Updated: Jul 19, 2022
(this page will be updated regularly)
(the views written in this post are somewhat opinion based with 10+ years of mechanical and tuning experience on many different types of vehicles/engines. If there is something that you are unsure of, always take time to do proper research of your own to better help you make the right choice.)
1. Will tuning void my warranty?
The short answer is YES. Re-calibrating your engines computer will void your factory warranty. HOWEVER, the likely hood of your car being flagged for a tuned ECU is very slim(BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE) if you return the vehicle back to stock and/or have a mod friendly dealer. Bringing your car into the shop for warranty work with your tune still loaded onto the ECU will 100% throw a red flag as it changes things in the ECU that will be picked up immediately by a technician. Things like leaving the BLUETOOTH connect kit plugged in or having visual engine mods will also throw a red flag by the technician and if he is doing his job correctly, when submitting a warranty claim, will have to select a check box stating the vehicle has been modded. This is to cover himself and his dealership for possible issues caused by falsifying claims. If the car goes to the dealership completely stock, there would be no reason for a standard technician to search for mods and the likely hood of your claim being successful is very good. If you have an issue with your car and want to minimize the chance of having your warranty denied, BRING THE CAR TO THE DEALERSHIP 100% FACTORY STOCK! Being lazy about this can cost you a lot of money.
2. Will tuning my car blow my engine and transmission?
This is more of a "can it" blow my engine as opposed to will it. Again, the short answer is YES, tuning can potentially blow your engine. However, leaving your car 100% bone stock can also blow your engine. As an Infiniti Master technician for 7 years, I have seen cars being completely neglected and extremely abused last for 200k and completely bone stock NON-ABUSED cars old lady driven last less than 5,000 miles. The key to reducing(as eliminating is impossible) the risk of failure is to properly maintain your vehicle and to understand that stock parts, whether tuned properly or left stock, can only take so much abuse. If you increase your stock engines output by 100hp and absolutely hammer on it every day like bouncing off the rev limiter, racing it daily, or just beating the shit out of it non-stop, expecting it to last forever would be absolutely crazy. Even the best tuner in the world can't prevent failures due to over-abuse. When you decide to have your vehicle tuned(by anyone), this is a risk you understand and are willing to take. If you don't understand it, hopefully this page will help.
3. How important is selecting the proper tuner?
Selecting the proper tuner/calibrator is absolutely crucial to the longevity of your engine/vehicle. The tuner is the final piece to the puzzle of your creation. He/she is the one responsible for making sure all of the parts you spend your hard earned money on come together and work properly for your intended use. Picking a tuner based solely on them being the "cheapest" or having the fastest cars doesn't always mean they are the best choice for you. You also need to understand that if your car has an underlying issue, even the best tuner in the world can't prevent a failure from occurring. The unfortunate truth is, sometimes this is unavoidable and to no fault of the tuner. If you have a tuner with an excellent track record (there isn't a single successful tuner on this planet that has a perfect track record) then understanding that a failure can still occur will eliminate a lot of potential issues post failure for both you and the tuner. If you find that a tuner has a string of failures, the chances are, the tuner doesn't have a complete understanding of part limits/the system he is working with and may push the vehicle too far with only having records in mind and/or making money. This is why doing your research is extremely important. Set your goals first then find the tuner that best lines up with your intended goals. Sometimes, you may find yourself working with a new tuner to the scene. Just because they are new, doesn't mean they are terrible and you have to remember that at one point, every tuner was just starting out.
4. How much horsepower will my car make?
This question is nearly impossible to answer. If you go to 5 different dynos, you will get 5 different numbers. SOME factors include: location, fuel quality, tuner, mods, how the engine was broken in, where you get the car dyno'd, and overall drivetrain condition all play a part in how much power a car makes.
Tuner: Every tuner has his own specific way of tuning. Ecutek is just a software company and does not supply tuners with a map for them to tweak and share. A good tuner will spend MONTHS learning the engine and how, in the case of a VR30, boost, fuel, timing, modifications, limits, and many other things. This is why #3 above is so important. If a tuner is just here for the money or doesn't understand how an engine works, he will rush his product to the market to start making money and the car will drive/perform poorly. The pattern of failures that will follow will show.
Mods: If you have a stock car that is tuned, you cannot expect it to compete with modified cars in the same category. Modifying parts is an absolute must when trying to increase performance well beyond what stock offers.
