Your Cart Is Empty

How to Shop for the Best Performance Programmer

How Performance Programmers Work

  • Performance programmers plug into your vehicle's on board diagnostic port (OBD II) and load custom software, known as a “tune”, into the engine’s control unit (ECU). Most OBDII ports are located above the driver's side footwell at the bottom of the dashboard
  • Tunes are basically pre-generated instructions that tell your ECU when to spray fuel into the engine, how much to add and when to ignite it, based on signals from the engine’s sensors. By tweaking these adjustments, tuner manufacturers are able to tailor how much extra power or fuel economy you’ll get by using their tuners
  • Once you upload or "flash" a performance tune to your vehicle's ECU, you can disconnect your tuner and leave it at home. The performance tune will stay in your ride’s computer and will load up each time you turn the ignition
  • As you drive, your vehicle's ECU will follow the instructions left by the tuner to optimize either power of fuel economy, depending on which tune you loaded. In most cases, performance programmers will also allow you to restore you car’s factory tuning for warranty or service purposes.

What they do for your Ride

  • Once installed, a tuner will increase horsepower and torque by 5-10% on average
  • Many tuners will increase fuel economy by 1-3 MPGs, but you’ll have to avoid taking advantage of the extra power a programmer provides to see any noticeable gains
  • Programmers commonly increase throttle response and eliminates built-in throttle lag, a trait often found in cars and trucks with drive-by-wire throttle bodies
  • You’ll notice better towing performance with a custom tune loaded

How to Shop for Them

  • Understand the style of driving you do most. If you use your car as a daily driver and normally use 87 octane fuel, pick up a tuner that’s designed to support it. Keep in mind, some performance programmers only come with a 91 octane tune, which will make each fill-up more expensive
  • Make sure the tuner you’re looking at can make the right adjustments. If you added bigger tires or a 4.10 ring an pinion to your vehicle, check to see if the tuner can adjust for different tire sizes or gear ratios to properly re-calibrate the speedometer to read correctly
  • Performance programmers are made to work with vehicles made after 1996 and are OBD II-equipped. So, if your ride was made before 1997 and want more horsepower through tuning, you’ll need an in-line performance module or chip instead

Things you can often adjust with Performance Programmers

  • Horsepower levels
  • Fuel economy
  • Shift points
  • Shift firmness
  • Speedometer calibration after installing bigger wheels or swapping rear differential gearing
  • RPM Rev limit
  • Read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTC’s)
  • Electric cooling fan operation

Why Buy Performance Programmers from AutoAnything

  • We carry tuners by the best brands, so you’re sure to feel a difference once installed
  • You can read how your favorites tuner works in real life, thanks to reviews submitted by actual performance programmer customers
  • You’ll find the lowest price on performance programmers from AutoAnything, thanks to our 1-year low price guarantee

Related Videos

Shop Popular Vehicles

Top Makes



Top Models

Next Steps

Shop Popular Performance Programmers

Questions & Comments