What Is The Best Diesel Programmer?

Will a Tuner Help Me Save Money on Gas? Yes, a tuner should theoretically improve your truck’s fuel economy by enhancing engine efficiency. The highest fuel economy advantages are often seen with tunes ranging from 65 to 90 additional horsepower. This is not the case all of the time, however.

What does a programmer do for a diesel truck?

Chips or tuners for diesel engines usually connect directly to the engine’s PCM/ECM, while some examples use the OBDII system. These devices often provide “on-the-fly” selection of several performance levels and can be altered while driving due to their direct connection with the engine control module. Chips/tuners don’t reprogramme the control module; instead, they change numerous settings in real time.

Diesel Programmers – A programmer connects to a vehicle’s OBDII (on-board diagnostics interface) connection and reprogrammes the PCM/ECM. The control module receives settings from the uploaded “tune” that favor performance and/or fuel economy. In-cab monitors are commonly used by programmers to show various parameters such as engine load, coolant temperature, boost, fuel pressure, gearbox temperature, and exhaust gas temperature (with the installation of a suitable thermocouple). Tunes can usually only be uploaded (or altered) with the engine turned off using programmers. It can take several minutes to change performance parameters.

Diesel Modules – A diesel module, often known as a box, is a device that is fitted under the hood of a vehicle and connects numerous sensors (fuel pressure and manifold pressure, for example). This permits the module to read one operational parameter while sending a different value to the PCM/ECM, effectively fooling the engine’s control system into making performance-enhancing modifications. For example, a module might read 5 psi of turbo boost yet tell the engine it’s creating 10 psi right now. The engine will then give additional gasoline to match the airflow it “believes” it is receiving. A programmer or tuner may be accompanied by modules.

Tuners adjust and/or tweak the stock engine calibration in all cases. The parameters that are affected will differ depending on the manufacturer and application, however they may include a mix of the following:

Upgrade the Air Intake

Improving the airflow to the engine is a surefire technique to boost a diesel vehicle’s performance. More air will reach the engine using an enhanced air flow kit, resulting in increased power.

In addition, the new airflow kit will pull air from outside the engine compartment, bringing colder air in. The amount of power produced by the engine will rise because cooler air is denser and holds more oxygen.

An enhanced air flow system can boost horsepower while also improving fuel economy.

Change or Reprogram the ECM

Engine performance is controlled by the Engine Control Module (ECM), which alters critical engine parameters such as the air-fuel mixture and maximum RPM.

You may easily change these settings by reprogramming or changing the ECM. This will allow the engine to create more horsepower and torque, which will increase performance.

ECM upgrades not only increase power, but they also help to increase diesel efficiency.

Using New Fuel Injectors

The next step is to upgrade the fuel injectors if you’ve improved the air flow to the engine and set up the ECM to produce additional power.

More fuel will reach the engine thanks to new fuel injectors, resulting in increased horsepower. Individual injector nozzles are found on most performance fuel injectors, which provide higher pressure and better atomize the fuel.


Adding extra power to diesel engines using a performance turbocharger is a wonderful way to do it.

The turbo operates by pressurizing the air intake and forcing additional air into the engine. It is possible to generate more power while improving engine efficiency by using a turbo.

In comparison to a non-turbo engine, a stock turbo boosts air flow three to four times. A performance turbo, on the other hand, can enhance airflow by five to ten times over a non-turbo engine, resulting in a bigger horsepower boost.

Performance Exhaust

You’ll need to update your exhaust system if you want to increase the engine horsepower.

Unlike factory exhaust systems, which are designed to reduce noise, a performance exhaust system will have a wider diameter and fewer bends, allowing for more exhaust flow.

A broader, straighter exhaust system will help reduce exhaust gas temperature and boost the engine’s horsepower and torque.

Why do tuned diesels smoke?

It’s difficult to discuss diesel engines and diesel tuning without mentioning smoke. It’s a hot matter of argument, and there’s a lot more to it than you may think. Whether you’re willing to accept a little smoke for maximum performance or prefer to keep under the radar with a smoke-free tune, it’s a hot topic of debate.

Although visible smoke from a vehicle’s exhaust is not restricted to diesels, most of us associate smoke with the black smoke produced by some tuned diesel automobiles. Soot is black smoke that comes from the tailpipe when some fuel isn’t burned properly. This is usually due to one of two factors: a lack of oxygen or a lack of time for the fuel to burn.

Fueling is boosted in a tuned vehicle to ensure that all of the available air is used up for maximum power. This indicates that there is a lot of fuel in relation to the amount of air; the Air to Fuel Ratio is a measurement of how much fuel there is in relation to how much air there is (AFR). The lower the AFR, the more smoke can be seen.

There is a point at which the volume of air going through the engine is insufficient to allow all of the fuel to burn cleanly; it is at this time that the first haze of smoke appears. There will be more smoke if more fuel is added after this point.