How an engine was broken in: Believe it or not, this is also important. When an engine is new, the cylinder walls are coarse. This allows the piston rings to "wear" into the cylinder so they seal properly. It is very important that the rings are properly seated very early on before the cylinders smooth out. Your engine builder/tuner should have a very specific way they want you to break the engine in.
Where you dyno your car: This one is another important one. I will not share my full thoughts on dyno tuning/dyno-ing to get numbers as some tuners/builders spend A LOT of money on dyno equipment and make their living with it. However, as stated above, if you go to 5 different shops and dyno your car, you will get 5 different numbers. Weather/location play a big factor but other things do as well. Because of this, trying to use a horsepower number and relate it to how your car will perform will be nearly impossible. For example: I have a customer who, while letting off the throttle at the end of the run, coasted to an 11.4@120 while ONLY making 407whp in his stock weight lightly modded Q50 on e30. Anyone who knows better would think he was sandbagging, but those are the numbers the car put out. Those numbers are more in line with a stock car versus a low 11 second car. Something doesn't add up here. How is a car that makes around stock tune only power running with other cars making north of 450whp? This is why you cannot relate horsepower with performance. There is a lot more to this, but those are some of the basics.
5. What is a BASEMAP?
A BASEMAP is a starter file for your car. It is the framework for which your completed tune will be based off of. Each BASEMAP is custom to each car and is built off of the information you provide during the 5th and 6th step of the initial setup. The BASEMAP is built to your spec using a unique calibration ID specific to your ECU(There are thousands of these.) The 6th step needs to be completed in extreme detail as missing or giving the wrong information can be catastrophic. Once the BASEMAP is in the vehicle, you will be required to complete a series of steps(explained above) allowing your tuner to dial in and turn your BASEMAP into a fully calibrated TUNE/MAP. Think of the BASEMAP as a turned down rough draft version of the completed tune. Many things will need to be adjusted like boost, timing, and fuel(among many other things) until they are where they need to be to ensure a fast and safe running car.
6. What type of runs will need to be done in order to properly tune my car?
I will not go into too much detail here as some people like to skip ahead and make these runs before they are ready, and they vary from tuner to tuner. I will give you a basic idea of what I will be asking for. The first couple of runs will be single 3rd gear pulls to get a general idea of where the car is at. There are a few and very specific reasons I favor 3rd gear runs over 4th gear runs which I will gladly explain to my customers when asked. I will be checking things like oil pressure, charge air temps, boost, engine knock, among many other things. If I see something abnormal, I will send an email explaining what I see and what I recommend before continuing. Once a basic idea is established, the next set of pulls will be done going through multiple gears. This will allow me to further dial in the tune so that it is running as safely and as clean as possible. Finally, if you're AWD or RWD on drag radials and selected Launch control as an option, that will need to be dialed in. If you are RWD and have selected Launch control AND you're on street tires, it will not need to be dialed in.
7. What are some things I should have checked/be done before getting started?
(I will continue to add to this one)
These are a few of the things I RECOMMEND before getting started:
-Check over your entire vehicle. Ensure your wheels, tires, and brakes are suitable to be driven on the street. Worn/bald/damaged tires, bend/broken or LOOSE wheels, worn brakes, and other obvious signs of neglect can lead to potentially deadly accidents. Make sure nothing is falling off from under the car, in the engine bay, or on the car itself.
-I always recommend that your oil be freshly changed and properly topped off. I also highly recommend switching from 0w20 to 5w30 or 5w40. The 0w20 oil was added to these engines to help achieve EPA compliance with fuel economy. 0w20 is extremely thin and only gets thinner as it gets hotter. 5w30/5w40 is thicker and provides more protection for the engine when pushing it past factory limits. I always recommend 5w40 for warmer climates and 5w30 for cooler climates. I live in the North East where temperatures range from below 0*f in the winter to over 100*f in the summer. I run 5w40 year round without worry and personally would not feel comfortable running 0w20 on a vehicle making over 400whp.
-Check your fluids. Make sure your coolant, oil, and brake fluid are at the proper levels. Engines low on oil and coolant can fail when subjected to high stress situations.
-Obey ALL traffic laws. Make sure you are following all traffic laws on public highways/streets. You are responsible for yourself, your car, the passengers in your car, and anyone around you in the event of an accident. Do not break any laws and do not race on public streets/highways as it is illegal and can be dangerous.
