If you own a performance vehicle, you've likely heard the term "dyno tuning." You probably even have a pretty good idea what it means and what it can do for your car. But if you've picked up what you know from friends or message boards, you probably haven't heard the real story.

We're here to help. We've answered the most common queries about the ultimate performance enhancer in a way that everyone can understand. Have a question about dyno tuning that isn't addressed here? No problem. Just leave it in the comments section below and we'll take care of you.

What is dyno tuning?

Modern Engine Control Units are responsible for emissions, fuel economy, protecting drivetrain components and monitoring a staggering number of sensors. Manufacturers tend to calibrate them very conservatively, which makes it possible to enhance performance and drivability with a series of carefully calculated adjustments performed using our on-site, four-wheel drive dynamometer. This tuning process ensures that all components, both aftermarket and stock, work together in harmony to generate impressive power with high levels of safety and longevity.

Why should I consider a dyno tune?

* To increase power and optimize performance.

* To maximize the impact of aftermarket bolt-on parts

* To take advantage of custom aftermarket tuning features such as flex fuel

What is the pre-dyno exam, and why is it required?

The tuning process puts a certain amount of strain on your vehicle. Determining whether there are mechanical flaws that could cause damage to your engine is key to ensuring excellent results during the tuning process as well as the safety of your car.

What do we look for? Oil or vacuum leaks, broken or worn out components, loose belts, detached hoses – these and other trouble spots often elude the attention of our customers during their daily driving experience. In fact, a majority of vehicles manufactured in 2008 or earlier (along with many more recent models) fail the exam the first time through and require some form of mechanical repair before they're in condition to perform on the dyno. That's why the pre-dyno test is a mandatory component of the tuning process.

Is dyno tuning safe?

Once a car has passed the pre-dyno exam, the tuning process is about as safe as running down the highway flat out to redline in third or fourth gear.

What does a dyno tune cost?

Prices vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Call Growler at 214-991-3020 to discuss fees for your car.

Can you dyno tune for different fuels?

Yes, we can create maps for a variety of fuel grades, from the commonly used 91 and 93 octanes found at most pumps to flex fuel E85 to race-quality blends including VP MS109, C85, C16 and other quality race fuels.

How do I prepare my car for dyno tuning?

If we're tuning your car’s ECU for a single fuel, such as 91 or 93 octane, you'll need at least half a tank of that fuel, preferably from the station from which you typically purchase your gas. This can help our calibrator create the best possible custom map for your vehicle.

If we're doing a flex fuel tune, you'll want to have approximately one-quarter tank of your preferred octane. You'll also need to supply 10 gallons of E85 in approved fuel containers from your local e85 station. Don't have containers? Stop by Growler first and we'll be happy to lend you a couple of ours.

If your spark plugs have more than 5,000 miles (copper) or 15,000 miles (iridium/platinum) on them, please replace them with new ones, or arrange for replacement as part of your service. Be sure to gap them appropriately and use a small amount of anti-seize when installing the new spark plugs. Next, ensure you do not have a check engine light—if you do, it will need to be addressed before tuning. Finally, your car should not have more than 2,000 miles on it since its last oil change. If you've driven more than that, please change your oil before arriving or arrange for an oil change as part of your service.

What kind of cars can be dyno tuned?

At Growler Motor Labs, we custom tune a variety of high performance vehicles manufactured by Porsche (911, Cayman, Boxster and Macan), Subaru (WRX, STI, Forester XT, Legacy GT and Outback XT), Volkswagen (Golf GTI and Golf R), Ford (Focus ST, Focus RS, Fiesta ST, Mustang EcoBoost), BMW (135, 335 and 535), MazdaSpeed3, Mitsubishi Evo X, and Nissan GT-R using the COBB Accessport.

We also tune Gen 6 and Gen 7 Chevrolet Camaro vehicles, along with C6 and C7 Chevrolet Corvettes using HP Tuners software.

I'm more concerned with safety and reliability than raw power. Is a dyno tune still a good option for me?

Absolutely. While there's power to be gained through custom tuning, our first priority is to ensure your car will deliver it safely over the long term. To accomplish that goal, we rely on reams of data gathered over the course of years of tuning experience. We then approach the process with a conservative mindset in order to produce gains that enhance the performance of your vehicle without putting key components at risk.

Will a dyno tune impact my gas mileage?

Results vary from vehicle to vehicle, with some drivers reporting mileage that is improved and others finding their cars less fuel efficient. Charges are rarely significant in either direction however.  We have found that the first few tanks of fuel are used up more quickly, however, because it’s just fun to enjoy the power.

What is a baseline test?

A baseline is a test of your vehicle's power before it is custom tuned. The process involves three “pulls” on the Growler dyno, back-to-back, with a cool down between each. This allows us to get an average reading of both horsepower and torque for your vehicle. It is performed as a separate service, independent of tuning.  Prices vary depending on the make & model of your vehicle. Call Growler at 214-991-3020 to discuss fees for your car.

What kind of dynamometer does Growler use?

Growler uses a Mustang dynamometer ... and you'll be glad we do. While other dynos may provide higher numbers, those are mirages. Mustangs are renowned in the tuning industry for providing the most accurate and reliable results. That's due to their ability to apply an accurate load, much like your car would see on the road or at the track. It's ideal for all-wheel drive vehicles and has the ability to measure up to 1,500 horsepower.

When is a dyno tune the right solution for my car?

There are several good answers here. Among them: If you have deviated from the hard parts requirements of an “off the shelf” map; If you are ready for a race gas tune for your track day; Or, when you have completed your modification wish list and want to maximize your vehicle’s performance.  

Give Growler a call at 214-991-3020 and we’ll discuss these and other good reasons to make your car go faster.

How long does dyno tuning take?

The process varies from vehicle to vehicle, with some tunes taking more or less time than others, but you should set aside approximately the better part of the day for your map(s) to be created.

What kind of power gains can I expect from a Growler dyno tune?

There's no single answer for this question as many factors can impact power gains including overall condition of your vehicle, aftermarket modifications (including their quality and ability to work together), fuel quality and more. Prior to your appointment, a Growler Performance Adviser will address these variables and estimate what sort of power might be gained based on historical data. As all situations are unique, however, this is only an estimate.

Will dyno tuning void my warranty?

Unfortunately, there's not a universal answer to this question. In theory, any modification not authorized by the dealership can act to void the warranty of a covered vehicle. However, warranties are  not universally applied by each and every dealer. In other words, it varies on a case-by-case basis. Your dealer may look for any reason to void a warranty...or he may happily turn a blind eye to modifications in hopes of securing your future business. If you have concerns, you should contact your dealer before tuning your vehicle.

Can my vehicle be returned to stock after a Growler dyno tune?

Absolutely...and it's easy to do when your map was created via the COBB Accessport. From the Main Menu, highlight [REVERT TO STOCK] and press the Select button. You will receive a screen confirming that you will be uninstalling your AccessPORT from the vehicle. Confirm this by highlighting [OK] and pressing the Select button. You will be prompted to turn the ignition ‘On’ but do not start the car. Please the Select button quickly after turning the Ignition ‘On”. A progress screen will appear. This may take several minutes. The AccessPORT will be uninstalled from the vehicle once the [AccessPORT DONE] screen is displayed. NEVER disconnect the AccessPORT from the vehicle when performing this task until you’ve received the [AccessPORT DONE] screen.