- Bed Rail Caps
- Body Armor & Doors
Bug Deflectors and Hood Shields
- AVS Aeroskin
- AVS Bugflector
- AVS Carflector
- AVS Hoodflector
- AVS Hood Shield
- EGR Bug Shields
- FormFit Tough Guard Hood Protector
- Lund Aeroskin
- Lund Hood Defender
- Lund Interceptor
- Stampede Hood Protectors
- WeatherTech Low Profile Hood Protector
- WeatherTech Stone and Bug Deflector
- WeatherTech Sunroof Deflectors
- Bull Bars
- Cab Roof Lights
- Custom Grilles & Emblems
- Fender Flares
- Armordillo Prerunner Front Bumper
- Bestop Front Bumpers
- Fab Fours Front Bumpers
- Fab Fours Grumper
- Front Bumper Accessories
- Go Rhino Front Bumpers
- ICI Baja Front Bumpers
- ICI Magnum Front Bumpers
- ICI Trophy Front Bumpers
- ICI You-Fab Front Bumpers
- Iron Cross Front Bumpers
- MBRP Front Bumpers
- N-Fab Front Bumpers
- Ranch Hand Front Bumpers
- Smittybilt Front Bumpers
- Warn Front Bumpers
- Westin Front Bumpers
- Westin HDX Front Bumpers
- Jeep Tops
Light Bars & Mounts
- Anzo Light Bars & Mounts
- B&W Light Bar Mounts
- Daystar Light Bars & Mounts
- Firewire Light Bars & Mounts
- Iron Cross Light Bars & Mounts
- KC Hilites Light Bars & Mounts
- MBRP Light Bar Mounts
- N-Fab Light Bars & Mounts
- Rigid Light Bars & Mounts
- Smittybilt Light Bars & Mounts
- Westin Light Bars & Mounts
Mud Guards & Mud Flaps
- Husky Liners Custom Molded Mud Guards
- Husky Liners Hitch Mount Mud Flaps
- Husky Liners KickBack Mud Flaps
- Husky Liners Long John Mud Flaps
- Husky Liners Removable Mud Flaps
- Husky Liners Universal Mud Flaps
- Rally Armor Mud Flaps
- Rockstar Hitch Mount Mud Flaps
- RockStar Splash Guard Mud Flaps
- Weathertech Custom Molded Mud Guards
Nerf Bars and Running Boards
- Amp Research Powerstep Running Boards
- Aries ActionTrac Power Running Boards
- Armordillo AR Drop Side Step Bars
- Bestop Powerboard
- Hitch Steps
- Hoop Steps
- ICI Baja Side Steps
- ICI Magnum RT Cab Length Step Bars
- ICI Magnum RT Cab Length Step Bars With Light Kit
- ICI Magnum Wheel To Wheel RT Steps Bars
- Iron Cross 3" Tube Steps
- Iron Cross Cab Length HD Steps
- Iron Cross Patriot Board Step Bars
- Iron Cross Side Arm Step Bars
- Lund 3" Nerf Bars
- Lund 4" Nerf Bars
- Lund 5" Nerf Bars
- Lund 6" Nerf Bars
- Lund Crossroads Running Boards
- Lund Latitude Cab Length Nerf Bars
- Lund Rail Rock Sliders
- Lund Summit Ridge Running Boards
- Lund Terrain HX Nerf Bars
- MBRP Rock Sliders
- N-FAb Adjuststep Step Bars
- N-Fab Bed Access Step Bars
- N-Fab Cab Length Step Bars
- N-Fab Harley Bars
- N-Fab N-Durastep Bed Access Step Bars
- N-Fab N-Durastep Cab Length Step Bars
- N-Fab Polished Stainless Steel Nerf Step Bars
- N-Fab Predator Pro Step Bars
- N-Fab Rocker Guards
- N-Fab Rock Slider Steps
- N-Fab Wheel To Wheel Step Bars
- Power Running Boards
- Rampage Slimline Step Bars
- Raptor Series 3" Round Step Bars
- Raptor Series 4" Magnum Oval Cab Length Step Bars
- Raptor Series 4" OE Style Cab Length Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series 4" Wheel To Wheel Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series 5" Cab Length Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series 5" OE Style Cab Length Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series 5" Wheel To Wheel Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series 6" Cab Length Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series 6" Wheel To Wheel Oval Step Bars
- Raptor Series SSR Stainless Steel Running Boards
- Rock Sliders
- Running Boards
- Smittybilt Nerf Step Bars
- Step Bars
- Truck Bed Steps
- Westin HDX Drop Nerf Step Bars
- Westin HDX Xtreme Nerf Step Bars
- Westin Pro Traxx Nerf Bars
- Westin Running Boards
- Rear Bumpers
- Roof Racks & Storage
- Skid Plates
- Tailgate Accessories
- Tail Lights
