Thursday, January 18, 2018

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 properly and safely optimized for efficiency and as a result, yields power. Dynotuning helps determine if the bolt-on parts you've 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.

I can tune for better gas mileage?
Yes you can. 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 pulling fuel to meet a set 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 see 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. Use the "Dollar per Horsepower" ratio to determine your value. We've seen many $100 per horsepower parts in the tuning industry. If that was the industry standard, would $10 per horsepower sound attractive to you?

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.

What if I can only afford 1hr of tuning?
1hr doesn't give us much time especially if you're looking for steady state part throttle tuning as well as full throttle tuning. We recommend you to reach out to us, detailing your engine setup for evaluation and we'll follow up with a dyno estimate. 2-3hrs on most street engines would give us adequate time to perform a quality 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?
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. Knowing we have a slight disadvantage on setup with our Dynapack 3000, BlackTrax starts their rate at the time the setup is complete. To increase your value per dollar, we don't charge you for jacking up the car, taking off the wheels, bolting on the hub adapters and sliding on the load absorption pods (easily 10-15 minutes).


-Baseline: $100/hr includes 3 consecutive pulls with wideband air/fuel ratio datalog.

-Tuning $200/hr for tuning which can consist of adjusting anything related to timing or fuel whether electronically or mechanically.

-Dyno Rental with BT Technician $150/hr (2hr min.) Along with setup and tear down, BlackTrax will provide an on-site technician to operate the Dynapack software and provide an extra set of eyes to monitor gauges.

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 so you don’t lose your spot. We may and have turned away customers due to tardiness and/or time constraints.

2) Wheel Lock Keys Are Required
Please be sure to bring your wheel lock keys as it is required to remove the drive tires for the Dynapack Dyno.

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
It is extremely important that you 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 E85 and E100 ethanol. Flex-Fuel tuning is also available.

5) Operation
How is the car running? Are there any major problems that we should be aware of? Let us know before the tune. The more information that can help with the tuning process, the smoother the process will be.

6) 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.

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 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. 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.

9) Exhaust Systems
Inspect the exhaust system for leaks. Leaks can result in loss of power. On turbocharged setups, exhaust manifold leaks will not spool the turbo effectively, causing unstable boost levels. For normally aspirated engines, open header dyno sessions are allowed. It is not recommended to change your exhaust configuration after the tuning is completed. 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 re-tune.

10) Fluid Leaks
Please check for fuel, coolant or misc oil leaks. Due to 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 about your session after the completion of the tune to provide you with comments, tips and advice.

If you're interested in making an appointment, please email us or visit our website at

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

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