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  #1  
Old 10-10-2010, 04:46 PM
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Question Automotive Performance Chips - Pros/Cons???

I have been looking at the Automotive Performance Chip marketplace and frankly they sound almost too good to be true. Can a simple chip that re instructs your vehicle ECU actually give you a significant boost in horsepower, torque and MPG? There are number of brands out there, SLR and GForce are two I have looked at, both sell for $69.99 and claim simple stupid install with full money back warranty's. If they work as advertised $70 for more HP/torque sounds pretty good. I am considering installing one on my 2006 5.4l V-8 F-150 to boost its towing performance. So has first hand experience, pro or con, with these things?
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Old 10-10-2010, 05:51 PM
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An apples/oranges reply but somewhat similar...

I've got a BMW and a Ducati bike chipped. BEST mods I did to both of them. Both previously ran far too lean, the duc is aircooled and the oil temp ran fairly high. After the chip, my performance went up and my oil temp went down a biit.

The Beemer is a 1200 cc the chipping gave me wheelie power by cracking the throttle hard in 1st and 2nd.

Your mileage WILL go down a bit. Nothing is free.

I'd find a Ford truck forum and ask the ?? there.

FN in MT
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:17 PM
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Capt Steve,

My GT is a distant relative of your F-150 so I will offer my 2 cents. This might be more info that you really want, lol.

edit
Please ignore the following paragraph and see Post #5, below. It seems that "chip" does not always mean a piggyback computer chip that plugs into the ECU.
end of edit

For $70 and a money-back guarantee, I would go ahead and give a chip a whirl. If your mileage decreases or the power improvement is not there, you can send the chip back and the only cost might be shipping. Advice: clean the contacts on the computer board very well or the chip will not work and your vehicle may not run well. Use a piece of duck tape to secure the chip to the casing because the engine will stall if the chip gets loose.

I only have experience with "flashers". This is a lot more money than the chips that you mention. A flasher is a handheld unit that plugs into the OBDII port and reprograms (flashes) the computer. The stock program is stored in the flasher and the flasher is locked to your vehicle's VIN. You can unlock the flasher and return your computer to stock when you sell your vehicle. A flasher can read and clear trouble codes although most engines do not trip codes very often these days. For Fords, it is hard to beat SCT (Superchips Custom Tuning) at sctflash.com. SCT offers a flasher that comes with 3 tunes that have some adjustability for spark timing, shift points, rear gears/tire diameters, idle speed, etc. The three tunes are typically "87 octane performance, 93 octane performance, and 87 octane mileage" for cars and similar ones for trucks/tow vehicles. Price for such a flasher is about $350. I would argue that these tunes are worth the price since SCT develops tunes for a specific vehicle by using that vehicle (e.g.-a 2006 F-150) running on a dyno. These are well-respected products in the stock to lightly modded car/truck world.

If you want to go whole hog, you can invest in SCT's "ProRacer package" that includes their tuning program called Advantage, their datalogging program (free!) called LiveLink, and a flasher. These allow the user to modify almost all of the aspects of the tune to his/her liking. (I am a ProRacer addict and thoroughly enjoy this hobby.)

Back to your question: I'll see what I can find out about SLR and GForce chips on the other forums where I lurk.

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Last edited by MO_mule; 10-10-2010 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Steve View Post
...Can a simple chip that re instructs your vehicle ECU actually give you a significant boost in horsepower, torque and MPG?...
No, and if you have any kind of warranty it will be voided.

FTR, doncha think if Ford/Chrysler/GM could boost all the performance factors you noted...to the degree you noted...they wouldn't SELL that option for far more than the price you are offered?

Be safe.
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:49 PM
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Capt Steve:

Update on my previous comment: do NOT take a "chip" for a whirl unless it really is a piggyback chip that plugs into the port of the ECU board.

F150online.com had a few threads about SLR chips. It seems that this is a resistor, not a computer chip. The resistor attaches to the intake air temperature sensor to 'fool' the ECU into thinking that the air is colder and timing can be advanced.

Bottom line: do not invest in the SLR "chip".