- Bak Industries BakFlip CS Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries BakFlip F1 Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries BakFlip FiberMax Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries BakFlip G2 Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries BakFlip MX4 Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries BakFlip VP Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Extang Folding Tonneau Covers
- LOMAX Professional Tri Fold Tonneau Covers
- LOMAX Tri Fold Tonneau Covers
- Smittybilt Tri-Fold Smart Tonneau Covers
- Tonno Pro Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Tonno Pro Soft Folding Tonneau Covers
- TrailFX Premium Hard Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers
- TrailFX Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers
- Undercover Flex Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Undercover Ultra Flex Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries Rollbak G2 Retractable Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards Bed Locker Electronic Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards Full Metal Jack Rabbit Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards Jack Rabbit Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards Switchblade Metal Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards Switchblade Retractable Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards UltraGroove Metal Tonneau Covers
- Pace Edwards UltraGroove Tonneau Covers
- Retrax OneMX Tonneau Covers
- Retrax One Tonneau Covers
- Retrax PowerTraxONE MX Tonneau Covers
- Retrax PowerTraxONE Tonneau Covers
- Retrax PowerTraxPRO MX Tonneau Covers
- Retrax PowerTraxPRO Tonneau Covers
- Retrax ProMX Tonneau Covers
- Retrax Pro Tonneau Covers
- Roll N Lock A-Series Tonneau Covers
- Roll N Lock M-Series Tonneau Covers
Roll Up Covers
- Access Limited Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Access LiteRider Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Access Lorado Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Access Original Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Access Tonnosport Low Profile Tonneau Covers
- Access Vanish Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries Revolver X2 Tonneau Covers
- Bak Industries Revolver X4 Tonneau Covers
- Extang Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Roll N Lock E-Series Tonneau Covers
- Tonno Pro Lo Roll Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- TrailFX Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Truxedo Deuce 2 Soft Hinged Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Truxedo Edge Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Truxedo Lo Pro QT Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Truxedo Pro X15 Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Truxedo Titanium Hard Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Truxedo TruXport Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
- Toolbox Edition Truck Bed Covers
- Truck Bed & Cover Accessories
- Truck Bed Lids
- Folding Covers
Towing and Hitches
- 5th Wheel Hitches
- Bolt Receiver Locks
- Class 1 Receiver Hitches
- Class 2 Receiver Hitches
- Class 3 Receiver Hitches
- Class 4 Receiver Hitches
- Class 5 Receiver Hitches
- Fifth Wheel Tailgate Accessories
- Fifth Wheel Tailgates
- Gooseneck Accessories
- Gooseneck Hitches
- Gooseneck Replacement Hitch Balls
- Trailer Hitch Ball Mounts
- Truck Bed Extenders
Truck Bed Liners
- Access Bed Mats
- Access Tailgate Protector
- BedRug Drop In Bed Liner
- BedRug Drop In Jeep Liner
- BedRug Impact
- BedRug XLT
- BedTred Drop In Floor Liner For Jeeps
- BedTred Ultra Complete Truck Bed Liner
- DeeZee Rubber Bed Mat
- DualLiner Truck Bed Liner
- TrailFX Drop In Rubber Truck Bed Mat
- WeatherGuard Rubber Van Mats
- WeatherTech Techliner Tail Gate & Bed Liner
- WeatherTech Underliner Bed Mat
- Truck Bed Storage & Toolboxes
- Wheel Well Liners & Inner Fenders
- Winches & Tow Ropes
- Window Visors
- Cargo & Trunk Liners
- Husky and WeatherTech Floor Mats & Liners
- Truck Cab Storage Box
- Van Liners
- WeatherTech Techshade
- Air Filters, Pre Filters And Cleaner Kits
