Shops without dynos have no business offering tuning services

I get sent screenshots of various “news” a lot and here’s an interesting one. It’s quite a long, but if you read through it, it’s a story of WHAT NOT TO DO, and obviously a shop that you shouldn’t patronize.

1. This shop doesn’t do any tuning, has never done tuning, has never so much connected a car to the a laptop, he’s merely a middleman that hooks people up with the tuners that they know, and they get a service fee. Their business model is to get at lest a group of ten so that the tuner who will fly here is “sulit” for their time and effort, from which they add on and pas to the customer, and this is still without any Dyno session, which has to be scheduled again separately with another separate shop, at additional expense to the customer. Confusing? Most definitely, it’s hard enough to schedule with one person let alone 3. And that is the first problem here, you’re a middleman and not the boss, so you can’t dictate the time, circumstances of all the people involved.

2. Reflashing/remapping Hyundai vehicles isn’t as easy as plugging in an OBD cable to a laptop, the Ecu has to be removed from the car, opened up to be able to access the data

And that’s where starts to panic. In all the years he’s been hooking up tuners and customers, he hasn’t bothered to learn how to do it. And it’s not easy, and one wrong slip and it’s bye bye ECU. Our first time to do do, it took us half a day just to open it CAREFULLY, but now we do it an around an hour. The Indian tuner arrived with a broken hand and there is definitely no way he can open an Ecu with just one hand.

3. It took two days to tune a single car, this is somewhat nobody’s fault but it wasn’t explained properly why it takes two days. The equipment used to tune is made by Alientech, which we also use, an Italian company, and chances are, it’s the first time his editing software has seen a local spec Ecu data. When the Ecu is opened up, reading the data is no problem, but to be able to edit it, you will need something called a definition file, think of it as a table of contents that tells you which table is what and the location, page 2, 7, 45 etc etc.

This definition file has to come from Alientech and they operate on European time, thus the discussion about the time zone. By the time they answer the request for the definition file, chances are it’s after shop ours already local time.

The previous Korean tuners already have the table contents so they can tune immediately as soon as they download the contents of the Ecu. But it’s by no means a fast process and 3-4 hours per car is the average from start to finish to Dyno. Hence why they need a week to do 10 cars, 2 cars a day. This part the middleman doesn’t know, and never bothered to find out, this pissing everyone off cause the schedule is now out of whack.

As for the part about reading a Korean tuned Ecu and “copying” the contents, well it’s not as simple as that. You can have two ecus with the same part number but different calibration files inside, sort of like android 6.0.0 and android 6.0.2 and you cannot just copy one into the other, and that’s why it failed.

4. Results aren’t up to snuff. Yes 12-15hp for a diesel Accent is LOOOWWW. For comparison, here’s our recently tuned diesel accent with a 43whp gain

Even the gasoline Accent which got 8-10hp is still low. Here’s one we did with Unichip and we already got 14hp, and remapping is supposed to get more than Unichip

This I blame squarely on the disabled Indian tuner. Either he lied to the shop about his capabilities (and the middleman doesn’t know he’s being lied too, or more likely doesn’t understand what’s involved) hasnt tuned much Hyundais before (a check of his Facebook page shows mostly isuzu, some VW, Range Rover) or just plain incompetent and the shop got taken in for a ride.

as far as price goes $380 is equivalent to p20,000 and without the Dyno. Which makes our P25,000 all in price a steal by comparison because you’ll need at lest two Dyno sessions for the baseline power, another for the tune, and maybe a few more for the adjustments.

So moral of the story is, if the shop doesn’t have a Dyno, they have no business offering performance enhancements and you should stay far far away lest you get STUNG bad. I wouldn’t worry about the reputation because he doesn’t have one to begin with.

Baby Blue BMW Power Up

I love the color blue and when this pearl sky blue immaculate E39 rolled into the shop and wanted more power, of course we said yes. This is one very well preserved car and the interior still smells distinctly German even after 20 years.

