Dyno Tuning Cost

Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff

Dyno tuning, as long as done properly, can enhance the performance of your car’s or motorcycle’s engine.

Not designed as a typical garage project, a dynamometer is often found at some specialized shops and is designed in a way to tune your engine when hooked up to the machine, essentially boosting the horsepower, increasing its efficiency and improving the performance.  The machine, in short, measures the engine output such as the horsepower, torque and the fuel mixture as well test under different engine loads and conditions.

While the costs can be quite hefty at first, many state the savings are worth it in the future.

Dyno Tuning Cost
Mustang” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by allenthepostman

How much does dyno tuning cost?

The cost of a dyno tuning greatly depends on the vehicle you drive, the parts needed for the job, which professional you choose and your geographical location.  From our research online, the costs greatly range anywhere from $300 to $750, according to the multiple forum threads we found on this topic.  Most of these costs, about $300 to $500, will come from just the actual diagnostics as many technicians will want to run more than one test run to determine the baseline of your engine, and with these results, they can determine if any problems were found to rectify.

While the price can seem high to most, it’s the equipment and knowledge you’re essentially paying for as many technicians are not skilled in this regard, making it hard to find a qualified professional in your area.  Depending on the software, for example, in some cases, it can cost the shop about $100 alone to unlock the car just in order to write to it.

As there were so many quotes people did share, we broke down our findings, along with the source of each price, inside of our table below:

Prices found online...
$500 (Corvette)SOURCE
$700 quote (Corvette)SOURCE
$500 for first tune but less after first (Corvette)SOURCE
$350 (Corvette)SOURCE
$450 (Camaro)SOURCE
$350 (Camaro)SOURCE
$400 for an engine with just bolt-ons and $500 for an engine with heads/cams (Corvette)SOURCE
$399 special (Corvette)SOURCE
$400 plus $20 for supplies and sensors, with tuner priced separately (Mustang)SOURCE
First was $400 and second was $310 (Mustang)SOURCE
$425 for first and $125 afterSOURCE

According to Autos.com, for instance, the costs can range from $400 to $700, but the costs, like we said, can depend on the make of the car and if any parts are needed during the job as there are many times when you will need aftermarket products to get the best tuning job done possible.

O’Toole’s Harley Davidson, a Harley Davidson dealer located in New York, states that the cost, in its FAQ, will be dependent on the time it takes to work on your motorcycle.  A fuel-injected motorcycle, for instance, can take about four hours to work on, whereas a carbureted motorcycle can take about two hours due to the fewer adjustments that need to be made.  The additional costs you need to consider, according to the FAQ, include the Race Tuner and ThunderMax, to name a few.

Church Auto Testing notes on its official website that once the car is mounted, there will be an $80 minimum charge, even if the vehicle is untunable.  Aside from the dyno tuning fees, additional surcharges, such as the oil/antifreeze hazmat fee, spark plug gapping and/or a valve cover removal fee.  The prices, in the end, will be either a flat or hourly rate, whichever is the lower.

The dyno tuning process

First, before the dyno tuning process even begins, a mechanic will first want to determine if your car has any distinct issues such as gas mileage issues, surging, a power loss or hard starting, to name a few.

Next, after they talk with you about any potential problems and visually inspecting the car, they will analyze the engine to determine if it can even forego the testing.  In some cases, if the engine is in poor shape, such as having brittle plug wires, busted vacuum lines or is oil soaked, then you will either be asked to have these issues repaired or they will flat out deny the testing.  As mentioned above, most mechanics will charge a minimum fee to determine if they can dyno tune your car.

When they determine your car is a candidate, then the next step often involves determing the appropriate heat range of spark plug to be used for your application.  For instance, a truck hauling a camper will require a colder spark plug than a truck that is generally used empty for commuting.

Next, the distributor is detached and inserted into a synchrograph – a machine designed to test the distributor to ensure it’s mechanically sound like the engine under actual operating conditions.  If mechanically sound, then it’s modified to improve the engine’s receptivity and pulling power, and a vacuum advance to provide the best gas mileage.  After, the ignition is inspected and recovered if need be.

Lastly, the vehicle is then placed on the actual dynamometer by placing the wheels onto the dyno rollers.  While the engine is working, in gear, the mechanic will then be able to test an array of speeds and load conditions while monitoring the engine’s performance by contrasting the horsepower transmitted to the while in correlation to the extent of the engine vacuum.  Together, the wide-band air/fuel monitor will monitor the carburation to check the carburetors circuits and will be changed accordingly to generate the best driveability and performance.

The entire test, depending on the vehicle and mechanic’s experience, will take anywhere from six to eight hours, and at the end of the process, you will be given a detailed test sheet with your exact specifications.

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