As turbo diesel technology has evolved, diesel tuning has evolved also, and where ten years ago a diesel chip was literally a chip that connected to your ECM, today the meaning of the word chip has evolved. Now a chip can be also used to denote a tuner, programmer, or module. Let’s take a look at the basic differences between each of these power upgrades.
Diesel chips are just what they sound like. They are a small chip circuit board designed to plug directly into your diesel’s computer. Today’s diesel chips are used mainly for 1994 through 2003 Ford 7.3L Powerstroke-equipped diesel trucks and vans. They provide excellent gains in fuel economy of between 2-4 miles per gallon, give horsepower gains of up to 140 horsepower. And of course they improve drive-ability and towing capability.
Diesel tuners are also obviously able to “tune” your diesel for better power and economy. In the strictest meaning of the word, tuners should allow you to customize all the parameters of your engine and transmission, as well as control the vehicle’s other electronic systems. The applications for a diesel tuner like an EFI-LIVE for Duramax diesels and some common rail Cummins diesels, for example, are almost limitless.
Diesel programmers plug in to your diagnostic port and you download a pre-loaded “tune” or a “program” to your diesel’s computer which tells it what to do. The reasons for the massive popularity of diesel programmers vary, but the main reason is their simplicity and ease of use. With a quality programmer, you don’t have to be a tuning expert to take advantage of all the performance and economy gains your diesel can achieve. Manufacturers like Edge, Smarty, Bully Dog, SCT and Super Chips do all the custom tuning work for you. Within minutes you can turn your stock diesel into a performance machine. Want better fuel economy? The engineers and tuners at companies like HyperTech, Banks,, Diablosport and PPE offer tunes that are designed specifically to increase your miles per gallon.
Modules are another type of diesel “chip” that are widely used today. The results are similar to those achieved with a programmer, but the method of communicating with the diesel is changed. Diesel power modules install using in-line wiring harnesses that hook into rail pressure, turbo pressure, and other sensors, intercepting and changing signals en route from the computer and changing them before they arrive at their intended destination. Particularly with common rail diesels, modules are prolific and there is a module for almost every application. Modules from top brands like TS Performance and Diesel Power are available for almost every diesel vehicle imaginable. Whether you drive a diesel pusher motor home, need a module for a tractor or medium duty work truck, or want more performance out of your diesel Mercedes Benz or Volkswagen TDI, there’s a diesel performance module for you.
It might seem illogical to think that you can get more power and better fuel economy at the same time by using a diesel programmer, but it’s true. Top tuning companies build programmers that come pre-loaded with proven tunes that help milk every drop of performance and economy out of your diesel. Optimal engine and fuel delivery timing gives you a more complete burn than you get with your factory tune. Diesel performance programmers also give your diesel more power in a higher gear, meaning less downshifting and lower RPM’s. Fuel pressures are also often increased, leading to better diesel fuel atomization. Better atomization improves the burning of your diesel fuel, which also translates to improved fuel economy. For all your diesel tuner, diesel chip, and diesel programmer needs, trust Parley’s Diesel Performance.