It has come to my attention from the Tuners Network that there are a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. Apparently, there are Tuners using a software program by the name of DynoGen for less than honorable purposes. This Program allows the user to generate a 100% fake Dyno graph and uses some spiffy graphics to produce a very eye pleasing Dyno Graph. The intended use is for research purposes only. However, the ladder of our colleagues use this program to inflate actual Dyno numbers to achieve results worthy of customer acclaim.
In this life, Reputation is all we’ve GOT! If you’re a Schmuck, people will eventually find out. If you put out a quality product or service, word will spread fast! When I bought my Chassis Dyno I made a promise to myself that I would never use a button or device to alter my work. Not even just too see, No Shenanigan’s period… I knew that I would have to let the truth lay, and challenge myself to get better. The results will do the talking, and if I am ever dissatisfied, I make it my mission to uncover the reason why. Brutal Honesty is the best policy. So I want to go on record and explain some of the ways to tell if your Dyno results are truthful, or if your Tuner is giving you the sham!
The institution known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE for short, has created precedent setting standards for the automotive industry since 1904. Did they even have cars then? Anyways, they set the standards for everything from Design, Fasteners, Torque Pattern, to mathematical calculations for finding things like Traction, Brake Horsepower, Torque and even Drag. Well I wont thump you over the head with the SAE Rulebook, but I will tell you about one important Standard they created that should be understood like the word of God for all Tuners to abide by. That Standard is J1349, “Certified Power.” The SAE spells out the many standards on performing this voluntary certification and the calculation methods used to collect data and ultimately arrive at true, “Horsepower and Torque.” The reason all this background information on the SAE is so important is because every Dynamometer Manufacturer in the U.S. uses the J1349 method as the basis to provide Horsepower and Torque data in some form or another.
So if you're ever in the market to have your engine dyno tested, yet want to sound educated before talking the talk, ask the Dyno Shop, “What method do you use to calculate HP & Torque.” The answer should be SAE J1349. Although believe it or not, SAE J1349 isn’t the only Standard used worldwide, however it is the only standard used by US Auto Manufactures. So Really, why would you use anything else? If the Auto Manufacturer used J1349 to get your HP numbers, wouldn’t it make sense to use the same method of comparison? Using anything else is like comparing Apples to Oranges. So if your Dyno Shop Doesn’t in fact use J1349, ask them to also provide data using the J1349 Method. It should be as easy as the click of a mouse, AND a serious Dyno Shop will always post, “J1349” or their preferred method on your Dyno Sheet, and the method should appear somewhere on the display during testing.
Another important parameter you should know is Weather Correction. Weather correction is an integral part of the J1349 method, and in real life plays an enormous part in how well an engine performs. If you have ever raced consistently at a track or street at 3am, you know that cold Air always makes more power. Cold air is much more dense, which means more fuel can be added to the combustion process, and therefore more power is made, hopefully. For adjustability purposes, Dyno Manufacturers allow changes to be made to the parameter of weather correction so that Tuners CAN tune a car for altitude changes and Hot, Cold, or Humid climates. With that said, now you know that Tuners and Dyno Operators have the ability to change HP & Torque numbers based on weather correction. Well, I personally have never seen my Dyno’s software make a correction over 15% here in Wisconsin. So if I was to see a weather correction of 30% or more on a Dyno Print out, I would say that the Dyno Operator may have lied to you if the weather conditions that day are sunny and mild. If the Dyno Sheet doesn’t show Correction Percentages, ask to see them on the computer.
So there you have it! I have officially spilled the beans! The jig is up Shady Tuners. And so It is possible the Tuners around the world might have a riff with me now, but if the Tuner truly has integrity, would he seriously be upset that these secrets are know? That’s the way I see it anyways. Transparency. Integrity. Honesty. Need I say More?
The internet has some good info about tuning Ford and GM, but nothing truly complete. Mostly bits and pieces. And even then you have to wade through the troll comments and riff-raff. There is a lot of incomplete information out there, partial truths posted in Forums, and even worse, Shady Tuners selling mail order Tunes and offering really strange advice. Personally, I think that Mail order tuning should be outlawed.
The only time that I personally recommend Mail order tuning is Never. Well maybe If you’re in the situation where you know no tuners in the area and you have a new PCM installed, LS Swap has been completed, or a Cam upgrade, THEN I would say it would be appropriate. But only for the simple reason of getting the motor started so that the car can be shaken down, and made sure that it is in good running condition before a proper tune can begin.
