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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Perth, WA
    Posts
    6,918

    Really, how safe is your tune?

    I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day, now this guy has over 20 years experience in the tuning industry, he has tuned a lot of LSA powered HSV's and has a very impressive resume. He's a straight up guy and will tell you what's what without leading you down the garden path so I hold his opinion in pretty high regard. We got onto the topic of the LSA tuning industry and some of the stories that came about were quiet scary, one in particular stood out in my mind...

    He recently had a forum member contact him in regard to the tune in his LSA powered HSV that he wasn’t 100% happy with. The tune was done by another “reputable tuner” (I don’t want to bad mouth workshops, this is NOT the intention of this post, so don't bother asking to name names). The car had a typical 600+ pack fitted, intake, exhaust, boost, cam etc and had drivability issues. The customer was told he had a very high claimed power output (600+) yet the engine still retained the standard LSA fuel injectors even though the owner had asked if upgraded fuel injectors were needed or not. The owner initially took the car back to the workshop that did the original tuning and cam fitment and informed them of the drivability issue, the answer was that the drivability issue was caused due to being “in between load cells”, that’s just how it is and "there's nothing we can do". The car ended up in the hands my tuner friend and he looked at the tune in detail, the truth of the mater was that the ECU’s VE table was left 100% standard by the workshop in question and they had not tuned the VE table to suit the cam.
    The car was then run up on the dyno and it was 90 rwhp down compared to the claimed power it was supposed to have. We all understand that every dyno reads different, in this case both dyno’s were the same brand, so I can understand give or take a little but 90 rwhp? Come on!

    That said, this isn’t the disturbing part of all this.

    The base line power run was data logged, now this is tuner dependant as each tuner will log different things, however there are parameters that MUST be logged for the engines safety, for example, fuel pressure, injector duty, knock, water temp etc etc. This particular cars tune had it's factory RPM limit of 6,200rpm elevated to 6,900 rpm. The power run was aborted at approx 6,450 rpm. At this point the fuel injector duty was at 111% (injectors held static), the commanded fuel pressure was 65psi (65 psi is standard LSA parameters) however the actual fuel pressure was only 47psi. Clearly the standard fuel pump and injectors weren't supporting the engines demand for fuel due to the cam swap & boost increase, as fuel pressure drops (due to pump flow being inadequate) the tune then commands the fuel injectors to inject more fuel (open longer) to meet the target A/F, the injectors are commanded to open longer and longer as rpm increases due to the engine needing more and more fuel with rpm but in turn the fuel pressure drops more and more hence the 111% injector duty.

    To simplify things for those unfamiliar with HP Tuners, these things have been highlighted in the screenshot of the log. The general safe rule for injector duty cycle is around 80%, this particular car was running 111% and as mentioned, desired fuel pressure is 65PSI, this car had 47PSI from the injectors being constantly open. It doesn't take much when you're running lean and under high load for a boosted engine to throw a leg out of bed!



    To add insult to all this, the engine had an indicated 8 deg of ignition knock (pinging) that my tuner friend I spoke to suggested it was “lean knock’ caused by elevated combustion temps due to lack of combustion cooling that rich A/F’s provide.




    To say the owner of the car was disgusted is an understatement! The tuner I spoke to can't understand how a so called reputable tuner / workshop would allow a car out the door in this state. The only thing that he can think of is if that the person tuning this car in question was simply out of talent. I mean nobody deliberately does a bad job and sends a car away in that state knowingly, when it's your business and name on the line right? You would assume the tuner must have at the very least logged injector duty in a supercharged engine and would have noticed the elevated duty but why let the car leave in that state? So how can an enthusiast gauge the talent of a tuner? Sure there are workshops that have great advertising, plenty of happy customer etc, then again this particular car also was tuned by a company with plenty of happy customers, great advertising etc.

    The tuner I spoke to suggested that people reading this do the following,

    When your LSA powered car (or any car for that mater) is being booked in to be tuned, ask the workshop prior to booking in the car if they will let you know what the maximum injector duty was and at what rpm as well as the commanded vs actual fuel pressures during the tuning session, don’t be shy to ask if there was any indicted engine knock as well and if so, what rpm did it occur at? If the workshop is reputable, they should be logging these parameters anyway so it shouldn’t be a problem for them to supply this info or open the laptop and show you as each and every power run during the tuning session should be logged, for example, run 1 should be saved onto the dyno as run 1 as well as to the laptop as run 1, then run 2, run 3 and so on.
    In the event that the workshop gives you attitude or says they are not required to share that info or keep records of it for that matter, I’d walk away and not book the car in. It’s your car and you are entitled to know this info. You are not asking them exact info like what was the ignition timing at xxx rpm and xx boost, you are only asking about the data that shows that your engine is running within a safe window. Also, asking these questions gives you the presence of knowing what you are expecting in the tune from a safety aspect. You are not telling them to run XX amount of ignition advance, you are simply asking them to supply data that they SHOULD already be checking during the tuning session. I’d also go the extra step of asking them to provide the info on the invoice just in case in the future you do have any issues, then its in their writing on their invoice.

