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Now that you’ve watched our webinar covering reflashing with HP Tuners, let’s discuss the tools required to get stuck into your own tuning project.
When it comes to engine tuning, one of the most important jobs is making sure the engine is supplied with the correct amount of fuel to match the inlet mass airflow, and we can do this using an air/fuel ratio meter, or AFR.
There are two main options here — either a portable unit or a gauge that’s permanently installed in your car. What’s going to work for you is fairly self explanatory — if you’re only wanting to tune your own car, then a permanent gauge makes things very simple and easy. If you’re planning to reflash more than just one vehicle, though, a portable wideband AFR meter is the way to go. This can be moved from car to car fairly easily and are usually powered through the car’s cigarette lighter.
An AFR gauge needs to take an accurate reading from the exhaust, and that’s where an O2 sensor comes in. Thankfully, the vast majority of AFR gauges come packaged with an O2 sensor, so all you need to do is mount it to the exhaust and you’re ready to go.
In order to reflash any factory ECU, you’re going to need a few pieces of dedicated hardware and software. Exactly what you’ll need depends on what you’re wanting to reflash, but let’s look at what HPTuners offers with its MPVI2 package. The MPVI2 unit plugs straight into your OBD2 port and comes with all the cables you need to connect to your laptop, as well as Bluetooth for mobile phone connectivity.
The MPVI2 also comes with the VCM Suite of software, which includes the VCM Scanner and VCM Editor programs. This gives you everything you need to scan codes and reflash the ECU’s engine and transmission parameters, and much more.
Knock is an engine killer and something we’re always wanting to avoid. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to keep a literal ear out for it by using a knock detector. These use a normal donut-style knock sensor bolted to the engine block, which filters out background noise and processes the output, honing in on the frequencies that engine knock can be heard. We then listen to that output using normal everyday headphones, and the knocking sound will be very obvious when it occurs.
While some tuners say it’s not an important tool as you’ll always see a drop in torque when knock occurs on a load-bearing dyno, that doesn’t tell the whole story. For us, an audible knock sensor gives us peace of mind knowing that we’ll hear the detonation the second it occurs.
Because we’re always working inside the car when tuning, a laptop is an absolute must-have. Thankfully, most of us have at least one or two lying around that we can use — just be aware that the vast majority of tuning software won’t run on a Mac, so you’re best to grab a PC laptop.
The software itself isn’t particularly demanding, so don’t feel like you need to spend mega bucks on a high-end machine — something basic will do, though we do recommend making sure it uses an SSD and not an HDD for storage, as traditional hard drives don’t like a lot of vibration and can fail quite quickly if they’re being shaken around.
Once you have all your equipment set up and ready to go, you’re going to need to find somewhere to get stuck into the reflash. Ideally, this would be a dyno — rolling road or hub is fine. Now, obviously you’re not expected to go out and drop 100k on the equipment, but there may be companies in your area that rent out the dyno facilities by the hour.
If that’s not an option, there’s always the road, though you want to make sure you’re working in a quiet area with no other vehicles or people around — if you can find somewhere big enough to drive around in that’s on private property, even better.
The last item on our must-have reflashing tools list is perhaps the most important. Reflashing a vehicle’s ECU carries an inherent level of risk and there’s a lot that can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. It doesn’t take much to do some real damage to your engine, so it really pays to prepare yourself with the correct knowledge right from the start.
The High Performance Academy HP Tuners Starter Package is the perfect place to find everything you need, as well as practical worked examples to follow along with, and support from tutors and other students as you learn and embark on your own build.
The best part is, if you find that the course isn’t for you, you have 60 days to return it for a full refund — so what have you got to lose? We hope to see you in our community forums soon.
So what are you waiting for? Click here to get started.