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What is Dyno Tuning?

The first thing that comes to mind when a dynamometer is mentioned is performance. 

Performance can be "split" in two, i.e.: power and torque. To explain it in Laymen’s terms: torque is related to force, or in other words, the pulling force experience while accelerating, whereas the power output can be explained as the pulling force at a certain speed. Therefore, the harder a vehicle pulls at high speed, the more power it produces. It is actually quite simple, come to think of it. 

Now we all know what performance is, but how is it actually measured. There are basically two types of dynamometers currently in operation. One is the so-called LOADING dynamometer, which measures the power at a constant speed. The other type of dyno is called the INERTIA dynamometer, which measures the power while the vehicle is accelerating the rollers. No matter what type of dyno is used, it somehow has to measure the force and then multiply it with speed in order to get power. 

Now which dyno is the best dyno to use? It all depends on what you would like to measure. The easiest way to answer this question is to ask yourself what you want the vehicle to experience when you perform your dyno tests. In other words, what road conditions do you want to simulate. 

Do you want to dyno tune your vehicle for worst-case scenarios? For instance, you would like to simulate your vehicle towing a caravan uphill with (a head wind?). Under these conditions your vehicle will most likely not accelerate, even if the throttle is wide open. Therefore, you need to do your dyno tuning on a LOADING dynamometer. 

The loading dyno is also handy when you want to run your vehicle at steady state conditions in order to perform diagnostic measurements, i.e. measure certain temperature and pressures, gas analysis or even to do engine mapping. 

If you purely want to measure the maximum performance output of the vehicle (i.e. full throttle conditions), your vehicle will most probably accelerate. Therefore you need to dyno tune your vehicle on an INERTIA dynamometer. 

Knowing what dyno to use to dyno tune your vehicle, the next question obviously is HOW TO DYNO TUNE MY VEHICLE FOR BEST PERFORMANCE, or for that matter, fuel consumption? The answer is straightforward: alter ANY setting on the engine that may influence engine performance (or fuel consumption) then do a complete dyno run across the rpm range. You do not want to increase the performance at a certain spot, while completely neglecting it at another spot. For each alteration, you have to make sure how this alteration has affected your spread of torque. 

Next time when you read a performance publication and the author tells you that he has spend many hours on the dyno, developing an engine, believe him. Just imagine how many parameters have an effect on the performance output, and remember, all these parameters mast probably have some effect on each other. So just when you think you have got the best exhaust, cam timing, ignition timing, fuel ratio, port configuration, valve profile, cam profile, etc., start all over again because you probably forgot to set the fuel mixture after changing the cam timing. 

Luckily most of us only want our vehicle’s fuel and timing set to the optimum. This should not take too long if your dyno operator knows what he is doing.