I feel the need to share my experience with Prodigy Performance and their 3.6 JK turbo kit.
Shortly after buying my 17 Rubicon Recon, this kit caught my eye. The reviews of the power and quality of the kit really peaked my interest. I understand for a lot of people, a turbo Jeep doesn’t make sense. However, it checked a lot of boxes for what I wanted from a power adder. I live in Wisconsin and there isn’t a ton of places to wheel. My Jeep isn’t a pavement queen, but there is just isn’t a lot of local opportunities to wheel. I usually rip around farm fields, or take a trip to sand dunes. Ive taken it out to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes a couple times and down to Little Sahara in OK earlier this year. While the more immediate boost of superchargers make sense for a lot of Jeepers, the turbo was a good option for me. A V8 swap would have also been cool, but the turbo was much less money and helped keep my weight down better.
Eventually I decided to pull the trigger. I did a ton of research and found a few people with problems, but far more positive reviews. I won’t mention him by username, but there was a forum member that had very detailed info on his install of the Prodigy kit. At some point later, this person went on to be affiliated with the company. The problems that I read about were mostly Auto Transmission related, and the problem seemed to be handled with the HP Tuners software. I decided that since I was spending the money, I should get some of the upgrades to protect my investment. I got both the catch can setup, and the dual Glowshift gauges (wideband AFR, and boost) offered with the kit. During my phone conversations with Prodigy, I told them that I was planning on installing myself and they told me it was very DIY friendly. I also informed them that I had a PSC Big Bore steering box and high volume pump kit, because I wanted to make sure their wasn’t any clearance issues with the larger components. The salesman assured me that they have customers running the kit and it will not be an issue.
As soon as I ordered my kit, I printed out the instructions from their web page and watched their installation videos (multiple times). A few days after ordering my kit, the Prodigy salesman that I had been working with contacted me. He told me they had just started working with AEM and they had higher quality gauges that I could upgrade to (for an extra cost). The AEM Wideband connects to the OBD II port and HPTuners can log the readings in their datalog software. I was told this would make it easier to tune my Jeep. I thought it sounded like it was worth the money and bought the upgrade.
I received my kit a few weeks later (which was around what their estimated lead time was). I right away opened all the packages and laid the components out. I was very impressed with the quality of the kit. The welds on the pipes looked flawless, and the wastegate, blowoff valve, and turbo were obviously high-quality components.
I did see one issue though. The intercooler had a decent sized gouge in it. Of course, it had to be in the forward-facing side, pretty near the center. I took a picture and emailed it to Prodigy. In the body of the email I told them that I had found the quality defect and I was OK with using the intercooler as is, but I wanted them to know on the off chance their was a leak because of it. I did not receive a response to that email. Most of my time in the workforce has been in a manufacturing setting (on the floor and as a supervisor/engineer). I feel like most companies would at least acknowledge the problem and apologize for it. I didn’t really take it personally at that time.
During the install, I had a few more frustrations. The supplied bolts wouldn’t fit through the holes in one of the exhaust ball-flanges. It seemed like maybe they slot wasn’t finish machined. The bolts were marked 307A. I had never heard of that spec so I looked it up and found “307A bolts are a Grade 1 equivalent that is used in low-strength application. It has lower hardness and tensile requirement than grade 2 bolts. It is generally used in low-pressure, standard or normal temperature applications and is made of low carbon steel.” (source: http://www.lpsindia.com/grades.aspx
). It kind of seemed like they cheaped out on the fasteners (is an exhaust bolt a “normal temperature application”?). I figured a grade 8 bolt of a slightly smaller size would suffice and didn’t even bother to bring it to Prodigy’s attention.
The kit was sent with the included hose menders (double sided barb fitting) already inserted into the hoses. Unfortunately, one of them was in the wrong hose and it was a PITA getting it out to install it into the correct hose. The instructions and install video showed the new tranny cooler lines being secured with screw-type hose clamp but was actually sent with a crimp on style clamp that required a special tool. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I would have bought the tool in advance had they shown the correct type in the instructions (it actually took me quite a bit of running around to find a tool that would work). The tranny cooler itself also looked quite a bit smaller than what was shown in the instructions/install video (likely a cost cutting measure).
