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Everything You Need To Know About Tuning

August 19, 2021

When you’re searching online to find some badass mods to make to your truck, we would bet you’ve come across guys talking about tuning their trucks. So, what really is tuning? Why do people do it? What are some of the best tuner options out there? If you’ve ever wondered about any of these questions, you’re in luck. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about tuning your truck!



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truck tuners

What is Engine Tuning?

Engine tuning refers to adjusting the Engine Control Unit (ECU) in order to optimize your engine’s performance by increasing power, economy, and durability. Ultimately, tuning your car can mean a variety of things, depending on what sort of changes you’re looking to get out of the tune. So before you start the process, decide what the goal is so you can pursue the proper path to achieve it. In the selection below, we’ll highlight some of the main benefits of tuning that people often try to achieve. To put it clearly, engine tuning is an improvement to the performance that meets the driver’s needs. 


2010 chevy silverado 1500 arkon off-road wheels

Why Do People Tune Their Engine?

Like we mentioned, there is no shortage of reasons people choose to tune their engines. While the make, model, and age of your truck will depend on what level of improvements you’ll see, here is a list of common tuning benefits people strive to achieve:

  • increased engine responsiveness across the power range 
  • increased horsepower
  • more fuel efficiency
  • cleaner burn of fuel resulting in more efficiency & power, less build-up & CO2 emissions
  • increased torque
  • increased the dynamics and maneuverability of the truck

Note: Some people say using a tuner can result in up to 99 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque on gas trucks and up to 120 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque on diesel engines. 


truck tuner

People tune their engines to make these performance gains because factory vehicles are not initially designed to provide performance rather than convenience. A lot of daily drivers don’t really care about unlocking their engine’s full potential, so manufacturers don’t waste resources on maximizing the efficiency of every engine they produce. That’s where performance parts come in, such as a tuner. 

2010 ford f150 american force wheels

How Does Engine Tuning Work? 

So, by adjusting the operating conditions of the engine, tuners are able to “extract” this extra power from the engine. Modifications to achieve this are often called engine programmers, engine performance tuners, chips, engine control modules, or gauge tuners. 



A tuner is often referred to as a “plug-and-play” modification because of its easy installation and its very user-friendly. Once updated and installed, you select your truck’s year, make, and model and input what you want to achieve with your tune. So whether you’re looking to race, tow, or simply dominate the highway, this is how to do it. 

2019 chevy silverado 1500 american force

Your truck has a built-in “computer” that controls your truck’s functions. With a tuner, you’ll have access to adjust that “computer” and tell your engine you want to alter your engine’s system. You’ll be able to make changes by downloading the specific tunes to your truck’s computer which will then implement that change. 



You’ll have an easy-to-read monitor inside your truck that will allow you to see displays of different functions, settings, and readings that will help you monitor activity under the hood. Keep in mind that off-the-shelf tuners don’t take into account what other performance mods you have done to your truck already. In reality, these tunes may be vehicle specific to your year, make, and model, but not specific to your actual, physical vehicle. Going to get your truck professionally tuned will guarantee the most efficient, impactful tune to help achieve your performance goals.

truck tuner

A tuner will allow you to download tunes that affect things like:

  • air/fuel ratio for more powerful and controlled combustion
  • ignition timing to maximize combustion for more engine power and efficiency
  • rev limiter to gain access to your engine’s full RM range for more horsepower
  • speed limiter for restriction-free racing performance
  • recalibration for tire/gear changes that could affect performance
  • improved engine combustion for more power achieved through less fuel consumption

2020 ford f250 super duty american force wheels

How Much Does a Tuner Cost?

Buying an off-the-shelf engine tuner is a common performance mod to buy because of its affordability. You can snag one for a few hundred dollars, but the more you pay, the more specific tunes you’ll probably have access to. Price can also vary whether or not your looking for a gas-specific or diesel-specific tuner. In that case, you’ll see a slight price increase for diesel. 


2016 ford f150 arkon off-road wheels

What are the Best Brands of Tuners?

There are a lot of great brands of tuners on the market, but we’ve had the chance to use four specific brands that are taking the industry by storm right now. Consider checking out tuners from the list below to find one compatible with your platform and within your price range. These brands offer a wide range of products that are designed to serve as a tuner, monitor, gauge, and diagnostic device all in one unit. 


truck tuner

Should I Get a Tuner?

As mentioned above, buying a tuner is a pretty popular method of tuning your truck as opposed to getting it done professionally at a shop. It’s a great plug-and-play mod to make, and it’s a fast, efficient way to unlock some power and performance in your engine. It won’t break the bank, and they’re fairly self-explanatory and user-friendly. Like all other performance modifications, tuners aren’t the holy grail answer to giving your truck the absolute best performance possible. Be open to other mods like cold air intakes and exhaust systems to all work together to ensure the best performance.


2015 gmc sierra 2500 american force wheels

Making upgrades to your truck can be pretty exciting, so we get it if you want to build now and pay later. With that being said, we partnered with Affirm so you can finance your new performance parts and break the cost up into easy monthly payments. Better yet, you could even qualify for as low as 0% APR financing.



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