The Big D:

Capt Steve's 2006 F-150 is out of the 3-year warranty period now so it is 'safe' to modify the vehicle at will.

Chris
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:51 PM
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he wants more HP AND more torque AND more MPG ... sorry buddy, its not happening.
if you want some HP and torque .. youve gotta burn some gas to get it.
If you want your MPG .. youve got to part with some HP and Torque. You just cant have both.
I'll second MO with the flasher over the chip. but theres a trade here too...
You need to know how your engine does the voodoo it do. Blind stabs at a fuel map burns valves and whacked timings can trash heads and pistons.
However, for accepting the risks above, which can be minimized through knowledge, you can cook up some killer tunings and switch between them with ease.
one tuning set for every day MPG oriented grocery gettin.
Another tuning for towing.
and yet another for getting in touch with your inner young punk.
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:53 PM
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Steve: Unless I'm mistaken, you had a bunch of trouble with your last Ford P.U.. If you've got one now that's reliable, I wouldn't mess with it. Butt, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by The Big D View Post
No, and if you have any kind of warranty it will be voided.

FTR, doncha think if Ford/Chrysler/GM could boost all the performance factors you noted...to the degree you noted...they wouldn't SELL that option for far more than the price you are offered?

Be safe.
No ... the auto industry must sell according to federal emissions guidelines.
the average pedestrian EFI induction system is closer in capacity to the ledgendary Holly dominator than the suck muffin 2 barrel 2300 it acts like ... its all there, they just cant use it without facing the wrath of a tree hugger with too much clout
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by venomballistics View Post
No ... the auto industry must sell according to federal emissions guidelines.
the average pedestrian EFI induction system is closer in capacity to the ledgendary Holly dominator than the suck muffin 2 barrel 2300 it acts like ... its all there, they just cant use it without facing the wrath of a tree hugger with too much clout
Yes, of course they must comply with all emissions standards. That does not preclude manufacturers selling "Detroit" iron with 600, plus, HP. That simply cannot be done with chips, alone. Laws of physics prevail...always.

Be safe.
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:54 PM
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I wish I had chipped the Tahoe I used to own as it was a California emissions equipped but sold in NV. The driveability was terrible with next to no part throttle response. This caused many more kickdowns than I felt were ideal and the EPA gas mileage could only be reached by major feather-footing. Found out after I sold it that the non-Cal vehicles did not suffer from this AND got better gas mileage.

I will never, ever buy another CA/MA emission equipped vehicle unless i know that fault is easily rectified.
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Old 10-10-2010, 08:53 PM
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OK guys good job so far...keep the info coming. First of all I know you can't get more HP, Torque and better MPG as there is no free lunch. All three are touted to varying degrees on the product websites and I am just trying to sort/wade through the bull. The ability to tune to the specific usage such as towing vs every day driving has appeal...and of course comes with a price tag. The current truck runs well as did the previous F-150 until it developed a phantom electrical short. I'm always on the look out for improved performance and haven't plopped any money down just yet. I never drive with the heavy foot of youth, in fact I drive this truck more like the old man I'm rapidly becoming. There may be nothing here for me in a $70 "chip" but some of the other systems discussed here sound promising and I will research them further. Thanks again guys! (o;
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Old 10-10-2010, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Big D View Post
Yes, of course they must comply with all emissions standards. That does not preclude manufacturers selling "Detroit" iron with 600, plus, HP. That simply cannot be done with chips, alone. Laws of physics prevail...always.

Be safe.
do you know what that computer does? ... its governing so many goodies that honestly, in most cases its a cam shaft away and an intelligent OBD reflash away from wild iron status.
timing advance, absolute limits, how it relates to RPM, load ... its all in there.
fuel map, accelerator pump volume .. its all in there.
transmission shift points .. its in there.
so theres your hot rod ignition system, infinate carb jet option in a system that'll meet or beat the flow of a holly domminator, and a shift kit...
all it cant do is change the cam for you until we get into the newer modular ford V8's which CAN cut back even the wildest grinds to a nice pedestrian idle while maintaining ideal performance over a wider band than the old school fixed duration cam.
a lot can be done with access to the programming.
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Old 10-10-2010, 09:14 PM
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One thing to try if it is even still available is real gas. When the stations here stopped selling real gas and converted over to ethanol my mileage on the Rubicon dropped from 24 mpg to 21 mpg. On the beater car we used to fill up about every 6 to 7 days now it is every 5 days. We live out in the boonies at 8000 ft above sea level and any direction I go is either up or down.

