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gotta be rich to get tune??

This is a discussion on gotta be rich to get tune?? within the Computer & Tuning forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; Originally Posted by 00LS12LS6Z28 So if I have a LS6 H/C/I, I shouldn't do the mail order tune? Just raise ...

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00LS12LS6Z28 View Post
    So if I have a LS6 H/C/I, I shouldn't do the mail order tune?
    Just raise the idle...

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    Quote Originally Posted by 00LS12LS6Z28 View Post
    So if I have a LS6 H/C/I, I shouldn't do the mail order tune?
    Not necessarily, but you would benefit more from a live tune.

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    TunedbyFrost.com Tuner Frost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00LS12LS6Z28 View Post
    So if I have a LS6 H/C/I, I shouldn't do the mail order tune?
    Whew, first post on any board being back from vacation... Me and the wife just walked in

    A mail order tune for a setup like that is intended to get the car up and driveable and to let you get the car mechanically sound (if need be) for tuning in person with a wideband. That is the reason that $100 of the cost of a mail order is credited back against full tuning when the car is brought in.

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    Senior Member 00LS12LS6Z28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frost View Post
    Whew, first post on any board being back from vacation... Me and the wife just walked in

    A mail order tune for a setup like that is intended to get the car up and driveable and to let you get the car mechanically sound (if need be) for tuning in person with a wideband. That is the reason that $100 of the cost of a mail order is credited back against full tuning when the car is brought in.
    Gotcha. Thanks. I am hoping to either do the mail order tune or come down there in a couple of months. I am aiming for August...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    Even bolt on cars need tunes. Shucks even when mine was bone stock the OEM tune sucked.

    I think what basballny2 is getting at, is the same thing that Frost mentioned. When an experienced tuner has done enough of these bolt on cars, he has so many bin files from various combo's that he can simply flash one in, and get the car pretty damn close. A little tweaking from there and it's done. Saves alot of time for both the tuner and the customer, and that time saved is passed onto the paying customer.

    Not every tuner does that (very few even), so my hats off to Frost.


    The part I bolded is actually what I was getting at. Experienced tuners don't really honestly need to do a dyno tune for just bolt-on mods. They have those tunes dialed in pretty well and don't need a dyno machine to assist them. Now when you get into heads, cam, FI etc, then it becomes beneficial to have a dyno machine aide in tuning.

    I can go to Ed Wright(local and well known, well respected tuner) and ask him for a dyno tune on my bolt on LS1. He is going to charge me $600 no matter my mods.

    I could however, ask him for just a regular tune with my bolt ons, and he would charge me $400(IIRC).

    I am confident enough with him and his experience, that he would net the same results for my LS1(bolt-ons) from a regular tune that he would with a dyno tune. Hence, why I stated, why get a dyno tune with a few bolt-ons.

    May be different for a rookie tuner though. Would be vastly different if mods were more extensive than just bolt-ons.

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    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Y2KPewterSS View Post
    The part I bolded is actually what I was getting at. Experienced tuners don't really honestly need to do a dyno tune for just bolt-on mods. They have those tunes dialed in pretty well and don't need a dyno machine to assist them. Now when you get into heads, cam, FI etc, then it becomes beneficial to have a dyno machine aide in tuning.

    I can go to Ed Wright(local and well known, well respected tuner) and ask him for a dyno tune on my bolt on LS1. He is going to charge me $600 no matter my mods.

    I could however, ask him for just a regular tune with my bolt ons, and he would charge me $400(IIRC).

    I am confident enough with him and his experience, that he would net the same results for my LS1(bolt-ons) from a regular tune that he would with a dyno tune. Hence, why I stated, why get a dyno tune with a few bolt-ons.

    May be different for a rookie tuner though. Would be vastly different if mods were more extensive than just bolt-ons.

