Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Western Montana
Car Year: 2004
Car Model: Forester XT
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
A good open-road tune, which in my opinion is always superior to a dyno tune, should cost $350-450. The tune should be solid after not more than 12 logging runs. Add another three or four runs to fine-tune the tune. All this is assuming that you are working with a tuner through the Internet, and that you thus have the necessary equipment to log the car. Tactrix, laptop, a wideband 02, etc. If you are lucky enough to live close to a tune guru, then he will have all the necessary equipment. A good tune guru will tell you almost immediately if you have mechanical issues that MUST be solved before the car can be tuned. For example, one very common problem is a newly installed aftermarket turbo-back exhaust that somewhere is knocking against something it should not be knocking against. The ECU reads knock, and the tune disintegrates. That's just one example. The car must be 100% mechanically correct in order to tune it properly. For this reason alone, I always recommend that you buy only the best/proven quality parts. If you are within a day's drive (500 miles?) of a tune guru, then it will be worth your time and money to drive the car to him. If nothing else, you can send your ECU to him, and he will install a tune that will get your engine there safely (minimal boost, etc.). Keep in mind that simply being in the car with him (you can drive) will be a valuable lesson in itself.
Re: swapping a turbo. Man, this is not hard, no matter how old the car. Items you need: a new turbo to pipe hose (on the bottom of the turbo); new gaskets. To tune the car, you need a downpipe with an 02 bung near the turbo. If you have an aftermarket downpipe, but it does not have a tuning bung, it is easy to have a bung installed. Any competent exhaust shop can do it. Just be sure they put it on the top, not the bottom (condensation issues).
If you have a stock intake tube, then chances are the portion that fits around the turbo intake is getting mighty fragile. It is too thin, too easy to tear, even if it is in perfect condition. Here's hoping you have already pulled the intake manifold and done TGV deletes, etc. , etc., and installed a new intake tube (Perrin or AVO).