I noticed the performance level as well from the switch. The hills I used to be able to cruise up with no trouble, now not so much.

Thanks .gov for the earth saving move. Not!
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Old 10-10-2010, 09:18 PM
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One thing to try if it is even still available is real gas. When the stations here stopped selling real gas and converted over to ethanol my mileage on the Rubicon dropped from 24 mpg to 21 mpg. On the beater car we used to fill up about every 6 to 7 days now it is every 5 days. We live out in the boonies at 8000 ft above sea level and any direction I go is either up or down.

I noticed the performance level as well from the switch. The hills I used to be able to cruise up with no trouble, now not so much.

Thanks .gov for the earth saving move. Not!
+1

You think Big Oil has a lobby? Try Big Corn. Thanks to them, their **** is not only in our soft drinks, it's in our gas tanks, too. In my opinion, ethanol is a contaminant of gasoline.
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Old 10-10-2010, 09:18 PM
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Yes, you can have more HP, tourqe, MPG by changing chips. The catch is, you can't have all 3 at the same time. Make up your mind about which you want.

You may have to give up a smooth idle to get more power, or MPG. Want a smoother idle? You may have to give up some MPG or HP, or both. "There is no free lunch."

Last edited by therevjay; 10-10-2010 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 10-10-2010, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by therevjay View Post
Yes, you can have more HP, tourqe, MPG by changing chips. The catch is, you can't have all 3 at the same time. Make up your mind about which you want.

You may have to give up a smooth idle to get more power, or MPG. Want a smoother idle? You may have to give up some MPG or HP, or both. "There is no free lunch."
Actually with the variable cam timing and all the other programmable features on today's engines it is possible to gain in HP Torque, and Fuel Economy without any sacrifice in idle quality. However, it's still true that there is no free lunch.

The factory programming is designed to provide a reserve in terms of emissions to assure compliance at 100K or more miles. These modified programs don't have that reserve capacity in them and in some cases may cause the vehicle to exceed the emissions standards for it's model year even when the engine is still factory fresh. For most this may not be a concern, however in some areas there are mobile sniffer trucks prowling the streets and getting caught with a non certified chip in place will carry a very hefty fine.

Rule One, make sure that any chip you purchase is certified for compliance with your vehicle AND your model year. Close is only good with horseshoes and hand grenades and having a chip certified for a year earlier that what you are driving can add up to a serious fine.

Second, playing around with the shift points and transmission pressure levels will most likely void the warranty on the transmission. Today's transmissiion are rather borderline and they won't tolerate much tinkering with the factory control settings. The factories put in huge numbers of hours in testing to determine what control settings will extend the service life as much as possible. Basically, in terms of ruggedness, today's transmission are barely a shadow of the old Torqueflite 727 or THD400 that could last 1/2 million miles without any service, they are designed to be "low drag", light weight, and have a service life of only 150 to 200K miles in stone stock configuration. Tinker too much with the factory control maps and the service life will plummet. In addition, a major boost in horsepower will most likely result in a transmission that slips at each shift, which reallly tears up the cluches and bands. The answer to this is usually to boost the operating pressure, which then degrades fuel economy and also increases the failure rate of the "hard" components such as the gears, housings, and shafts. Basically, add 200 hp to your engine and you can expect to be purchasing new transmissions at rather frequent intervals.
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Old 10-11-2010, 12:06 AM
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+1

You think Big Oil has a lobby? Try Big Corn. Thanks to them, their **** is not only in our soft drinks, it's in our gas tanks, too. In my opinion, ethanol is a contaminant of gasoline.
Plus 10! Don't even get me started on Ethanol.....My inclination is to leave the engine stock but will always be willing to learn new technology, if it works. I have learned a lot here already and I'm sure there is more to come.
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Old 10-11-2010, 12:17 AM
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You need to talk to some of the chip companies. Some years back I chipped a Suburban 2500HD and finding a chip for that engine was enlightening. Most of the chip companies hung up on me when they realized what engine it was, other got real evasive on the benefits of their product.

