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Tuning, SCT & Others


nachtkriechen

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This has been bugging me for a while now. If you have a stock GT, and you add engine mods to it (e.g. CAI, Supercharger, Cams, exhaust, etc.) do you have to have a professional tune it on an SCT or other tuner, or is this something you can learn how to do yourself? And if so, where do you learn how to tune peak performance into a specifically modded engine?

 

It just seems a bit on the ridiculous side, to have to shell out thousands of bucks for a part, depending upon the part, you might be shelling out another grand or more for labor, then who knows how much to dyno, and then get charged to have someone tune it for you. I like to do as much hands on learning as I can to save myself money, but, I'm not a wrench turner. My knowledge of engine mechanical work is basically limited to changing the oil and plugs. Beyond that, it's a mystery to me.

 

 

Thanks,

 

 

 

- Josh

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This has been bugging me for a while now. If you have a stock GT, and you add engine mods to it (e.g. CAI, Supercharger, Cams, exhaust, etc.) do you have to have a professional tune it on an SCT or other tuner, or is this something you can learn how to do yourself? And if so, where do you learn how to tune peak performance into a specifically modded engine?

 

It just seems a bit on the ridiculous side, to have to shell out thousands of bucks for a part, depending upon the part, you might be shelling out another grand or more for labor, then who knows how much to dyno, and then get charged to have someone tune it for you. I like to do as much hands on learning as I can to save myself money, but, I'm not a wrench turner. My knowledge of engine mechanical work is basically limited to changing the oil and plugs. Beyond that, it's a mystery to me.

Thanks,

- Josh

 

 

Most tuners already have tune files for common mods like headers, CAI and so on. They can email you an updated tune for your new mod and then you install the new tune with the mod. Bamachips is one tuner that does just this.

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Most tuners already have tune files for common mods like headers, CAI and so on. They can email you an updated tune for your new mod and then you install the new tune with the mod. Bamachips is one tuner that does just this.

 

Thanks, 90GT. I have another question. Lets say you get a CAI and get the tune for the CAI, then later, you add a blower, do the SCT & Bama tuners add to the CAI tune you've already done? In other words, do the tuners take into account the CAI AND the blower, or do they email you a custom tune for all mods you've made to date?

 

 

Thanks,

 

 

 

- Josh

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Thanks, 90GT. I have another question. Lets say you get a CAI and get the tune for the CAI, then later, you add a blower, do the SCT & Bama tuners add to the CAI tune you've already done? In other words, do the tuners take into account the CAI AND the blower, or do they email you a custom tune for all mods you've made to date?

Thanks,

- Josh

 

 

They can send you a new tune for the mods you specifically have. Although if your going with a blower I'd get it custom tuned at that point.

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Thanks, 90GT. I have another question. Lets say you get a CAI and get the tune for the CAI, then later, you add a blower, do the SCT & Bama tuners add to the CAI tune you've already done? In other words, do the tuners take into account the CAI AND the blower, or do they email you a custom tune for all mods you've made to date?

Thanks,

- Josh

 

Let me take one step back and start from there.

 

Since the ECU (engine computer) reads all the sensors, controls most all engine functions/realtionships, it's where the actual tuning is done.

 

A tuner (the 'box, e.g. an SCT, Diablosport, Bamachips, etc) is merely the medium to store the tune and load it into non-volatile memory thereby replacing the existing factory tune. In the old days, you'd fiddle with the vacuum advance or convert it to mechanical advance weights, tweak the ignition timing, etc. Now, it's all done electronically as a stored program that resides in the ECU. The tuner is used to 'install' the alternative 'tune' (program). It can also be used to tweak some parameters of the tune, but only if you know what you're doing (esp. true for a S/C motor like the GT500).

 

For most popular changes 'canned' (pre-built) tunes are already prepared. For more complex changes, specialized tunes may be available or a custom dyno-tune may be more appropriate (more advantageous) depending on the nature of the modifications planned.