At full throttle, when the most gasoline is injected for greatest power, black smoke is usually visible. Poorly adjusted automobiles, on the other hand, can emit thick black smoke practically all of the time. During regular cruising or mild driving, there is no need for a vehicle to emit black smoke; there should always be enough of air and a high AFR.

In general, the presence of black smoke does not necessarily indicate that an engine is in poor condition. It’s an immediately apparent sign of the vehicle’s Air to Fuel ratio; if you see an increase in black smoke levels, something is causing the Air to Fuel ratio to rise. Because the ECU controls the fueling, it’s much more likely that anything is lowering the amount of air available.

If you’ve recently had an ECU map and are only now stopping to smile and gaze forward, the thick black streak in your rearview mirror is most likely the result of a too exuberant tune running for an extended injection duration.

You most likely have a boost leak or blown a pipe if you can hear the turbo spooling up louder, hear a hiss, or recently heard a popping noise. If this is the case, you should be able to see visible oil around the leak’s path (commonly the VW clip connectors).

Another achilles heel of many diesel engines is the vacuum system. Because the turbo actuator is controlled by vacuum, even a small leak may result in underboost, and the VNT mechanism may become stuck, necessitating a new turbo.

Another source of black smoke is faulty injectors, which are commonly encountered in high-mileage engines (and lack of power). Some companies promote magic remedies that you may put in your diesel tank, but they rarely work on a high-pressure fuel system. The injector nozzles are a worn component that are usually past their prime after 100,000 km.

We constantly ask our customers this question, but it’s not a straightforward one for them to answer or for us to advise on the quantity of visible smoke that is acceptable. You can’t expect any engine setup to produce 100 percent of its power potential while also producing no visible smoke; as a rough estimate, you’ll have to lose up to 10% of peak power and torque to achieve this.

After a certain point (each engine is different), no amount of fuel will enhance the power output, and long before this point is reached, there is a period of diminishing returns, in which the amount of smoke produced for a little gain in power increases dramatically. Even if a customer doesn’t care about smoke or even says they want as much as possible, we still have a responsibility to ensure we aren’t adding fuel unnecessarily, thus testing is required to determine these ‘limits.’

Excessive smoking has consequences that extend beyond irritating the local cops and those following behind. Extra heat is generated, and this hot gas passes through the pistons, head, valves, manifold, and turbo, raising their surface temperatures. This heat has to go someplace, and as the water and oil cooling systems become saturated, the materials begin to fail, which is why VNT mechanisms and pistons melt or heads shatter.

Exhaust gas temperatures (EGT) can easily approach 1000°C, which is a serious worry because aluminum melts at 660°C. Fortunately, a decent engine package will be suitably cooled, and the cold new air from the intercooler will keep the surface temperatures below melting point. In ordinary tune, the piston bowl area is the part of the engine closest to melting, therefore we take great care not to push too hard and cause permanent engine damage.

It’s vital to keep in mind that, regardless of the tune, a car with a DPF will rarely create black smoke. Because the DPF can trap all of the soot produced by the engine, this is the case. If a car with a DPF has a’smoky’ tune, all of the smoke will clog the DPF instead of leaving via the tailpipe. This also means that if a car’s DPF emits visible smoke, it’s quite likely that the DPF has been removed or damaged.

Can you still delete a diesel?

Clients who wish to perform emission deletes on their trucks send us emails, phone calls, and live chats every day. All of these customers have the same issue: their automobiles require frequent, expensive maintenance, and they are fed up with it. I truly sympathize with them; many of them have had traumatic situations and are simply searching for a way out. However, before we delve too far into the weeds, there are a few fallacies that we commonly encounter.

Myth #1 – Deleting or Tuning a Truck is Legal

There is no way around it; tampering with or modifying your truck’s emission system in any manner is completely unlawful. It is not a state or local law (though such do exist), but rather a federal law. The first thing clients remark when we discuss it is that “it’s only for off-highway use” or “it’s for tractor pulls.” They believe that by doing so, they will be able to avoid any laws, but this is far from the case.

Yes, your emission system can be lawfully removed from your vehicle, but it will require recertification by the manufacturer and the issuance of a new emission label and certification. You can’t just sign a piece of paper and declare that your engine has been recertified. You’d have to pay to have your engine re-certified by the original equipment manufacturer, which is a costly process.

Myth #2 – There are no EPA Police

This is technically correct. A federal emission law, on the other hand, can be uploaded by any state or municipal government. This misconception is similar to someone declaring, “There are no IRS cops,” despite the fact that the IRS can collect and enforce laws from a building thousands of miles away. The extent of testing and enforcement will differ depending on your state and county.

Myth #3 – The EPA doesn’t go after the little guys

Another prevalent misunderstanding among clients is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not target small enterprises. For your convenience, the EPA maintains a list of every single resolution filed against the Clean Air Act for cars, organized by year. Cases range from tuning equipment providers being taxed over $4 million to a single owner doing a DPF delete on a single car.