    I understand, but what I find sad about that, is that no matter how much time your tuner spends with it, you get charged a flat fee,,,a rather hefty one at that.
    It would piss me off if it took longer to strap the car down than it did to tune it and get spanked with a $600 charge for a simple tune he flashed in that he used on the last guy. Even that $400 charge for a reflash and no dyno sounds stiff to me for what they are actually doing. Guess I work too damn cheap,,lol.
    But tuners do that stuff all the time. It's highway robbery if you ask me. Which is one of the reasons that prompted me to purchase HPtuner and do it myself. It's about the same price as your dyno tune, and I have the ability to change what I want, when I want, for later upgrades down the road without another tuning fee.

    That's why I commend Frost for his pricing strategy, I very seldom here of tuners doing that. If I lived close I'd have both of my 4th gens over there.
    Last edited by Firebirdjones; 05-26-2010 at 05:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    I understand, but what I find sad about that, is that no matter how much time your tuner spends with it, you get charged a flat fee,,,a rather hefty one at that.
    It would piss me off if it took longer to strap the car down than it did to tune it and get spanked with a $600 charge for a simple tune he flashed in that he used on the last guy. Even that $400 charge for a reflash and no dyno sounds stiff to me for what they are actually doing. Guess I work too damn cheap,,lol.
    But tuners do that stuff all the time. It's highway robbery if you ask me.
    Well, the way I look at it, you're paying for their knowledge and experience not their time. If the tuner is good at what they do, they deserved to get paid. But I'm all for doing it yourself and commend you for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    I understand, but what I find sad about that, is that no matter how much time your tuner spends with it, you get charged a flat fee,,,a rather hefty one at that.
    It would piss me off if it took longer to strap the car down than it did to tune it and get spanked with a $600 charge for a simple tune he flashed in that he used on the last guy. Even that $400 charge for a reflash and no dyno sounds stiff to me for what they are actually doing. Guess I work too damn cheap,,lol.
    But tuners do that stuff all the time. It's highway robbery if you ask me. Which is one of the reasons that prompted me to purchase HPtuner and do it myself. It's about the same price as your dyno tune, and I have the ability to change what I want, when I want, for later upgrades down the road without another tuning fee.

    That's why I commend Frost for his pricing strategy, I very seldom here of tuners doing that. If I lived close I'd have both of my 4th gens over there.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlass View Post
    Well, the way I look at it, you're paying for their knowledge and experience not their time. If the tuner is good at what they do, they deserved to get paid. But I'm all for doing it yourself and commend you for that.
    I agree with what Cutlass said and I would add this FBJ, if you don't want to pay someoone else $400, 500, 600 to tune your car, get the software and educate yourself so you can do it yourself. Paying for knowledge and expertise just like Cutlass stated, not time.

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    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    The only knowledge needed is learning how to use the stinking software
    There is no real secret science to actually tuning a car. If you understand how an engine works, what various combo's like or don't like, how camshafts, compression ratios, combustion chambers, and intakes affect things, you can tune a car.
    I made a living dialing in and modifying carbs, recurving distributors, among other things. Well it's the same thing on an LS motor the only real difference is punching a bunch of keys instead of turning some wrenches. If you can understand what the software is telling you, then you know what changes to make. The diagnostic abilities alone is enough reason to purchase the software.

    My biggest hurdle is just using the laptop. Technoligy peaked for me about 1975, and 99% of the stuff I work on is much older than that. I don't think I will ever totally grasp computers.

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    my dad used to have a saying.....you get paid for what you know, not what you do. If tuning was easy everyone would do it. You pay not so much for the physical work involved as you do for the experience and knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    my dad used to have a saying.....you get paid for what you know, not what you do. If tuning was easy everyone would do it. You pay not so much for the physical work involved as you do for the experience and knowledge.

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    i paid $500 for a driveability & dyno tune.

