The Pros & Cons of Performance Chips

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Diablosport Trinity T2

One of the most potent ways to get extra power out of your car is with a performance tuner, also called a “performance chip.” But what does “chipping” your car actually do? Are there any negative side effects to worry about? How well do OBD2 performance tuners actually work? Are they as good as a tuning your ECU the old-fashioned way? 

Buckle up and hold on, we’re covering the facts about performance chips and what they can do for your ride.

What does a performance chip do?

Racechip inline tuners with companion app

As the name suggests, a performance chip is a chip that installs in your car to give you more power and torque, as well as a smoother ride and improved MPGs. The most common purpose of a performance tuner is to increase horsepower, but chips can also provide better fuel economy, sharper throttle response, and higher torque for towing heavy loads. Many chips can offer all these benefits at the same time by allowing you to choose between multiple customizable tunes on the fly.

Most plug-and-play tuners work on a wide variety of vehicles.

There are also some specialized tuners with a more specific goal in mind. For example, the Range Active Fuel Management Disable Device overrides the cylinder deactivation feature found on many of today’s V6 and V8 engines, keeping all cylinders active at all times to increase throttle response and power across the board. And the Hypertech Speedometer Calibrator does just what the name implies, restoring your speedo’s accuracy after gear swaps and tire size changes.

What are OBD2 performance tuners?

Bully Dog GT Gauge Tuner

In the old days, you had to yank out your car’s ECU and send it to a specialist to be flashed and tuned. Not anymore. Today, you can simply plug a device called a performance tuner into your car’s OBD2 diagnostic port that will monitor and improve performance over time. Soon your car will be running like it has a custom tune – and that’s because it does.

Like the products from Performance Chip Tuning and Chip Your Car, the performance tuners found on AutoAnything offer a wide variety of features. In most cases, the only requirement is that your car has an OBD2 diagnostic port. And chances are, yours does – any vehicle manufactured for the United States market after January 1, 1996 has an OBD2 port.

OBD2 performance chips insert directly into your car’s OBD2 port. From there, the device analyzes everything the ECU does and works to make improvements. The direction is up to you: choose a more docile economy tune that will yield higher MPGs in your daily driver, or choose to go all-out and make as much power as your car is capable of.

Do performance chips have drawbacks?

Not really. Tuning companies have spent years researching and developing how to tune your car’s engine in a healthy and sustainable way. Performance tuners and chips are designed to make improvements without causing any negative side effects. Some dealerships have been known to hassle people when it comes to warranties, but that is why the Magnuson-Moss act exists.

After installing a performance chip, you may notice yourself developing an intense craving for more power. This is normal. Do not call a doctor. If that feeling doesn’t go away with time, you might need an extra dose. Packages like the Banks Power Pack System go beyond what the typical performance tuner is capable of, improving multiple systems to deliver incredible changes that should keep your symptoms at bay.

Speaking of modifications, be sure to do some research when choosing a performance chip. You should consider any existing mods your car already has, along with the car’s mileage and the condition of the engine and drivetrain. 

Read forum posts, find reviews for leading products like PCR chip reviews or Chip Your Car reviews, maybe even contact the tuner’s manufacturer to ask additional questions. Do what it takes to make sure the performance chip you’re looking at is compatible with your car’s current condition before you put the money down. Or, just reach out to the team at AutoAnything and we’ll make sure we steer you right on to the best performance chip for your ride.

Do performance chips work?

2015 mustang GT h&R suspension

Absolutely. Between our Reviews Page and the reviews on each product’s page, thousands of people have left performance tuner reviews on AutoAnything – and their thoughts are overwhelmingly positive. Our tuners are similar to ones from vendors like Chip Your Car, Power Tune Performance Chips, and Performance Chip Revamp, with a slew of customization options to fit your specific needs.

The changes made by a performance tuner will be more noticeable on some vehicles than on others, but if you’re ever curious about what’s happening, most tuners allow you to actively monitor what the chip is doing in real time. Devices like the DiabloSport Predator P2 can display 0-60 times, correct the speedometer for oversized wheels and tires, and both read and clear diagnostic codes and check engine lights.

Tuners can also monitor things like exhaust gas temperature, air intake temperature, air-to-fuel ratios, ignition timing, and more. Many chips will let you select between multiple states of tune. So, you can get great fuel economy on the way to the drag strip and win races once you get there. Some performance chips even give you the freedom to manually fine-tune your car based on these parameters – in case you want to take things to the next level and create a truly custom tune.

How do I select the right tuner?

Hypertech React Throttle Optimizer

Check out the performance tuners we offer for both diesel and gas applications. While you’re here, take the time to read “Top Power Programmers and Performance Chips” to learn about our highest-rated tuners – top-selling choices like the Bully Dog GT Platinum and the Hypertech Max Energy Programmer – and be sure to check out our Reviews Page to see which devices car and truck enthusiasts are raving about.

And remember, these performance chips are all backed by our Lower Price Guarantee: if you find a lower price anywhere within 1 year of your purchase date, we’ll refund you the difference plus a dollar. That’s our commitment to helping you find the best tuner for your car, truck, van, or SUV here at AutoAnything. Check out the choices for yourself by clicking the button below.

SHOP CHIPS & PROGRAMMERS

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Mike Cote
My 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road Access Cab 4x4 offers bed space to camp in, haul my dirt bike around, and it's been done up to take on the trails. Favorite mods include my Icon coilovers to soak up the bumps. My Walker Evans 501 Legend wheels wrapped in Toyo RT tires give me the clearance from my upper control arms to fit (and they look darn good) and the over-sized tires take on rocks with plenty of traction. My Rigid Industries fog lights have kept me out of a ditch or two when night wheeling. Growing up going to car shows and helping my dad work on the family vehicles ignited my passion. My best memory was the first time I flushed the coolant. My dad forgot to tell me to keep my face out from under the drain plug. Never made that mistake again!

2 COMMENTS

  1. What would you recommend for a 2016 Highlander XLE V6 AWD 3.5L DOHC w/dual WT-i 6sp auto trans and 40,000 miles? I’m the 2nd owner as it was leased for three years with all maintenance done routinely and no documented issue. I would like to increase efficiency as well as performance if at all possible. I would ultimately lean performance if there are comprable products.

    Thank you

    • Hey Scott,

      Hmm, that’s a tough one for sure. Just did some research around the market and on Toyota forums to see what people are doing with theirs, and I wasn’t able to find a whole lot. A few guys reported that opening up the exhaust a bit helped, and a few did a drop-in K&N filter, but I wouldn’t expect a noticeable improvement from that. As for exhaust, I can’t find anyone who makes a full kit for these, so you would need to buy a performance muffler and then take it to a shop to have it welded in, and possible have them route a custom exhaust for you then with bigger diameter piping. I couldn’t find anyone reputable with a tuner or programmer that works on these either.

      One small upside is that this engine is also used across a ton of other platforms like the Camry and even Lotus Evora, so there are a few things that fit the engine specifically, but who knows if it will fit your specific configuration. This HPS short ram fits tha Camry with the same engine, and probably has the best chance of fitting yours, but short rams aren’t as ideal as an external air collecting cold air intake. According to the reviews on that page, people are reporting some mileage gains.

      https://www.autoanything.com/air-intakes/hps-performance-short-ram-air-intakes

      My advice for you would be to search around the toyota forums a bit and see what you can find, but it’s not looking great, unfortunately. Unless Camry/Evora headers bolt up, which would be pretty awesome, but I wouldn’t count on that.

      Cheers!
      Garrett

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