Total Control: TCI’s New Wireless Bluetooth Transmission Controller

Generally speaking, technology is a beautiful thing. It allows tasks that were hard or even impossible for the average person to become achievable. As technology advances in the automotive industry, it has shifted two-fold. What was once a simple design has now become a mass of wires, solenoids, and circuits. Transmissions are a great example.

The General Motors Powerglide transmission was released back in 1950 and can still be found in drag cars today. This unit is still popular due to its light weight, compact size, and its ability to hold tons of horsepower. Even with its technological advancements over the years, the 2-speed design is still inefficient for most applications. So, GM abandoned the 2-speed creating 3-speed units, then 4-speeds, 6-speeds, 8-speeds, and today, 10-speed transmissions are not uncommon sites.

The EZ TCU and Bluetooth controller from TCI fit perfectly on the firewall of our 1991 Suburban project, allowing us to run a 4L80E transmission with minimal effort.

There are many advantages to a 4-speed transmission over the older units, including better fuel mileage, performance, and dependability. But they also have some disadvantages, especially when it comes to an LS swap using a factory computer. Unless the engine and transmission are stock, a modified tune will be needed to ensure everything operates correctly. This process can be tedious, as you might need software, a tuner, and some time. The other option is to go with a stand-alone transmission control unit.

Recently we completed an LS-swap in a 1991 Suburban. The original plan was to stay with the factory 700R4 transmission for its simplicity. However, as projects go, we scrapped the old 4-speed and replaced it with the much stronger and electronically-dependent 4L80E. Since our Edelbrock Pro-Flo 4 fuel injection system didn’t have the option to control an electronic transmission, we needed a solution. We turned to TCI and ordered the new EZ-TCU with the new Bluetooth Wireless Controller.

The EZ TCU from TCI is an established product that has been on the market for some time. It allows the customer to adjust and tune the modern 4-speed transmission to their liking without the aid of a professional tuner. This unit plugs into all of the factory transmission electronics and will work on carbureted and EFI vehicles alike, giving you complete control. This piece of technology is excellent, allowing the average Joe to make any adjustments needed to configure the transmission. You can set everything from transmission shift points, shift firmness, and even toggle between different driving modes.

In the past, the EZ TCU was programmed by a handheld device that plugs into the unit. Now, with the Bluetooth controller, you don’t need to worry about mounting the handheld unit or storing it in the console or your glovebox. All you need is an iPhone or Android device to take control of your transmission.

The installation of the Bluetooth controller is effortless to install. You simply mount the module, plug the weather-pack connector into the EZ TCU, hook one wire to the ignition switch, and another wire to ground. That’s it. It does offer another impressive feature that can be wired in, but more on that later.

After the unit is hooked up and you have downloaded the app, you will push the button on the Bluetooth module and then sync it with your mobile device. Next, turn on the ignition, your mobile device will be able to connect to the EZ TCU, and you’re done.

You can also monitor your transmission’s diagnostics in real-time right from your handheld device.

TCI did an outstanding job with the app. It’s exceptionally user-friendly, easy to navigate, and the configuration was a breeze. The setup wizard will ask you all of the needed questions to get the transmission tune going in just a matter of minutes. After you have completed the setup, your device will upload the information to the TCU, and you’re ready to go. If you need a little more fine-tuning, the app allows you to adjust the speedometer, low-speed shift, shift aggressiveness, shift firmness, torque converter clutch (TCC) lock-up speed, TCC throttle position sensor input, performance shift aggressiveness, and performance shift firmness. It pretty amazing that you can control all of the features from the palm of your hand. You can also watch live data from the transmission, including voltage, temperature, miles per hour, RPM, gear selection, and more.

The setup wizard makes quick work of setting up the parameters for a 4l60E, 4L65E, 4L70E, 4L80E, 4L85E, and the TCI 6X transmissions.

Another feature of this unit that we mentioned earlier is an anti-theft mode. This option allows you to lock down your vehicle with the tap of a virtual button from your handheld device. The Bluetooth module has a weather-pack connector that will wire up to a relay. The relay can be tied into a fuel pump, ignition source, or the starter. When the anti-theft mode is active, the relay shuts off the fuel pump or whatever it’s connected to and keeps it from working. This function will definitely keep a thief at bay as it renders the vehicle useless until turned off. When you’re ready to drive, simply disable the anti-theft option. It can also be set up to work automatically. If turned on in the app, the EZ-TCU will connect to your phone when in range, allowing the vehicle to start and run.

For our anti-theft system, we choose to wire the relay to the ignition source that powers the EZ-TCU as well as the Edlebrock Pro-Flo 4 EFI system. By wiring the unit this way, everything is shut down, including the EZ TCU, ECU, and fuel pump, making it impossible for the Suburban to start. Once we are in range, and the EZ TCU automatically unlocks, the Suburban is ready to fire up.

For more information on this product and others, head on over to Tciauto.com.

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About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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