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Old 12-06-2012, 07:35 PM   #1
Cobb Tuning
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Default Pre-Dyno Inspections And Why You Win Because Of Them

Pre-Dyno Inspections – And Why You Win Because Of Them
Prepared by: Lance Lucas, COBB Tuning Surgeline

If you’ve recently been tuned or inquired about dyno tuning at COBB Tuning Surgeline, you’ve likely heard about or been through the “Pre-Dyno Inspection” process. We may or may not have done a good job of explaining the whole deal to you, so I’m here to hopefully expand upon the subject a bit and shed some light on what we feel is a highly mutually-beneficial procedure. I have completed hundreds of Subaru tunes all over the country, from Connecticut, to Texas, to California and my home state and first love, Oregon. I certainly haven’t seen it all, and I learn and discover great new things all of the time. I’d like to share some of my insights to help explain a bit more about why we do things the way we do.

A bit of background. As a tuning customer, you have various expectations, right? I certainly do when I’m buying something, be it a hamburger, a hotel room or a Hyundai. More specific to us, one of your expectations is likely that you will end up with a very well-tuned car free of any major issues, both at time of delivery and many thousands of miles down the road. Is it guaranteed? Of course not…only death and taxes come with certainty. But, you’re paying us good money to make every best attempt to meet or exceed that expectation. In order to do that, it is very important that the car be free of the many common mechanical issues that can plague a modified car – and not just at tune time. I will touch on this again below. Ultimately, what is important to us is your satisfaction and delivering an experience that meets or exceeds your expectations.

A really great thing about the Pre-Dyno Inspection is that we can evaluate many specific areas of the vehicle far beyond most average owner’s abilities. Without a lift, the right tools and years of Subaru experience, it can be tough for even the savviest of mechanics to pinpoint underlying issues with a car. Some of the more troublesome items we see are leaking valve covers, torn CV joint boots, failing radiators, missing sensors, leaking turbocharger inlets and bald/corded tires. Items such as the leaking valve covers and torn CV boots can spray flammable oil and grease onto red-hot exhaust components; leaking turbocharger inlets will cause a dangerously lean air-fuel mixture that cannot be appropriately compensated for via tuning. We’re all on a budget, so we understand if we notice a significant issue that needs attention and you or we need to delay the tune to address it. Depending on the severity of the issue, the best way for us to ensure you’ve got a well-running and safe car to enjoy may likely be to address that problem before a tune, not after, especially if your budget does not allow for both simultaneously.

One of the common things we end up “rejecting” cars for are “temporary” solutions for critical issues, such as vacuum/boost/oil/fuel lines that are of incorrect material or installed improperly and likely to fail quickly. A failed boost line can and has caused an overboost situation and engine failure; a failed oil line can and has caused engine bay fires. “But if it works for the time being, can’t you tune it like that?” you might be thinking. And the answer is technically “yes” – but pragmatically “no”, not while also meeting your long-term expectations of us and your vehicle. In cases like these, we often feel the money you intend to spend on tuning is better spent correcting the mechanical issues first. In these circumstances, we can often provide a suitable base tune that allows the car to run and drive, it’s only the power tuning side of things that will be delayed while good solutions can be applied for the issues found. 300whp in a daily driver is awesome; doing our best to make sure that your daily driver will get you to work the next day is paramount. Let’s work together and get your vehicle in tip-top shape and ready for your enjoyment! MOST IMPORTANTLY, if the issue is something that could create a safety issue for you, your passengers, the dyno operator or shop employees, we simply will not risk any person’s well-being in the name of hasty horsepower. Patience is a virtue!

We frequently use the Pre-Dyno Inspection as a way to get a better understanding of your car’s current modifications and mechanical configuration. Over time, we’ve learned a lot regarding the way that certain parts and pieces – such as the intake system and the fuel injectors – can negatively impact the tune or preclude ideal operation. Intake housings of poor design or unsuitable construction materials can cause erratic Mass Air Flow measurements, which leads to variety of drivability and performance problems. Countless injectors suffer from inconsistent performance and some have even physically failed and separated, sending small metallic objects and a geyser of fuel into the engine. Some of these parts can often provide “passable” performance, but we hold our work, your car and your satisfaction to a higher standard than that. Again, you’ve come to us with expectations, and our advice and recommendations come from the need for a strong mechanical foundation to work with before we can deliver in well-tuned spades.