First: most chips require premium gas.

Two: They provide their extra performance by a different injector map and advancing the timing as much as possible, determined by the knock sensor.

Three: this advanced timing can result in elevated engine temperatures while towing, especially on hills. Changing theromostats may be advisable, as is adding an oil cooler if you don't have one (the Suburban did).

I ended up buying a chip from The Turbo Shop out in California and was quite happy with the results. The owner spent almost a hour on the phone with me at no charge. His chip wasn't the cheapest, but it was worth the extra money. He solved the QC issue some vendors have by reprogramming factory chips and his didn't require premium gas.

I swear by B&M shift kits. Worth the money. Never tried the electronic versions.

Last edited by WR Moore; 10-11-2010 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:12 AM
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Haven't chipped a vehicle in years since I got old, really not necessary anymore. Buddy runs an F-150 with an Edge evolution tuner from Troyer performance , which remaps the factory chip. Nice stuff , you can download the newest tune or get tweaks from Troyer by hooking up to a USB port. Always stores the factory map in case you need to go to Ford or emissions service center or there is a recall.Plugs into the OBDII port under the dash and stays in.
Monitors lots of data points you don't see now , like trans fluid temp, that would be nice when towing. Comes with 3 different tunes loaded.

More money than the others you spoke about , but very proven stuff from a reliable place.
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:55 AM
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Steve: Butt, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
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Old 10-11-2010, 02:22 AM
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If you combine the ECU flash with air and exhaust upgrades you'll be fine. The combination of more idle, and timing along with your foot on the pedal will raise exhaust temps, and without more air coming in it will just kill the MPG. Once you have the upgrades in place and you have the money to burn tires add a transmission cooler it's a great piece of equipment to have on an automatic.
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Old 10-11-2010, 08:52 AM
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This thread brings to mind the old Red Green Saying
"If it ain't broke...you're not tryin' hard enough"
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Old 10-11-2010, 02:57 PM
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This thread brings to mind the old Red Green Saying
"If it ain't broke...you're not tryin' hard enough"
Or as a racing buddy of mine used to say, "If it doesn't try to kill my when I give the gun, it's not fast enough".
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:14 PM
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Or as a racing buddy of mine used to say, "If it doesn't try to kill my when I give the gun, it's not fast enough".
that about sums up the fully blown 289 plant I built.
hit it just right and your through the corner .. miss it and your through
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:09 PM
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OK guys here is where I'm at after all of your valuable input: The chips have the aroma of snake oil but the flash systems sound like the real deal albeit at a hefty price. I don't have the desire or requisite knowledge to start fooling around with multiple "tunes". The performance I am currently getting is as good if not better, than any other similarly utilized F-150's that I've encountered. On the flat I get about 11.3 Mpg (towing the 18' 4k lb trailer), in the serious mountains it drops to about 10, the 3k + mile trip averaged out at 10.79 and around town it is a steady 16.5. Acceleration is adequate, especially the feather footed way I drive.

Bottom line I think Ford pretty much got it right and screwing around with the tune to extract a little more power at the expense of mileage or the inverse, better mileage at the expense of power doesn't seem to be worth the potential risk/expense. If the day ever comes when I just have to have more HP/Torque I'll suck it up and buy a 3/4 Ton diesel - can you say "Cha Ching?" Actually with diesel going for 30 to 40 cents a gallon more than my 87 octane regular it would take more miles than I put on the truck a year to justify the additional expense just to break even on fuel costs let alone the big number that accompanies a nice 3/4 ton diesel.

