Buyer Beware!

When RR Racing started tuning Lexus in 2016 (starting with Lexus ISF), there were no commercial tools available. We invested heavily in the effort and testing to develop tuning capabilities. Even then there were “tuner” scam artists who claimed to develop various hardware plug-ins or tunes for Lexus, but their fraud was relatively easy to identify. Today, there are several commercial tools available that are able to write to various Lexus ECUs. As expected, there have been so called “tuners” popping up who have made extravagant claims for their Lexus tuning capabilities. We welcome competition, and we are always on a lookout for technical talent that can supplement our tuning team. Sadly, we mostly encounter “tuners” who at best exaggerate their claims and at worse simply commit fraud. This article gives a few examples of this unfortunate phenomenon to help you identify questionable tuning products.

Many tuners do not even bother to present any proof of their power gains. Obviously, anyone should be very suspicious of such claims. However, even when Dyno results are presented, they cannot be taken as “scientific proof” without a close inspection.

First, you need to look at what type of Dyno system was used. Many Dynamometers allow considerable manipulation of parameters that greatly effect results. Dyno such as Mustang, for example, allow such manipulation. Using results from a Mustang dyno, one known exhaust manufacturer claims 46whp gain from just their exhaust! Our tests consistently show little over 50whp gains with exhaust, headers and tune. What magic did they engineer into their pipes to make so much more power?!

The point is not so much what Dyno measures the power most accurately (many blogs discussing various dyno measuring techniques), but what Dyno measures it most consistently while allowing minimum manipulation of results. This is the reason RR Racing is using the DynoJet as this is the only system that produces consistent results allowing minimal manipulation.

We have extensive experience doing Dyno testing. We know that even on DynoJet it is relatively easy to manipulate results. For example, reducing or improving engine cooling by turning off and on fans can change dyno results by over 10whp! Testing on cold versus very hot engine can also make a big difference. Relative minor differences in fuel octane can also make a big difference in power as shown by our dyno testing of Lexus RCF we published on our News page. We also highly recommend reading our technical blog about Lexus tuning that addresses many facts and misconceptions about Lexus tuning.

Here are some examples of suspicious Dyno results.

Please take a look at this tuner’s result at 3500 rpm. This Dyno is showing 325whp on stock tune. It seems much higher than what many of our results consistently show — around 200+ whp. However, as we mentioned earlier, the exact power reading is not as critical as consistent relative results. This Dyno chart shows a gain of over 50-wheel hp at this engine speed. Incredible with just a tune! Let’s compare it to one of the tests we performed as part of our extensive RCF Dyno testing initiative.

Our DynoJet dyno test (using STD Smoothing) showed about 200+ whp at 3500rpm and a gain of about 15whp with our tune. You may think that the other tuner was simply so much better to be able to extract over 63whp at the same engine speed. So, let’s compare to our Dyno testing of an RCF equipped with headers and exhaust and our RR780 Stage 4 supercharger kit.

As you can see, with all of this added hardware, we were able to gain 85whp at 3500rpm. This car made a record 739whp using our hardware and tuning, but the other tuner was able to extract 73% of our gain at 3500rpm. Is this really believable?! This is just one example of a suspicious tuner claim. It clearly shows that when it comes to tuning, buyer beware!

Another tuner is showing a whopping increase of 34whp for a Lexus IS350 RWD tune.

Compare this with our multiple tests of IS3XX platforms available as part of our IS3XX tune product. Dynapack is notorious for high numbers — hence, a possible explanation that their IS350 base showed 302whp compared to repeated RR Racing results that only showed between 250 and 255whp (SEA correction). Compare the total of 34whp increase from just a tune to RR Racing’s total of 44whp increase with high flow exhaust, headers and a tune. We were able to gain 20whp with headers and exhaust versus untuned headers and exhaust, but we were tuning added hardware. So, is 34whp gain too good to be true? But of course, it is!

Customer should be concerned about tuners who offer “Pops and Bangs” tune as option on their tuning product page. “Pops and bangs” tunes retard ignition timing and cause ignition of fuel with an open exhaust valve.   This unnecessarily increases cylinder temps, exhaust temps, and significantly reduces the life of exhaust components, especially catalytic converters. 

RR Racing’s policy is to be as transparent as possible with our tuning products. We do not release tunes for cars that have no value, we do not make exaggerated claims for our hardware products (e.g., most manufacturers claim an automatic 15hp gains for their ISF intake elbows). When we cannot measure gains reliably (e.g., our intake elbows), we do not make gain claims.

Another important factor is support. Our customer support team works around the clock to help customers with their tuning products. We use the most user-friendly products we can for various tuning needs. But as you know, any software product may need support, and may be confusing to people who have not used it in the past. Customers need a company that not only wants to sell you a product, but also committed to support you.