The upgrades are nothing fancy, just And intake, a full exhaust and tuning for more power. For the headers, we opted to have a bolt on set imported from the USA, and I’ll be honest here, we didn’t get some uber name brand header but a 2 piece supersprint copy, and yes they work just as well as the real thing, which I don’t think supersprint even makes anymore.

Our baby blue Beemer made 110whp in stock form, not earth shattering but not bad for late 90s 2.0 inline 6 engine.

After bolting on the headers and fabricating the rest of the exhaust that ends with a Borla muffler and oval tip, and. K&N intake, our Beemer now makes 130whp, a good 20hp up from stock. And with an angry exhaust growl to match the looks.

The owner wanted Unichip to tune the car like what we did on his Hyundai Genesis, but upon checking, our Alientech KESS actually supports a car this old, so we offered to reflash his car instead. And reflash we did and got another 18hp for a total of 148whp

Scab, scuv, scrub: Dumb car terms invented by Filipinos

Scab, scav, scub, give it to the pinoy who nicknames everything and yet doesn’t understand what it means or why the term is like that. Hell, there was once a street group with the word SCUB in it (most likely they thought it sounds cool and race-y)

All those terms are short for scavenger pipe, which is a short piece of pipe just after the collector of the headers. How long this is depends on the car but the generally accepted length is 2-2.5 feet.

Now this is actually a cheap way to gain power, let’s get that part straight, BUT at the expense of low to mid end power. Unless you have a strictly drag car that doesnt see any need for street use, the rule of thumb is the less exhaust piping you have, the more power you will make.

But for 99% of you out there that don’t have a strictly drag car and use your cars to get from A to B, a scavenger pipe is a very very bad idea.

And here is a Lancer EX that has exactly that, and it lost a bunch of low and midrange power, from 10-25hp less! We keep saying it and will say it again, messing with the stock midpipe often results in power loss, and a scavenger pipe is an extreme example of this.

Most people think it’s because of the lack of back pressure, it’s sungaw (honestly, you all use that term but don’t really know what it means) and that’s only partly correct, and a very small part.

The biggest reason why there is a lost of power is because the air fuel ratio is drastically altered, as it’s really really dangerously lean.

Thin red line is with the scavenger pipe, thick red line is corrected air fuel with Unichip

By using a scavenger pipe, Exhuast gases are able to leave the combustion chamber quicker and faster, which results in a leanwr mixture. Contrary to what you usually see in engine animations where fresh air comes in as all the Exhuast gases go out, it’s a more complicated than that.

The ideal mixture of fuel and air is 14.7:1, and that’s ideal when all the fuel is burned completely. But in the real world, that never happens and it’s actually anywhere from 13.5:1 – 12.5:1, which is a pretty big range. And the mixture is affected by how fast the exhaust gases leave the engine, and a scavenger pipe is the extreme form of this.

So with this Lancer, the low to mid range air fuel ratio is an extremely lean 16:1, and this results in a 25hp difference at 4000rpm. So what do? Well putting back the stock exhaust is the cheapest easiet solution. The more correct solution if you do want to keep the scav is to tune the car. Let’s make one thing clear, it does actually gain power, at the high rpm range from 5000 and up where the air fuel ratio is a more correct 14:1, but still not ideal. In fact the graph kinda looks like an old Civic SiR when Vtec kicks in.

So adding a Unichip will enable us to add in fuel to correct the air fuel ratio, thereby making the correct amount of power and for safe operation.

Thin red line is with the scavenger pipe, thick red line is tuned power with Unichip

Unichip P30,000 includes install and dyno tuning.

Project Powerful Pajero

If you’re a college kid in the 90s, you most likely know someone that drove a Pajero Fieldmaster it was the “IT” siga barkada car at the time.

So it is kinda sad that this will be the last year the Pajero will be produced, but that doesn’t mean it can’t end without a bang.

With the biggest Diesel engine available currently (short of a Land Cruiser), it isn’t the most powerful anymore, and the 3.2 still uses a non variable geometry turbo rated at 198whp that is channeled through a 4WD system. On our Dynapack, wheel Hp is 158whp with all 4 wheels, which makes think it’s actually underrated. Not mind blowing but not too shabby either. For reference, the current Montero 2.4L makes 160whp in 2WD mode, the Fortuner 2.4L makes 140whp and the MU-X 3.0L makes 155whp

But enough with the background, we’re here to make power and make it we did.