 

A basic scenario: You have a stock GT and want to improve the stock throttle response (lag) and pick up a little power and torque too. Any of the popular tuner-box products would do the job and the shops that sell them will load an appropriate 'canned' (pre-made) tune into the box for your. They mail you the tuner box (with the tune installed) and you load the tune in place of the factory tune ...actually the box will swap tunes and record your ECU-id so that if you want to restore the factory tune you can do so easily -- and it can only be swapped back into the correct vehicle.

 

The major tuner-box makers all have developed or purchased tunes for the most popular modifications and vehicles. For example, if you just want a tune for your mustang GT or with a CAI, or with a CAI/cat-back-exhaust/headers, there are almost certainly decent canned tunes available.

 

However, if you have all those mods and are thinking of adding a supercharger and/or cams, and/or other mods, there might be a tune available from the S/C supplier but, in all likelihood, it was not optimized for your specific CAI/cat-backs/headers/cams etc and you would be better off with a custom dyno tune from a reputable dyno-tuner who has experience with your car/mods

 

If you already have a tuner-box from an earlier 'canned' tune and the dyno-tuner sells that brand tuner-box, they will be able to load into your existing tuner-box the tune they custom develop on their dyno specifically for your car and its mods. For Mustangs, it seems SCT tuner-boxes are popular (there are several models depending on your needs) and the vendors who advertise in here -- Evo, JLT, etc -- sell SCT tuner-boxes, canned-tunes, specially developed 'stage-x' packages and tunes, and also do custom dyno-tunes.

 

So, going back to the basic scenario where you've bought an SCT-tuner and canned tune to perk-up your GT, if you later decide to buy a JLT CAI, a cat-back exhaust and headers, JLT or Evo or whoever you buy it from can likely provide an updated canned tune for your car/mods which can be e-mailed to you and downloaded from your PC with software provided on a CD that came with your SCT-tuner, for example. The you can install the new pieces and load the revised tune into your car (or go to your dyno tuner to buy and install the pieces and load the tune).

 

If you later decide on more extensive mods (a supercharger, long-tubes, cams, race-gas, etc) it would most likely be far better to get a custom dyno tune (you'll get more out of the mods that way) and the custom tune will be loaded on your car (and the original factory tune is still in your tuner-box) for you before you leave the shop. Most tuner-boxes can store a few tunes.

 

Also, if you buy a mod that should not require a tune change (e.g. axle-backs) or experience a problem with an existing mod-combo with a particular tune, you can call your friendly dyno-shop where you bought the mod/tune/tuner-box and they may ask you to use the tuner-box to "data-log" specific sensor/ECU parameters and then e-mail that data to them for analysis. Often they can diagnose the problem and e-mail you back an improved tune compatible with your mods. Evo has done this many times for their customers (and even for potential customers on occasion ;-), so the tuner-box can be used in several ways besides just storing and loading a canned tune.

 

Hope this gives you enough to put more of the 'process' in perspective. If you have more questions please ask -- there's a lot of great folks in here with a lot of hands-on experience (more than I have) who have likely had the same question at some time in the past... so feel free to ask -- that's how we've all learned at one point or another.

 

Dan

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Great explanation Dan. Doug at Bamachips sets up tunes but sells them as files that can be installed via a Diablosport Predator or one of the SCT devices or or as combos already loaded on a Diablo or SCT tuner. I'm using his 93 octane torque tune and have been very impressed. He came to a Dyno day at Dyno Joes here in Houston and answered several questions I had about short term and long term trim adjustments and their impact on a custom tune.

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Let me take one step back and start from there.

 

Since the ECU (engine computer) reads all the sensors, controls most all engine functions/realtionships, it's where the actual tuning is done.

 

A tuner (the 'box, e.g. an SCT, Diablosport, Bamachips, etc) is merely the medium to store the tune and load it into non-volatile memory thereby replacing the existing factory tune. In the old days, you'd fiddle with the vacuum advance or convert it to mechanical advance weights, tweak the ignition timing, etc. Now, it's all done electronically as a stored program that resides in the ECU. The tuner is used to 'install' the alternative 'tune' (program). It can also be used to tweak some parameters of the tune, but only if you know what you're doing (esp. true for a S/C motor like the GT500).

