By on December 12, 2008

The full-page ad copy shouted, “I will boost your horsepower & torque.” Whoa! With claims like that, I felt personally challenged to test the Shark Injector. It’s an OBD-II connector that overwrites a part of the BMWs DME (BMW speak for electronic control unit or ECU) with its own internal Conforti software to deliver claimed results. So I installed the Shark Injector on a BMW 325i, one of the many six-cylinder BMWs supported by the Shark (includes all sixes in the 3, 5 and Z series BMWs through 2005, plus the M3 and X5 3.0). Or should I say I set about installing the Shark injector…

Installation involves connecting the Shark Injector to the car’s OBD-II connector, following the detailed instructions, allowing the Shark’s software to copy itself over the default factory software.  Assuming all goes well, the programming takes about forty minutes. The lights on the device signal green for complete, and red for “issues”. In real life, installation can be tricky, requiring a battery charger connected to the car to provide the necessary voltage while programming.  Without this, the installation will not work; the device checks for the needed voltage.  Also, you need a mirror to see the programmer, as the car’s doors have to remain shut during installation.

Ebay buyers beware! Once installed, the device becomes locked to the car and will not work on any other vehicle. The Shark stores the stock DME program to allow reinstallation at a later date; such as when selling the car or taking the car to the dealer for engine issues (hint hint). Even though the federal Magnuson Moss warranty law specifically allows devices like these without voiding your warranty, many Bimmer dealers will look for any excuse to limit warranty claims if they can blame the software for the defect. Even if, in fact, the software did not cause the problem.

The  Shark Injector provides some real world benefits beyond the claimed power increases.  First, it changed the redline limiter of the vehicle, increasing permitted revs by several hundred additional revolutions. On my install, I was able to gain approximately 400 RPM over stock before the rev limiter kicked in. This extra room let me stay in a lower gear a bit longer, improving performance under certain… conditions. Needless to say, maintaining constant high speed revs is a sure way to decrease your engine life. Also note: this benefit may be illusory for most slushbox users without extra software to reprogram the shift points on the car’s auto transmission.

The second benefit (especially if you drive the autobahn frequently or rob banks for a living): removal of the 155 mph top speed limit. The limit is part of a gentleman’s agreement between Audi, BMW and Mercedes (but not Porsche) to appease Germany’s Greens.  Assuming you have the appropriate speed-rated tires and a long enough track, a Sharked car will surpass this limit. My test 325 only dreams of such speeds.

The third benefit: subjective drivability. After installation, I felt that the throttle was a bit more responsive. The car did not feel faster or more powerful, but power delivery was smoother. This could, of course, be the placebo affect, to justify the nearly $400 I paid for the device. But I stand by my feelings, immeasurable as they my be.

That said, several sites include dyno results for the Shark. They show slight increases for the 2.5 and 3.0-liter engines, with more power gains on the 2.8-liter engine. None of the increases is dramatic, ranging from five to 10 horsepower. This is due, in part, to BMW already tuning their cars for the best performance with lower octane gas. Sharked cars require at least 91 octane to operate without potential vehicle harm from engine pinging.

The Shark Injector is emissions legal in most states, but not California and its emissions compadres. It’s available online from several retailers, including bimmerzone.com and turnermotorsports.com, for $369.00.

I give a qualified recommendation for this product due to the price and limited gain.  Combined with a quality cold air intake, free flow exhaust and good gas, you will have a slightly faster, better driving and better sounding car. The only way to really gain power from these cars is via forced induction. That runs several thousand dollars, but delivers huge performance gains and more power-per-dollar than these choices. However, for most drivers, the Sharked car is a simple, slightly expensive way to improve the ultimate driving machine.

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14 Comments on “Product Review: Shark Injector...”


  • avatar
    dgduris

    Have you run an emissions test since installing? I read a culpability difference between “emissions legal” and “you’ll still pass the tailpipe test.”

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    I have one of these systems for the Focus(every little bit helps…. right?) called a xcalibrator which sounds 1001% easier to use. It just plugs into the OBD2 port downloads the stock tune and uploads the revised one – works for fords & GM Vehicles too I believe. No mirrors needed.
    Like the Man says a little more ‘smoother’ response. Again it locks to your particular car which can be unlocked (for a fee, I guess)and Xcal offers a few other options like quickening up the shifts in the Auto which improves it a lot,not to a manual standard, of course but better than the shift by email which happened before.

    one other thing changing the tune outside the testing station really fools with the testers heads, you won’t pass of course but it was amusing to see the state employee trying to figure out why the computer wasn’t giving him any readings at all.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a waste of money, aside from the derestriction of the top speed limiter (which is useful in North America?). You’d be better off putting that money towards a good set of tires. Or a driver training course.

    PS: CAI is completely overhyped. Generally they rob power, the only benefit is increased intake roar. Don’t tell that to any ricers, though, because they’ll tell you their butt dyno says it gave them 50hp, on top of the 10hp from the sponsor stickers.