Here’s the list of upgrades we did:

Apexi front mount intercooler

Borla full Exhaust

K&N filter

Ecu reflash

Devils Own alcohol injection

First up is the intercooler. The Pajero already has a front mount intercooler but it’s located at the very bottom of the bumper, and it’s not exactly big once we take it out.

The stock unit measures 18″x8″x2.5″ not small but not big either. The Apexi unit we’re changing to measures 24″x9x”2.5″ which is 50% more volume and are placing it behind the front grill for optimal airflow

This location also shorter intercooler piping from turbo to throttle. Contrary to popular belief, an intercooler doesn’t make your intake temps go down to freezing temps or even aircon level temps. It gets it down as close as possible to ambient temperature, and a bigger intercooler insures that this temperature is more consistent for a longer time as compared to a smaller unit. All intercooler piping we use is aluminum, why? Because that is what everyone all over the world uses for aluminum piping.

Next is the exhaust. With turbo diesels, this starts immediately after the turbo, which is the downpipe, then the midpipe, then muffler, and then the tip. The material of choice is 3″ stainless steel, not black iron, and definitely not aluminum.

The next power adder is Devils Own Alcohol injection. Think of it as mini nitrous oxides for diesels, half the power gain of a typical. Nitrous system but an 80% cheaper consumable component by volume, using ordinary alcohol, as in Green Cross alcohol you buy at the convenience store and mixed with equal amounts water. The whole system consists of a hi flow pump, the injector nozzles, pressure switch, fittings and nylon lines. How it operates is pretty simple: The alcohol vaporizes immediately once injected into the intake stream, cooling the intake temperature even more after the intercooler, this cooling effect alone already makes power and since alcohol is fuel, it will be ignited along with the fuel and air mixture inside the engine, and PRESTO 15-25hp more depending on the nozzle size used.

The last component is of course making it all work together with our ECU Reflash/Remap, of which you can watch this video of you have no idea what it is.

And after all that’s been said and done, here’s the results!

Red line: Stock 158whp @ 3500rpm

Green line: Intercooler, Exhaust, ECU remap, 185whp @ 3500rpm with maximum gain of 70hp @ 2200rpm

Blue line: Devils Own alcohol Injection 225whp @ 3300rpm

Mind you this is all with stock boost which is 16psi. The torqu gain is an impressive 150 ft-lbs at 2200rpm without the alcohol injection.

While the numbers are impressive, what’s more impressive are the 20″ Rays Engineering wheels and Nitto Tires that actually cost more than all the engine upgrades put together! ✌️

ECU Reflash Remap tuning a Honda City 1.3L

Remapping a car Is actually quite a boring process to watch. There are no sexy parts that get installed, a lot of keyboard and numbers tapping and uploading screens, kinda like normal office work. Except that the office is located behind the steering wheel of the car.

ECU remap/reflash, where the contents of the ECU is read, modified with different values and then uploaded back into the ECU, exactly like how you share files and pics between phone and laptop.

So what exactly do we change and modify? Well, all engines around the world need 3 things, air fuel and spark. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ferrari, Mercedes or Cherry, it has to have these 3 things.

The air part is pretty much fixed, and in the case if this 1.3L City, it’s 1.3L of air going into the engine.

The things that we can adjust are the amount of fuel the engine gets and when the spark plug fires. And this is what the remap software screen looks like

On the left column are all the parameters that can be adjusted. Note that it’s also not something as simple as ADD Fuel here and ADD Spark here. The right side is the table where in the values are for each parameter, in this case it’s the “Spark Advance when the High Cam VTEC is engaged” table, or map (hence the term remap) and the numbers inside the table are degrees of timing.

Here’s a closer look at some of the things we can adjust

Now if that’s a lot to take in and you’re confused, don’t worry, that’s natural. You’re really not supposed to understand any of this unless you specifically study it and have hands on experience, kinda like I don’t expect you to know how to code using C++ or even use Photoshop at first glance.

