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Can I safely do an APR Stage 1 Tune on my new 2021 GTI 6-speed

vw83

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
New York
Car(s)
2021 GTI 6-speed
I just began a 39-month lease on a new GTI Autobahn 6-speed. After signing the lease, the dealer told me that they are an authorized APR dealer and that a stage 1 tune that adds close to 100 HP and similar torque is only $500. I read everything I could about APR and the tune and it's quite tempting. I've never tuned a car before and I have no interest in street racing or drag racing. Just a 50-year-old guy with an awesome new toy who wouldn't mind 100HP of extra fun. My concern is that I'm reading about needing a new clutch for $850 and maybe new exhaust....yada, yada, yada. If I can add this APR tune for $500 and bump up the HP and the torque and just have a little more fun, I'd be happy to put down the money, but if I'm just asking for more problems and more expenses, I'm out. Love some advice from the experts!
 

Agray

Go Kart Champion
Location
Washington
Tuning a leased car is a bad idea in my opinion. As unlikely as it is, what happens if you had a catastrophic engine failure? That same dealer is going to shrug their shoulders and put their hand out looking at you for the money for the repair because VW denied it after seeing the flash counter. Then there's the clutch which you already mentioned. Chances are it will slip eventually and you'd be paying to replace it upon lease turn in, or putting an aftermarket clutch in a car that you don't even own.

You could put a JB4 on... that's a piggyback "tune" that fools the sensors and makes more power. That doesn't address the clutch issue though, which is more prone to premature wear/ failure with any added power above stock. Of course you can avoid that with strategic driving habits, but where's the fun in that?
 

Dog Dad Wagon

Autocross Champion
Location
Innnnn West Philadelphia...
Car(s)
19 Alltrack 6MT
Agreed with the above, you signed away the freedom to mod your car when you leased it instead of buying it.

I will say this:

I have a 6MT Alltrack which has the same shitty clutch setup, perhaps slightly different but for all intents and purposes the same. My car comes with a factory 170HP/184TQ (DSG cars actually get 200TQ). I have 11K miles on my Alltrack, 5K of which has been tuned on APR Plus. These clutches suck, but they CAN be salvaged for at least 30K miles on a tune depending on driving style. You just can’t floor it below 3K RPM in 4th, and I wouldn’t floor it below 4K in 5th. Wouldn’t floor it at all in 6th. 6th is only for cruise control on a flat highway at 70+. If there’s hills you’re better off in 5th.

APR Plus is APR’s warrantied Stage 1 tune. The tune your dealer advertised to you is an unwarrantied tune. That’s why it’s only $500. In other words - if you buy the unwarrantied $500 tune, and your engine fails for any reason (can happen to anyone stock or tuned, it’s not common but it does happen), VW will not honor your factory warrantyy because you modified the ECU and put 35% more power through stock hardware.

My APR Plus tune was $1000. That extra $500 goes to the warranty.

the differences between the APR Plus tune and the APR Stage 1 tune your dealer advertised are that the APR Plus tune is an 87-octane safe, low-torque stage 1 tune. It still increases horsepower by like 70-80 and torque the same. The one you were advertised is either a 91 octane or 93 octane tune that makes 80-90Hp and similar torque.

if you drive the GTI stock a bit longer and decide you really love the car, you can definitely tune it. I just wouldn’t tune a car I planned on trading in.
 

okMK

Autocross Champion
Location
USA
Car(s)
Gti
Dealerships that work with APR generally do the "APR Plus" tune, which is far more conservative on your engine. I don't think it's quite 100 hp, but someone feel free to chime in. Yes, you will eventually need a new clutch. How or when your current clutch starts to slip will depend on how you drive the vehicle. Generally around here we use staged clutches, everyone has their own opinion but I chose the Southbend Stage 2 daily clutch kit which was about $1200.00.

