Ever since the factories started installing computers in trucks, the aftermarket world has been hacking into them. Some of the first computer modifications required you to open the ECU and swap out a chip. Fast-forward just a bit, and altering the tune on the computer has gotten a whole lot easier for the user (yes, we're referring to you). Now, to program your ride all you need to do is plug a handheld device into the OBD-II port under the dashboard or directly into the computer, answer a few questions, and enjoy. As these programmers progress, more power is freed up, the transmission shifts harder, and you can go farther on a tank of gas.
Those are the main functions of the programmers, but the features don't stop there. Some have tunes for low-octane fuel, some allow you to recalibrate your speedo after gear and tire changes, and some even get you more chicks. OK, that last one was just there to see if you're paying attention. As you'll find out after reading this guide, there are a lot of programmers on the market, but how do you know which one is right for you?
The first step you need to take is make a list of the things you want to change and then find the one that does that and not much else. That way, you're not spending money on stuff you'll never need. Case in point: If all you've done is install larger-OD tires and you don't really want to add power, there are programmers for just that. We have compiled this guide to let you know what's out there and how to find it, so when you decide to invest in a programmer the search will be quick and easy.
The DiabloSport Predator handheld tuner from Autoanything is designed to add power to '07-'08 new-body-style GM trucks and SUVs. Tunes add 15 to 20 rwhp. The Predator allows for adjustability of most aftermarket bolt-ons right out of the box. The DiabloSport's programming is performed in small increments throughout the entire rpm range for more predictable power delivery. It also features Internet updates and the ability to check and clear diagnostic trouble codes.
2. Granatelli Motor Sports
Now available from Granatelli is the all-new Fuego flash tuner. Fuego is ready for any situation with multiple gasoline tunes, including 87, 89, 91, and 93 octane. You don't have to know anything about computers to use Fuego-just attach the included power cord to your in-dash OBD-II port and follow the easy-to-understand instructions. One part number fits all '99-'04 Lightning/Harley-Davidson F-150s, '03-'08 Ford trucks with 6.0L Power Stroke, '99-'03 Ford trucks with 7.3L Power Stroke, and '04-'08 F-series trucks with 4.2L, 4.6L, 5.4L, and 6.8L motors.
Granatelli Motor Sports
The Banks OttoMind programmer not only adds power to your gas vehicle, it also has data logging capabilities. Besides getting rid of the factory-set power delay and putting more passing punch under your right foot, the OttoMind programmer is your own personal X-ray machine. This handheld engine tool can display over a dozen critical engine functions and act as a diagnostic tool.
Gale Banks Engineering