In this month’s issue, we began our coverage of the AMSOIL/Mopar Muscle Dyno showdown. This year, once again, the event went off without a hitch, as no cars were harmed in the making of the challenge, nor were any feelings hurt -- that I know of. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Typically, the operation of a dyno -- be it an engine or chassis unit, is always open to interpretation. What I mean is, the way one person might operate a dyno could, and usually is, completely different than the way another person might do it. Sure, there are a lot of variables in operating a dyno, but if the same person operates the dyno for the entirety of the test, the results are quantifiable. That being said, there has been more than one person that was made unhappy by the end results of a ‘test session.”
Many a high-hope has been placed on the perception that part “X” will add 25 horsepower to a car. Most of the time, the claim by the manufacturer is valid, but the end user also needs to understand the conditions of the manufacturer’s test. All you need to do is use a slightly different camshaft, and the result will be different.
More than once, I’ve heard someone say “That’s not right,” when their car or engine was run on the dyno. We’ve often talked between us at the office that we need to make t-shirts that say actually say, “That’s not right!” on the front of them, so they can be handed out when the numbers of a given dyno session don’t meet the approval of the test subject’s owner. The more I think about it, that might be a little harsh --funny, but harsh.
So, is running your engine or car on the engine or chassis dyno worthwhile? That depends on what you realistically expect to get from it. If you’re looking to impress your buddies with some big-numbered dyno sheet, you better know for sure that your car will make a big number before you ever strap it down. But, if you are genuinely trying to make sure that your car is running the best it can, the dyno is an invaluable tool.
Dyno tuning is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated ways to get the most from your engine, even if it’s modified. There aren’t many car guys that are new to modifying cars, but many neglect to optimize the combinations that they have. Unfortunately, many people come to the dyno unprepared, and their session isn’t as enjoyable as it can be. So, if you do ever plan to make a few pulls on the dyno, here are a few things you might want to consider beforehand:
Make sure all of the maintenance aspects are up to date. There’s nothing worse that throwing a belt, or let’s say, a driveshaft while spinning the roller of a chassis dyno. Also make sure that you have fresh, good-quality oil in the engine
Before you even leave your house or shop, make sure the vehicle is running properly before you get to the dyno. If the car is not running correctly to begin with, it’s tough to get a good test completed. Troubleshooting on the dyno is typically billed at dyno tuning rates.
Make sure that there is at least a ¼-tank of fuel in the car when you arrive at the shop. The tuning process burns fuel, so plan accordingly. Make sure you are using a high quality fuel of the octane that you typically run and have it in the tank for the tune. Poor gas quality is a good cause for an inability to make good power numbers or get a good tune on the car. When tuning, stay away from budget fuel depots, and make sure that what is labeled “premium” gas is 93 octane and not 92 or lower. Also, try not to buy from gas from a station that is having its tanks filled since this will mix any sediment built up over the years into the fuel you’re putting into your car.
The ignition is just as important as fuel. A faulty ignition system from a plug, plug wire or distributor, can damage the engine in seconds. If you have any problems with ignition on the dyno all bets are off.
Finally, be reasonable. Don’t be the guys that ends up getting a “That’s Not Right” t-shirt from us.