Keep in mind, when you replace the clutch on these vehicles it's very important to also replace the flywheel. Clutch kits usually come with a slave cylinder because you have to drop the transmission to replace it and it's best to have it done while your clutch is being done. Some people also have to replace the rear main seal at that time if it's leaking. If you're not doing this yourself, you're looking at another $600-800 in labor depending on where you go.

You do not need an exhaust for a stage 1 or APR tune.

My opinion after tuning is I would not have the car any other way. The stock GTI is slower than some trucks on the road today. These engines respond incredibly well to simple flash tunes and really bring the car to life. If I were you at 50, I would get the tune and not do anything else with the vehicle... no clutch no nothing. Turn it in at the end of the lease and let it be someone else's problem. You could easily make it 30k miles on the stock clutch as long as you drive conservatively and always downshift before you do a pull. APR will put a smile on your face.
 

Dog Dad Wagon

Autocross Champion
Location
Innnnn West Philadelphia...
Car(s)
19 Alltrack 6MT
Dealerships that work with APR generally do the "APR Plus" tune, which is far more conservative on your engine. I don't think it's quite 100 hp, but someone feel free to chime in. Yes, you will eventually need a new clutch. How or when your current clutch starts to slip will depend on how you drive the vehicle. Generally around here we use staged clutches, everyone has their own opinion but I chose the Southbend Stage 2 daily clutch kit which was about $1200.00.

Keep in mind, when you replace the clutch on these vehicles it's very important to also replace the flywheel. Clutch kits usually come with a slave cylinder because you have to drop the transmission to replace it and it's best to have it done while your clutch is being done. Some people also have to replace the rear main seal at that time if it's leaking. If you're not doing this yourself, you're looking at another $600-800 in labor depending on where you go.

You do not need an exhaust for a stage 1 or APR tune.

My opinion after tuning is I would not have the car any other way. The stock GTI is slower than some trucks on the road today. These engines respond incredibly well to simple flash tunes and really bring the car to life. If I were you at 50, I would get the tune and not do anything else with the vehicle... no clutch no nothing. Turn it in at the end of the lease and let it be someone else's problem. You could easily make it 30k miles on the stock clutch as long as you drive conservatively and always downshift before you do a pull. APR will put a smile on your face.
He’s right ya know
 

launchd

Drag Racing Champion
Location
New York
Car(s)
2021 M340xi, 2021 A7
You signed a legally binding contract (lease agreement) with a provision that explicitly states you can not modify the vehicle (that is being lent to you) in this manner... But who cares about legally binding contracts and potential legal repercussions. Do it, you won't.

Oh, one request though... if you end with powertrain issues (after you flash your ECU) at some point during your 39 month lease, you have to let us know how much Volkswagen bones you for above and beyond the repair costs. Deal? Deal.
 

vw83

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
New York
Car(s)
2021 GTI 6-speed
To be honest, I had absolutely zero interest or even awareness of tuning the car until the dealer mentioned it. For $500 it sounded like fun. Now it sounds absurd. The dealer is an APR approved dealer. The actual person in the service department who would do the install said if he installs it, and I do my regular services at the dealership, that I have nothing to worry about. He assured me that nothing is going to happen to my engine. He did say that the clutch could go and that it would only make sense to replace it with an aftermarket clutch ($850+) if that were to occur. He said that if I noticed slippage within the first 10,000 miles they could easily remove the tune and that it would be very unlikely that it would’ve caused damage significant enough to require the clutch to be replaced. Of course I’d be out the $500 for the tune. Finally, he said I could do the low-torque tune which would still add more than enough HP and torque to make it worthwhile, but he couldn’t guarantee this wouldn’t damage the clutch either. He said he’s seen the original VW clutch last 40,000 miles on a stage 1 tune but also seen them go at 20,000. The uncertainty of the whole thing seems like way too much work, and risk...and possibly additional money to go a little bit faster for the next 38 months. Oh well.....but thanks for the helpful input.
 