  • avatar

    Would be interesting to see a review of the Cobb AccessPort or the OpenECU Project. (Both Support Subaru 2.0l and 2.5l turbos)

    This sounds like the Accessport, only with less functionality. The AP allows you to switch between maps on the fly, going from a “stock” 91 octane map to an aggressive 93 octane map, and back again should you not be able to get 93, all on the fly. It can also alter the amount of boost, which for turbos, can mean much higher HP gains (at the expense of engine life). It can also get rid of boost restrictions, making more torque at lower RPM (again, at the expense of overall engine life)

    An interesting effect of the Accessport’s ubiquity is that many tuning companies, from Cobb itself, to Perrin and PDX, all offer their own AP maps to go with their intake/exhaust solution.

    With the Shark, it’s not surprising that it couldn’t do very much for an NA engine. There is only so much you can do without forced induction.

    I would also wonder if OpenECU supports BMW. If so, you could get the same effects as the Shark with nothing but your own computer and a much cheaper cable.

  • avatar

    JEC.

    CAI is NOT a waste of money, assuming you’ve already:
    1) have Full Exhaust
    2) have Cobb AP/OpenECU/Tune capibility

    a CAI will rob power from many stock setups, as the stock ECU cannot comprehend having that much air.

    For instance, Toyota considers too much air a failure condition, and will retard timing to get back to the “correct” amount of HP.

    Bottom line, like many modern engine upgrades, you need to worry about the electronics just as much, if not more so, than the traditional (CAI/Cat back/etc) bits. (Not saying electronics are everything, but almost any change will require new ECU tuning on most modern engines)

  • avatar
    austinseven

    Modifications to cold air intakes usually result in less air filtration and rapid soiling of the inlet manifold sensors. Good for racing, not too good for general usage.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Filter upgrade works well. Sorry, but you’re wrong about that. It’s the cheapest upgrade with the biggest bang for the buck. And I clean my throttle body 1-2 a year. Never noticed more than the usual bit of buildup after switching to a Stillen filter, twice the size of stock on my 300zx. However the difference in power was quite noticeable. And yeah, it sounds great too.

    Of course my car has a cold air intake stock. If you get one that goes in a place with no splashguard (like the wheel well) and drive it in the rain, you will have problems. But they do make a difference on most cars. Can’t speak about Toyotas, but why you would put one on a camry is beyond me.

  • avatar

    Dolo54

    As for the Camry, I’ve seen it done. It isn’t pretty.

    /Subaru guy myself
    //That wasn’t obvious, was it?

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Even though the federal Magnuson Moss warranty law specifically allows devices like these without voiding your warranty, many Bimmer dealers will look for any excuse to limit warranty claims if they can blame the software for the defect.

    I don’t believe you. Please show me the specific reference to those devices. The Magnuson-Moss act allows you to use aftermarket maintenance or repair items that are not provided free of charge by the warrantor. It does not allow you to modify the vehicle outside of its design limits.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Wow 5-10 hp for $400 on a car that is 260′ish ? That doesn’t sound worth it at all.

    I’m actually hesitant to get an aftermarket pipe on my bike to give it ~ +5hp or so (on top of the 103 or so it sports stock) because I don’t think I’ll notice the difference.

    Now give me a 20-30% gain (60-90hp on the STi or 20-30hp on the bike) for $400 and now you are talking.

  • avatar
    LDMAN1

    There is more fun to be had fitting powerboxes on the ECU of turbocharged DIESEL like Tdi cars using a lot electronics.
    Typical gain would be +25% in both HP and Torque. Best is to fit a larger intercooler and exhaust to reap the benefits. Problem is that your car will smoke like a cheminey. Best is to fit an on-off switch on the dash to only use the extra power when you need it.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    CHEAP TEST

    Run the car out of gas and fill it up with the highest octane Chevron gas.

    Pick a ½ mile or so steep hill and run it full throttle from a standing start, noting time and speed at the top. Do this three times.

    Remove the air cleaner element and run the hill three more times.

    After reviewing your data showing the times and speeds are appreciably the same, pull out the owner’s manual and spend your money doing maintenance items that improve vehicle safety, reliability, and efficiency.

    By the way, you can use this very same test on all the latest breakthrough miracle products designed with the express purpose of getting you to pull out your wallet, including those employing magical magnets and crystals made from secret materials not shown on the Periodic Elements charts.

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    I’ve had these on two of my BMW’s… a 97 2.8 Z3 and a 97 M3… other than the redline raise, i really could not discern a significant difference. On my Z3, which had a Supersprint exhaust, it sounded just a little different; but on my M3 which also had a Supersprint exhaust: no auditory changes were distinguishable.

    If I were waterboarded into fessing up a difference, I’d say that there might have been a more heady rush to redline. That said, I would still have spent the money to test the E39 M5 Shark version, had I not sold the car shortly before the Shark for it was available for sale… unlike the Shark versions I had before, on this one, JC makes a specific numerical hp/tq claim…

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    As far as air filters go, K&N will be sad to hear that if you measure the pressure loss across a standard air filter element at full power, the /most/ I’ve seen is 0.1 psi, ie less than 1% compared with no filter.

    That actually included the entire run of the intake back to the plenum.

    Temperature increase in the air intake is probably far more important than any perceived ram effect, pick cold air up, and keep it as cold as you can.


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