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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What vehicles are ShiftSense Pro available for?
ShiftSense™ Pro is currently available for the 2016-2019 Toyota Tacoma 3.5 V6 with the 6-speed automatic transmission. This was the vehicle used for the initial prototype design, testing, and shift-map refinement. The product is being expanded to other vehicles in the near future.
My Tacoma always seems to shift into higher gears at way too low of a speed. Will this solve that?
Yes. The stock shift-map of the 2016-2019 Tacoma have been said to feel sluggish and un-optimized. The vehicle shifts into higher gears at low speed, leading to the perceived loss of power. Some blame the problem on the engine. However, our research has found that this engine performs nicely and has excellent power when paired with the appropriate transmission gear selection as provided by the ShiftSense™ Pro.
My Tacoma shifts way too much, constantly up/down. Will this device solve that?
Yes. During testing, many comparisons were performed over the same routes in "D" versus "S" mode with this device engaged. On average, the overall shift count was reduced by 60-75% while using ShiftSense™ Pro.
My Tacoma will sometimes start to “lug” when cruising at lower speed because it is in too high a gear. Will this device solve that?
Yes, this device performs appropriate gentle downshifts as you are decelerating, never allowing you to be in the scenario of 5th gear at 33mph, or 6th gear at 45mph (as with OEM shift maps). This downshift also provides a very light amount of engine-braking at times, which is desirable when coming to stops or pulling a trailer.
My Tacoma seems to have erratic upshift/downshift performance, will this device solve that?
Yes. The erratic nature which some people report seems to be caused by the OEM shift mapping continually looking to be in the highest gear. Therefore, it is required to perform downshifts constantly. This causes the jerky and sluggish feeling. ShiftSense™ Pro is designed to provide optimum shifts based on speed and accelerator/throttle, thereby significantly reducing the number of unnecessary shifts.
How does the ShiftSense™ Pro device work?
The ShiftSense™ Pro is an electronic device which continually monitors speed, throttle, accelerator position, and RPM through the OBD-II interface. The OBD-II communication is handled by an ELM329, which is the latest state-of-the-art OBD communication platform. A microcontroller in the ShiftSense™ Pro interprets this data and performs calculations of optimum shift-points at approximately 10 times per second. When an upshift or downshift is necessary, it provides shift commands to the vehicle through the Sequential-shift control circuit.
The device includes an audible alarm and LED which notifies the driver when the unit is first engaged and operating, and also any time that the control is cancelled. The gear-changes and currently-selected gear are always shown in the dash display as with any S-mode operation.
Can ShiftSense Pro be used in parallel with other devices with OBD-II splitter?
DO NOT USE SHIFTSENSE PRO IN PARALLEL WITH OTHER FAST-POLLING OBD DEVICES. Other fast-polling devices such as ELM327 (torque app and OBD-fusion) can compete for bandwidth over the OBD communication network. This could affect performance of the ShiftSense Pro.
Does it require any modifications to my vehicle?
No, the device is 100% plug and play and requires no tools for installation. It can be powered-off or removed at any time if desired.
How do the shift-mappings differ from OEM and ECT options?
ShiftSense™ Pro shift-mappings differ significantly from the OEM and ECT shift-maps. Maps are established based primarily on speed/throttle position combinations. The stock shift-maps for the Gen3 Tacoma resemble exponential slope curves, which extend to very low speed at low throttle positions. That is the reason it shifts up so early. On the other hand, these same stock curves go to very high speed at high throttle position, hence the need to 'floor it' to get it to accelerate normally. ECT mode is slightly different in that it indexes the stock shift curves up by several MPH, but they still maintain the 'exponential' slope which is not a good match for many driving conditions. The ShiftSense™ Pro uses a more linear shift-map, which provides shifts at higher speeds for low throttle positions, and greatly limits the amount of up-shifting at low-speed conditions.
Equally important to the 'shift mapping' itself, is the ability of the device to hold gears for certain driving situations, select the proper gear for cruising speeds, and perform appropriate downshifting during deceleration and braking. These criteria are extremely important to the overall shifting performance and 'feel', and have been refined in the ShiftSense™ Pro based on extensive testing. In modern vehicles, 'drive-by-wire' has replaced the mechanical connection between the driver, throttle, and transmission by a computer. The ShiftSense Pro relies primarily on accelerator position for shifting calculations, therefore, it effectively re-establishes this 'link' between driver's foot and transmission control.
The ShiftSense™ Pro includes a shift map for normal operation as well as a slightly reduced map for cold operations while the engine is warming up (engine temps <150F). This coincides with the vehicle's stock torque-convertor operation which is prevented from lock-up if the engine temp is less than 158F.
How is the device installed?
