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I've searched through a ton of threads that reference tuning, but I still haven't really found what that entails. I have ordered Richie's j-pipe, and will be installing a Magnaflow exhaust and V2 intake on my 2004 V6AT soon. I have some questions:
Does it require the car to be on a dyno?
Does tuning only help if you have made modifications?
Will the tuning system help the auto to downshift quicker?
Which tuning system is best for my car?
Could someone like myself tune the car, or is it strictly the domain of performance shop folks?
How much more potential does tuning unlock vs. the stock ecu figuring out the changes I will make?
Could tuning cause the cats to deteriorate faster than normal?
Will tuning give me better mpg (assuming I drive exactly the same)?
I'm assuming the tuning system uses a laptop for reporting, correct?
 

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Does it require the car to be on a dyno?

NO. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A "STREET TUNE" BUT 99% OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE A TUNABLE ECU OR A/F CONTROLLER GET IT TUNED ON A DYNO BECAUSE IT'S OBVIOUSLY MORE PRECISE THAN YOUR "BUTT" DYNO.

Does tuning only help if you have made modifications?

YOU CAN GET A STOCK ENGINE TUNED FOR A FEW HP, BUT THIS IS CONSIDERED A WASTE OF MONEY. IT HELPS MUCH MORE WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE MODS THAT THE STOCK ECU WON'T FULLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF.

Will the tuning system help the auto to downshift quicker?

NO.

Which tuning system is best for my car?

CAN'T TELL YOU WHICH IS THE BEST, BUT APPARENTLY FROM WHAT I SEE MANY USE THE NEO A/F CONTROLLER.

Could someone like myself tune the car, or is it strictly the domain of performance shop folks?

JUDGING BY YOUR POST, NO. I'M NOT BEING A DOUCHE, BECAUSE I KNOW I CAN'T EITHER, BUT THIS SHOULD BE LEFT TO PROFESSIONAL, CERTIFIED TUNERS.

How much more potential does tuning unlock vs. the stock ecu figuring out the changes I will make?

DEPENDS ON THE MODS. I'VE SEEN AN INCREASE OF ABOUT 5 WHP, AND I'VE SEEN ALMOST 50 WHP BY A/F TUNING ALONE.

Could tuning cause the cats to deteriorate faster than normal?
Will tuning give me better mpg (assuming I drive exactly the same)?

USUALLY TUNING WILL ENRICHEN THE A/F MIXTURE, RESULTING IN WORSE MPG. SOME COMPLEX SYSTEMS LIKE THE EXPENSIVE AEM AND HONDATA SYSTEMS LET YOU RUN MULTIPLE MAPS, SO YOU CAN GET OPTIMAL MPG FOR DAILY DRIVING AND MAKE OPTIMAL POWER FOR RACING.

I'm assuming the tuning system uses a laptop for reporting, correct?

SOME DO, I DON'T KNOW IF ALL OF THEM CAN. SOME CAN EVEN USE PALM PILOTS.
 
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