Wednesday, June 1, 2022

FAQ's // Preparations Before Your Dyno

Warning: Tuning devices mentioned here may not be legal for sale or use in California on any pollution controlled motor vehicles. Please see for state by state emissions requirements.

In some cases, you might have reservations to dyno your vehicle due to reasons like "..but my engine is stock" or " doesn't need tuning, the guy I bought it from said he just had it tuned" or "it has a chip in it, but I don't know what kinda chip". We find the most common reason why people feel reserved is because they lack relevant knowledge and information about engine computer calibration.

I hope you find our write-up informational so that your next visit to the dyno will be a rewarding and pleasant experience.
-Jei Chang


What's the purpose of dynotuning?
It's to ensure your engine's tune is properly and safely optimized for efficiency and as a result, yields power. Dynotuning helps determine if the bolt-on parts added to your engine actually improves air flow in and out of the engine. So, whether you're looking for power increases and/or fuel economy, the dyno is ultimately a tuning tool that helps us achieve just that. Our tuning encompasses the configuration and optimization of starting, idle, part throttle as well as wide open throttle.

I can tune for better gas mileage?

Yes, with today's computer controlled electronic fuel injection, all it takes is a programmable computer combined with the steady state, part throttle load capability on our Dynapack 3000. On four cylinder Honda engines, we have typically seen a 5-10% mpg fuel savings on street and/or highway. Some extreme cases, we've seen more! Engine computers today are capable of adding or subtracting fuel to meet a set air-to-fuel ratio target. Instead of having a factory tolerance of say +/- 50% adjustment, we're able to optimize the fuel map so that you're at about +/- 5% within target. The less time it takes for the engine computer to have to work at fuel trim, the better the engine runs, uses less fuel and the performance results are consistent and repeatable.

My car is stock..will I see gains?
All OEM production vehicles are tuned conservatively from the factory for the most part with exception to a few performance oriented models. If you have a device that can alter fuel, timing, cam timing or cam lift, YES you will likely see mesurable gains.

What's the purpose of doing a baseline dyno?

It's to get base numbers. We save your data file which plots a horsepower graph, torque graph, air/fuel ratio, boost/vacuum, ambient temperatures/humidity as well as acceleration measured in g's. This data can be used to compare against new data results from new modifications. Now you have the resources to measure the results of your new modification spend. 
I got dyno'd over there at ShopX, and now here at BlackTrax. Can I compare these graphs?
It is not recommended as different dynos even of the same manufacturer can show varying results.  We always recommend going back to the same dyno to get the most accurate comparisons, but we won't turn you away if you choose to use BT from this point forth!

My car was tuned at ShopX, and now I want BlackTrax to tune it. How long will it take?
This depends on two factors: 1) your application 2) the level of time and effort put into the original tune by that particular tuner. Custom engine calibrations for a custom built engine will obviously require more time and effort than an engine with intake, header  and exhaust modifications. Our tuner will may download the previous map from the ecu and carefully evaluate it. The decision to work off the existing map or to start from scratch is left to the experienced tuner. There's always room to improve the tune.

I don't want to risk damaging my new engine. Can I break-in my new engine on the dyno?
Yes, on newly built engines we recommend to have the engine start, warm up and idle at our facility, simultaneously monitoring all sensors and making necessary edits to the software to allow the engine to idle independently and break in properly. We can provide an oil change after heat cycling as well. Thereafter, we apply light load with Dynapack's  steady state part throttle load to build a solid basemap. This process is critical for proper piston ring seal. Fact from Dodge: Every Hemi engine receives 42 minutes on the engine dyno for loads up to 90% at 5200rpm before they are installed into the various cars and shipped to dealerships.

What about race engines? Do you have to put 500miles on it before racing?

In all honesty, no.  The 500 mile recommendation is a generalization commonly used by shops to "keep it cool" for a while. The owner of the car should drive conservatively during this period of time and monitor engine health, monitor fluid levels and identify any abnormal noises or symptoms. On race cars, EVERYTHING is performed on the dyno from cold start to wide open throttle. Race cars leave the dyno, race ready for competitive racing events. The clutch is also bedded in and ready for use. BlackTrax offers track side tuning support for professional and semi-pro racing teams.

How do your dyno rates work?
We offer flat rate on many of the common standalone ECU systems. Hourly rate is offered should flat rate hours be exceeded. Hourly rate is offered to return clientele only.

The industry standard for dyno tuning is billed by the hour (not by half hour or by minute). What this means is, if your car is on the dyno at 6pm and off by 6:45pm, you incur 1hr of dyno labor. If your dyno time extends past one full hour, you have gone into the second billed hour. To make the most of your remaining time, BlackTrax technicians will make recommendations of alternative, proven tuning tips (aside from software editing) that we can try. Upon request, we can notify you when the next hour is coming around.

