A seemingly magical chip once made furious cars even faster. Now, the best performance chips add horsepower to any car from unassuming daily drivers to 400 hp street machines. What is a performance chip you may ask? The answer is literally in the name.
Originally, a performance chip was a little circuit board that had to be mechanically inserted into the control module or soldered into the wiring harness. Once in place, aggressive program was hard-wired into the cars computer. Today, while “chips” have largely been replaced by flash programmers and performance control modules, the term has stuck around and won’t go away any time soon. Think of “chip” as a nickname for performance tuning accessories that do everything that the old chip did, only vastly improved in every way.
Different Types of Performance Chips
Manufacturers want their cars to appeal to the masses. Unfortunately, this involves reducing one great aspect of performance to balance out another, making for a boring driving experience. As it turns out, even performance cars suffer from generic programming that’s as bland as plain yogurt. Performance chips retune your car’s onboard computer with custom programming adding flavor to your ride.
Tuning with Your Programmer Correctly
Since it doesn’t involve a carburetor and a “tuning” fork, programming a modern car seems weird and mysterious to most shade tree mechanics. By now, chip manufactures have learned how to bring tuning to the masses. Handheld programmers have simplified tuning to the point where anyone can do it in a few minutes. By connecting to the OBDII port under your dashboard, a programmer communicates with the computer in the car which downloads custom software that you select from a menu.
Surprisingly, regardless of the brand, every chip works in the same way. Every internal combustion engine needs air, fuel, compression and ignition to function. It’s not sorcery but science, plain and simple. Parameters, like when and how much gasoline is sprayed, and when the ignition coils light the fuel mixture are at the heart of the equation. Performance programs improve the way an engine runs by fine-tuning these operating parameters. What does this mean for you? Better horsepower, torque, fuel economy and throttle response. As if that’s not enough, programmers also have additional features that give you control over shift points, tire size correction and top speed limiter settings.
What's the Best Performance Chip for Your Vehicle?
While chips are nearly extinct due to the introduction of handheld programmers and control modules, drivers still enjoy the benefits of aftermarket programming. It’s impossible to know the best performance chips for cars, as each has features that may be more desirable, depending on your driving needs. Even though the style of chips has changed, modern programmers and control modules are a chip off the old block.