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

22 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

      • What brand would you recommend for a 2000 Silverado 5.3 that’s been well taken care of an has great compression still an rebuilt transmission with new transfer case an new rears as well!? Have cold air intake an……. 150,000. Just crossed it of list an had shock mount bust so tore it completely down painted poweder coated clippers An wheels. Just want a little more kick an response if possible. Read some ignoramus response on chips an said all they do is divert the computer code as if the motor was cold but the ECM just has to work harder to correct the computer. 😂😂. Would love to have some educated info from you guys an be glad to order….

        • Hey Adam,

          Anything from DiabloSport or Hypertech would be a good start, but I wouldn’t expect huge gains without more modifications. One thing you might be able to do in order to get back a little throttle response, is to see if there is any slack in your throttle cable and either adjust or replace it. With the truck off you can have someone push on the pedal while you watch the throttle body to see how much travel is in the pedal before the throttle body moves, and then how much travel there is in the throttle body valve with the throttle pressed all the way to the floor. You can’t actually adjust the cable itself, but you can take up some slack with a ziptie on the ball end at the pedal. Just be careful that you don’t take up so much slack that your idle is affected.

          Cheers!
          Garrett

    • Hey Joey,

      Being a naturally aspirated engine, you won’t get much from a tune without other modifications. I would start with the usual route of exhaust, intake, headers, and go from there for your SC400.

      Cheers!
      Garrett

  2. I would like to add more power to my 2013 Ford escape ex Ecoboost. What would be the best chip with out going broke?

    • Hey D’Andre,

      SCT has a performance tuner for only $400 that works for both the 1.6 and 2.0 Ecoboost engines, that would be your best bet. Those EB motors respond very well to tunes, enjoy!

      Cheers!
      Garrett

  3. i just bought a 08 1500 silverado . it has a 8 inch lift and 37s. so it eats up a lot of gas. it has a 5.3 in it. i have talked to people about ways to improve on gas and most of them told me to get a performance chip. i do not know anything about them tho and don´t know what i would need.
    Thanks for the help

    • Hey Kaeland,

      Being a naturally aspirated engine, a tune isn’t going to do a whole lot for you, unfortunately. Have you re-geared your differentials to compensate for the 37″ tires? That would make the biggest difference in getting back some of your mileage as well as power.

      Cheers!
      Garrett

  4. What would be most compatible for adding power to my 2017 Ford Fusion Titanium. 2.0 4 cylinder, roughly 85k miles all stock.

    • Hey Drew,

      The best bang for your buck would be a tuner. That 2.0 Ecoboost is very tuneable and you can get quite a bit just from that. Racechip makes a great in-line tuner for these.

      Cheers!
      Garrett

    • Hey Bret,

      Eh, I’d stay away from those cheap ebay tuners. At best they are a glorified blinking LED to stick under your dash. Unfortunately as far as tuners go, unless you have the CTS-V, there isn’t much out there for you. You’d be better off with physical mods instead, such as an intake and exhaust.

      Cheers!
      Garrett

    • Hey Steven,

      I did some reading on Porsche forums on what people are running. Seems like everyone is pretty happy with Cobb and RaceChip, but as with any turbo car, a custom tune from a reputable shop will give you the best gains. As for the difference between Cobb and RaceChip, the power figures are similar, so it comes down to your preference on flash tune VS in-line chip. Being a 2018, I assume your 982 is still under warranty, so the RaceChip might be preferable since it does not flash the ECU and can be removed with no trace if something comes up and you need to bring it in for warranty work. On the other hand, Cobb offers multiple tunes and can be flashed quickly and easily to give you more options, and mappings can be swapped on the fly (such as economy or power modes).

      Either way you go, it looks like you’ll pick up a pretty decent amount of power. That’s the beauty of modern turbos! If you have any more specific questions on this, feel free to shoot me an email at gdavis@autoanything.com

      Cheers,
      Garrett

  5. Hello, recently purchased a performance chip for a 2004 Ford escape v6, which the car got sold. Would the chip work in a 2000 Toyota Camry 4 cylinder? Thanks

    • Hey Dan,

      Not sure what brand tuner you had, but I doubt it would work on the Camry as well. I can look it up for you if you can find the brand and specific model.

      Cheers!
      Garrett

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