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Introduction to Engine Tuning: Dangers of dyno tuning

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Dangers of dyno tuning


00:00 Anytime you're running an engine under full power, there's some inherent risk of something going wrong.
00:06 Unfortunately, the dyno has got a pretty bad reputation these days as the cause of many engine failures.
00:13 And you only need to search for dyno fail on YouTube to see the evidence for yourself.
00:20 The reality, however, is a little different.
00:23 A modern dyno can perform a full power ramp test in 10 seconds or less.
00:28 And when the dyno is used in an intelligent way, there's no more stress placed on the engine than there is when you drive on the road or track.
00:37 In fact, you could argue the dyno is much safer, since the engine is normally equipped with sensors to monitor vital performance aspects like the air-fuel ratio, allowing the dyno operator to abort the run if the conditions are unsafe.
00:54 Obviously, if you're pushing the boundaries of engine performance, then at some point failures may occur.
01:00 But that is a risk you need to accept if you're looking for maximum power.
01:06 If your engine is likely to suffer a failure, though, it's most likely going to do so regardless whether it's being driven on the road or on the dyno.
01:16 Probably where the dyno has achieved much of its bad reputation is from customers taking their cars along for a tuning session, when the engine is already badly wounded, and is just waiting for an excuse to fall to pieces.
01:31 If your engine is smoking badly, down on compression, using oil or water, or is leaking any fluids, for that matter, a dyno session isn't likely to end well.
01:43 Basically, if you take a hand grenade to the dyno, the results are going to be quite predictable, and certainly won't be the dyno's fault.
01:54 The other aspect that's worth clearing up is what we should be able to expect from the guy or girl performing the tuning.
02:02 There's always a lot of blame apportioned to tuners when something does go wrong, and sometimes it's justifiable, while other times it might not be.
02:12 It's all about being realistic with your expectations, and understanding the limits of your engine.
02:19 Let's start by talking about what the tuner's responsibility should be.
02:24 It's reasonable to expect that a competent tuner should be able to tune an engine, and provide an air-fuel ratio that's safe, and ensure the engine isn't suffering from detonation.
02:35 Beyond these two parameters, though, there's a lot more to consider.
02:40 A tuner, for example, can't be expected to have an intimate understanding of the power limit of every engine they're likely to see come across the dyno.
02:49 Likewise, two identical engines may fail at slightly different power levels, based on how the engines have been treated and maintained during their life.
02:59 Of course, even with a professionally built engine, things can go wrong, and it isn't uncommon to have issues, for example, with the bearings failing while the engine is on the dyno.
03:11 Problems like this are out of the control of the tuner, and come back to the engine components or the assembly.
03:19 Lastly, if you're pushing the boundaries and want the last possible horsepower from a highly strung engine, then you need to understand the possible outcomes if things do go wrong.
03:30 If you want that last horsepower, and your budget can handle a complete rebuild, then that's fine.
03:36 On the other hand, if an engine failure would cause you some serious financial problems, it would pay to take a more conservative approach when it comes to the tuning, and potentially leave some power on the table in order to give your engine a larger safety margin.
03:53 Most of this is only really applicable if you're expecting to be pushing a fair way past what the stock engine was rated to produce.
04:01 If you're adding headers, an exhaust system, and an air filter, for example, you're probably not going to need to be too concerned about exceeding the stock engine strength limit.