Air Intake Systems
- AEM Intake Systems
- aFe Power Air Intake System
- AirAid Intake Systems
- Banks Power Air Intake System
- Edge Jammer Cold Air Intake Systems
- Injen Intake Systems
- Intake Air Tubes
- K&N 57 Series Fuel Injection Performance Kits
- K&N 63 Series AirCharger® High Performance Air Intakes
- K&N 69 Series Typhoon® Air Intake Systems
- K&N 77 Series High Performance Air Intake Systems
- K&N Blackhawk Induction™ Air Intake Systems
- Mishimoto Intake Systems
- Perrin Air Intake Systems
- S&B Dry Filter Cold Air Intake System
- S&B Oiled Filter Cold Air Intake System
- Takeda Intake Systems
- Vararam Intakes
- Volant Intake Systems
Brakes, Pads, Rotors
- Banks Power Brake
- Brake Lines
- Hawk High Performance Street 5.0 Front & Rear Brake Pads
- Hawk High Performance Street Race Front & Rear Brake Pads
- Hawk HP Plus Front & Rear Brake Pads
- Hawk HPS Front & Rear Brake Pads
- Hawk LTS Front & Rear Brake Pads
- Hawk Performance Ceramic Front & Rear Brake Pads
- Hawk Performance SuperDuty Truck Front & Rear Brake Pads
- MGP Caliper Covers
- Clutch Kits, Flywheels & Shifters
Exhaust Systems, Tips & Mufflers
- Catalytic Converter
- aFe Power Axle Back Exhaust Systems
- aFe Power Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- aFe Power DPF Back Exhaust Systems
- aFe Power Turbo Back Exhaust Systems
- Banks Power Big Hoss Bundle
- Banks Power Dual Monster Exhaust
- Banks Power Single Monster Exhaust
- Banks Power Stinger Exhaust
- Banks Power Stinger Plus Exhaust
- Borla Axle Back Exhaust Systems
- Borla Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- Diamond Eye Cat Back Exhaust System
- Diamond Eye Downpipe Back Exhaust
- Diamond Eye DPF Back Exhaust System
- Diamond Eye Turbo Back Exhaust System
- Flowmaster Axle Back Exhaust Systems
- Flowmaster Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- Flowmaster Header Back Exhaust Systems
- Gibson Axle Back Exhaust Systems
- Gibson Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- Gibson Filter Back Exhaust Systems
- Gibson Turbo Back Exhaust Systems
- Magnaflow Axle Back Exhaust Systems
- Magnaflow Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- Magnaflow Crossmember Back Exhaust Systems
- Magnaflow Downpipe Back Exhaust Systems
- Magnaflow DPF Back Exhaust Systems
- Magnaflow Turbo Back Exhaust Systems
- MBRP Axle Back Exhaust Systems
- MBRP Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- MBRP DPF Back Exhaust Systems
- MBRP Filter Back Exhaust Systems
- MBRP Turbo Back Exhaust System
- Perrin Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- Silverline Turbo Back Exhaust Systems
- Tanabe Cat Back Exhaust Systems
- Exhaust Pipes
- Exhaust Stack Kits
- Exhaust Tips
- Fuel Systems & Oil Filters
- Gauges & Mounts
- Injection Systems
- Intake Scoop System
- Oil, Fuel Additives & Cleaners
Performance Chips & Programmers
- Banks Power IQ 2.0
- BD Diesel Throttle Sensitivity Booster
- Bully Dog BDX Tuner
- Bully Dog Diesel GT
- Bully Dog GTX Watchdog
- Bully Dog Triple Dog GT
- Diablosport Intune I2
- Diablosport Intune I3
- Diablosport Marathon
- Diablosport Predator 2
- Diablosport Sprint
- Diablosport Trinity
- Diablosport Trinity T2 EX
- Edge EvoHT2 Programmer
- Edge Evolution CS
- Edge Insight CS2 Gauge Monitor
- Edge Insight CTS2
- Edge Juice With Attitude CTS2
- Edge Pulsar Tuning Module
- Edge Revolver 6 Position Chip
- Hypertech Max Energy 2.0
- Pedal Commander Throttle Response Controller
- Programmer Probes
- SCT Livewire TS+
- SCT X4
- Smarty Junior
- Smarty King
- Smarty Super Sport Race Tuner
- Superchips Amp'd Throttle Response Booster
- Superchips Dashpaq
- Superchips Flashcal F5
- Superchips Flashpaq F5
- Superchips Jeep TrailCal Monitor
- Superchips TrailDash
- Superchips TrailDash 2
- TS Performance 6-Position Chip
- Throttle Bodies & Spacers
- Transmissions & Parts
- Air Ride Suspensions & Kits
- Coilover Kits
- Leaf Springs
- Leveling Kits
- Lift Kits
- Lowering Kits and Springs