During my install it became clear that my PSC steering setup was going to cause some issues with the kit (contrary to what I was told). The new coolant overflow tank contacted the larger steering box. I got it fit, but I have a feeling over time it would wear through the tank. I decided I would just keep an eye on it and look for alternative solutions once I got everything running. The PSC power steering reservoir (part of the kit) definitely was not going to fit. It was right where the new cone air filter needed to be. I hooked my stock reservoir back, and again figured I could find a different aftermarket reservoir once I finished this turbo install.
Most of the rest of my problems with the install were related to the instructions. The detailed and fully binded instruction book that Prodigy sends with their kit was part of the sales pitch they gave me on the phone. Overall, they were decent, but some of the steps could have used some additional info. I thought it was kind of weird not a single torque spec was listed in their instructions. This may not bother some people, but with as involve as this kit was, I think they should have been included. I looked up the factory components specs but had to guess on the turbo and exhaust hookups. I was also a little unsure as to what ports to hook up to on the wastegate. That should have been covered in the instructions IMHO. Also, the PCV lines were hooked up slightly differently than the vanilla kit because of the catch can upgrade, and their was no additional instructions included with it. Not terrible to figure out, but again their detailed instructions were a selling point… Even the datalogging instructions could have been much better. The instructions didn’t mention any specifics on the initial datalog. I emailed them asking if there was specific conditions they wanted to see in the datalog. They told me: idling, normal cruising, and brief WOT. I asked if there was specific RPM ranges for the “brief WOT” and they said through 2 gears (seemed like more than “brief”, but that could be subjective).
Before I tried to run it, I wanted to hook up my gauges to help identify any potential problems. The gauge pod fit well, looked OEM and the gauges themselves looked to be high quality. Again no instructions on JK specific wiring of the gauges, but nothing a quick phone call didn’t answer. I got them wired up and found that the Tee and additional hose sent with the kit was waaayyy too small to tap into the rest of the hoses. Again, a phone call straightened it out. They said they would mail out the correct Tee and hose….
Here is where I messed up...
because of all these (individually small but collectively fairly annoying) problems I was beginning to get impatient. I strayed from their “detailed” instructions. The other forum member mentioned earlier, had written up his own upgrade to the Prodigy kit. He brought up that the wastegate boost sensing line shouldn’t be hooked up to the manifold, but rather before the throttle-body. The problem with hooking it up after the throttle body is that, under certain part throttle conditions, the wastegate will keep trying to build boost to bring the manifold pressure up and the blowoff valve may be constantly bleeding off pressure to equalize the pre and post throttle body pressure. This creates unnecessary wear to the turbo. Another issue is that, supposedly, the wastegate should not see vacuum as it may damage the diaphragm. Also, the wastegate should have a dedicated line that is as short as possible to ensure it can react quickly when the max boost is reached. Prodigy has the wastegate, blowoff valve, and boost gauge all teed off of the same line, and it also has to go to the purge valve on the passenger side fender. I had intended on hooking everything up per Prodigy’s instructions initially, and then down the road tweaking the wastegate hookups. However, after waiting a couple days for the Tee and hose to arrive, I found myself with some spare time and no parts. I did have the proper fitting to hook up the WG before the throttle body and then I could use the old wastegate hose for my boost gauge. The logic on hooking it up this was sound (to me at least), it seemed like a much better way to run it, and it would allow me to finally get to test drive my Jeep with the turbo kit. So I hooked it up per the other customers recommendation.