 

For most popular changes 'canned' (pre-built) tunes are already prepared. For more complex changes, specialized tunes may be available or a custom dyno-tune may be more appropriate (more advantageous) depending on the nature of the modifications planned.

 

A basic scenario: You have a stock GT and want to improve the stock throttle response (lag) and pick up a little power and torque too. Any of the popular tuner-box products would do the job and the shops that sell them will load an appropriate 'canned' (pre-made) tune into the box for your. They mail you the tuner box (with the tune installed) and you load the tune in place of the factory tune ...actually the box will swap tunes and record your ECU-id so that if you want to restore the factory tune you can do so easily -- and it can only be swapped back into the correct vehicle.

 

The major tuner-box makers all have developed or purchased tunes for the most popular modifications and vehicles. For example, if you just want a tune for your mustang GT or with a CAI, or with a CAI/cat-back-exhaust/headers, there are almost certainly decent canned tunes available.

 

However, if you have all those mods and are thinking of adding a supercharger and/or cams, and/or other mods, there might be a tune available from the S/C supplier but, in all likelihood, it was not optimized for your specific CAI/cat-backs/headers/cams etc and you would be better off with a custom dyno tune from a reputable dyno-tuner who has experience with your car/mods

 

If you already have a tuner-box from an earlier 'canned' tune and the dyno-tuner sells that brand tuner-box, they will be able to load into your existing tuner-box the tune they custom develop on their dyno specifically for your car and its mods. For Mustangs, it seems SCT tuner-boxes are popular (there are several models depending on your needs) and the vendors who advertise in here -- Evo, JLT, etc -- sell SCT tuner-boxes, canned-tunes, specially developed 'stage-x' packages and tunes, and also do custom dyno-tunes.

 

So, going back to the basic scenario where you've bought an SCT-tuner and canned tune to perk-up your GT, if you later decide to buy a JLT CAI, a cat-back exhaust and headers, JLT or Evo or whoever you buy it from can likely provide an updated canned tune for your car/mods which can be e-mailed to you and downloaded from your PC with software provided on a CD that came with your SCT-tuner, for example. The you can install the new pieces and load the revised tune into your car (or go to your dyno tuner to buy and install the pieces and load the tune).

 

If you later decide on more extensive mods (a supercharger, long-tubes, cams, race-gas, etc) it would most likely be far better to get a custom dyno tune (you'll get more out of the mods that way) and the custom tune will be loaded on your car (and the original factory tune is still in your tuner-box) for you before you leave the shop. Most tuner-boxes can store a few tunes.

 

Also, if you buy a mod that should not require a tune change (e.g. axle-backs) or experience a problem with an existing mod-combo with a particular tune, you can call your friendly dyno-shop where you bought the mod/tune/tuner-box and they may ask you to use the tuner-box to "data-log" specific sensor/ECU parameters and then e-mail that data to them for analysis. Often they can diagnose the problem and e-mail you back an improved tune compatible with your mods. Evo has done this many times for their customers (and even for potential customers on occasion ;-), so the tuner-box can be used in several ways besides just storing and loading a canned tune.

 

Hope this gives you enough to put more of the 'process' in perspective. If you have more questions please ask -- there's a lot of great folks in here with a lot of hands-on experience (more than I have) who have likely had the same question at some time in the past... so feel free to ask -- that's how we've all learned at one point or another.

 

Dan

 

Thanks very much, Dan! I think I've got it now. So, basically there's no way around paying for everything and you can't do it yourself. It sounds like you really need to understand not only what each component of the engine is doing, but the physics involved as well, in order to tweak something in the computer for more, or peak power. Oy! I guess it really doesn't matter unless you have your own Dyno at home. If I understand everything correctly, to get the best performance from the mods you've added to your car, (especially if they're less common, like blowers and cams) you need a custom tune, which, after a base test the shop would need to look at the power and torque curves and see if there's any place they could tweak it to get the most out of the parts.

 

Thanks also, 90GT. Do either of you know what the cost of getting a custom tune done at a reliable shop might cost?

 

Thanks again,

 

 

 

- Josh

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