“But you’re just changing a bunch of numbers!!!”

Well sorry to burst your bubble but that what tuning really is, changing the values to see which combination yields the best results.

And that’s what you’re actually paying for, not for us to enter a bunch of number in some tables but WHICH TABLES and WHAT NUMBERS that will be entered. In short you’re paying for our brains power and the know how.

When we tune a car, we also take into account what has been done, and in this case, the little 1.3L has a K&N intake and a too big diameter exhaust pipe that causes a big drop in power and torque at 3000rpm, just where you need it most for overtaking, as seen in the Dyno chart below.

Red line: Baseline power

Blue line: SpeedLab ECU tuning

Why this power and torque drop happens is because the big exhaust causes the engine to lean out, meaning too much air, not enough fuel.

So we added fuel to get the mixture back correctly and added ignition timing or Spark Advance. Other things we adjust are throttle pedal sensitivity, throttle opening, rev limit at park etc etc

And as you can see from the above graph, gains are 15-20hp across the rpm range and 10-20 ft-lbs and a very flat torque curve which is very ideal.

Like and share the new SpeedLab page!

Toyota Rush SpeedLab Power Package

“The Toyota Rush isn’t a replacement for the Avanza” Declared C! Magazine when they did a video of the newly launched Toyota Rush (link at the bottom) They are wrong. The Rush doesn’t replace the Avanza BECAUSE IT IS an Avanza, in nicer clothing.

Let me explain why.

A car is considered an all new generation when one of the the following has undergone a drastic change: Engine or Chassis.

Exterior looks, interior trim and visuals aren’t enough to classify a car as a new generation, despite the penchant for Filipinos to call their cars Gen 1, 1.5, 2.5 so on and so forth.

But back to the topic at hand, the Rush is for all intents and purposes an Avanza because it has exactly the same engine as the previous model, down to the Daihatsu ECU and the exact same suspension setup as lowering springs for the previous Avanza fit the Rush perfectly.

This is actually good news for shops like us because it cuts down the R&D time to develop new parts quite drastically. This is why we’re able to offer a Power Package within a month of the Rush being sold in dealerships when a very eager customer brought one to the shop and much to our surprise, the exhaust headers we have for the Avanza fit perfectly, as in shoot, no modifications. Which tells us the exhaust system is the same.

Next up is the airbox design. The panel filter is exactly the same as the previous Avanza also. Which means our intake systems also fit.

And even down to the ECU, it’s a Daihatsu ECU. Yes boys and girls, the Avanza and the Rush is a Daihatsu.

Toyota Rush left, Toyota Avanza Right

Even the gear selector panel is the same. In every dimension.

Like I said, makes our job easier and were able to give the Toyota Rush an additional 17hp from stock.

Baseline: 86whp

Power Package: 104whp

SpeedLab K&N Intake

Hotpipes Headers

Unichip Fuel and timing ECU

C! Magazine review Toyota Rush

Isn’t that going to explode??? Or in Tagalog “Hindi ba sasabog yan?”

There are enough people that we meet that have never driven their car hard and definitely not to redline because “baka sumabog” well I’m here to tell you that no, Hindi yan sasabog. The car is designed to shift at a little or at the redline on your tachometer, it’s designed like that an hindi yan sasabog.

Another question has to do with making power. We’ve posted enough big 50-60-70 and even 100hp gain on vehicles that we get the question, “will this reduce engine reliability?” The short answer is no. And the more persistent will ask “how can it not? You’re stressing the engine beyond it’s designed performance”

This is best answered with bullet points

1. What most people forget or don’t realize that maximum power of the engine is almost always achieved at or near redline. The numbers on the brochure and everywhere on the internet are MAXIMUM power numbers, which is only achieved with your foot to the floor. When you’re stuck in traffic or cruising NLEX at 2500-3000rpm your engine is making a fraction of the maximum, usually 20-30% only

2. When shops like us do modifications, we usually quote peak power and max power gain. Peak power is made at redline, max power might be somewhere else like 3500rpm. All engines are overbuilt from the factory, it’s just the standard way of doing things in manufacturing. You don’t build say hammer to work only a specific number of times and then break. Plus it costs the same to over design something and to design something specific. Manufacturing wise, the cost difference between making a 1” thick hammer and a 1.5” thick hammer is negligible, so better go with the thicker design for the same cost.

