Learning to Tune

by Michael Decipha Ponthieux
Posted: 2019-05-04
Last Updated: -

It takes most people about a year of constant fiddling and dedication before they are knowledgeable enough and comfortable enough to fully tune a vehicle.

In order to be a successful tuner there are at least 4 basic things you have to know.

  • 1) the complete operation and intricacies of how the specific engine your tuning mechanically functions and how everything works together. This is how you know what changes need to be made for the modifications a vehicle has. And how your tuning changes affect different things like ignition timing and its affects on emissions as well as performance and fueling how it affects fuel economy, catalytic efficiency, exhaust valve temps etc...

  • 2) Tuning is computer programming so you have to at least know the bare basics to programming, i.e. how an integrated circuit operates commands in and commands out. This will help you understand your algorithms and logic flow. This is how you know what your changes actually do to the engine and how the vehicle/engine will respond.

  • 3) you have to have a full understanding of the electronics and functioning of all your sensors in order to interpret the data the sensors are giving you in order to interpret datalogs. Computers are just calculators. Tuning is just making the computer do what you want. For any given condition a value will be returned and you as the tuner have to know what that value should be. That way you know the difference between a good value or a bad value and how to make the computer respond to those values. In short what to adjust based on what data the sensors are giving the computer in order to make it do what you want. i.e. the parameters to adjust for any given condition and by how much.

  • 4) This is the hardest for most people to understand. It is imperative that you understand that an engine is simply an air pump. The more air in the more horsepower it makes. And that horsepower is only a measurement of time distance and weight. The ONLY accurate way to measure horsepower is at the track. Time == et. Distance == 1/4 mile. Weight == actual vehicle weight. In short, this is why hp == tq at 5252 rpm. And hp == tq * rpm / 5252. Thus, horsepower only matters above 5252 rpm and below that torque is what your concerned with.

    Only then you can proceed with tuning. And that in itself gets involved too. At a minimum you need to know the following:
    • Detonation - ping, rattle, knock, what ever you want to call it. You need to know what it is and how to identify and prevent it.
    • Pre-Ignition - The silent killer. Pre-ignition causes severe engine damage in very little time with no warning. You need to know why.
    • Stoichiometry - Need to know what stoich is and how its affected by different fuels and how its affect is on commanded enrichment.
    • How to Read Spark Plugs - Clear indicator of how healthy and happy the engine really is.

    With experience and time everything else will come to you.

    ----> Continue to Getting Started Write Up ---->

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