What Exactly is Race Tuning?

– If you've ever been on car forums, seen listing for modified
cars or shopped for upgrades for your own car, you've
probably seen these words. Stage one, stage two, should've
gone to stage three brother. But what exactly are
these stages of tuning? Does it mean I'm going
to double my horsepower? Is it completely BS or is
there something more to it? Well, today we're gonna try to
figure out what those tuning stages really are and
what they really mean. So get ready, get on board
and let's go "Bumper 2 Bumper" on tuning. (bright upbeat music) Thank you to Omaze for
sponsoring today's episode of "Bumper 2 Bumper".

We've partnered with Omaze
once again to give away this amazing 2018 Dodge Demon
and it's even gonna come with the Demon box. (wood tapping) Hey, Hey buddy. – Stop watching me, it's not done yet. – Doug, what's going on? – Well, I heard you like
Demons with cool crates so, I thought what the heck,
maybe I'll make one. Maybe it's a little like, I don't know. – Well, you know the Demon crate, it comes with a set of drag slicks. It's got a bunch of tools, even has an ECU that lets you run race gas. So, is yours, does your crate have that? – Well, since you asked, I got my pigeon, Steward, my showbird. I got a little swarth of Nolan's hair, that he didn't know I got.

I have my envelope full of juice. – Okay, ew! Well, maybe Doug, you should head on over to omaze.com/donut media
because they're giving away this 2018 Dodge Demon with
taxes and shipping included. They're also going to
give you $20,000 cash. – I'm 15 grand into this project already, that would solve a lot of problems. – You know what the best part is Doug? Every donation supports the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, same place that saved
our buddy James's life. – Oh, okay. Oh, Steward, oh, come on Steward. Oh, you came back. (smooches lips) Oh, Steward. – While there's no ISO:9001
standard for stages, tuning companies have used
these parameters to describe some real differences among modifications. but there's no standardized bracket for what makes a modification
stage one or stage two. So are those numbers meaningless? Well kind of, but not entirely. Let me explain. Ever since the debut of
the original "Gran Turismo" video game, the phrase
stage when describing tuning has become common place. In the game you could upgrade your car based on a set of stages. Now, this isn't a history show
so I'm not gonna keep talking about "Gran Turismo" but this
type of language basically didn't exist before that game.

Now shortly after "Gran Turismo"
took hold of our common car psyche, tuning companies
started to label all kinds of performance parts with stage number. Were these any more informative than the tuning stages in "Gran Turismo"? Well, no, not really. Getting a stage two clutch in
the late 90s didn't tell you how many foot pounds of
clamping force it made. Just that it was probably
stronger than the same company's stage one clutch. In the beginning, it was
basically just a way to market these parts. It was a way for a
company to differentiate its range of products by adapting
and video game convention that car enthusiasts were familiar with. But there was no generally
accepted use of the terms like stage one or stage two and so on. One company's stage two
widget might be less capable than another company's stage one widget, you just never knew and
you still don't know. – [Man] Oh man. – But we are gonna get to that. Stage numbers gradually
evolved into a very rough guide for categorizing some
upgrades based on how extreme their effects are.

That kind of loose agreement is possible because of the fundamental
tuning principle that supports all of this stage stuff. The more extreme modifications
effect on air or fuel, the more it depends on the
presence of other mods to work. Some upgrades like basic
bolt-ons, a cold air intake or larger exhausts, will get
called stage one modifications because in a lot of cases, these don't depend on other upgrades. If you just add an exhaust to
a car, you likely don't need an intake to get some advantage from it. A lot of modern cars already
have really well-designed intakes so, an aftermarket
intake might just make a better sound and not add any power.

But on other cars and intake and exhaust might work together providing
some additional power when you install both of them. More extreme upgrades like
swapping out fuel injectors or turbos to deliver more
fuel or air to your motor, they get called stage two. If you add a lot more fuel and
a lot more air to your engine and you don't change anything else, the car won't receive any benefit. It'll actually will perform
worse, potentially a lot worse. The really extreme modifications, like a super big ol' Honkin turbocharger, those can be called stage three. If you add that upgrade
and you don't do a bunch of the other necessary modifications, the car probably won't even run. (engine roaring) Stage three is where you're
really starting to hit the limits of street drivability. There isn't perfect
agreement about which mods belong in which category and
some people will continue to argue as car guys who
love to freaking argue with each other but
nearly everyone can agree that a Garrett G42 turbo
capable of over 1000 horsepower couldn't possibly be a stage one mod, whatever a stage one mod is.

(bright upbeat music) Now up until this point,
we've only mentioned physical modifications
you can do to your car but that's actually only
half of the staged upgrades. The other half and possibly
the more important half, is tuning your car's computer
so that these modifications work harmoniously together. Hardware, software. You need the software to make use of that fancy new hardware. An ECU tuner is a very
specialized sort of programmer and mega car nerd who builds and installs a custom table of values or map. And this map tells the
ECU how much fuel to send to the engine based on
the current RPM and load. That's the amount of
work your engine is doing at any particular time. Load needs to be based on
something the computer can see. So it's often derived
from throttle position in naturally aspirated
cars and intake pressure for forced induction cars. And from load, RPM, and the
displacement of the motor, the tuner can calculate
how much air is getting into the engine across
the entire rev range. Which tells them how
much fuel should be added to maximize combustion and
therefore power at any point along that rev range.

The power can be further optimized using other tables of values. For example, if a car has electronically adjustable admission
timing, that can be tuned for each point of load and
engine speed to properly make use of that extra air and fuel we
get from our new shiny mods like a bigger turbo or
more free flowing exhaust. Now that's all relatively
modern custom ECU tuning but way back in the day, around
the time of "Gran Turismo", creating a fuel map wasn't
as easy as adjusting colorful values on your laptop.

