If you’re looking to get the most performance out of your car, whether for the street or track, a dyno tune can help. With a few adjustments to the ECU, your vehicle can run like a new machine. But how much does a dyno tune cost and is it worth the expense?
In this guide, we estimate the average price of a dyno tune. We also explain how to get your money’s worth by preparing ahead of time.
How much does a Dyno Tune cost?
You can spend anywhere from $150 to over $1,200 to complete a dyno tune-up, depending on what you’re looking for and the type of car you drive. Another factor in price is the tuner you take your car to, or if you prefer to do it yourself with a laptop.
To put your car on a dyno machine, you’ll spend no less than $150. From there, most shops charge by the hour. However, you can also rent the machine for a half day or a full day, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
More expensive options include standalone ECU tuning, which consists of a complete computer setup, a dyno test, and a street tune. Carburetor tuning can also be expensive, as the technician must adjust the timing curve, idle circuit, pump stroke, and jets.
On the other end of the spectrum, it is also possible to dyno-tune a bike. However, motorcycle tuning has a different price scale than when working on a car.
What is a Dyno tune?
The dynamometer, also known as a dyno, helps tune your vehicle and measures things like air-fuel mixture, torque, and power. Changes can be made, so you can see how each affects these settings.
There are two types of car dynamometers; the most commonly used is the engine dynamometer, but there is also a chassis dynamometer. The engine dyno measures all engine specifications, while the chassis dyno ensures that all power generated by the wheels is tested.
Benefits of Dyno Tuning
1. Measure performance
Many people just assume they know how their car works. Whether you’re looking at factory specs or just relying on the feel of the vehicle, you really don’t know what your car is doing.
When bench testing, you see all the numbers clearly. This benchmark gives you something to work with, especially if you make any adjustments in the future.
Related: How to Increase Car Power and Torque (8 steps)
2. Measure before updates
You want to know where the HP and torque are before adding expensive upgrades. Once you have installed the parts, you can test them again to see what difference they have made.
Additionally, you can modify some of the settings to make the most of these changes. If you prefer, you can always return the vehicle to its original configuration.
3. Improve performance
By performing dynamic tuning, you can make adjustments to optimize the operation of the ECU. Simply adjusting the amount of fuel or air pumped into the engine can make a big difference in the power and torque the vehicle pushes.
With dynamometer tuning, you can also increase the vehicle’s handling after modifications and minimize the risk of backfiring. Plus, you can customize it to provide faster or stronger acceleration, which is useful if you’re heading to the track. In fact, it can also improve exhaust emissions in many cases.
4. Avoid repairs
Repairs can be avoided if the engine is correctly calibrated. When the engine is running at optimal levels, there will be fewer problems.
Without requiring additional effort to achieve the same level of performance, the engine should not require as many repairs. Of course, maintenance is always important, so you don’t want to skip any of your regularly scheduled tasks.
Related: Power vs. Torque: Which is More Important (and Why)?
How to Prepare: Dyno Tune Checklist
When preparing the engine for dyno tuning, first take a look at the condition of the belts and hoses. If anything is worn or damaged, you want to replace it now.
Dyno tuning pushes every system to its limits, so a weak belt or hose could break in the process. The last thing you want to do during this expensive session is deal with a broken hose or faulty belt.
2. Spark plugs
If your spark plugs aren’t new, you’re missing out on valuable performance. You want high quality sockets in place and they should be properly spaced.
While doing this tune-up, it makes sense to also look at the oil, fuel, and air filters. You want to give your engine the best chance to shine in testing.
Tires are an often overlooked aspect of dyno tuning, as most people only think about the engine. However, the tires are the part of the car that comes into contact with the rollers to get readings.
If your tires are worn, traction will not be good and your results could be distorted. You don’t want to blow a tire during the dyno test. There is also the hub dyno machine variant, and on these dynos, the wheels are removed, so in this case you can skip this step.
You may not think that the fluids passing through the engine can affect the adjustment of the dyno, but it does. It is best to have fresh fluids in your system before you go to your appointment.
You also want to check for leaks and repair them before entering. Also, make sure you have fuel in the tank, because now is not the time to run out of fuel.
While the dyno machine is in the shop, there are still tools and equipment you can bring to the appointment to make things easier. To begin with, it is advisable to carry spare parts with you. It’s helpful to have another belt, ignition coil, and spark plug with you, just in case.
You should also write down what you hope to achieve. If there are any particular settings or adjustments you want to make, please inform them in advance to avoid inconvenience to the dynamometer operator. If you expect to run some variables, you need to have all the equipment with you for a quick changeover.
RELATED: Why Do Tuned Cars Have Slanted Wheels?
Is Dyno Tune worth the price?
The dyno tune will optimize the performance of your vehicle. For this reason, it’s a great option if you need more acceleration or are looking to tune your car for the track. You can modify and increase the power, torque, and fuel efficiency according to the parameters that the car is capable of.
On the other hand, not everyone needs that extra power. For the cost, it doesn’t make sense to fit a dyno to a daily commuter, especially if it’s a stock car and not very capable to begin with. There’s no reason to spend more money to get some extra horsepower out of your low-cost Chevy sedan. We only recommend tuning the dyno if you are investing money in aftermarket performance parts on a turbo car to improve the performance of your vehicle.
Even then, consider how much you’re willing to spend on dyno tuning sessions and stay within an appropriate budget. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending much more than you had planned.