The ShiftSense™ Pro is installed by plugging one connection to the OBD-II port under the dash, and a second connection to the shift-lever console. Detailed installation instructions are included with each device.
How do I turn-on/engage the device?
Short answer: Start the truck, place shift lever in "S" and go.
More detailed answer: With the power switch turned on, ShiftSense™ Pro will power up and establish communication with the OBD system automatically as soon as the vehicle is turned on or started. The power switch may be left on at all times if desired because the unit obtains power from the vehicle only when the key is ON. Two beeps are heard when the device has established communication with OBD and is ready for driving. This will occur within 1-2 seconds after turning the vehicle on or powering on the device. ShiftSense™ Pro remains totally inactive until the operator places the vehicle in the Sequential/Sport-mode "S" with the shift lever. When shifted to "S", the device will engage immediately and begin automatic control of all shifting. A single beep will be heard when the unit engaged successfully. The vehicle speed must be less than 65 mph to allow the unit to initially engage. If the device is ever cancelled, it can be re-engaged by shifting back to Drive "D", and back into Sequential "S".
Does it require any interaction while driving?
No, none at all. Just drive it like an automatic, forget about it, and enjoy!
Does this device affect or alter the programming of the stock ECU?
ShiftSense™ Pro does not affect, modify, or replace the original stock programming of Engine control unit (ECU), Electronic Controlled Transmission (ECT), or any other electronic control computer, sensors, or instrumentation within the vehicle. This device is designed to augment the normal operation of the sequential-shift control. It interfaces with the vehicle through the OBD port under the dash. Through this connector it obtains speed and throttle position in real-time at approximately 10 cycles-per-second. This data is standard output from any modern OBD interface. ShiftSense™ Pro uses the ELM 329 which is the latest, state-of-the-art OBD interface available.
The type of information which is received by the ShiftSense Pro is no different than any of the dozens of ELM 327 readers currently on the market which drivers use to display speed, rpm, and any host of other sensor information in real-time via wireless or Bluetooth to their phone (Fusion/Torque app). It does not attempt to write any information to the ECU and does not read or clear fault codes.
How do I cancel the control if I want to drive with the OEM manual sequential-shift mode?
Simply make an S+ or S- shift by hand. At this point, the system cancels, provides an alarm, and reverts back to manual control. The device will stand-by and remain inactive until it is intentionally re-engaged by the operator (moving the lever into drive, and back to Sequential "S").
How will I know when the device is engaged, and how will I know when it is ‘cancelled’?
Successful engagement is indicated by one beep and the lighting of the red 'engaged' LED. Cancel is indicated by three beeps and the 'engaged' LED being turned off.
I'm not looking to rev the engine extremely high, does this device do that?
No. This device is designed for the everyday commute as well as performance driving. It works across the entire speed/RPM range, continually calculating optimum shifts to keep the engine within its ideal operating RPM range. It is designed to keep you in the gear you want to be in at all times. Additionally, it does not modify the OEM engine controls or rev limiter.
I notice that ShiftSense does not shift up to 6th gear unless speed is in the 70's. Why is that?
With the SSPro, the 'minimum' upshift speed to 6th is 72mph. So it will avoid shifting up to 6th if you are less than this speed. If you are above 72, it shifts based on the throttle (pedal) position and demand. Based on our data-collection, this engine actually sustains less 'load' in 5th than in 6th because it is in a more efficient RPM placement, which is all-around better for performance.
As it turns out, the final-drive gear ratio in 5th gear in Gen3 Tacoma is actually identical to the 5th gear ratio on the 4.0L Gen2 Tacoma. That truck only had a 5 speed transmission, so that was it (and most people never gave it a second thought). The 4.0L also had significantly more torque in this RPM range as well. In the gen3, 6th gear is actually a second-overdrive gear and is about 15% higher yet than 5th gear. Considering the amount of aerodynamic drag and the steep gearing, 6th gear becomes almost totally unnecessary. You will see SSP upshift if on flat or descending, but any other time on slight grades, the truck is not really able to sustain it, so the hold of 5th becomes necessary. If you are above 80 mph, you may find it holding 6th, but that is only because the RPM is 'starting' to creep up into the torque-curve a bit more.
Just because 6th is available, doesn't necessarily mean it is always necessary to use it. And most of the time, using it at speeds less than 70mph you will find it constantly shifting 5/6/5/6/5/6 because it is not able to hold it. Eliminating this constant gear-hunting was one of the primary goals of the SSP, which means holding 5th may be preffered in many situations.
Can the shift-mappings on the ShiftSense Pro be modified?
