Mark Simpson

Street Machine Nationals - Dyno Testing

Mark Simpson
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Duration:   4  mins

Dyno testing, short for dynamometer testing, is a method used to measure and evaluate the performance of vehicles, particularly their engines. It involves placing the vehicle on a specialized machine called a dynamometer, or dyno for short, which simulates road conditions and allows technicians and car owners to assess the vehicle’s power, torque, and other important performance metrics. We recently attended the Street Machine Nationals in Saint Paul, MN and met up with dyno operator Kurt Stockston, and he took us through the process of how to get a car tested and the safety precautions in place. Here’s how dyno testing typically works:

Vehicle Preparation: The vehicle is driven onto the dyno, where its wheels are placed on rollers or a treadmill-like surface. The vehicle is then securely strapped down to prevent movement during testing.

Data Collection: Sensors and equipment are attached to the vehicle to monitor various parameters like engine RPM (revolutions per minute), wheel speed, torque, horsepower, fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, and other relevant data.

Test Procedures: The vehicle undergoes a couple test pulls, at full-throttle acceleration to evaluate its top performance under wide open throttle (WOT).

Performance Analysis: The data collected during dyno testing is analyzed to determine the vehicle’s power output, torque curves, and any potential issues that may need attention or optimization.

Dyno testing is to determine a vehicle’s current state of performance, which should not be confused with dyno tuning which allows technicians to optimize engine calibrations, identify inefficiencies or defects, and make improvements to the vehicle’s overall performance.

The concept of dyno testing dates back to the early 20th century when engineers and researchers sought ways to measure the power output of engines more accurately. Before the advent of dynamometers, power calculations were mostly theoretical and based on mathematical models. However, actual engine performance could vary significantly due to various factors like mechanical losses, drivetrain inefficiencies, and environmental conditions.

The first dynamometer was invented by British engineer and professor Charles Vernon Boys in 1877. He used the device to measure the brake horsepower of large steam engines. Over time, dynamometers evolved and became more sophisticated, allowing for accurate testing of various types of engines, including internal combustion engines used in automobiles.

In the early 20th century, automotive manufacturers and racing teams started using dynamometers to evaluate engine performance and fine-tune their vehicles for improved power and efficiency. As technology advanced, dyno testing became an essential tool in the automotive industry, enabling engineers to optimize engine designs, emissions control systems, and fuel efficiency.

Today, dyno testing and tuning remains a crucial part of automotive research, development, and performance tuning, helping to push the boundaries of automotive engineering and improve the overall driving experience for consumers. But the classic car enthusiast can benefit from dyno testing and tuning. Understanding exactly what the air/fuel ratios are in different cylinders can prevent damaging your engine. Making adjustments to fuel, air, timing, distributor curve, etc. can ensure you get the most power and life out of your engine.

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