Dyno Tuning: What It Can (And Can't) Do For You

Posted on: 11 June 2021

Have you ever wondered how much horsepower and torque your vehicle is putting down to the road? While manufacturer specs provide a baseline, they may be inaccurate or even intentionally deceiving. In addition, wear and tear along with aftermarket upgrades can also increase or decrease your car's power, potentially drastically altering its driving characteristics.

Enter the humble dynamometer or dyno. These specialized devices measure the amount of wheel horsepower generated by your vehicle. Wheel horsepower is a valuable measurement since it gives you a sense of your vehicle's "true" power after accounting for driveline losses from components such as the transmission or differential.

Why Should You Care?

If your car drives fine, why should you worry about the amount of horsepower at the wheels? While dyno tuning may not be necessary for the average motorist, it's an excellent option for the performance enthusiast. Professional tuners can use the data collected from a dynamometer to adjust your vehicle's computer values to squeeze every last bit of horsepower from your engine. 

Although manufacturers tune their cars from the factory, there may still be gains for stock vehicles. Automakers must make trade-offs between power and driveability, and so some cars have overhead for tuning to improve performance. If you have few or no modifications, then it's a good idea to discuss possible gains with a dyno tuner before bringing your car in.

On the other hand, heavily modified cars can significantly benefit from dyno tuning. When you add aftermarket upgrades to your vehicle, you change the platform the manufacturer used to build their factory tune. You may still see some gains without adjusting your tune, but changing the parameters in your engine control unit (ECU) is the best way to maximize the performance of aftermarket parts.

What Should You Expect?

Nothing ever comes for free, and you shouldn't think of dyno tuning as a way to "unlock" extra horsepower. Instead, experienced tuners make trade-offs to ensure that your engine is operating as efficiently as possible. Dynamometers are helpful for this purpose since tuners can make adjustments and immediately test their results with objective data.

If you've added many aftermarket parts to your car, then a dyno tune can ensure that you're getting the highest possible benefit from them. Additionally, a dyno tune may even make your vehicle run smoother and better since aftermarket upgrades may impact the careful air-fuel ratio of your car's factory tune.

Ultimately, it's critical to discuss your goals and expectations with your tuner before scheduling time. Although dyno tunes are one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your vehicle's performance, it's still essential to know what to expect before you arrive at the shop. Contact a company that provides dyno tuning services for more information.