I initially had some problems getting it to start but was able to work through it and got it running. One thing I noticed was that the boost gauge seemed to be off. With the key on but the engine off the boost gauge showed about 1.5 psi of boost. Im above sea level so it should be showing slight vacuum if anything. I took it for a ride and the gauge showed it spiking much higher than the 8 psi spec from Prodigy (only very briefly during shifts), but due to the inaccuracy of the gauge, I didn’t know if it was correct. I sent them a data log and mentioned the issue with the gauge. They again failed to respond at all to the quality issue but pointed the finger at the overboost. I was starting to see a pattern with their customer service. They were always very helpful with small problems or questions but didn’t want to acknowledge any of the issues that could seem like they were at fault in relation to any sort of quality problems. By the time they responded to the datalog, I had received the proper tee and hose so I tried hooking it up how they specified and the boost still was high at times but it was much more reasonable. I think maybe the fitting I had was too restrictive. I sent them a new datalog and told them that it was running really well now, but at higher rpms the power seemed to cut in and out. Right after the tune was sent, I took it for another brief drive and a Cylinder 3 misfire code came up. I sent them another email informing them. They responded telling me my tune needs adjustment. As the weekend approached, I asked if they had a chance to update my tune because I would have time to upload it and try it out and re-datalog. They responded with an email saying “This is the latest file available for the JK system. Please make sure you clear adaptives” and attached a tune file titled “Prodigy 6.2”. I thought this was strange because it was the same name as the previous tune they had sent. I opened up the HP Tuners (I was very impressed with tuner and software itself) and used the Compare Tune feature to see if there were any differences. There wasn’t…it was the same tune file they had sent and that they had told me it needed adjustment. I told them that it was the same tune that I had installed, and AGAIN they didn’t respond.
So a couple days later….the weather was nice and the jeep ran well in normal RPMs so I decided clear the misfire code and take it for another drive to see if it came back up. I also recleared the adaptives. A mile or two from home after accelerating (not at WOT) my jeep started making some horrible noises and shut down with smoke coming from the engine compartment. I got a tow home and started this thread: https://www.wranglerforum.com/f202/p...t-2383519.html
…Long story short, I believe a piston had catastrophic failure leading to a rod punching a hole in the block. I sent them a heated, but still professional (IMO) email telling them what happened. I sent it to the salesman that I had been working with as well as the tuning department that wasn’t answering my previous email.
This was their response:
Just read your email, I am not part of the tuning department I am only head of sales.
I was reading the back and forth Dialogue here and I can understand your frustration of this situation. It looks as though the original issue was the installation not being followed as directed.
The vehicle produced double the boost of what it should be. That happened because you did not follow our instruction as you said, but rather a person on a forum. We gain about 20WHP per every pound of boost, which would put you around 320WHP more than stock.. That is way too much for the stock internals. Not sure how much it was driven like this. Then I see you had a P0303 Code cylinder 3 miss fire. What was done to diagnose this miss fire? What did you find?
The catastrophic failure of the engine was not caused by the tune file, as this is the same tune in hundreds if not thousands of Jeeps across the world. If the tune was causing these issues we would not be in business for as long as we have been.
The Tune file needed no change, the changes that the tuning department were originally concerned with was due to improper installation. Which was causing an over boost condition, this cannot be controlled via tune. This is probably the cause of the catastrophic engine failure.
We will be closed tomorrow and Back at the office Friday Morning 9am if you would like to give us a call.”
Honestly, they may be right. The overboost may have overstressed my engine and, even though I had corrected the issue, it could have been just a matter of time before the engine failed. However, I only strayed from the instructions after having several quality issues and not having the proper components to install correctly. But yes maybe that was a risk I took upon myself. I had a huge issue with them using the argument that the tune was used by “hundreds if not thousands of Jeeps across the world”. I was upsold gauges specifically to allow them to tweak their tune for my individual Jeep. I should not be running the same tune as everyone else, especially after they told me that it needed adjustment and then they failed to give me any support. I responded telling them all this and mentioned that I only drove it down the street to test drive and datalog. I then parked it waiting for their response which never came. If they needed more time to make the adjustment, they should have just said so and I would have let it sit. I have another vehicle as a daily driver. They again didn’t respond to my email.
I spent several days weighing out my options. I considered a Jasper Reman engine, ponying up for a V8 (wasn’t ready to pony up that much), and just finding a motor pulled out of a trashed or engine swapped vehicle. I decided the last option would be best and I sourced one from a Charger with 30K miles for a reasonable price. I figured since I was going through the trouble, I should just rebuild the engine so its fresh. I debated what to due with this turbo I have time and money invested in. I’m the sort of person who does like a challenge, and I still think that it could be made to work. My plan in my head was to rebuild the engine and take Prodigy out of the equation. I no longer had any faith in their customer service. I decided I would get the lightest WG spring Tial offered (4ps) and find a local tuner to dyno tune, and once I was certain the tune was safe start upping the boost back to the 7-8 psi of the Prodigy kit (or less if I didn’t feel comfortable). If I couldn’t get it tuned write I would scrap the kit and go back to stock.
