With so many options these days for an aftermarket tune, it can be challenging to determine which tune is right for you. Most customers will find the closest tuner to them because it is easier and more convenient. Most tunes also claim the same thing: more low-end torque, better throttle response, etc. While that is true, other important things need to be addressed when finding a tune, especially with the current prices on the market. This blog post will discuss something commonly overlooked when deciding on which tune you should go with: Honesty and Integrity.
Honesty and integrity can be considered two of the most significant factors when deciding which tune you should pick. Here at Nexus, we have always been straightforward with our customers. One great example we can use is when we first released our Blackhawk tune on the market. We had a customer report back to us that they went into limp mode. This customer had prior issues unrelated to our tunes before, so we initially assumed it was their vehicle acting up again. Soon after, we started getting more reports of limp mode from other customers. We notified the remaining customers of the issue and that the problem was being addressed. Nothing about this issue was swept under the rug, and we also posted an announcement publicly for all to see, including our competition. While that may have persuaded future customers to look elsewhere, current customers were happy we notified them and updated them once a fix was released, even if they did not experience any issues. This builds trust between Nexus and the community, so why not be this way?
Continuing down the track of integrity, our Dyno graphs are also a true representation of what you can expect during a wide-open throttle (WOT) application. Our published run was performed on the same Dyno, with the same tires (you will see why this is mentioned further below), and with minimal temperature and humidity differences between runs, 2°F and 2% humidity difference to be exact. You may find that other groups show "stock" around 210-220 horsepower (HP), whereas our stock vehicle showed 236 HP. A low "stock" run, or one that does not appear to be similar to other competitors, should be a red flag when it comes to shopping for an aftermarket tune. Please note that our dyno was performed using SAE correction factors. A dyno that uses the SAE correction factor may read higher numbers than our own, but that is a different topic to discuss. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to send us a message. Also, note that our run was done with 93 octane fuel. A run on 87 octane would, in theory, yield lower numbers than our stock run.
Further examples of misleading customers with a dyno graph include one of our competitors who struggled to align the RPM's during their dyno runs. Because the RPM's are not aligned, calculations made by the dyno would be invalid. Let's analyze the below dyno chart released by this competitor for a bit. Please note, the competitor name has been removed since this blog post is not meant to specifically target one group but rather inform any shoppers on what to look out for because not everyone understands everything they are looking at when they're presented with a dyno graph.
As stated by the competitor, the blue lines above consist of the competitor's aftermarket tune run, while the red lines consist of the stock Toyota run. For those of us who have been tuning for some time, we all know that a common edit for the 3rd Generation Tacoma is to adjust ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System) from 3650 RPM's (stock values) to 3400 RPM's, as it smooths out the surge when accelerating. ACIS engagement is typically seen on a dyno graph, where HP and Torque will dip right around the time it engages. If you look closely, you can see the blue line (the competitor's aftermarket tune run) dips around the stock, unedited, 3650 RPM range, while the red (stock Toyota run) dips at the typical edited value. We'll give the benefit of the doubt that the RPM's were not properly aligned, although it is a bit odd that the values line up inversely with stock and the typical edited values that tuners will use when making edits to the 3rd Generation Tacoma. Someone like yourself, who does not tune, would likely not notice this discrepancy.
Something else to consider about the graph, assuming it is only off due to RPM's, is that the chart is off by approximately 400 RPM's. The red line should be moved to the right approximately 200 RPM's (+200) and the blue line should be moved to the left approximately 200 RPM's (+200 more) for a total of 400 RPM's, give or take, that it is misaligned. The dyno takes what it believes to be RPM values and uses them for calculating the HP and Torque values. If the RPM values are that mismatched, then the HP and Torque values are also incorrect and misleading ("Reading a Dyno Graph," July 27, 2018). Because of this, the dyno graph should be taken with a large grain of salt, or more appropriately, a block of salt. The competitor said the following for their results:
Now, because of the above response, we can only speculate they used two separate vehicles (or tire sizes) to use drum speed as RPM. The same vehicle with the same set of tires should have the same drum speed at the same RPM while in the same gear. Assuming they used a separate vehicle or set of tires is an assumption, so please do not assume we are claiming this to be a fact. We are merely only pointing out the details we can analyze. It is up to you, the reader, to make your decision on what was going on at that time.
Going back to the same dyno graph as before, we can also see they advertise the average values. Although already disputed above, assuming everything is correct with the graph, using average values is not uncommon in the tuning industry. The problem is, all values recorded are used to generate the average values. So when the stock values take a nose dive just after 6k RPM's, which is where the stock fuel cutoff occurs, those lower values are also factored in, negatively affecting the stock average. A more true representation of average values would have stopped recording at the fuel cutoff range because it now makes the comparison more biased towards the aftermarket tune. This could be linked to marketing rather than dishonesty, but it can still fit into the range of misleading future customers so it is worth mentioning.