-Check your serpentine belt for excess wear and tear/damage.(please refer to number 8 for a better explanation.
-FUEL! This is an important one. I have an entire post dedicated to fuel. Please visit the link here:
8. Is it true these cars can throw engine serpentine belts?
It sure is. It is actually a very common problem and impossible to foresee unless you bring your car to the dealer and pay to have them check it out prior to pulling the car to redline. This is so common that Infiniti has issues a Technical Service Bulletin(TSB) on it. The likely hood of the engine belt coming off increase exponentially with the RPMS and added horsepower.. especially after a tune when your engines rev limiter has been increased. Pre 2020 engines had an air conditioner compressor (which is engine belt driven) that was not properly lined up with the rest of the engine accessories that the belt is connected to. This causes the belt to literally shred and come apart causing potential damage to the engine and its components. Easiest way to know if your belt came off during a pull is you will notice a RED BATTERY LIGHT on the dashboard and you may start to see the engine coolant temperature gauge start to move to the right. This is because the engine belt is also connected to the alternator (responsible for charging the battery and running the cars electrical system) as well as driving the engines water pump. IF DURING A PULL OR AT ANY TIME YOU SEE THE RED BATTERY LIGHT ILLUMINATE ON THE DASH, IMMEDITATELY PULL THE CAR OVER AND SHUT IT OFF. NOT DOING SO CAN CAUSE EXTENSIVE IRREPAIRBLE ENGINE DAMAGE. If this happens to you, the car will need to be towed to a dealership and have the pulley system inspected as well as the AC compressor being properly aligned.
9. Are blow-off valves any good on this specific platform?
NO! Despite multiple tuners agreeing to this and DATA to back it up, some people will still tell you they "are fine", "don't hurt the car", or "my car runs fine" as a response. Those are all incorrect statements based on FEELINGS. Anyone who tells you that blow-off valves are good for this car or "fine" if you just want to make noise is giving you incorrect information based off feelings, things they have heard other people say, or have read in a magazine somewhere. You will not find a rebuke to the writeup below that is backed by actual data because no data exists showing that these work properly on THIS SPECIFIC platform.
Please visit this link for a detailed writeup on BOVs on this specific platform: https://www.sonictuned.com/post/blow-off-valves-on-the-vr30-1
10. When can I expect my BASEMAP?
Remote tuning hours are Monday- Thursday 5a-5p EST and Fridays 5a-11a EST. If you receive your kit on a Friday afternoon or Saturday and complete the initial setup after 11a EST, you will receive your BASEMAP by Monday. If you receive your kit and complete the initial setup on Monday, you will receive your BASEMAP on Tuesday.
11. When can I expect my next revision?
Remote tuning hours are Monday-Thursday 5a-5p EST and Fridays 5a-11a EST. During these times, there are also in person tuning requirements that need to be fulfilled as I tune other vehicles. Some of these vehicles, like Corvettes for example, can only be tuned in person. During these times, no remote tuning will be done.
I ask that everyone wait at least 48 hours Monday-Thursday before asking about your revision/datalog. If you send a datalog and then ask for an update on the following day, your request will go unanswered as it takes more time to response instead of actually revising tunes. Also, not following instructions during the process greatly extends the tuning process for you and everyone else. If you send me a log on Friday afternoon, the log will be looked at no later than Tuesday the following week. Please be patient. Unlike other companies which make you wait WEEKS at a time for revisions, the tuning process is fairly quick and effortless if all instructions are followed. Every single datalog is thoroughly looked through and no revision is rushed. If something in the datalog is found to be abnormal, you are notified and sent recommendations on what to look for with a potential issue and based on my experience as a certified Infiniti master technician. I cannot always offer advice on what needs to be done to fix the vehicle based on just datalogs or explanations and it may require a more in-depth look from an experienced mechanic.
Please DO NOT send more than one log at a time(which is explained in detail in the first email sent after the BASEMAP). Sending and re-sending a datalog without first checking to make sure the first one was received can lead to a potential re-edit of a revision that was already completed. This can lead to potential engine damage. If multiple logs are sent, the earliest of them will be deleted (potentially putting you to the back of the line) to prevent a potential re-edit.
12. What is your specific tuning process?
Please visit this link to see an in-depth look at my specific tuning process from purchase to actual tuning: https://www.sonictuned.com/post/the-remote-tuning-process