Choosing a Tuner Basic Knowledge

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Choosing a Tuner Basic Knowledge

Post by WANTED on Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:58 pm

Tuning is made out to be a mystic art when in reality it is extremely calculated and can be done mathematically. Tuning is not just a matter of trial and error, although there is a little involved. Tuning is also extremely logical. A tuner does not just start changing values randomly. There actually are a specific set of steps involved in the process. The purpose of this thread is to debunk a lot of myth and to aid you in choosing whom you feel to be a qualified tuner. This is not intended to bash any tuner. If you want any tuner recommendations from me, feel free to pm me and I can refer you to a few.

Now first things first, tuning is something that is learned and comes from experience. Now this doesn't mean one has to be school trained, but I'd be extremely wary of having someone who isn't. There are a few ways that have become industry standard that you can look for in your tuners.
The first is certification from EFI University, whom offers classes on there campus as well as offers classes around the country at various shops that sponsor them to come. This series of classes is taught by experts in the field who have countless years of experience with almost every tuning application out there, have tuned engines of all types to include OEM from the ground up,, aircraft, heavy equipment, etc.... The people who attend this are also people who work for these companies as well as shop owners and hobbyists.
Another certification you should be looking for is from the manufacturers themselves, eg AEM, COBB, PRO Efi, Haltech, etc..... These companies offer training to shops who want it to become distributors for there products as well as to ensure that you the customer is getting competent support from the guy putting it in your car. The training is rather in depth and comes with the prerequisite of knowledge of how to tune from the ground up. If you can't do that, these companies won't certify you.
Also in the last few years, many of the technical colleges have been offering performance tuning as part of their curriculum. Unfortunately, performance tuning is not offered as an ASE certification.

So maybe your tuner doesn't have these certifications. That's not optimal, but not a complete show stopper. What they should have is the proper tools for the job. A mobile wideband is absolutely necessary, and or a dynamiter (dyno) of some sort (optimal, but not necessary). If they don't have that, BE EXTREMELY WARY. The guys who make these investments don't do so lightly, and only do so because they feel confident in doing that which they are offering.

If your "tuner" has none of the above, turn around and find someone who knows what they are doing as they are lying to you. Certification is extremely easy to verify as well. You can contact Efi University or the Ecu/tuning method manufacturer for verification of certification as they keep records of their alumni. The business isn't really that big and it's in their interest to recommend those that can get the job done correctly.

For more information as to the certification process, visit http://www.efi101.com/

So moving on, say your tuner does have some or all of the above. While this is good, it still helps you narrow the field. The following are a few finer points to consider in your selection.

What you'll find is that some tuners will only tune certain makes while others will tune anything. Bear in mind that although tuning is fairly universal and that one does not have to specialize in a certain make to tune it, it is advisable that your tuner is comfortable and familiar with the prospect of both the car as well as the tuning method.

Additionally, some will tune the cars you want but only if you have done to it what they want. This is a bit of a dick move on the part of tuners. SOme of this is based on a lack of knowledge on the tuner's part, and some of this does have some basis of knowledge behind it. The best way to decipher what the case is is to talk to your tuner. If he just blatently won't tune your car without you purchasing "x" part without any real reason, be extremely wary of that tuner trying to sell you something you don't necessarily need. If you think he's full of S***, research it.

Finally, a little research of your tuner really ought to be mandatory. Be extremely wary of a tuner who comes along with absolutely no reputation either on the web or by word of mouth.

Hope this helps you to make a responsible decision for your rather expensive investment.

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Re: Choosing a Tuner Basic Knowledge

Post by WANTED on Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:07 pm

Been getting a lot of questions about tuners lately on a few of the places I frequent and thought to bump this up again.

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Re: Choosing a Tuner Basic Knowledge

Post by WANTED on Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:08 pm

Hey Don, can I get this thread moved to the ECU tuning subforum?

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Re: Choosing a Tuner Basic Knowledge

Post by STi2eNvy on Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:54 pm

It's moved Smile

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Re: Choosing a Tuner Basic Knowledge

Post by WANTED on Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:00 pm

Thanks. Figured it would help more people out if it was in the appropriate location. Wink

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