How to tune a car right: Part 3, tuning Mopar with OST Dyno

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Not long ago I wrote a story about a pony car tuned with a supercharger. The installation of the fan was done correctly. Then the owner of the car put on a set of great looking wheels wrapped in good looking but cheap rubber. On my first test ride, I couldn’t get that supercharged sweetness to the ground. It was the perfect drive to park in a Burger King parking lot on a Friday night. Spinning around on a Sunday ride, I shook my head that someone had spent five figures to get more power the right way, with a clean install, then wiped the gains so thoroughly that the stock engine probably would have overwhelmed the tires.

This got me thinking about the ways people are ruining their quest for horsepower, either up front by not insisting on a clean install and paying the money for it, or at the back end with additional purchases like cheap tires or cheap gas. So I called three tuners, one aimed at GM, one at Mopar, one at Ford, to find out what people need to know about how to get the best power for their goals and how to make sure they can get all that power. use. . The first interview in this three-part series was with Blake Leonard at Top Speed ​​Cincy in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second with Brandon Alsept at BA Motorsports in Milford, Ohio. This third and final interview is with Micah Doban at OST Dyno in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, a family-owned company with over 40 years of Mopar expertise specializing in Gen III Hemis but tuning everything from land-speed cars and drag racers to jeeps.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Do people who come to OST generally know what they want?

Probably 80% of the people coming in just want more power with no specific ET target [ET is a kind of bracket handicapped drag racing – ed.].

What’s the best way to start a Mopar tune?

The first thing people often skip is finding a tuner or a store. People will throw parts on their cars that the internet said, then go to a tuner that does things a different way, and [the tuner is] like ‘No, we don’t like using these injectors, we don’t like these parts.’ You need to find someone who is familiar with the parts that are on your car or that you plan to put on your car.

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So having a goal and then finding a tuner that can help you with that goal is the right way to start.

Precisely. And many tuners have their own formula – and when I say tuner, I mean someone who also works on the cars. Not someone who just tunes into the internet, someone who dials in the cars, knows what works, knows what doesn’t.

I own a GM product. A cold air intake, headers and exhaust are the go-to starters. Does that also apply to Mopars?

Those parts don’t add power to a 6.4 engine, they add noise. We can do a tune and you pick up the power of the tune, but those parts themselves, unlike a GM, won’t add power to the factory stuff that’s already super efficient.

Specifically, what should someone know about tuning Mopars?

They are not a GM or a Ford. We see stores saying, “Yeah, I’m doing tunes with GM, I can do your Chrysler,” and they’re not. Especially with the newer Chryslers it gets really complicated. As for parts, we don’t really do much on the cars, everything works very well from the factory. Most of our cars still have the factory transmission and differential, axles and engine, so we push the factory stuff pretty hard before we have to change it. But there are no oil pump problems like the Fords. There isn’t really an Achilles heel to these engines, which is pretty good.

When Does Chrysler Make Engines More Complex?

It’s not the engines, it’s the tuning – the engine and transmission computers, coding. Let’s compare from year to year, so we’re doing a 2014 Camaro and a 2014 Challenger. It’s much easier for the Camaro to get tuned. You can put a big noisy cam in the GM and the blower and it will be very easy to tune. If you do that with a Chrysler, especially if you get above 2014, it’s very complex. They don’t like having all those different customizations.

If I have a NA Mopar tribe and want 20 to 40 additional horses, what should I do first?

If someone had a ’15 Scat Pack, 8-speed automatic, 6.4 bone stock, and they wanted to make some power, the first thing I would ask them is what’s your budget? If someone just wants an extra 20 or 30 horsepower at the wheel, an engine tuning would do that. If they want to get close to that 40, we’d probably tell them to put some race fuel in it and we can do a race fuel tune. But 40 to 50 is a bit of an odd number, because that’s dead between a tune and a camshaft. With a cam you will probably get 60 to 70 horsepower. But if they wanted an extra 100 horsepower, or 150, then usually where we go first is a cam pack or a blower, and you just need to screw on the blower and get it tuned right. But people blow them up because they’re tuned too aggressively.

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What should the camera start with?

Depends on whether it’s an automatic or manual transmission. For the manual guys, it turns out to be quite nice at around $4,500. We don’t put cams on automatic cars with the factory torque converter because they just aren’t worth doing. If you only wanted a 40 horsepower gain we could put a flaccid cam in there but all our cams are pretty rowdy so we need a high stall converter too. Lots of cams that sound really cool, the car doesn’t drive very well. They need something to loosen the load at low RPM or idling, or else you’ll drop it into the drivetrain, which cam will try to push through the brakes or shut off the engine. A camshaft and converter for an automatic car costs somewhere around $6,800.

Do people come in who want too much power for the amount of money they have to spend?

That happens very often. One of the most important things is to say, ‘I have this budget, what makes sense for the money I have?’ There are a lot of costs that people don’t factor in, even if they’re just doing parts. [They’ll say]”The supercharger kit is $7,400. I have $8,000. Can you put a blower on my car?” No, because there are supporting parts like an engine computer, a tuning module, a tune, and there is an additional $2,500 worth of parts besides the blower. So they don’t have the right budget in mind for what they’re trying to do.

Is it then ‘This is what we can do it for and we can’t negotiate?’

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Yes. We have to pay for the parts and we don’t negotiate with labor. But if someone says, “Hey, I want to put a fan on my car for $6,000, is that possible?” I say no, but with $6,000 you can do this, this, and this, or for another four grand you can have a blower on your car. If someone says, “I have $4,000, I want 100 horsepower,” they read on the internet that for $4,000 they can have a cam kit and make 100 horsepower. You immediately say, “I see this guy has been reading online,” so we’re trying to give him some factual information, not misinformation.

And you can’t just install a supercharger and then don’t do the accessories?

You could do it, but the car won’t run.

How do owners screw up their NA Mopar tunes?

Worst of all the changes I see is really bad wiring [for things like] nitrous systems and meters. If I had any advice, fix your wiring before you come to the test bench. Don’t rewire and then drive to the dyno and hope it works because often times it doesn’t.

As for tunes from people doing it themselves, many engines are damaged because they have too much ignition timing. And if they don’t damage the engine, the handling is very bad. They put it on a dyno and [tune it for] an inflated high horsepower, but the car won’t start cold or hot, you put it in Drive and it stalls. So awesome, you’ve hit your high horsepower count, but you can’t really drive the car.

If they want great power, what do they need?

If we’re talking about more than just tapping a blower on it and making an extra 150 horsepower, you really need to put a forged internal engine in the car. The pistons are naturally aspirated, so they cannot absorb significant cylinder pressure. They’re not as weak as the internet says, but if you’re looking for 700 or 800 horsepower, you need something like this. One hundred and fifty horsepower is probably where we will stop with a factory engine gain. Of course, if you want to go higher than that on race fuel, we’ll tell you that you’re on the limit and you better understand that you’re on the limit.

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