I hope this helps clear up our processes and mindset a bit more for you. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to earn your business. Thank you very much for your time, and more importantly, your support.

EDIT: Please see attached for a watermarked example of our Pre-Dyno Inspection form. Our techs are required to diligently work through the list and indicate a "pass" for each area or make notes indicating what issues were found. After this they will work with the sales person and customer to review the list as well discuss potential options and solutions for anything major.
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File Type: pdf Surgeline Pre-Dyno Checklist v5 - Watermarked.pdf (185.6 KB, 127 views)

Last edited by Cobb Tuning; 12-08-2012 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:08 PM   #2
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With these problems what kinda of power output where a individual trying to reach. My car is a dd and I'm looking to be tuned right around 330whp. Are you saying even small HP tunes would cause failures like that? I'm kinda scared now to get a tune.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:45 PM   #3
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Such BS that this got moved out of the NWIC....
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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You shouldnt be scared to get tuned, especially from a company like Cobb. Thats the whole reason they have this is to avoid those issues. I think, if I am reading this correctly, is that as long as you dont have any hacked together fixes "just to get by" and as long as your car is free of any outlying major issues, you shouldnt have anything to worry about.

These types of things are in place to save us money in the long run (i.e. blown motor, engine bay fire, etc) and to save liability from the company/tuner.

Rule of thumb to not run into a pre-dyno inspection rejection - take your time and fix your issues before attemting to get tuned.

Feel free to flame but I think this makes sense and I appreciate the write-up, this is good stuff for people to know so they are not scared to get tuned. I hate hearing someone say things like "i just got this part and this part and it runs fine, why would I need a tune?" Makes me cringe.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:46 PM   #5
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So are they saying you need to have it checked out first? How would one know they have a problem until it goes on and they reject it? Like me I know very minimal about cars so I wouldn't know the slightest thing.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:49 PM   #6
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One of the biggest thing is to pressure check your intake and make sure you have no exhaust leak
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:17 PM   #7
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As a Subaru Cobb Pro tuner for the last four years, coupled with our previous 6 years of professionally tuning multiple platforms, we have learned that a pre-tune check is not an option but a requirement.

The training we received from Christian of Cobb tuning at the very start of our Cobb relationship has proven invaluable to our customers. A smoke test to check for boost/vacuum leaks along with a compression test of vehicles ensures that when we tune your car it is completed without mechanical issues that interfere with accomplishing your goals.

The norm for us is to review the mechanical configuration of the vehicle, correct the problems found, tune the car, and deliver it without problems. Does this cost more? Yes. Why? Unfortunately mistakes are made, clamps are loose, screws are forgotten, waste-gates are configured incorrectly, boost control solenoides are plumped incorrectly, and the list goes on. If you are the exception to the norm, our hats are off to you! We will compliment you on a job well done and put the power down.

Mike of Kinetic Motor Works

Last edited by kineticmotorworks; 12-07-2012 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:46 PM   #8
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I 100% agree with this being a must. I want to know my car is in perfect shape before it hits the dyno. Why would u want to find a boost leak after ur loaded up on the dyno? Plus as a shop its good have have a compression check done beforehand so if theres an issue u can deny the tune. I'm sure no shop wants to tune a hurt motor and then have there shop bad mouthed saying "oh this shop is horrible" and "this tuner blew my motor". I would do the same thing if I was a shop. It protects them and can save u as a customer money in the long run and ensure the best tune possible
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:02 PM   #9
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Having been down to Surgeline six times for my own tunes and for friends tunes, I can attest to the value of the pre-dyno inspection. Before the pre-dyno inspections were put in effect, I watched them spend valuable time trying to sort out issues that would rear their head while the cars were strapped to the dyno.

My previous FXT: Tim had to spend time (on the dyno) changing the vacuum lines for my BCS and EWG because the lines were too small as installed to get proper boost control.

My previous Sti: Standard stage 2 mods and tune, took all the parts with me to the shop, and hung out while they installed and tuned everything. Done, done, and done. Everyone happy!