Here at Nexus, we have been one of the most targeted groups by other competitors. While we would love to flatter ourselves because it means they feel the heat, some of these competitors constantly attack all of their competition. It's one thing to have friendly banter between groups, but it's another to flat-out use libel and slander against another group. Just over two weeks after we announced a fix for our limp mode issue, we found that a competitor was still warning others, including current customers of ours, and claiming they would get limp mode with our Blackhawk tune. Take note of the date the message was sent in the below screenshot, and take note of the date we reported the issue as resolved. Both took place in 2022.
Basically, the lesson here is for you to be on alert if you are randomly contacted by a tuner claiming the tune you have, or are looking to purchase, has issues. When it comes to strangers, there is no "trust but verify"; you should only verify. If a claim is made, do a bit of research and make your decision. Luckily, customers would have seen the screenshotted post above and hopefully would have known the issue had already been resolved long before they were sent that message.
We will list another example of not just dishonesty, but something that can also be an illegal act to gain a higher customer base. This one will take a bit to explain, and unfortunately, this is where we must publicize the competitor's information. One of the first tunes that became widely popular in the Tacoma industry was KDMax, a group that we are sure you may have heard once or twice before. The group blew up to the point that they had remote tuners all over the US. One day, somewhere around March of 2022, they dropped a large number of their remote tuners, the exact reason being unknown to us. This group of individuals formed, or joined, a new group known as the "Toyota Tuning Network" or TTN. One of the members in the TTN group (which was now no longer a part of the KDMax group) hosted a website. This website redirected from... well, just take a look for yourself.
From the video above, we can see that a customer looking to go to the KDMax website, likely to purchase or schedule a tune with the KDMax group, would be redirected to the TTN website, which was not associated with the KDMax group. The owner/administrator of the domain was well aware of what they were doing and they were even told that they did not own the rights to the KDMax name, but they ignored those messages. There is nothing illegal about buying up a domain name that is not used, but redirecting that domain to an obvious competitor can be illegal! Please note that at the time of writing this blog, the domain no longer exists/redirects, but evidence of this can be found here (because nothing gets deleted from the internet). Regardless, it is important for people to understand what kind of business practices they may be dealing with when spending close to $500, so we decided to keep it.
Another example would be customer reviews. Our development thread does not have many customer reviews, but the reason behind that is because we do not typically post reviews from our customers as other groups do. If we text a customer a week later, following up on how the tune has settled in, we usually won't post a screenshot of their response. We would rather the customer post their own review, but unfortunately, it is challenging to get customers to follow through. Everyone knows how this goes, you're likely to post a review if there is an issue over if there is no problem at all. Another thing we won't do, though, is pretend to be a customer like a group below has done. In what appears to be a desperate attempt for better reviews, this group thought it would be a great idea to pretend they were a customer. Unfortunately, we do not have the fake review that was posted, but we do have evidence it occurred when they were called out for it by a moderator on a popular Toyota forum.
One final thing to look out for is a tuner claiming a particular tune causes an issue. One common example you may find is a tuner claiming that a competitor's tune causes unintended acceleration. We don't mean in the sense that the throttle is too touchy. We mean in the sense that you let your foot off of the accelerator and the vehicle continues or begins to accelerate. To date, there have been reports online from people who were tuned along with those that are still driving an entirely stock vehicle that has experienced this unintended acceleration. Based on the obvious metrics, there is no correlation between being tuned and experiencing this odd phenomenon. There have been multiple discussions online, usually resulting in the discussion being deleted because some tuning groups feel the need to use libel against another competitor. Because the discussions have been deleted and because one of the individuals making such claims has blocked us on social media, we cannot provide screenshots. +1 if you can find an example of this and send it our way!
Marketing tactics that are deceitful and misleading should be giant red flags waving in the air for any customer, like yourself, looking for a tune. Would you trust that a group that posts fake reviews will also take care of you, as a customer? I'm sure all of those fake Amazon reviews also mean the product you're about to purchase is exactly what the seller claims it to be as well! How about a group that skews dyno data? Or a group that purposely uses a deceitful domain name that redirects to a clear competitor of the rightful owner of the domain name? This, in our opinion, seems more like a group that would care more about taking your money over building up a great reputation and building up a great product in the process.
After reading through all of this, we hope you will take much more care of what to look out for while shopping around for a tune. We have a great rapport with a few tuning groups, like YotaWerx and KDMax. We frequently contact members from both groups and do not mind sending customers their way if that's what it takes. Here at Nexus Tuning, we believe in having a satisfied customer over doing what is necessary to earn your money and then moving on to the next. Regardless of who you decide to go with, if you have done your due diligence, then we at Nexus Tuning believe you made the correct decision!
Take care, and we will see you around!
- The Nexus Tuning Group