DSC808

Go Kart Champion
Location
HI State
Car(s)
2016 GTI SE MT
Get a used JB4. If something goes wrong take it off and have it covered under warranty. At the end of the lease you can decide whether to keep the car or trade it in. Sell the JB4 for what you paid.
 

ChrisMk77

Autocross Champion
Location
Sweden
Car(s)
2018 GTI Performance
To be honest, I had absolutely zero interest or even awareness of tuning the car until the dealer mentioned it. For $500 it sounded like fun. Now it sounds absurd. The dealer is an APR approved dealer. The actual person in the service department who would do the install said if he installs it, and I do my regular services at the dealership, that I have nothing to worry about. He assured me that nothing is going to happen to my engine. He did say that the clutch could go and that it would only make sense to replace it with an aftermarket clutch ($850+) if that were to occur. He said that if I noticed slippage within the first 10,000 miles they could easily remove the tune and that it would be very unlikely that it would’ve caused damage significant enough to require the clutch to be replaced. Of course I’d be out the $500 for the tune. Finally, he said I could do the low-torque tune which would still add more than enough HP and torque to make it worthwhile, but he couldn’t guarantee this wouldn’t damage the clutch either. He said he’s seen the original VW clutch last 40,000 miles on a stage 1 tune but also seen them go at 20,000. The uncertainty of the whole thing seems like way too much work, and risk...and possibly additional money to go a little bit faster for the next 38 months. Oh well.....but thanks for the helpful input.
I hope you realize that the service manager is only after his APR cut and if you have any issues you are SOL when VW denies the claim and charges 15k for an engine replacement and cancels the lease.
 

Chogokin

Autocross Champion
Location
So Cal
Car(s)
GTI Sport | Audi A3
Get a Neuspeed Power Module. It involves two plugs...with 91 octane ...it gives you 35hp and 70lbs of extra torque (more if you have access to better fuel). You don't have to worry about your clutch or warranty. It won't give you near the power of a flash tune...or a JB4...but its plug n play...give you a noticeable amount of acceleration...and you never have to think about it again.

Pretty much all warranty repairs have to go through VW of America. VW o A pays the dealer for warranty repairs. If you blow a turbo (or any engine damage)...they are going to scan your ECU. If they see the ECU has been modified...and they determine the tune led to the damage...they will deny your warranty and not pay the dealer for the repairs. Even if they remove the tune...the ECU will still show that it has been flashed. Get it in writing from the VW dealer that they will cover any potential engine damage that can be attributed to the tune. I'm willing to bet that they won't do it.
 
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vw83

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
New York
Car(s)
2021 GTI 6-speed
Thanks guys. I think I'm done here. I'll just leave my GTI as it is. Not worth all of the potential aggravation to be able to go a little faster.
 

Acadia18

Autocross Champion
Location
Rhode Island
Car(s)
2016 GTI SE
I'm just shocked a VW dealer who leased a car would be pushing a flash tune. Even if nothing happens to the car, eventually that car is going to come back to them.

Probably the same kind of dealer who will then CPO it, even though the power train warranty is pretty much shot.
 

seanmcd1

Autocross Newbie
Location
SC
OP don't do anything, and you still may or may not be safe. If you are new to driving a clutch or don't know what you're doing - you will probably need a new clutch soon after tuning. I've had no issues with my APR stage 1 low torque tune and highly recommend it otherwise.
 

CaptainRatty

Autocross Champion
Location
Winston-Salem, NC
Car(s)
MK7 GTI
I'm just shocked a VW dealer who leased a car would be pushing a flash tune. Even if nothing happens to the car, eventually that car is going to come back to them.

Probably the same kind of dealer who will then CPO it, even though the power train warranty is pretty much shot.
Agreed. The whole concept of pushing a tune on a car that's intended to be CPO'd after the lease term is up and sold to the average consumer is offensive.
 
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