal sensors track information at the deployment location, but other data points might get missed.
Another concern for BMW owners is the fact that software products don’t always track the information that a specific situation requires. That becomes a disadvantage when you don’t receive the data needed to make a necessary change or repair.
As for BMWLogger itself, the product has been available since 2012. Although it provides a free DME reading or writing capability with any FTDI cable, it does not appear that a meaningful update to its capabilities has happened for some time.
If you have a 2016 BMW or newer, it may not offer access to all the data points you need. There’s also the fact that payment and downloads for the product occur on a non-secure website.
How to Tune Up a BMW Without Using Datalogging Software
One of the best investments you can make for a BMW is to give it a good tuning. Whether you’ve got an N54 engine, the follow-up N55, or something more modern, you can get the job done without having any tuning knowledge at all with the right tools.
The first thing you’ll need is a tuner. The ACCEL 4950 SuperTuner is a handheld computer programmer that helps you map new routes to ensure you can get the most HP and torque out of your engine. It comes with the OBD-II cable you’ll need for the following steps.
The OBD-II port location is variable, but you can usually find it under the driver’s side dashboard. The engine should not be running, and the ignition should be in the off position before you get started.
Once you’ve got the equipment and located the port, you’re ready to get going on the tuning work you want to do.
- Plug the OBD-II cable into the port underneath the dashboard of your vehicle. You’ll want to ensure the connection is firm and won’t accidentally pull out.
- Take the small end of the cable and connect it to the port on the bottom of your tuner. The clasp should firmly engage with the product to ensure slippage doesn’t occur.
- Place the tuner into an appropriate receptacle or a safe spot. Even handheld units can’t be held the entire time unless you have another set of hands available to help.
- The BMW needs to be switched to the “on” position. That happens by pressing the “Start” button without your foot on the brake. Older models may require a key to be turned to this position.
- Turn off all the in-car electronics. That includes the stereo, headlights, heating system, and air conditioner. All the doors should be shut.
- Choose the Install option (or equivalent) from your tuner’s menu. Press the appropriate command to proceed with the installation.
Most tuners attempt to determine the target vehicle to provide a plug-and-play experience. You’ll need to verify that your car was correctly identified and confirm that information to process.
Once you reach this point, you’ll be ready to select the map you prefer.
What Is a Map When Tuning a BMW?
Today’s best BMW tuners reprogram the factory tuning parameters within the ECU using a map file. This information provides specific instructions that each component must follow to ensure you receive the outcome you want.
The map file contains information for any number of enhancements or modifications made to the vehicle. You could design to install an economy map when fuel prices are high to maximize your miles per gallon rating or use a race map to give the engine an HP surge.
Through the use of your preferred tuner and the different map files used, either custom or preset, the updates can be pushed through to create almost any configuration.
Choosing a Map for Your Vehicle
Once your tuner identifies your vehicle, it will provide you with a series of maps that you can implement.
Depending on the tuner chosen, it might gray out any that don’t apply to your model. Some won’t display unavailable maps.
Once you pick a preferred option, the tuner reprograms the ECU with the calibration data from your choice. This information becomes the baseline for the control unit after the update is complete.
If you want the best performance possible for your BMW, try to choose the map that closely reflects your vehicle’s modifications and enhancements.
You can reference the notes for each map to determine if they’re appropriate for the engine before installing them. Once you follow the rest of the onscreen prompts to complete the update, you’ll have the new calibration and programming parameters installed.
In return, the acceleration or power profile of your vehicle will be changed to reflect your current desires.
What Happens After I Tune My BMW?
Tuners for BMWs are powerful tools. They let drivers flash the engine control unit with different tunes, provide diagnostic capabilities, and display hundreds of parameters. Recording options include vehicle spend sensors and ambient air temperature for additional datalogging benefits.
When you’re exploring the option of retuning your BMW, it makes sense to try a tool like BMWLogger. You can see what happens in real-time while operating the vehicle without worrying about the cost.
If you’re ready to see how well your BMW can perform, most tuning products provide recording capabilities. When something doesn’t turn out as expected, you can revert the changes to the default setting to restore functionality.
You’ll just need to beware of dealership services when taking an older BMW in for something. The ECU could be updated (for free) without you knowing what is happening, which means you’d lose your maps and be firewalled from them.
I’ve always found that experimenting with maps and upgrades is a lot of fun. Although you have to be careful with some of the changes you can make, an effort to maximize your power or performance is always worth considering.
If you use datalogging software from BMWLogger or another tool, you’ll have the information you need to create the results you want.