    We're both of the opinion that educating enthusiasts is a must so they have at least some armour to shield themselves against dodgy tuners that see the enthusiast as a dollar sign, not a person with a passion for their car and that's the reasoning for this post. I'll also note that this didn't occur in WA but I have seen plenty of similar examples locally of workshops fixing other people's "handy-work" so it does occur all over the country.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    546
    Thanks for that amazing info, certainly taught me some stuff I didn't know.
    Brilliant!!!!
    GTSR HERON WHITE MANUAL build # 0068
    VK HDT Calais Director Build # 2107
    2010 VE SSV SPECIAL EDITION

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Blue Mountains
    Posts
    268
    Unreal, you basically go to a tune shop based on feedback you can find or word of mouth.
    Get you're walkinshaw or harrop or teckno pack and get the power figure at end and the bill.
    You could go to track or drags and basically bang lose you're engine at the least.
    Probably won't get engine replaced etc under warranty.

    Tuning industry isn't very well regulated, in a country that has soooo many hoops and rules.

    Good post White lie
    About time something was said, hopefully with points raised people can get some piece of mind from their tune shop.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    546
    Makes you wonder how many engines have gone "bang" because of bad tuning.
    And the real reason for the failure will more than likely never be found
    with the workshop laying blame on the driver/owner.

    Being a mechanic, I have done stacks of the "nuts & bolts" work on many LS engines,
    but I leave all the tuning to the pro's.

    I will be asking many questions in the future however.......
    GTSR HERON WHITE MANUAL build # 0068
    VK HDT Calais Director Build # 2107
    2010 VE SSV SPECIAL EDITION

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Perth, WA
    Posts
    6,918
    Quote Originally Posted by TPKW30 View Post
    Makes you wonder how many engines have gone "bang" because of bad tuning.
    And the real reason for the failure will more than likely never be found
    with the workshop laying blame on the driver/owner.

    Being a mechanic, I have done stacks of the "nuts & bolts" work on many LS engines,
    but I leave all the tuning to the pro's.

    I will be asking many questions in the future however.......
    This is it. If things are already on a knife edge or beyond in a controlled condition, it only takes a little push for something to go wrong. Could be a little hotter than when it was tuned, a slightly bad batch of fuel compared to what it was tuned with or even giving it a squirt going up hill or with a full car load. Engine goes bang and more than likely it will never come back to the tuner because no one will know. The blame will be placed elsewhere.

    What I have a problem with is that every tuner roughly charges the same yet they don't all put in the same amount of work. A cammed and boosted motor will take all day (or longer including cold start) to tune properly. It is a long process of run it up and log, make adjustments in the tune, flash the file then repeat. This will get repeated over and over multiple times until it's right, then testing on the street as you don't drive the same way a dyno loads a car. Yet you see a lot of cars go in for a cam package and they're ready to go within 6 hours, including the labour time of changing cams and whatnot.

    If you really wanted to check you're getting what you pay for, you could even ask to see the logs. Every dyno run should be logged as they tune, so there should be a stack of files on the laptop and/or dyno for the car. If there's only one or two, I'd be very suspicious. Only the ones with something to hide will get their back up about this kind of stuff.

    The big tell tale to the guy in the original post is the power it was supposedly making with standard injectors. They simply don't flow enough to facilitate what it supposedly made but unless you know about these things, you wouldn't ask. And if unless you were adamant about the facts, you'd likely believe the tuner when he tells you that you don't need a fuel system upgrade.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    4,595
    Unfortunately this isn't surprising and isn't uncommon.
    Many workshops are not educated enough in terms of what they are looking it, it's almost a case of you the customer having to be quite knowledgeable on tuning without knowing physically how to tune, but understanding the data you are looking at.

    To be 100% honest several years ago I was just as naive as what I think most people are, you assume the tuner is a professional and that he/she knows what they are doing...ohh what I have learned since teaming up with someone who has real tuning experience and mechanical knowledge of what is actually occurring inside the engine.

    I put my combo together a while back and was "tuned" by a well known workshop they gave me a disney dyno figure of 700rwhp and I took the car to the track and was unable to go any faster than 10.8

    By chance I met my current tuner at the track as he wanted to meet me, show me a few things and wanted a chiller for his own personal GTS.

    After he logged my car and pointed out mistakes in the tuning, it was decided he needed to tune my car, with no changes other than the tune itself the car went from 10.8 to then run a 10.3

    In my case I did have the injectors and fuel system needed as I myself knew what was needed, but the difference in the tune was incredible.