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    If most shops charge an $85-$95/hr shop rate then how do tuners arrive at $350+ for an hours worth of work? No matter what you are having done to a car the shop rate should be the same. And it takes no special skills to learn how to tune. Buy a tuner, get the book from The Tuning School and you can learn very quickly. In fact you will even get your tune better than a tuner as you will spend more time perfecting it. It's almost ridiculous to pay that kind of money for a tune.

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    TunedbyFrost.com Tuner Frost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry View Post
    If most shops charge an $85-$95/hr shop rate then how do tuners arrive at $350+ for an hours worth of work? No matter what you are having done to a car the shop rate should be the same. And it takes no special skills to learn how to tune. Buy a tuner, get the book from The Tuning School and you can learn very quickly. In fact you will even get your tune better than a tuner as you will spend more time perfecting it. It's almost ridiculous to pay that kind of money for a tune.


    I understand your frustration, but you are missing a LOT here... If it took no special skills to learn and be good at, everyone would buy the Tuningschool book and be good to go. I was an engineer for (process, controls, and robotics) for 6 years before I did this. I use that college and work background EVERY DAY. Here's an easy example... for the last few years there have been a flood of knock-off Chinese MAP sensors that 'look' like OEM GM units. 99% of the time, these sensors work great, but their offsets and linear value do not follow the published GM standard. I use a hand pump, bench power supplies (sometimes even a field harness and PCM) a digital storage O-scope and I plot the sensor out. I have to determine it's offset from 0kPa and it's linear range based on Vout. I don't think you will get that in a book and it also DOES take knowledge that most people do not have. Contrary to your post, I would consider that the definition of a special skill. The books that offer steps often have very little explanation of WHY you are changing each table and exactly what it's real effect is. The tuning school guys are super-nice and I even bought their A6 tuning supplement, so this isn't a knock, but their beginner course has people jacking around PE to tune WOT rather than explaining that once you have calibrated the air mass models, you will GET what you command in PE. There are too many 'special cases' to create any step by step model for this (except for boltons cars). At LEAST half of MY tuning work is based on email tuning. People buy the materials you mentioned and HPTuner's and a wideband to tune their new cam or stroker. They have problems (which is totally understandable) and then contact me for help getting things in line. By midnight, I will have 4 base calibrations, cfg files to log with, and instructions on how to setup the throttle body to get the IAC into range and how to log all sent out. If it were as easy as you report, that wouldn't be the bulk of my current business.

    The other portion is time, expense, hardware, and experience. Turbo cars, swaps, and other exotic setups take HOURS to properly tune, and I don't mean two or three. If I charged a by the hour rate, some of those could easily eclipse $1000. If I tuned every bolt-ons car 100% and from scratch, they'd all take hours as well. You get more than you pay for when I start with a base that gets the car 90% of the way there. Doing it from scratch on each car would take considerable time.

    The other portion of the crowd paying often understand that they can take the time to learn and get it done, but most want to enjoy the car once it is mechanically finished. Most of them also ascribe a value to their free time. I had over 100 hours of independent study put in before I ever even plugged in to my own car back in the day and literally thousands since.