Shocks and Struts
- Bilstein Suspension Lift Kit
- Daystar Shocks & Struts
- Fox Evolution Shocks
- Fox IFP Shocks
- Fox Performance Non Adjustable Shocks
- Koni Sport Shocks
- KYB Shocks & Struts
- Rancho Quicklift Front Struts & Rear Shock Kits
- Rancho RS5000 Series Shocks
- Rancho RS7000 Series Shocks
- Rancho RS9000 Series Shocks
- Skyjacker Shocks
- Truhart Performance Sport Shocks
- Steering & Stabilization
- Sway Bars
Wheels & Tires
- Locking Hubs
- Tire Carriers & Mounts
- Black Rhino Armory Wheels
- Black Rhino Pismo Wheels
- Black Rhino Pondora Wheels
- Black Rhino Taupo Wheels
- Black Rhino Warlord Wheels
- Fuel Anza Wheels
- Fuel Assault Wheels
- Fuel Avenger Wheels
- Fuel Boost Wheels
- Fuel Hostage Wheels
- Fuel Krank Wheels
- Fuel Maverick Wheels
- Fuel Octane Wheels
- Fuel Savage Wheels
- Fuel Throttle Wheels
- Fuel Vector Wheels
- SOTA A.W.O.L Wheels
- SOTA BRAWL Wheels
- SOTA FITE Wheels
- SOTA JATO Wheels
- SOTA M-80 Wheels
- SOTA Novakane Wheels
- SOTA REHAB Wheels
- SOTA R.E.P.R Wheels
- SOTA SCAR Wheels
- SOTA S.K.U.L. Wheels
- SOTA SPYK Wheels
- SOTA S.S.D Wheels
- TSW Bathurst Wheels
- Wheel Spacers
- Cool Stuff
Performance Chips & Programmers
Selecting the Right Performance Tuner for your Ride
Many truck and Jeep owners have heard about custom tuning their vehicle, but the process can seem confusing and even intimidating. Let us help put you at ease in this quick beginner’s guide to performance programmers and tuners.
What is Custom Tuning or Performance Programming?
What does a custom tune do for my vehicle?
Performance programmers allow customers to alter their on board vehicle's computer using advanced digital technology. While the applications are numerous, many users tune to improve MPG, increase horsepower and torque, bypass AFM/MDS, check their own Diagnostic Trouble Codes, and improve throttle response.
What are the five most common uses of performance programmers?
What are the primary functions of custom tuners?
While Programmers have many uses, the five most common are:
Increase your fuel economy
Improve horsepower and torque for towing and acceleration
Turn off AFM and other software elements that limit your engine
Allows customer to read DTCs without going to a mechanic
Reduces throttle lag
Of course, secondary uses are numerous, including everything from monitor gauges that allow you to measure additional performance related data to complete ECU/PCM swaps for new units that allow advanced diagnostics and programming features. Some programmers can even adjust when your in cab lights turn on and timing elements galore.
Will installing a performance programmer or tuner void my warranty?
Do programmers void dealer/manufacturer warranties?
Short answer: no, installing these products will NOT void your warranty.
Long answer: Magnuson Moss Warranty Act prohibits dealers/manufacturers from voiding warranties due to modifications with products not made by the original manufacturer. While a complicated law, generally, none of the tuners we sell will void your warranty.
Now for the specifics go check out our Blog post on the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.
If that’s TL;DR: Magnuson Moss Warranty Act in Brief
As long as you reset back to Stock settings, none of the tuners we sell will void your warranty or give the dealer any reason to give you hell about making warranty covered repairs. The harder part, in my opinion, will be getting your dealer to cover any warranty repairs in the first place, cause it seems like a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty these days doesn’t cover the front bumper, the rear bumper, or hardly anything in between. But that’s a completely different topic for another day.
Before we turn back to tuners, a brief PSA on:
The OBDII Port
First, throughout this review / guide, we’ll be referencing something known as the OBDII port, for short.
What is an OBDII Port?
What does OBD 2 or II stand for?
