ESS Tuning ECU Flash



Removal and Shipping of ECU

As with Seth’s previous post, the removal of the ECU is extremely easy and can be done in less that 30 seconds. One thing that I would recommend doing that I did not see noted before is to remove the cylindrical type screws that suction into the holes on the engine to secure the ecu. They simply screw in and out and makes for much easier shipping/packaging.


When I originally approached ESS about the tune, I was told that they had made software for the C450 and would need my unit for 24 Hours, so….to avoid downtime, I overnighted the ecu to ESS in Arizona and enclosed a prepaid overnight shipping label for its return.  ECU went out Wednesday and was guaranteed delivery by 9am Thursday (arrived at 8:04am March 24th).  All in all shipping costs were a bit pricey at $128 each way.


Now is where the fun started.  As a side note, I was dealing with the admin staff in the office whom were always like a gatekeeper to the programmer. I was never able to actually speak with the programmer other than through email.


3/24 3:19pm: Sent email to check on status, response back “Unfortunately the ECU will not make it out today. The ECU will probably not be ready to ship until Monday. What would you like for us to do with the shipping label?


3/24 6:42pm: Email Received from Programmer “We got the ECU, I am working on it as we speak. It will take a few hours to complete. 


3/25 2:30pm: Sent Email to admin staff asking about status of shipment.


Response “Myself and the admin staff are out of the office today. Shipping today will have to be arranged with Aj direct. I can attempt to reach out to AJ. FedEx will not pickup from our office as they are aware our office is closed. AJ can program remotely and may not go into the office. Unfortunately, with the AMG products I am unsure what protocol he has to take as this is not something we program on a regular basis at the present time. We can however drop off packages at the local FedEx facility but 7pm.”


Sent two more emails and had no response from anyone until


3/27 12:29am:  “The ECU is very labor intensive so I did not complete it before we wrapped it up for the weekend. I will go in a little tomorrow to get a head start on finishing it up.



3/28 – Email sent to check on status – Admin staff responded with no updates


3/29 7:35am – “I wanted to reach out to see if the ECU is going to be shipped out today? When AJ and I originally spoke last week he said he would need the unit for 24 hours so I proactively scheduled dyno and track time for tomorrow afternoon. If the unit is shipped out today and the label I provided is used, it will be here before 10am if you can get it to fedex before the cutoff this evening which I think is around 7pm.


If it will not be ready please let me know so I can alert my Dyno tech and cancel my track time.”


3/29 2:07pm Admin Response: Bret, I have no update from either AJ or Shelby. All I can tell you is what I would do and at this point I would cancel your dyno appointment and reschedule. As soon as I get an update I will let you know. Also, I see that you originally e-mailed AJ and Shelby so you should get a response from AJ this evening. 


3/29 6:24pm Programmer Response: “This ECU is a new design and I have been working with some friends in Europe that work for Bosch on getting the configuration layout to access the eprom memory. I am almost done with that now and have successfully extracted the codes. I am in the process of trying to read out the memory as we speak. Please do not call and message our office staff multiple times a day as that ruins their productivity. This is a test deal, I am working on it as soon as I possibly can. Hopefully it will ship tomorrow morning, I will let you know when it does. 


3/31 12:17am Programmer email “Quick update :

-The 450AMG ECU from your car differs slightly in layout from known 400/450 ECU's. The boot pin location is not the same to access the write function of the processor memory. I currently have 3 options :

1. I can remove the circuit board from the actual ECU casing and access the 1797 processor directly as it is on underside of board. There is a slight chance the circuit board will be damaged during removal as it has to be heated to release the glue used to hold it in place. 1/20 chance is my professional guess, worst case car will not start.

2. I can overnight the ECU to my guy at Bosch in Germany and they can pin out the boot pin access from frontside of ECU, this is a no risk procedure. Takes 3-4 days total turn around.

3. I can return ECU stock to you and update it once we have all data for access on this new version of the board once once is mapped out in Europe.

Either way if fine by me, and we will replace the ECU at our cost if it does end up dead in option 1

I went with Option 2


4/3: Sent email to check on how things were going in Germany and response was he hoped it would return 4/4. He was able to remotely flash the ecu while it was open at bosch in Germany. So, as soon as they got it back in their office, they could overnight it to me. We were getting close! NOT REALLY!


4/5: Sent status update email, response was “yes, all done and on its way back”  I then sent email to ask for clarification if it was on the way to me or from Germany, turned out it was only on its way back form Germany.


4/7: Still no update on where it is


4/8: Asked for DHL tracking number, they could not provide until 4/10


4/12: Arrived back at ESS

4/13: Arrived back to me


So, in conclusion, the process of sending and receiving was a nightmare! However, I reached out to them after I had received it to get some more info on the flash for this review and they confirmed that they now have the tools to complete the flash in house and the turnaround time would be 24 hours.  



First Drive


I will be honest and say that my first drive is probably not a good indicator of the tune itself solely because of the fact I had not driven my car in almost 3 weeks and had been driving a ford fusion for the interim. So, first drive was amazing! I missed the beast!


But to get back on topic, the car felt very strong and much smoother than the piggyback tune that I was previously running. The shifts felt a bit faster as well. Another thing that I noticed was that the pop and crackle in the exhaust seemed to be more apparent on the ESS Tune.


¼ Mile Track Results


I have not had the chance to get the 2nd dyno done yet so that I can get true numbers up for everyone, however, I was able to run the car at the track and was able to pull some pretty incredible times. These times are extremely close to that of the OE Tune.


4/13/16 Sacramento Raceway Park   

I was able to run a total of 6 runs from about 5pm to 8pm. Weather was gorgeous and the temp was cool…. perfect weather for a twin turbo. My best run was my second to last of the night at 7:26pm with a temp of 62 degrees.

Best Run

R/T - 0.335

60' - 1.993

330 - 5.407

1/8 - 8.221

MPH - 87.15

1000 - 10.642

1/4 - 12.686

MPH - 110.29





I am very impressed with the tune, however, the process of getting this tune was stressful and something that I would not want to put anyone through. However, if they have worked out the issues and can truly turn around this tune in 24 hours, this is hands down the best tune on the market for the price. Even before having Dyno numbers in, I think that it will easily be a contender with the OE tune given the track times it put up. 

Total Cost - $995.00