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basic tuning issues diagnostic course?

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Going to throw this in here separate from my current issue. I've been dabbling in tuning my mustang for 4 years and the thing that is a huge hinderance to learning is that the car will go off into some fit that isn't covered by any of the 10 step programs that are offered. this isn't unique to HPA, I've read or watched tons of videos and it always seems like they all have a happy ending right from the get go. which I get the basis for that is you want to teach a process. the issue that has me frustrated is in my experiences. the car always has some fit. doesn't matter what software or what system you use... the car throws a fit - and for me its always been a dousy that no searching or forum posting helps. It would be really handy to have a basic course on "heres what to do when you encounter these hiccups to the tuning process".

I want to drive my car. I can't drive it right now because it's unhappy with something. I then have to spend weeks or months searching to find a sliver of an idea on where the fit is coming from. I have a dyno appt 4/17 to work on the tune for the stand alone. not looking likely to get there at the rate chasing current issue, not withstanding any other issues that may crop up that have to be learned, find process for solving. the goal is to drive - not sit around waiting for answers. been spending more time fiddling than driving the past two years. hoping to understand what I'm missing to get from the gremlins to following the process so the car will be at events this summer.

Appreciate any ideas or insights on learning this side of the process and become less dependent on luck for tune issue resolution.


I would encourage you to learn how to describe your problems clearly. What is working, what is not working? Car "goes off into some fit" doesn't really help. Does the engine crank? Does it not start? Does it have a misfire? Under what conditions (cold, warm, idle, cruise, WOT, when you wiggle the wiring harness, when in gear) Learn to describe the behavior you are experiencing. Describe what you've tried to do to isolate the problem. If the problem is a new behavior, try to describe what has changed or been done to the car since it was last running correctly.

If it has never worked, or your problem is with some new component (say an ECU), consider what you can do to isolate the problem -- is it mechanical, electrical, related to ignition or fuel? What tests can to do to verify the setup is correct. Share your configuration so folks can look and your settings, instead of having to ask lots of questions.

Believe it or not, all of your problems (if resolved) are gaining you valuable experience. When you leave a vacuum hose disconnected and the engine now idles fast, or hunts instead of a steady idle -- you will know to go looking for that. Or perhaps this happens just after you removed said hoses to access some other parts -- you will think "what did I just change that might have affected my idle".

Good Luck, Embrace the Suck -- that's where you learn the most!

I appreciate the ideas you present. I was being purposefully vague on the definition of "thowing a fit" in the context of this general discussion topic. I agree that one must block and tackle problems. the issue with something as deep as engine tuning there are many many pitfalls that one can fall into. I happen to fall into the worst ones all the time and it takes forever, even when you perfectly describe an issue, provide every bit of supporting documentation, to get a qualified response on where to look. this is a huge gap in the learning process that newer tuners like me just give up and walk away from. there's a process here people are following. you mentioned some of them in your response but the issue is that 90% of the time I have to be able to figure it out on my own - and something like hp tuners or an elite 2500 have lots of places to get lost. and almost alwasy people don't have time for my questions. even haltech is pretty short tempered asking basic questions. how do we get people more past this hurdle?