3. As for the over stressing the engine with an additional 60hp, once again remember how maximum power is achieved? Full throttle. In the lifespan of your car’s 150,000km, realistically how many kilometers can you drive flat out at full throttle? You’ll be hard pressed to come up with even 500km of upak driving, and that’s 0.0033% of the mileage of your car. So no, you are not stressing the engine out. Or in easier terms to understand, that few times you take viagra to enhance your performance will not cause your dick to fall of or to stop functioning well into your 70s

SpeedLab Long Tube Vios Race header development

There are over 1,000,000 article on the Internet about header design and which makes the most power, so here’s ours to add to fray.

Only we won’t get into the whole “X design vs Y design” debate, there’s enough of that already to leave you severely confused for days.

What we will focus on is for a specific engine and vehicle, namely a 2014 Toyota Vios with the 1.5L Vvti engine, which we have a lot of background and data on since we were involved with the Philippine Vios Cup from the beginning such that we have Dyno data on all the cars.

First off there is quite a wide spread of power levels for a field of over 10 cars, with stock power ranging from 88-92whp on our Dynapack Dyno, which is to be expected. And as the cars get raced more and more, we see some cars reach as high as 95whp. Mind you these cars are race prepped from the factory and spent their break in period of 1000km being revved the snot out of, which explains the slightly elevated power levels as the kilometers pile on.

Being 2019, the first batch of Vios Cup race cars are now being turned to compete in the GT100 class, and as the name implies, a class of cars that do no exceed over 100hp as measured by a Dyno Dynamics dyno at the race track.

Ask anyone in the tuning world, Australian dynos such as Mainline and Dyno Dynamics really read lower than Dynojet or Dynapack, anywhere from 18-25% lower. Now this doesn’t mean one Dyno is less accurate than the other, thats just the way it is.

Our GT racer made 108whp on Dynapack with the following mods: SpeedLab K&N Cold Air Intake, TRD header, straight pipe and HKS-style muffler, and SpeedLab ECU Remap

Blue line – TRD header, straight pipe exhaust, stock airbox 92whp

Redline – SpeedLab K&N cold air intake, TRD header, straight pipe exhaust, stock airbox 98whp

Green line – SpeedLab ECU Remap/Reflash, SpeedLab K&N cold air intake, TRD header, straight pipe exhaust, stock airbox 108whp

Its a 16whp increase from their previous setup and I was eager to go the races and particularly what it will do on the Dyno Dynamics. And off we went and this car spun the rollers at 86whp. Well that does translate to around 20% less. And while I was there, I did see a B20 equipped Civic being detuned to qualify under the 100whp limit, and this car did a final Dyno of 97whp.

After a day of racing with feedback from the drivers that it felt a lot stronger coming out of the corners, its my job to find another 10hp for them to be competitive.

And so back to shop to see what can be improved. And we came up with two things: Bigger intake for more flow and a real deal long tube race header design for unrestricted exhaust flow.

And here’s the comparison. From top to bottom:

Stock, TRD, SpeedLab Long Tube

Header Theory

The job of headers is the evacuate the exhaust gases quickly and efficiently. Think of the engine as a parking lot with 4 exits. The header is the road that leads from each exit which then merges into one road some distance away. The goal is to have the cars come out the fastest in an orderly even manner. Yes this is a drastic over simplification but that’s what headers do in essence.

Stock Header

Well it’s stock, what can we say? Quite a lot actually. Going by our road analogy, we want the roads to be all the same length so that each car travels the same distance. And the stock headers are obviously not the same length, with the two outer runners being a lot longer than the middle two ones.