Friends WRX wagon: Nightmare on the dyno! Crap modded injectors and leaking O-rings. Boost leaks at the FMIC couplers, and at the hole plugs put into the TGV deletes. Had to change out the vacuum lines for the BCS and EWG. Dirty/faulty MAF. There was more I think, but in all it was about 6 hours on and off the dyno trying to trouble shoot. And he still ended up having to reschedule for a 2nd session to finish the tune. Left on a limp map.

Another friends Sti: Struggle on the dyno again. Boost leaks at the FMIC couplers. Had to change out the vacuum lines for the BCS and EWG. Fuel system wasn't built up enough to support the turbo. Couldn't get proper boost control because as it turned out, the weld keeping the IWG shut had let go. Another six or so hours on and off the dyno, and another rescheduled 2nd session to finish the tune. Left on a limp map.

Long stories short, crap happens when chasing the mod bug. From my own personal experiences, it is much better for everyone when this type of stuff is caught during an inspection before the car rolls on the dyno. Far less hassle for both the shop and the customer.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slimsti View Post
I 100% agree with this being a must. I want to know my car is in perfect shape before it hits the dyno. Why would u want to find a boost leak after ur loaded up on the dyno? Plus as a shop its good have have a compression check done beforehand so if theres an issue u can deny the tune. I'm sure no shop wants to tune a hurt motor and then have there shop bad mouthed saying "oh this shop is horrible" and "this tuner blew my motor". I would do the same thing if I was a shop. It protects them and can save u as a customer money in the long run and ensure the best tune possible
The real issue is that "tunes" occur every day by tuners with leaks and other problems that the shop has not addressed pre-tune. This creates a "tune" that is calibrated to specifications that are incorrect and will change significantly over time and is a true dis-service to the consumer.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by BREWPUBEAVER View Post
Such BS that this got moved out of the NWIC....
At least we have a sticky about Mazda's CEO to make up for it...

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Old 12-07-2012, 10:14 AM   #12
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I agree 100%. Good Job on the write up Lance.

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Old 12-07-2012, 11:44 AM   #13
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my friend was sent home with small uppipe leak and took him 3 hours to get there, waisted gas money and had to pay for your inspections, the funny thing was you quoted him like 600 bucks to fix the issue. You guys are joke and i tell my subi friends to stay away from your shop.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:23 PM   #14
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This post is exactly the problem.. IN reality, Most people just want to be tuned around problems. They do not want to fix the car properly and when told it has intake leaks, exhaust, wrong plugs or other issues, They get mad and become nasty on the web. Its hard to do a good job for people today.

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Old 12-07-2012, 12:34 PM   #15
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^^this. Honestly, I've never been turned away but thats because I maintain my car meticulously. If you know u have an issue, you should be spending your $600 to fix that rather than thinking a tune will fix an exhaust leak.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bariga View Post
my friend was sent home with small uppipe leak and took him 3 hours to get there, waisted gas money and had to pay for your inspections, the funny thing was you quoted him like 600 bucks to fix the issue. You guys are joke and i tell my subi friends to stay away from your shop.
This is coming from the guy who doesn't listen to what anyone has to say and insists on "figuring" things out himself, only he does it wrong 3 times and has to eventually ask how to do it.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bariga View Post
my friend was sent home with small uppipe leak and took him 3 hours to get there, waisted gas money and had to pay for your inspections, the funny thing was you quoted him like 600 bucks to fix the issue. You guys are joke and i tell my subi friends to stay away from your shop.
First, I apologize that your friend was disappointed with his visit here. I would think someone as smart as you would understand why you cannot correctly calibrate a car with a pre-turbo exhaust leak. If you think he's bummed about the wasted gas, imagine how we feel about the lost revenue. Like many shops, we are scheduled many weeks out and having missed or unfulfilled dyno appointments costs us money and causes our other customers to have to wait longer than they should. We make far less money by performing a Pre-Dyno Inspection if we end up being unable to tune your the car. If we simply tuned it anyways, you would get charged for the tune...and the retune when you had to come back later after fixing the problem.