    From there My tuner and I have obviously pursued thing further and the car is now running 9.7 and is the fastest outright GTS in the country.

    I think many people who have their cars tuned, want to be one of the boys, have the dyno figure to brag about and sometimes are not willing to speak up about their true experience or what a car drives like.

    There are so many people out there who say X,Y,Z are gun tuners...and in fact I've seen the opposite from those exact shops.

    Without naming names NickGTS's car is the prime example.
    He took his car to not 1 but 3 different workshops, his mods at the time were, headers, injectors, pod, chiller.
    The car still had the stock cam and stock heads.

    Workshop 1: 518rwhp with a,b,c driving issues
    Workshop 2: 520rwhp they fixed a,b,c driving issues but gave him d,e,f driving issues
    Workshop 3: 520rwhp still the same as workshop 2

    Based on the fact this car is A STOCK CAMSHAFT it should have no drivability issues
    In fact Nick and I had a race when my car was OEM bone stock and my car would pull away from his boosted/tuned car!

    After Nick saw that I went from 10.8 to 10.3 he thought screw it and took the car to see my tuner.

    The car baselined with the workshop 3 tune in it of 513rwhp, the car left the shop that day with 578rwhp....however more importantly the car picked up 75rwhp at 1400rpm!!!

    Drivability issues....they dont exist especially with an OEM camshaft.

    The car was running 11.3 at best with the above 3 workshops, then once re-tuned became the fastest stock cam GTS in the country running a 10.6..which to this day I still say is the yard stick, if you've got more mods than his car, question your tuning or mod choices.

    Based on this information it seems clear that these 3 workshops are not tuning the car, they are flashing something into it....I've even heard of guys complaining about drivability issues, going back to the workshop/tuner and then in the car park the tuner flashing in another tune, sending the customer on his way saying "try that out"....this literally means they have flashed another version of a tune in, in the hope it will improve the car.

    This is not how tuning should be completed, all tuning should be on the dyno and the car should be very near 100% perfect when it leaves the dyno, usually with very very minor adjustments then needed for the street, which should then be confirmed by the tuner on the street.

    Mail order tunes....are you actually serious? stay the hell away from these.

    It is incredibly scary to see 8 degrees of engine knock, stock injectors on a cammed engine with high boost pressure, whilst that tuner obviously isn't doing it on purpose, because if they were it is a ticking time bomb...it just goes to show they have literally no idea what they are doing and what the data means.

    Another thing which I hear all the time is "ohh we ran out of injector duty cycle, so we put bigger injectors into it"....umm you likely ran out of IDC because you had no frigging fuel pressure to begin with.

    Keeping in mind when you have 65psi of fuel pressure and 15psi of boost pressure that fuel is having to push into that 15psi of pressure so now you only have 50psi of pressure, and again when it drops down to scary low numbers like this with high boost pressure...well good night Irene.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    2,352
    I think a lot of shops/tuners attract customers via fan based sheep with no brains on social media like face book and clubs with workshop sponsors like Club VE VF that lock there pages , brag about dyno numbers and blow ego smoke up the sponsors a@@se's. Untill you have owned a few cars, had mods done, get some knowledge about tuning ect then the cowboy shops will always get the unsuspecting.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Blue Mountains
    Posts
    268
    There in lies the issue, many pay shops for work without knowledge on tuning themselves.
    Which is why you pay the 'experts' you can't tell the experts unless you can look at tune and diagnose yourself.

    Catch 22
    How do you know what you have????
    I had a vxr8 in uk cammed by walkinshaw and tuned, they couldn't get it to idle , car stalled etc.
    This was Walkinshaw!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    546
    GenF-GTS has hit the nail on the head.

    My tuner spent 8 plus hours doing my tune on my N/A VE SS.
    I'm cammed, exhaust, otr, ported heads & tune.
    My car is 6 speed manual & at Sydney drags does consistent high 11's.
    I built my car for circuit, not drags.

    My point is there are a million blown VE SS's with 700rwhp dyno sheets
    that have had a blower, plus my mods, but with a "plug in tune" & my car eats them.
    (Not all of them, but most)
    There is a well known tuner here in Newcastle that has cars hanging from the rafters
    he is that busy. All his builds have 3 things in common -
    Big HP dyno sheets, piss poor time slips....and mega dollar price tags...
    And failures - obviously it all stands to reason now why.......
    GTSR HERON WHITE MANUAL build # 0068
    VK HDT Calais Director Build # 2107
    2010 VE SSV SPECIAL EDITION

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    2,352
    From all tuners, what made you pick that guy and fly him over . Id think in Sydney there would be plenty of good tuners, sams perf, autowerks ect
    Last edited by white_lie; 04-07-2017 at 03:02 PM. Reason: Quote removed at user request







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