When a new PCM is installed, the PCM may demand a “Relearn” process in order to promulgate new system parameters, security sequence, locate the crank trigger sensors, and many other hidden protocol. The relearn process takes about thirty minutes to perform manually in a vehicle, however it can be done using HP Tuners Software in minutes. The VATS/PATS Security Measures Installed by the Manufacturer to prevent Vehicle Theft can prevent engine start as well. A few key strokes on HP Tuners can fix that. Other times when a Cam has been upgraded, the Airflow numbers won’t match the actual demand of the engine, and thus rendering the engine unable to start. A good tuner will know what the right airflow numbers should be based on Cam Specs.
Because no two vehicles are the same, tuning takes precision. There are Mail Order Tuners that will take your money and send you back what I call a, “Cookie Cutter” Tune. One Size fits all. Maybe subtle changes based on specs you have given. But no Matter how good the Tuner is, there is no way he could possibly install an Accurate Tune for your specific vehicle. There is no way the Tuner could know the true demand of the engine without first harnessing the actual data from your specific vehicle. There will be many parameters that have error percentages above 5% or more. There are just too many variables to the equation for your vehicle. For instance, Parts, Tires, Air Filter, Fuel Filter, Vacuum Leaks, Altitude, Weather, Octane, and any number of changes you or your mechanic physically made to engine, all could have a noticeable impact on the tune of your Ride.
I can’t Stress enough that every vehicle NEEDS its own Custom Tune. I have fixed several mail order tunes in my time, and have heard of many people getting burned including myself before I started Tuning. The result of a mail order tune is an engine that doesn’t quite run right. Has a weird cough or hiccup at highway speed or some specific RPM, that only goes away after you floored it or completely let off the gas. And those problems are only if you get lucky. Other cases have resulted in Engine damage, PCM Damage, Long Wait times including shipping, Shipping Damage, No Start, you name it.
There is just too much to chance. Your investment is at serious risk of harm by relying on guesswork. Shots in the dark is the result of Mail Order Tuning. I personally feel it’s just bad business. So my advice is always find a professional tuner that can connect scanning equipment to your vehicle, collect and analyze real world data, and make changes based upon actual results. The outcome will make you much happier, save you money, and lower your exposure for serious headache and heartache…
Lately I have been getting a lot of questions on VE Tables and Base Maps. There isn’t really a whole lot of info out there about it, and most Tuners tend not to offer much information with customers. Probably because they don’t want to reveal their secrets of wizardry… Anyways, my brand of business has always been openness, fairness and honesty. Naturally I hope to add value to my services by sharing information with my clients, because I believe, an informed client is a happier client in the end.
So here goes: VE is an acronym for Volumetric Efficiency. The picture to the left shows the image of a VE Table (To the far left) and its associated Chart (To the right). The VE Table is a graphical depiction, made up of airflow numbers based upon the Axis of MAP and RPM sensor readings. So as the Engine cycles, the ECM calculates fueling measurements in a micro second, based upon airflow numbers from the VE table plus any other parameter set by the Factory Calibration. There are dozens of tables like the VE Table, all used to complete the matrix of a, “Tune.”
The Chart offers a visual diagram, or graphical interface for the Tuner to see the difference in plotted points within the VE Table. The Chart can sometimes be mistaken as, “The Map” or “Base Map” of the engine, if you will. Technically those are pretty loose terms, because a Tuner doesn’t tune a Map. The Tuner uses Data from a scanned log file of a running engine, and based upon the output of data harnessed from the engine, the VE Table is calibrated to meet the demand of the Engine. Using the term base map could mean anything, or any part of the Tune. So when I hear somebody talk about Tuning the Base Map, my first thought is, “Map of what?”
In my book there is no penalty for incorrect terminology, except two minutes for elbowing, “That’s a penalty!” However, other Tuners besides myself, may have dollar signs in their eyes when they hear you use such a vernacular. Using terms like, “ECM Calibration,” or if you own a GM, “PCM Tuning/Calibration,” would probably earn you more, “Street Cred” from a Tuner’s point of view.
The most important point here is to inform. Please don’t get me wrong that I have some hang-up about terminology, or you have to use the right words. No, I want my clients to be up to speed, wiser, and most importantly, informed. So the next time you got your leg up on a bumper, or serious lean on the tool box, you can talk the talk and “School” or “S-Cool” your Bros. Hope this helped…