    $650 for HPtuner's Pro, $250-300 for a wideband, and $900 for the Tuning School's Beginner and Advanced material (which you WILL need to be able to calibrate the MAF, VE and idle airflow) + your cost of dyno rental (say $100 if you are super-ready for it) and add in the time it takes you to learn it and then do it... at that point, $350-550 for full tuning on the street and dyno (wideband used in both) doesn't sound like a bad deal. If you have ANY internal work done, it's certainly going to take more than hour to be thorough with the calibration, even with a base that gets you most of the way there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry View Post
    If most shops charge an $85-$95/hr shop rate then how do tuners arrive at $350+ for an hours worth of work? No matter what you are having done to a car the shop rate should be the same. And it takes no special skills to learn how to tune. Buy a tuner, get the book from The Tuning School and you can learn very quickly. In fact you will even get your tune better than a tuner as you will spend more time perfecting it. It's almost ridiculous to pay that kind of money for a tune.
    I went the route you described. $500 for edit and bought autotap used for $175. After a year or so of fighting that dinosaur of a set up I bought hptuners when it came available for the 98's for $650 and an LM-1 wideband for $350. Also needed a new laptop but found a used one for $250 that would work. By my calculations that's almost $2000 it took me to get to where I'm at today. I'm not even going to put a dollar amount on the hours upon hours upon hours of reading I had to do to get even a small understanding of what was going on.
    If you find a good tuner that knows what they're doing and does things correctly I'd say you're getting a helluva deal at $500-$600 to be able to drop your car off and pick it up and it's done.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frost View Post
    I understand your frustration, but you are missing a LOT here... If it took no special skills to learn and be good at, everyone would buy the Tuningschool book and be good to go. I was an engineer for (process, controls, and robotics) for 6 years before I did this. I use that college and work background EVERY DAY. Here's an easy example... for the last few years there have been a flood of knock-off Chinese MAP sensors that 'look' like OEM GM units. 99% of the time, these sensors work great, but their offsets and linear value do not follow the published GM standard. I use a hand pump, bench power supplies (sometimes even a field harness and PCM) a digital storage O-scope and I plot the sensor out. I have to determine it's offset from 0kPa and it's linear range based on Vout. I don't think you will get that in a book and it also DOES take knowledge that most people do not have. Contrary to your post, I would consider that the definition of a special skill. The books that offer steps often have very little explanation of WHY you are changing each table and exactly what it's real effect is. The tuning school guys are super-nice and I even bought their A6 tuning supplement, so this isn't a knock, but their beginner course has people jacking around PE to tune WOT rather than explaining that once you have calibrated the air mass models, you will GET what you command in PE. There are too many 'special cases' to create any step by step model for this (except for boltons cars). At LEAST half of MY tuning work is based on email tuning. People buy the materials you mentioned and HPTuner's and a wideband to tune their new cam or stroker. They have problems (which is totally understandable) and then contact me for help getting things in line. By midnight, I will have 4 base calibrations, cfg files to log with, and instructions on how to setup the throttle body to get the IAC into range and how to log all sent out. If it were as easy as you report, that wouldn't be the bulk of my current business.

    The other portion is time, expense, hardware, and experience. Turbo cars, swaps, and other exotic setups take HOURS to properly tune, and I don't mean two or three. If I charged a by the hour rate, some of those could easily eclipse $1000. If I tuned every bolt-ons car 100% and from scratch, they'd all take hours as well. You get more than you pay for when I start with a base that gets the car 90% of the way there. Doing it from scratch on each car would take considerable time.

    The other portion of the crowd paying often understand that they can take the time to learn and get it done, but most want to enjoy the car once it is mechanically finished. Most of them also ascribe a value to their free time. I had over 100 hours of independent study put in before I ever even plugged in to my own car back in the day and literally thousands since.

    $650 for HPtuner's Pro, $250-300 for a wideband, and $900 for the Tuning School's Beginner and Advanced material (which you WILL need to be able to calibrate the MAF, VE and idle airflow) + your cost of dyno rental (say $100 if you are super-ready for it) and add in the time it takes you to learn it and then do it... at that point, $350-550 for full tuning on the street and dyno (wideband used in both) doesn't sound like a bad deal. If you have ANY internal work done, it's certainly going to take more than hour to be thorough with the calibration, even with a base that gets you most of the way there.
    You are right on the money Frost. And the part you mention about the books not telling you why you are changing something or the overall affect it has is exactly why I never cared too much for the tuning books.
    I've bought 3 or 4 various tuning books just looking for that little bit of info, and can't find it in any of them. They are general at best and don't really get into the detail that I would like to know.
    I understand most of what I know spending hours reading on HPtuners website, along with the help I've received from Frost and Orion here. The rest is from hands on and experimenting. And I still don't have it all down. Don't know that I ever will.
    What really helps me is actually sitting down with someone 1 on 1 with the laptop and watching....monkey see monkey do type of thing. Because some of this reading will just make your head spin with in depth expainations, but once I see how it's done with a laptop it all makes sense to me. Guess I'm more of a hands on type of learner.
    Problem with that is it will probably never happen that way for me. I'm still completely happy with the purchase of HPtuner, as the diagnostic ability alone has paid for itself already. The tuning was just an added benefit for me.