However, I must confess to holding to a similar line of thinking for years saying my 357's were more than enough gun and that I really didn't "need" a 44 mag.... but am now the happy owner of a Dan wesson 6". Thanks again for all of your input. i can always count on this forum for answers. (o;
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Old 10-11-2010, 08:38 PM
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I don't know if you even can break even with a diesel any more. I noticed diesel fuel was 53 cents a gallon higher than unleaded this morning and the diesel option is probably over $6K now.

When I bought mine in '03, diesel was $1.30 and gas $1.45. Made sense then but I would never buy another diesel. Unless you pull something heavy A LOT, it's a money losing proposition.
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Big D View Post
No, and if you have any kind of warranty it will be voided.

FTR, doncha think if Ford/Chrysler/GM could boost all the performance factors you noted...to the degree you noted...they wouldn't SELL that option for far more than the price you are offered?

Be safe.
yes and no. of course the big auto cos know how to make performance. but they also have to live within the confines of CAFE standards and federal safty regs and such. that way they can "officially" look the other way when these chip companies sell their wares. as mentioned no free lunch. you will surely trade milage for performance.
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:53 AM
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I mess with turbo engines... ethanol and E85 are a godsend.
More boost and more timing without detonation.
You guys just are not carrying enough combustion pressure.
As to diesel... buddy of mine has a 1st gen dodge cummins with 3.07 gears and a 5 speed. Gets 28-30 mpg average on the hiway @ the speed limit with a best of 32.
I will take that kind of fuel economy with the ability to work it nice and hard.


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Old 10-13-2010, 07:53 PM
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I mess with turbo engines... ethanol and E85 are a godsend.
If you want maximum power output, yes. Otherwise, no. There are fewer BTU's in a gallon of ethanol than gasoline.
Quote:
More boost and more timing without detonation.
You guys just are not carrying enough combustion pressure.
Most of us have no control over that.
Quote:
As to diesel... buddy of mine has a 1st gen dodge cummins with 3.07 gears and a 5 speed. Gets 28-30 mpg average on the hiway @ the speed limit with a best of 32.
I will take that kind of fuel economy with the ability to work it nice and hard.


Jim
I have found that a lot of times what people say they get for mileage and what they actually get are two different things. Not that they are deliberately lying, but if you just read a number off the trip computer, that isn't necessarily the true mileage you are getting. For instance, if I reset the trip computer at the top of Pike's Peak and then check my mileage at the bottom, I'll be able to report, truthfully, some very high numbers.

I've got a 3rd generation Cummins--22mpg, 90% empty, driven like the old man that I am. I know the first generations will do better, but not 45% better.
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Old 10-15-2010, 04:03 PM
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i have an '07 ram, one ton dually, 5.9 ctd done a lot of power train upgrades and suspension upgrades for towing and hauling. i put a smarty jr. programmer on last year and i am happy as hell with this tuner. it's ranges are 40 hp, 70 hp and 105 hp. the median gave me nice power and lower egt's with about two mph gain, i use the 105 mostly because of my weight when towing and the locales that i am going to. with this matchup i get about the same mpg as stock but my foot is not pressed down as much with a full load. the egt's are my main concern and they are between one and two hundred degrees lower, just my two cents.
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Old 10-15-2010, 05:17 PM
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"I mess with turbo engines... ethanol and E85 are a godsend."
Most of us have no control over that.
thats not exactly true ... turbos and superchargers are available to most of us who have not invested in a dixie cup vehicle.
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Old 10-15-2010, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by cp1969 View Post
I've got a 3rd generation Cummins--22mpg, 90% empty, driven like the old man that I am. I know the first generations will do better, but not 45% better.
Regular cab 2wd, hiway gears, over drive, 6BT in its sweet spot.
Miles are from the GPS.
Fill up is from same pump and station.
VERY repeatable if kept at the right speed and not pulling.
There are a few performance oriented D150s with 6BT swaps doing this or better.


Jim
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The Lounge Thread, Automotive Performance Chips - Pros/Cons??? in General Topics; I have been looking at the Automotive Performance Chip marketplace and frankly they sound almost too good to be true. ...
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