OBD II or 2 is an acronym for On Board Diagnostic 2.0 Port. It’s 2.0 cause there was a 1.0 original, now obsolete, version. This diagnostic port is located under your dash, beneath the steering wheel. It is often used to read DTC’s and for aftermarket parts like tuners.
We’ll include a pic so you can easily identify this bad boy.
Many of the products, including custom tuners, performance programmers, and even monitor gauges, throttle response controllers, and handhelds, plug in to this OBDII port. So it might at least be a good idea to have a notion what this thing looks like before you purchase something you’ve gotta plug into it. PSA ended.
Now back to tuners:
Just as there are a number of uses of tuners and programmers, there are also a number of types.
What are the different types of performance tuners and programmers?
What are the various styles of performance programmers or tuners?
Throttle Response Controller / Booster
ECU Tuning Module
Monitor or Touchscreen Tuners
Now in general, this list goes from simple to complex, but most of these pieces can do some similar tasks. In order to figure out which you really need, you’ll want to consider the key reasons you are looking into a tuner or programmer. If you mainly want to accomplish one or two things concerning programming, we might have a simple and cost effective option available. But if you’ve got to have complete control the top of the liner programmer, we can get you that too. It really depends on what you are looking for. So don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have a full touchscreen tuner when you might just need a throttle response controller.
What is a Monitor Gauge or Digital Gauge?
What’s the difference between a digital gauge monitor and a performance tuner or programmer?
A monitor or gauge is just a display that allows you to watch a number of your vehicle’s parameters on a digital (often touchscreen) monitor. A gauge monitor will NOT allow you to alter your vehicle’s ECU or PCM.
A full performance tuner or programmer, on the other hand, can often monitor various parameters, like a gauge, but also alter the programming of your ECU or PCM--your vehicle’s on board computer.
So while a monitor gauge isn’t technically a tuner, it is often a product paired with programmers as there are some similarities. You might consider purchasing a monitor gauge if you just want to be able to monitor or pay attention to one of your vehicle’s engine components or outputs without installing a expensive analog gauge.
Let’s say your new truck doesn’t have an RPM gauge stock and you want to be able to watch your RPM’s when towing or just accelerating. A digital monitor gauge would plug into your vehicle’s OBDII port and allow you to customize the display, often showing up to three digital gauges.
Some monitor gauges also allow for add ons such as backup cameras. And most also allow you to read and even reset DTC’s or Diagnostic Trouble Codes.
While these products could be exactly what you are looking for, before you purchase a monitor gauge, consider the difference in price between the digital gauge and the full programmer. Oftentimes manufacturers of gauges also offer a very similar product that can also act as a full performance programmer for a small markup.
For instance, consider the Edge Insight CTS2. Edge offers a great Digital Gauge Monitor version that many of our customers just love. However, if you think you might ever consider doing any tuning or programming, then you should consider the Edge Evolution CTS2 Programmer as well. It costs less than $200 more and gives you full access to tuning your engine’s computer. If you just want the gauge and don’t think you’ll ever reprogram your stock PCM/ECU, then the monitor works just fine. But if down the road you plan on trying out programming, then the Evolution is well worth the additional cash.
What are plug-and-play modules?
How are plug-and-play modules different from full tuners?
A plug-and-play module is a cartridge that plugs into your OBDII port and modifies typically just one part of your vehicles programming without you having to make any adjustments yourself. Considered to be the simplest and easiest to use, a plug-n-play mod just plugs in and works.
The most common uses of Plug-n-Play mods are:
Disabling AFM (active fuel management) or MDS (multiple displacement system), programs running on many stock vehicle computers that reduce the number of active cylinders in use at a given moment.
Improving and monitoring MPG, reducing spark plug firing, and other methods to improve your fuel economy.
Towing modes to allow your vehicle to get the maximum output from your engine while towing heavy loads.
Considered the gateway drug of performance tuning, the plug-and-play OBDII module is easy to use and effective at typically one task and one task alone. While you can select purchase the mod you want and just plug it in and forget it, many users once they’ve had a taste of modifying their stock engine settings, can’t wait to dig deeper.
For instance, let’s say you start with a fuel economy module. You pop it into that OBDII port. And wow, do your MPG’s improve. In fact, you’re shocked that your big ass truck can even get that much out of a single gallon of gas. And while you love being in this new and improved fuel economy mode while on the highway, say, you also start to wonder what other strange abilities your engine has that your stock computer is limiting or holding back on.