TRD Header

The TRD header corrects the unequal length of the stock headers by lengthening the middle two runners, making all 4 pretty much the same length, which improves flow as well as makes the spacing of the exhaust pulses more even.

The biggest short coming, is quite literally that it’s short, because the flange connects to midpipe which houses the catalytic converter, and this is the only flange, with the next one being after the rear wheels. So in order for this to be a bolt on with no welding needed, it had to be the same length as the stock header.

SpeedLab Long Tube Race Header

Going back to our parking lot analogy, it doesn’t take 5th grader to see that the cars will come out faster and merge more efficiently if the roads leading out are longer and are kept separate longer. So why not do this to begin with?

Well this isn’t a bolt on as the catalytic has to be cut off from the midpipe and the flange moved further down. It’s by no means a hard job to do but it’s not a bolt on, and there will always be people who are wary of stuff getting cut up.

The only way to preserve the stock items is to have a whole new midpipe made, which adds to the cost.

But if you’re going to get a whole exhaust system done, then this is definitely the best way to go.

So how good? It’s another 11hp more than the short TRD header, for a total of 119whp. This power level should put us at par with the Civics running the B20s in terms of power.

We also made the the intake tube bigger at 3″ to get more air flow into the engine.

Time for a disclaimer. You can’t install these parts without having the engine tuned, whether with an ECU remap or Unichip. A bigger intake a freer flowing exhaust will cause the engine to lean out and without the proper fuel correction, will actually make your car lose power.

So it’s best to do these things all the same time, unless you’re ok with having 10hp less than stock until you get tuned.

ECU Tuning in Plain English

ECU tuning is a catch all term these days, and as the name says, it’s tuning the ECU (wow no shit Sherlock)

First let’s define the word tuning.

Tuning is not tune up, but tune up is a form of tuning. Confused?

Tuning simply means making adjustments. The first image that comes to most people’s mind is someone adjusting the strings on a guitar

Or a piano being tuned.

And that’s where the word comes from, to adjust the instrument so that it performs optimally, and in the case of musical instruments, produce the correct tune

Tuning cars is principle is the same, making adjustments for peak performance, which is optimum horsepower and torque.

Tune-up is the adjusting the carburetor and the distributor back in the old days, for optimal performance, and this is a form of tuning.

With cars now being computers with wheels, all adjustments are now made with, well, a computer. And all computers are run by software which is a set of instructions that tell the engine what do, how much fuel to give, when to first the sparkplug, when and how much to open the wastegate etc etc

But first you must be able to talk to your cars ECU and be able to make the changes and adjustments you want. For that there are two pieces of software for the job. A flasher and an editor.

First the flasher, this is essential a file uploader and downloader. You plug an OBD to usb cable like this from Tactrix

So that you can download the physical file that resides inside the chip of the ECU. And this is a small file, 1-2mb in size, smaller than an mp3 song.

Different manufacturers have different protocols for how you can download the contents, let’s call them locks. The flashing software is basically a set of keys that allow you to open the different ecus of different cars to be able to get the file, as well as put the file back and lock the door.

But once you have the file, which is almost always binary format, is next to useless as you can just open it with MS word and start editing. You’ll need another software called an editor

This interprets the file which is zeros and ones (hence binary) into something humans can see and understand. All tuning software in the world looks like this, a bunch of tables and excel sheets, with values in the table that you can adjust and change.

The act of changing and adjusting these values is tuning, after which you save the changes and then use the flasher to upload the edited file back into the cars Ecu.

But how do you know what numbers to change and by how much?

Well that’s where having a Dynamometer is essential. A Dyno is basically a very expensive glorified treadmill for the car, it does one thing and one thing only, give you horsepower and torque figures. That’s it. A Dyno doesn’t do any tuning, any adjusting or manipulation. It’s a ruler for the car.

Having a Dyno let’s us, the tuner, see if the adjustments we have made resulted in more, or less, power. Tuning at its very heart is trial and error. This value doesn’t work, maybe we make less, and make this value more until we get the desired result.

As for which excel tables to adjust and what they do, well that’s what you’re paying money for, the knowledge and experience of the person knowing what to adjust and by how much