    What blew me away was the ability for you to be able to email me a file and straighten out the MAF table for me. My wife had to download that to a thumbdrive off the house computer, transfer to the laptop and then I flashed it into the car. Probably childs play for you Frost but I sure got a kick out of that

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frost View Post
    I understand your frustration, but you are missing a LOT here... If it took no special skills to learn and be good at, everyone would buy the Tuningschool book and be good to go. I was an engineer for (process, controls, and robotics) for 6 years before I did this. I use that college and work background EVERY DAY. Here's an easy example... for the last few years there have been a flood of knock-off Chinese MAP sensors that 'look' like OEM GM units. 99% of the time, these sensors work great, but their offsets and linear value do not follow the published GM standard. I use a hand pump, bench power supplies (sometimes even a field harness and PCM) a digital storage O-scope and I plot the sensor out. I have to determine it's offset from 0kPa and it's linear range based on Vout. I don't think you will get that in a book and it also DOES take knowledge that most people do not have. Contrary to your post, I would consider that the definition of a special skill. The books that offer steps often have very little explanation of WHY you are changing each table and exactly what it's real effect is. The tuning school guys are super-nice and I even bought their A6 tuning supplement, so this isn't a knock, but their beginner course has people jacking around PE to tune WOT rather than explaining that once you have calibrated the air mass models, you will GET what you command in PE. There are too many 'special cases' to create any step by step model for this (except for boltons cars). At LEAST half of MY tuning work is based on email tuning. People buy the materials you mentioned and HPTuner's and a wideband to tune their new cam or stroker. They have problems (which is totally understandable) and then contact me for help getting things in line. By midnight, I will have 4 base calibrations, cfg files to log with, and instructions on how to setup the throttle body to get the IAC into range and how to log all sent out. If it were as easy as you report, that wouldn't be the bulk of my current business.

    The other portion is time, expense, hardware, and experience. Turbo cars, swaps, and other exotic setups take HOURS to properly tune, and I don't mean two or three. If I charged a by the hour rate, some of those could easily eclipse $1000. If I tuned every bolt-ons car 100% and from scratch, they'd all take hours as well. You get more than you pay for when I start with a base that gets the car 90% of the way there. Doing it from scratch on each car would take considerable time.

    The other portion of the crowd paying often understand that they can take the time to learn and get it done, but most want to enjoy the car once it is mechanically finished. Most of them also ascribe a value to their free time. I had over 100 hours of independent study put in before I ever even plugged in to my own car back in the day and literally thousands since.

    $650 for HPtuner's Pro, $250-300 for a wideband, and $900 for the Tuning School's Beginner and Advanced material (which you WILL need to be able to calibrate the MAF, VE and idle airflow) + your cost of dyno rental (say $100 if you are super-ready for it) and add in the time it takes you to learn it and then do it... at that point, $350-550 for full tuning on the street and dyno (wideband used in both) doesn't sound like a bad deal. If you have ANY internal work done, it's certainly going to take more than hour to be thorough with the calibration, even with a base that gets you most of the way there.
    You are the exception Frost. Most tuners don't have the background and knowledge that you have. If you were in Houston I would bring my car to you and see if you could improve on my current tune.

    Didn't mean it took no special skills to tune, just no more than other aspects of auto electronics repair at the depth of knowledge of most tuners. In their case a shop rate of $85-$95/hr should apply.

    I still feel tuning is part of the hobby. I've enjoyed doing my tuning.

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