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
SCT's flagship tuner, the Livewire all-in-one device, gives '08 Super Duty owners an 85-rwhp and 151-lb-ft torque power gain. The new 6.4L enabled Livewire features both towing and performance tunes for the engine and one additional tune for the transmission. You can also purchase the Extreme 6.4L Race Package to give your truck over 120 rwhp and 230 lb-ft of torque.
5. Pro Comp
Pro Comp's new Accu Pro calibration tool is the perfect upgrade for lifted vehicles. The Accu Pro allows for speedometer and odometer calibration for tire size and/or differential-gear changes. No more wondering how fast you're traveling or what the mileage on your vehicle really is. It can also read and clear vehicle DTCs.
Explorer Pro Comp
The Evolution from Edge Products is available for late-model Ford and GM diesels, '97-'08 F-150s, '07-and-later GM gas-powered trucks and SUVs, and '07 Dodge Hemi trucks. You can choose from up to four different power levels-Level 4 adds 100 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. You'll also see improvements in fuel economy and towing capability. Other features include: display and clear diagnostic trouble codes, adjust for nonstock tires, adjust speed and rev limiters, and monitor and display EGTs.
The FAST-Flash power programmer makes the tuning process easy for even first-time users. FAST-Flash offers three distinct settings: performance, towing, and economy. As a bonus for all GM vehicles, there is a Cam Tuner menu to select additional programming for optimizing most performance camshafts.
The Hypermax Mach 7 performance module for '03-'06 6.0L Power Stroke diesels plugs directly into your vehicle's module harness. Once installed, the Power Stroke will pump out 475-plus horsepower and 820 lb-ft of torque on the highest of seven settings. You can also get a 10-percent increase in fuel economy on the Super Cruise setting. Do-it-yourself installation instructions are included.
Use less fuel and get more power with Hypertech's new E-CON economy power programmer. The E-CON is designed for the driver who needs better fuel mileage and more power but doesn't want to pay for other high-performance features. Every E-CON is programmed with Hypertech's Max Energy tuning, diagnostic, and back-to-stock options. The E-CON also comes with a USB cable and a CD containing software to enable quick updates over the Internet.
The Stealth 2 for '07-'08 LMM Duramax diesels offers up to six different tuning levels, mileage gains of 10 to 15 percent, and increases of 135 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. The Stealth 2 includes the ability to calibrate the speedometer, remove the speed limiter, reset the transmission learning, and watch a full set of real-time data parameters. The Stealth 2 has DPF-friendly tuning and can perform a manual regeneration. The unit is USB-compatible for new updates, and all of the USB updates are free for life.
Quadzilla Performance Technologies
11. Jet Performance Products
Jet now makes a performance programmer for '96-and-later F-series trucks and fullsize SUVs with gas-powered engines. The programmer allows you to modify shift points, transmission shift firmness, rev limiters, and top-speed limiter. It also features three different tuning presets for regular, midgrade, or premium fuels. The unit also corrects the speedometer and shift points after making gear-ratio or tire-size changes.
JET Performance Products
12. Stylin' Trucks
Gas prices are already over four bucks a gallon and no relief is in sight. What can you do to fight the drain on your wallet after every fill-up? Contact Stylin' Trucks and order a Granatelli Big G Diesel Mileage Miser. You get an increase of up to 4 mpg, 50 hp, and 150 lb-ft of torque. Installation is plug-and-play with no cutting or messy wiring harnesses or switches in the cab.
13. BD Power
BD's new Ultra X-Tuner offers even more performance and capabilities than its predecessor. Selectable power gains start at 30 hp and go up to 140 hp along with improved fuel economy and better driveability overall. The Ultra X-Tuner simply plugs into the vehicle's OBD-II port and allows you to read diagnostic codes, recalibrate the speedometer for larger tires, and raise/eliminate the vehicle's top-speed limiter. Plus, you can download the latest calibrations as well as an available data acquisition package from the Internet.
BD Diesel Performance
14. Bully Dog
The Triple Dog downloader is now available for gas-powered trucks and SUVs. The Triple Dog works on Dodge Hemi, Ford 4.6L and 5.4L, and V-8-powered GM trucks and SUVs. The downloader features multiple tuning options to allow you to adjust the power, fuel economy, and transmission settings for your specific driving needs.
Bully Dog Technologies
The Painless Performance Striker MD intercepts the fuel and boost-pressure electronic signals and allows you to apply infinite multipliers to them for power gains or enhanced fuel economy. You can use the 10 preset multipliers or create your own custom settings for familiar payloads or road conditions. When you add other performance hardware like custom exhaust or a bigger turbo or fuel pumps, the MD can maximize their output.
Painless Performance Products
In addition to its tuning capabilities, the Cortex tuner from Superchips calibrates your speedometer for larger wheels and tires, reads and clears diagnostic trouble codes, adjusts transmission shift points, and more. Plug-and-play USB connection makes your tuner fully updateable, so you'll always have the latest tune. The Cortex also allows you to tune multiple vehicles from the same OEM, so you can tune your Corvette on Monday and your truck on Friday.
17. Summit Racing
More power and increased fuel economy with a simple programming change? Gas and diesel truck owners can get both with a Hypertech Max Energy power programmer, now available at Summit Racing Equipment. Just plug it in and hit a button. The programmer downloads tuning software that modifies the existing vehicle computer's programming. The result is up to 57 hp for gasoline-powered trucks and 176 hp for diesel trucks, plus a 2- to 6-mpg increase in fuel economy.
18. TS Performance
The ReSpeed from TS Performance easily installs in your gas or diesel truck, and by inputting your new tire size and/or rear-axle gear ratio the ReSpeed recalibrates and corrects your vehicle's factory speedometer to fully optimize your engine's performance. Because many late-model trucks use the vehicle's speed to also determine fuel delivery, shift points, and more, TS Performance has developed the ReSpeed speedometer calibrator and speed-limiter removal unit.