ECUs use use chips of
a read only memory so, the fuel map was permanently
burned into a chip and the values couldn't
be directly altered. The tuner had to create
a fuel map in binary with just a bunch of values
express as zeros and ones, so the ECU would tell the
fuel injectors to remain open and then spray just the
right amount of fuel. And they had to do that for
every combination of load and RPM in that table, usually
a couple of hundred values. Then they burn that table
onto a custom ROM chip that would be soldered onto the stock ECU, replacing the original chip. This is where the term
chipping comes from. An alternative to that was just replacing the whole stock ECU with a standalone ECU. And when you do a full ECU
swap, not only do you have to program the fuel map,
but you have to manually add programming for anything
else the ECU has to control.

pexels photo 5760780

Even now with graphical
interfaces and flashable ECUs, custom ECU tuning takes a ton of time and a lot of specialized knowledge
and also requires a dyno, so it's expensive. Trust me, we spend a lot
of time tuning those 350Zs in "HiLow" and it wasn't
cheap or successful. (bright upbeat music) So let's set up a hypothetical example. Imagine I have a car, we're gonna call it the Donut Jerwagen or
Jerwagen or Jerwagen. The Donut Jerwagen. – [Man] Jerwagen. – Jerwagen, the Donut Jerwagen. (laughs) Now this front engine, rear wheel drive, completely fictional but who
knows, maybe Audi will make it.

I don't know, Audi, you see this video, you wanna make my car, hit me up. Now it's a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four making 200 horsepower and
200 foot pounds of torque. Now the stock parts
are already pretty good and because it's well-designed
like most modern cars, you start ripping off and
replacing other parts, you're likely to start making
the car a whole lot worse. But Donut engineers, we work
really hard to make sure everything worked as a total system. That means if you wanna
make the Jerwagen better, you're gonna have to start
thinking about parts packages.

And that's exactly what
aftermarket tuning companies are doing when they
introduce tuning stages. And there's one aftermarket
tuner known to be the best for the Jerwagen, Jobes
Performance Induction Super System. Gotta our boy Job on board. So what's Jobes stage one
upgrade for the Jerwagen? Well simple, you reflash the
ECU to change the boost limit and add a new fuel map to
make use of all that extra air getting pumped into the engine. Easy as pie and now
you got 230 horsepowers and 250 foot pounds of torque.

So Jobes stage one ECU tune
follows the rough standard for stage one upgrade. You don't need to do any
other modifications to the car to get a benefit. So what would be a stage
two for the Jerwagen? Well, we're a bunch of lucky
duckies 'cause Jobes develop a stage two ECU tune and now
it comes with a little bit more complicated recipe. The ECU tune was written for
Jerwagen with a bigger turbo, bigger fuel pressure regulators
and bigger fuel injectors to get enough fuel to
make use of that air. So let's go ahead and replace those parts with aftermarket parts that's
also developed by a Job.

This freaking guy, he just does it all. A bigger turbo, more efficient air intake, higher flowing exhaust
and you can't forget the high capacity
squirters and we're ready to make 300 horsepower and
350 foot pounds of torque with our stage two tune. And of course, some folks are
just never gonna be satisfied. And Job knows that, so he
makes a stage three tune for an even bigger turbo
but this also requires a larger fuel pump, bigger
intercooler, different camshafts, stronger valve springs, stronger
clutch and he recommends to reinforce the bottom end of the motor to handle all that extra force.

That's your crank, connecting
rods, your band journals, your band calves, all that fun stuff. For stage three tuned to be
worth it, we have to beef up our entire engine. But now we're making over 500 horsepower and 550 foot pounds of torque, who are we? At this point, you should have
figured out what's going on with this stage business. Each stage is a recipe for performance. Tuning companies know
there are certain cars like the Jerwagen, that
lots of people are modifying and tuning in similar ways.

Essentially, these
individual tuners figured out that there were some basic
recipes for making more power that just work but as always, the ECU needs the right program to
make it all work together. We're now making over 500 horsepower and 550 pound feet of torque. Audi or whoever, whatever manufacturer, I'm sure we're just going
to get freaking phone calls and knocks on our door to make this car. And one last final piece
of context to help show you why stage numbers are somewhat
meaningless is by looking at these two examples
of some Supra 2JZ stages from suprastore.com. Now Powerhouse Racing,
they sell a stage four kit for the 2J with a turbo,
headers, downpipe, a new air filter, all with the
claim that you'll be making 520 rear wheel horsepower.

Or you can get this kit for
the same 2J with similar parts that will make 525 rear wheel horsepower and it's a stage one kit. Zack, what the hell? So what's the takeaway from all this? Well, if it was me, I would
look at each individual company's stages and then
compare them to another company's and try to get an idea
how comparable they are. Because if you try to
compare the two on face value by just using stage numbers,
they're meaningless. So you gotta do your due diligence. Look at what parts come on which package and see how it fits your application. So there's no need for you
to go brag to your friends that you gotta stage six intake. We're all just wanting to improve our cars and have fun driving them. We don't need this peacock around. Thank you guys so much
for watching this episode of "Bumper 2 Bumper". We will be back next week
for another fire episode. In the meantime, follow us here at Donut on Instagram at @donutmedia. Follow me at @jeremiahburton. Thank you guys so much for
watching, click that like, click that subscribe, we're
gonna just keep pumping out content in 2021.

We got a lot of good things
coming down the pipeline. So we appreciate you
guys sticking with us. Until next week, bye for now..

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