-Tuning Normal Aspirated Engines: $600-800 Flat Rate
(Covers up to 3-4hrs of dyno time. Additional time required to complete the tune is billed at the hourly rate of $220/hr)

-Tuning Forced Induction Engines: $1000-1200 Flat Rate

(Covers up to 5-6hrs of dyno time. Additional time required to complete the tune is billed at the hourly rate of $220/hr)

 -Tuning Unique Custom Engines & Engine Management Systems 
(Please contact us to inquire)

 -Return Customers for Touch-up or Additional Mods Tuning: $220/hr 

(2hr minimum requirement) 

How do I make an appointment?

BlackTrax Performance prefers to have appointments be made by email. We recommend before you make your dyno appointment, to please go over the following checklist to save both of us time. Let's try not use up your dyno time by fixing little problems.


1) Arrive On Time

Please try to arrive ON TIME. A good measure would be to arrive at least 10-15 min early. Trailered vehicles should consider arriving earlier. We have and will turn away customers for tardiness and/or time constraints so please be on time.

2) Wheel Lock Keys & Requirements
Please be sure to bring your wheel lock key(s) as it is required to remove the drive wheels for the Dynapack Dyno. Rear wheel drive vehicles must have adequate clearance for floor jack, diff access i.e no rear diffusers.

3) Electronic Devices/Controllers
Electronic Devices include fuel controllers, piggyback systems, AFM or MAF delete devices, boost or timing controllers. Make sure your electronic devices are connected and working properly. Please also make your communication cables is accessible for the tuner (i.e. USB or Serial cables).

4) Fuel
Bring the vehicle with the fuel topped off. It is extremely important to run high quality gas 91 octane or higher depending on your what your setup requires. BlackTrax offers tuning of race fuels and alternative fuels such as Methanol, E85 and E100 ethanol. Flex-Fuel tuning is also available.

5) Operating Conditions
How is the car running? Are there any significant issues we should be aware of? Please let us know before your appointment.

6) Visual Inspection
Look under the hood and check that all wiring connections are fine. Check coolant and vacuum lines for leaks. Make sure you don’t have any surprising check engine lights that may hinder your ECU or engine performance. Check all your fluid levels and top off if needed. It’s a good idea to do an oil change before dyno tuning. Nut and bolt check the engine, drivetrain and suspension.

7) Plugs

Spark plugs are cheap. If you have over 30k miles on your plugs, it’s a good idea to change them before tuning. Please make sure they’re gapped before installation. We can provide new plugs before your dyno session, however the install will cut into your dyno time. Please call a day or two in advance to place your spark plug order so we can have them waiting for you on your dyno day.

Common Plug Gaps:

Forced Induction Plug Gaps (0.026”-0.028”)
Normally Aspirated Plug Gaps (0.030-0.035)

Colder Heat Range Plugs Commonly Used on 4cyl Japanese Engines:
NGK Copper - BCPR7ES
NGK Iridium - BKR7EIX
ND Iridium - IK22 = 7 heat range
NGK Iridium - BKR8EIX
ND Iridium - IK24 = 8 heat range
NGK Iridium - BKR9EIX
ND Iridium - IK26 = 9 heat range

8) Intake and Intercooler Piping

Clean your air filter: Often overlooked, clogged or poor flowing filters are one of the most common root causes of low horsepower. We recommend high quality element air filters. Most knock off brands have resulted in loss of power due to flow restrictions caused by inferior filter elements used. Forced induction setups should inspect all intake piping and intercooler piping connections. Make sure clamps are tight and welds are complete. Please also make sure your pipe connectors are not dry or cracked. We recommend 3-4 ply high temp silicone connectors because of their high heat resistance and flexibility properties. Vanjen clamps are a stronger form of connecting pipes commonly used in professional competition vehicles.

9) Exhaust System
Inspect the exhaust system for leaks and dents. Leaks and dents create flow restriction, resulting in loss of power. On turbocharged setups, wastegate and exhaust manifold leaks will not spool the turbo effectively, resulting in unstable boost levels. It is not recommended to change your exhaust configuration after custom tuning. Engines tuned with a full exhaust system may operate leaner when removed. If the exhaust configuration has changed after the tune, we highly recommend a revisit for a touch-up tune.

10) Fluid Leaks

Please check for fuel, coolant or misc oil leaks. Due to the obvious potential risks, BlackTrax may refuse to dyno a vehicle if it has signs of fluid leaks. The technician and/or tuner reserves the right to make this decision.


Our goal is to provide you with a safe, exciting and rewarding experience with your tuned ride. PLEASE try your best to refrain from excessive communication with the tuner. Ultimately, this may impact your tuning time and may potentially promote errors. Your tuner will provide you with an overview of your session after the completion of the tune, and provide you with comments, tips and advice.

To book an appointment, please Contact Us.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and we hope to see you soon!