Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Midland County,TX, USA
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First a couple of definitions that probably applies only to my posts: A "tuner" is a person - a computer programmer that writes programs we call "tunes" for our engines. A "programmer" is hardware used to install different tunes into your engine.
There are physical differences between chips and programmers. But the tunes are what you want, and there are good tuners and not-so good tuners.
A chip plugs into the PCM. The chip can have several different tunes on it. With a tune switcher, you can change tunes "on the fly". So for example, you could have a towing tune and an exhaust brake tune. At the top of the pass, change from the towing tune to the "decel" or exhaust brake tune. Then at the bottom of the pass, switch back to the towing tune. (The only time you can use the decel tune is when "comin' down the mountain".)
But a chip requires electronics wiring and cleaning of electronics contacts. And a chip requires you to pay for a stock tune on the chip, or else you must remove the chip any time you take the truck in to a Ford dealer for electronic diagnosis.
A programmer doesn't require any installation and messing with wiring or electronics contacts. It plugs into the OBD-II port under the dash (a.k.a, the data connection terminal or DCT), then unplugs and stores behind the back seat after you change tunes. So any idiot can install and use a programmer. But it has only three tunes, and it requires a coupla minutes to change tunes each time. So it's not useful for an exhaust brake or high idle tune. The stock tune is saved automatically, so you can change back to the stock tune without having to pay for a stock tune on the programmer.
As to the tunes, most chips and some programmers allow you to choose the tunes. So you might want a tow tune, and economy daily-driving tune, and a performance tune. But with most programmers you have to take the three generic tunes it comes with. If you buy your programmer from DP-Tuner or PowerHungaryPerformance, you can choose which three custom tunes you want.
The person that actually writes the computer program that becomes a tune is important. There are some companies that sell generic tunes that are okay but not great. But you want your tuner to be
Jody at DP-Tuner or
Bill at PowerHungaryPerformance or
Cale at Brian's Truck shop (BTS) or
Tony Wildman at TotalDieselPerformance or
maybe a coupla others.
You do not want generic tunes from anybody, including Edge, Hypermax, or Hypertech.
I have been very happy with my tunes from DP-Tuner. Right now Jody is probably the most popular tuner. And he can sell you either a multiple-position chip with your choice of tunes and tune switcher, or a programmer with either SCT generic tunes or DP-Tuner custom tunes.
What did I choose? I wound up with an original Edge Evolution programmer but flashed with DP-Tuner tunes of 60-tow and 80-economy, plus other tunes I don't use. That combo is no longer available, but Bill at PowerHungaryPerformance can do almost the same thing with the programmer he sells that is the same hardware as the Edge Evolution II.
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My Sierra Blanca in the sig pic was a great pickup for 11.5 years. I sold it a coupla years ago. I drove a hand-me-down 2003 F-150 SuperCrew 4.6L 2V for a while, but it was unacceptable for towing more than a rowboat. Replacement is a 2012 F-150 EcoBoost SuperCrew Lariat that tows my 5,000-pound TT like a dream.
Last edited by SmokeyWren; 11-27-2009 at 09:01 AM.