Next thing you know, you’re eyeing that AFM disabling mod, and suddenly you realize you would have been better off just going with a full tuner from the get go, cost wise and convenience wise. I mean, who wants to constantly pop one mod out of the OBDII port and swap a second one in. Not to mention the fact that for most of these modules to work, you have to plug them in with the vehicle off or at least turn the vehicle off once for a few minutes to let the code reset. Sigh.
Now if you know you just want the one mode, like Tow mode or MPG mode, then there’s nothing wrong with picking up a plug-and-play module. These cartridges work great, and they are super easy to use. But don’t come crying to me when you suddenly get the performance programming bug and wish you’d just gotten that full tuner right from the start, cause I know a number of you are going to end up feeling that way cause that’s how I got into this programming game in the first place myself. The first hit is free, they say. But let an old pro tell you ahead of time: it might be worth it to get the full programmer or at least something in between plug-and-play mod and full tuner at the beginning. Your pocketbook will thank you later.
Speaking of something in between…
Throttle Response Controllers & Boosters
What is a throttle response controller or booster?
What does a throttle response booster or controller do exactly?
Throttle response controllers bypass your ECU, plugging directly into your throttle system, reducing lag. A fair new product in the performancing tuning category, throttle controllers eliminate accelerator lag and some even have multiple levels or settings that allow you to adjust your throttle response.
Throttle Response Controllers have been in high demand since their release because they seem to fill that niche area between a simple plug-and-play mod and a full tuner. On the one hand, Throttle Controllers or Boosters really only do one thing--just like a plug-n-play cart--adjust your vehicle’s accelerator and the way it communicates with your stock computer. But because of the amount of nuance that can go into such adjustments, many users find they appreciate the multiple levels of customization these products offer for a lower cost than a full programmer.
Our two current high sellers, the Pedal Commander Bluetooth edition and Superchips’ Amp’d Booster, both retail for about half the cost of a full tuner, and both also give you at least some levels of adjustment to your throttle. Again, for many consumers, these puppies offer the best of both worlds--that mythical middle ground that until recently we all believed could exist, we just weren’t sure when. Guess the answer was now! Ha!
Whether a Booster or a Controller, what these devices do is eliminate lag between accelerator and engine. Basically this involves increasing the sensitivity of your pedal. When test driving this has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. If I have to really hammer down that accelerator to get the vehicle to go, that’s a huge turn off for me. Now even if you are displeased with the stock response time, you can modify it.
The more advanced Throttle Response Controllers or Boosters have multiple levels. Pedal Commander currently has 8 different levels and a smartphone app that can connect via Bluetooth. SuperChips’ Amp’d System has two different levels, but Amp’d can be upgraded to Pro using the Amp’d Switch, which gives you Six different levels instead of just two.
Both of these devices also have Valet modes that will limit quick acceleration, in case you have teens borrowing your truck or actually are leaving your vehicle with a valet. Talk about a great setting I never thought I’d need until I got my first Throttle Response Controller.
ECU Tuning Module
What is an ECU Tuning Module?
What does an ECU Tuning Module do?
A Tuning Module that plugs directly into your ECU under the hood, modifying your stock computer without having to do an ECU swap. These devices are thus able to bypass locked stock computers and allow you to modify many settings normally hidden away and limited by the manufacturer.
Back in the day, and I mean like 5 to 10 years ago, buying a tuner was pretty easy. You just ordered the product you wanted and plugged ‘er in, and never had a care in the world. Well, then manufacturers started to lock their PCM and/or ECU--both just fancy acronyms for on-board computers. Why’d they do this to us? No one quite knows.
At first it was just one or two engines, specific to one or two models. But this coming season’s launch of brand new pickup trucks is making it look more and more like nearly every ECU and PCM on the docket is going to be locked.
Now, we’ve had a way around this for some time. You remove your stock computer, colloquially called a PCM in tuner lingo, and ship it off to the aftermarket company. They then ship you a pre programmed unlocked version just like the one you sent. And presto-chango, we’re back in business. The whole process is known as a “PCM Swap.”
And there’s nothing wrong with this kind of swap. It does take a little more time, but these days the aftermarket company typically mails you out the new PCM before you even remove your own. Then you ship them back your stock PCM, so it really doesn’t even take that much more time.