A replacement uppipe job is a minimum of $440 ($215 uppipe + $225 labor), so by the time you add gaskets and one or two other parts or bits of labor, the $600 quote is believable to me. I would be happy to discuss the situation further with your friend he would like, it's miscommunications and misunderstandings like these that lead to unnecessary resentment.

I appreciate your feedback, but do know that nearly all of the message is lost with such a vitriolic approach to someone you've probably never met. I doubt Dom or anyone else will be impressed by your professionalism.

Cheers

Lance
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:43 PM   #18
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Good work on this -- well written and informative. We linked this on our website

Last edited by PerformanceAutoSolutions; 12-07-2012 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:23 PM   #19
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Couldn't have said it better, Lance.

Our customers don't represent our views. Cobb and MPS have a very good relationship that is always getting better.
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:49 PM   #20
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Awesome writeup Extremely well written and the info is spot on.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:16 PM   #21
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I made the trip to COBB from Seattle just before Thanksgiving. Had the pre-dyno and tune done. Drove home that night and car ran a lot smoother. I let Lance know my use of the car as a daily. And the tune was a great improvement, acceleration and boost is very crisp. The whole COBB staff answered any questions I had and was a great help.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:30 PM   #22
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Good work Lance! We've been using this approach since day 1 and it is one of the major reasons that our results are so consistent.

A lot of people don't want to be told their cars have issues, but I see no point in tuning around leaks, poor installations, and bad parts. Its a waste of our time and a waste of the customer's money because in the end no one will be happy with the outcome.

The sad truth is that most of the time when people try to save a buck by doing their own installs, they end up paying us more to fix their mistakes than having us do the job in the first place. I can't even count how many people I've had show up for a tune having stayed up the whole night before installing various parts on their cars. Whenever I hear "I was up until 5AM getting the car together", I know the car is falling apart without even looking at it. If you want to do your own work, plan ahead, give yourself time to fix issues when they come up, and double and triple check your work.

From a business point of view, its very frustrating when your tuning schedule is booked out for 2-3 weeks in advance and people show up with major mechanical issues that could be easily avoided. We miss out on the revenue, the customer has to come back in 2-3 weeks and other customers have to wait longer. It's just not really fair to anyone.

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Old 12-07-2012, 09:56 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobb Tuning View Post
First, I apologize that your friend was disappointed with his visit here. I would think someone as smart as you would understand why you cannot correctly calibrate a car with a pre-turbo exhaust leak. If you think he's bummed about the wasted gas, imagine how we feel about the lost revenue. Like many shops, we are scheduled many weeks out and having missed or unfulfilled dyno appointments costs us money and causes our other customers to have to wait longer than they should. We make far less money by performing a Pre-Dyno Inspection if we end up being unable to tune your the car. If we simply tuned it anyways, you would get charged for the tune...and the retune when you had to come back later after fixing the problem.

A replacement uppipe job is a minimum of $440 ($215 uppipe + $225 labor), so by the time you add gaskets and one or two other parts or bits of labor, the $600 quote is believable to me. I would be happy to discuss the situation further with your friend he would like, it's miscommunications and misunderstandings like these that lead to unnecessary resentment.

I appreciate your feedback, but do know that nearly all of the message is lost with such a vitriolic approach to someone you've probably never met. I doubt Dom or anyone else will be impressed by your professionalism.

Cheers

Lance
If he had IC leak then yes its a problem but exhaust leak isn't big of a deal at all, most of the moded cards have them! He has leak because of cheap **** GT Spec headers / uppipe was used and nothing will seal the leak due to warped flange. I know this because i installed his engine and everything else.
He got tuned locally and runs great! Thanks Dom
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:00 PM   #24
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Pre turbo exhaust leaks DO matter and if a flange is warped then it need to be addressed. I know people that run that header combo with zero issues
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:04 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bariga View Post
If he had IC leak then yes its a problem but exhaust leak isn't big of a deal at all, most of the moded cards have them! He has leak because of cheap **** GT Spec headers / uppipe was used and nothing will seal the leak due to warped flange. I know this because i installed his engine and everything else.
He got tuned locally and runs great! Thanks Dom
Just wow. The irony of this is how much trouble did you go through just to fix your up-pipe leak?
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