No. The shift-mappings are hard-coded onto the device. They have been refined based on thousands of miles of everyday driving and testing in all road, traffic, and weather conditions, and provides excellent gear selections across all driving scenarios. The development and testing was performed across all variants of gen 3 Tacoma which use the 3.5L V6, including while pulling light and heavy trailers.
Does ShiftSense™ Pro work in all weather conditions?
Yes, the ShiftSense™ Pro was tested in all weather conditions ranging from hot-day dry roads, to extremely cold days with snow pack and ice-covered roads. Keep in mind, this device does not alter any of the vehicles traction control, ABS, 4wd, or any other system. Therefore it will perform as expected.
My Truck has larger tires than stock, does this affect performance?
This device was tested on vehicles with stock tires and oversized tires. It significantly improves performance on both. Using oversize tires results in lower torque at the road, making the OEM shift-patterns seem even worse. The designer of the device has since switched to oversized tires on his own truck and can not believe the improvement in feeling and performance (hence his desire to share it with the rest of the Tacoma community).
Does it affect traction control and ABS systems?
No, the OEM systems are completely unaffected.
Does it work in 4wd low range?
The device is not intended for use in 4wd low range. If attempted, the device will cancel automatically and will revert to driver manual control of "S" mode.
Will use of this device void my warranty?
Per the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act (US Federal Law - Title 15, Chapter 50, Sections 2301-2312), It is illegal for a vehicle manufacturer to void the warranty or deny coverage on a warranty because an aftermarket part was used on the vehicle unless a failure is a direct result of the use of that aftermarket product, and the OEM must prove how. While the shift-commands are highly optimized and continually calculated, the ShiftSense Pro does nothing with the vehicle beyond the normal capabilities of the Sequential-shift mode of operation. Additionally, it reduces the number of shifts made by the transmission by 60-75%.
How is the device protected electrically?
The ShiftSense™ Pro is double-fused. It obtains 12v power from the vehicle, which is fused via the OEM internal fuse box. Additionally, the device contains a 1 amp fuse internally which provides redundant protection. The device uses less current than most 12v vehicle devices including GPS and cell-phone chargers.
Where should it be mounted within the vehicle?
The device is intended to be mounted on the side of the center console with double-sided adhesive tape. Other mounting options are acceptable as long as the device is located where its audible alarms can be heard clearly, and all wires are secured where they will not interfere with driving or risk being severed.
How does it affect emissions and fuel mileage?
The device does not affect emission controls of the OEM vehicle whatsoever. The ShiftSense™ device is intended to provide the driver with a smooth and enjoyable driving experience. As with many aftermarket performance products, it is not claiming to improve fuel mileage. Testing has shown impact on fuel mileage is minimal. Fuel economy is very dependent on driving habits and driving styles.
What happens if I pull the OBD connector for cleaning or servicing and forget to plug it back in?
If the device loses connection with the vehicle OBD while in use, it will automatically cancel and revert back to the OEM sport shift operation in the currently selected gear. If the OBD is left unplugged on vehicle start, the ShiftSense™ Pro will not engage. In that case a three beep alarm will sound and "S" mode works as OEM.
Where is ShiftSense™ Pro manufactured?
ShiftSense™ Pro is manufactured entirely in the USA!.
DZ Custom Innovations LLC was founded in 2016 by a Gen3 Tacoma owner and engineer, who took it upon himself to develop an aftermarket solution to optimize the seemingly sluggish and unrefined shifting patterns of the stock vehicle. In order to share the experience with other Tacoma owners, he took the necessary steps to commercialize the product so it may allow other vehicle owners who may also be frustrated with the stock automatic shift-patterns to enjoy their ride as well.
The owner was born and raised in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. He spent his youth working on various farms, construction, and cabinetry shops, constantly tinkering and inventing all sorts of devices. He obtained Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering where his expertise is in the field of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control. He has been published in ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and ICRA (International conference on Robotics and Automation). He has been employed for the past 15 years in the aerospace engineering field, where he has worked for the DOE as a weapon-system designer, as well as private engineering firms as designer and analyst for Fixed wing aircraft and helicopter structures and components. He holds several patents in this area, and is licensed as a Professional Engineer by his state.
Outside of his career, he enjoys spending time with his family and two young children. He is an avid outdoorsmen, holds a private pilot certificate, enjoys riding (and rebuilding) ATV's and Snowmobiles, and accessorizing his vehicles!.
This video provides the installation instruction for ShiftSense Pro in a 2016/2017 Tacoma
Operation and Test Drive (1 of 2)
This video covers the operation and test drive with the ShiftSense Pro in a 2016/2017 Toyota Tacoma. (Part 1 of 2)
Operation and Test Drive (2 of 2)
This video covers the operation and test drive with the ShiftSense Pro in a 2016/2017 Toyota Tacoma (Part 2 of 2)