Regardless, the ECU Tuning Module has found a way around this tedious process. Instead of swapping out the PCM, now you can just attach this Tuning Mod directly to your stock computer and you are basically unlocked and ready to roll.
Technically, this is completely true. The ECU Tuning Module is more of a bypass, really, but in practice, this is how it works. As of this writing, only one product is out in the category: the Edge Pulsar. But we are anticipating more and more similar launches over the course of the next few quarters.
The biggest and most impressive part about the Pulsar is that it allows you to disable your MDS (multiple displacement system) by just hitting a button on your steering wheel. No joke. You can’t make this stuff up. Since the Pulsar plugs directly into your ECU, you are able to use the stock steering wheel cruise control to adjust the levels, giving you true shift on the fly control over your engine.
While there are other ways around MDS or AFM, the Pulsar and this new ECU Tuning Module category could be the new hotness moving forward--a bypass that gets around locked PCM and these cylinder shutting down systems.
The Pulsar has 8 different tune levels, covering everything from Fuel Economy mode to Towing, Stock to Performance settings. And let me tell you personally, when we installed this on our project truck, the Dodge Ram Night Edition, our CEO was able to break those wheels loose on Performance mode with MDS turned off (setting 8). You’ll want to try that level out as soon as you get her installed--trust me.
While we are super impressed with the Pulsar and can’t wait to see the next level of tech these manufacturers can come up with, even this innovative product isn’t technically a full tuner. What’s great about the Pulsar though is that it pairs with Edge’s tuners to give you a complete programming experience. So if you get the Pulsar, there’s still the option to step up to full computer control with our final category of tuners:
Handhelds and Full Tuners
What’s the difference between a handheld programmer and a touchscreen tuner?
Should I get a handheld tuner or a full touchscreen programmer?
The main difference is that a handheld tuner is meant to be held in your hand while a full touchscreen programmer is designed to be mounted somewhere on your dash. Both types of devices are what we consider to be “full” or “complete” tuners.
What is a full or complete tuner?
What is true performance programmer able to do?
A full tuner should be able to do all this, having numerous tunes, one for nearly any possible situation and then some, including:
A Fuel Economy Tune
A Towing Mode that improves torque
A break the tires loose mode
Eliminate throttle lag
In fact, some of the “full” tuners we carry are able to do so many different things, modify your vehicle to such an extent that giving you a full list of all its capabilities would be overwhelming. I’d need a whole nother article to try to cover these alone. And luckily we have a Beginner's Guide to Performance Programmers over in the Product Center, if you feel up to more reading.
If you really want full control over your engine’s computer, including everything up to headlight control, in cab light control, macros that alter how the engine throttles when you have the driver’s side door open, and all sort of other obscure options plus all the standard ones listed above, then you’ve really got to go all out and get a full performance programmer.
Full tuners roll everything together. She’s an ECU Module meets Throttle Control system. She can be plug-and-play or completely customizable and adjustable. You either pick a stock tune or setting or can make your own up on your home computer. Or hit up forums and mechanics to have them create a tune just for you. The possibilities are endless.
So if in reading this and trying to decide which option was right for you, you kept thinking that you wanted this capability from the one device and this other one from another, you are really looking for a full performance tuner.
So the last thing to consider is whether to go handheld or monitor. I’ll make this part easy. If you want something that you use in your cab before you take off, if you want to just select one tune and then hit the road and forget about your programmer, go handheld.
Handhelds can even be used to program your engine’s computer once, and then you can unplug them and store them in the glove compartment, at home, or even in your garage until you decide you want to change tunes again.
If you want something that will also help you monitor various aspects of your engine while on the go, like that gauge monitor we started with, or if you want to be able to change modes while you are on the go, then go with the full touchscreen monitor tuner.
Both options are great, and again it comes down to what you are looking for specifically.
In my humble opinion, for starters, those just getting into programming, a Throttle Response Controller or Booster is a great starting point.
If you are ready for some next level tuning, and if you’ve got a locked ECU or PCM, check out Pulsar and the upcoming other ECU Tuning Mods.
And if you’ve already got an unlocked on board computer, get a full programmer. Whether handheld or monitor style is really up to you and your personal preference. Make sure to look at all the details of each manufacturer and make though because some programmers offer crazy options and advanced control that we still haven’t even fully covered in this guide. So if you really need something special and unique, research carefully. Chances are one of these great devices will do exactly what you are trying to do.