I was still nervous about the strength of the Pentastar internals though, and thought I had an opportunity for Prodigy to help me out a bit and maybe we could all walk away from this with no hard feelings. I called them up and told them that maybe they were right about the failure due to the overboost, but asked if he understood my frustrations with the service I had experienced so far. He seemed very hesitant to admit any fault, but eventually said that he understood where I was coming from. I told him I had sourced an engine that I was planning on rebuilding and that I really wanted to make this kit work. I asked if it was possible for them to help me out with the price on their forged internals. He seemed happy to work with me and again recited his sales pitch about the turbo being the best kit out there (I was kind of irritated by this because 1-I had already bought the kit so I wasn’t going to buy another and 2-I have had a ton of problems with it.). He told me he would send me a quote. I asked him to leave the block guard off because I didn’t want to use it. With all these problems, I do not want to run anymore than the recommended 7-8 psi (that seemed like what the superchargers all run around too without a high-altitude pulley). Also, through my research I found that a lot of people don’t like block guards. They add stability to the cylinders, but at the cost of potential cooling issues and heat concentrations that can cause the cylinder to crack. The salesman informed me that they no longer include the block guard because the machinists were installing incorrectly which caused a block to crack (again an outward finger pointing instead of admitting that this is a known issue with block guards). I was confident that their quote would be reasonable. In the quote the original price was listed as $4,617. The final price was $4,000 even. I told him that I appreciated him working with me and that I had hoped for a little better price. I had already spent almost twice that amount on their turbo kit, and I informed him that I had sourced an engine for $1,400. I estimated the machining costs of a rebuild to be around a grand plus odds and ends stuff like gaskets, timing components, and anything that got damaged when during teardown. He said he would have to run it passed the owner and asked that I give him until the following day to respond. I was still confident we could work something out and told him I could wait.
In the meantime I decided to do some math. The forged internal bundle that is typically priced at $4617 comes with 3 things now forged pisons (available by themselves for $1549), forged connecting rods ($2199), and ARP headstuds ($449). Per our conversation it no longer includes the block guard. If bought individually the total is $4197, less than buying them together. Even with the $299 block guard the total would be $4496. So basically they gave me $200 off of kit that is over 4 grand. I could order their parts through a vendor and get 10% off just for mentioning this forum. I figured the owner would have more pull though and give me a better price.
Now here is were their business practices really seems ****ed up
. Later that day (I wasn’t supposed to hear back until the following day), I was bored scrolling through Instagram on my phone. I randomly decided to check out Prodigy’s IG page. I had no intentions of posting anything negative (or at all) on their page. I knew I followed it but it wouldn’t come up when I searched. So, I went on my computer and found it right away. I thought it was strange, so I tried again on my phone spelling it exactly how it was on my computer and still couldn’t find it. I very rarely go on IG on the computer, so I wasn’t logged into my profile. Usually I just scroll through on my phone when Im bored, like I did that day. With the
turbosystems page open I my computer, I logged into my account….”Page Not Found”….These guys found my account (not hard since my profile name is just my birth name, which they know) and blocked me!!
Keep in mind that, at this time (and still currently), I had not contacted them in anyway on any social media site. I had only contacted them via email and phone calls. Even in my thread I linked above, I kept their name out of it, because I understand how things can happen in manufacturing and figured Prodigy would want to resolve this together with me. Clearly they aren’t actually confident in their customer service either! Who knows how many other people had negative experiences and were silenced before they had a chance to speak on it. Maybe Prodigy should be as proactive with their customer services as they are with tracking down people’s personal accounts.
I was told on Wednesday that I would here back the following day (Thursday) about what the owner had to say. It is now the weekend. It wouldn’t be out of the question to here from them next week, but after everything Im not holding my breath.
I guess in the end, maybe I brought this on myself, but I really expected better from Prodigy and wanted to give my experience.