If you think you’re “too small” to be noticed or cared about, rest assured that you’re wrong. It only takes one employee or service provider to report the problem, and you’ll be in serious trouble in no time. If the removal/tuning has been done frequently or on a wide scale, the cases might be both civil and criminal.

The fines can quickly mount, as the EPA has the authority to levy civil penalties of up to $7,500 per day for major violations and $37,500 per day for minor violations.

Myth #4 – Only California Cares about Emissions

We get calls from county and state governments asking for a software solution to detect pollution manipulation on commercial trucks on a regular basis. We don’t have a response yet, but I can assure you that someone is working on one right now. There is a sizable demand for a device like this. The reason for this is that the fines are so high that a government agency might pay tens of thousands of dollars each month for that software and still make a profit.

California isn’t the only state with this problem. Several counties in Texas already require emission testing on commercial trucks, and states like Minnesota, as well as New York, are following suit. They’ll find a means to collect fines if there’s money to be made!

Myth #5 – Deleting my emissions will solve all my problems

This isn’t even close to being accurate. Your first task will be to find a competent “tuner” to assist you, and based on our experience, there are more incompetent ones on the market than good ones. To be honest, the truly outstanding tuners aren’t promoting because they know what they’re doing. In terms of technical expertise and capacity, the ones that do advertise are often at the bottom of the totem pole. They frequently clone one ECM software to another without thoroughly inspecting the intricacies.

So, what exactly does this imply? It indicates that if your engine is tuned by a bad tuner, you will have serious issues. Poor engine performance to your engine flinging a rod through the block are all possibilities. Inexperienced tuners, for example, will often remove the EGR on the PACCAR MX engine. The EGR, on the other hand, cools the combustion chamber. With the EGR removed, your head will shatter, and you’ll be dealing with a far worse problem. Modern engines are built to work in harmony with all of their components, and changing one component might lead to more serious issues. If you think it’s just MX engines, consider this Facebook user who had an ISX removed:

Aside from these urban legends, there are a few more things to consider.

Finding a Shop to Help You

You’ll have a hard time finding a franchised dealership to help you once you’ve removed your emissions. They don’t want to take on the risk of working on decommissioned emission equipment, and they can’t guarantee the work. That means you’ll have to find a qualified independent facility willing to work with you on your own. Even if the engine problem you’re having has nothing to do with your tune or delete, as most of you know, seeing them on the open road can be challenging at best.

Reselling Your Truck

If you ever consider selling or trading in your truck, you will almost certainly run into problems. If you sell it with parts removed, the individual who buys it or takes it in trade will have a legal case against you. You made an unlawful change without informing the customer, and now you’re facing legal (and financial) consequences. You will very certainly have to pay to restore all deleted components to their original configuration. Even taking your truck to an auction doesn’t exempt you from liability, as one forum user pointed out. Law enforcement frequently attends public auctions to guarantee that no illegal activities are taking place. Note:


There are two basic approaches for emission adjustment, according to the “economy.” The first option is to save money by learning to do it yourself. Because it requires downloading ECM information to your laptop/computer, updating the software, then pushing it back, you should have a foundation in computer science and how diesel engines work if you go this route. The actual “tuners,” who are subject matter experts, do exactly that.

These folks, on the other hand, are often hard to discover and are aware of the risks indicated above. They gain money in a different way, by selling the “tunes” to repair shops. Do you remember the guy who advertised on Facebook and Craigslist that he would do a tune for $1,000? That individual has no idea what he’s doing. He’s buying tuning files from real specialists, marking them up, uploading them to your ECM, and then walking away from you for good.

That’s all we know about eliminating and optimizing your engine. Our recommendation is to avoid it and instead work with a local, experienced repair shop that has access to necessary diagnostic instruments and repair information. You’ll be alright if your engine is well maintained and you can locate a qualified repair facility that can effectively troubleshoot emission difficulties. If you can’t find one, we recommend taking advantage of our hands-on aftertreatment diagnostics training class.

What is the difference between a tuner and a programmer?

Performance tuners and power programmers are practically the same thing. The terms are frequently interchanged. Both provide power increases for your car, truck, or SUV and interact with your vehicle’s computer. They both work to improve the performance of your car.

Are truck tuners worth it?

While most people agree that engine tuners are well worth the money, they do have some drawbacks in particular situations. As previously said, some trucks will not save you money on gas because they will force you to pour more fuel into the engine to maintain the increased horsepower. This will not only affect your fuel consumption, but also the state of your engine, since the constant strain on your gearbox may wear down the vehicle’s parts, limiting its lifespan and causing the engine to deteriorate more quickly.

To answer the question posed at the start of this essay, are engine tuners worthwhile? They are, indeed. They could be able to help you enhance the performance and fuel economy of your truck in the long run—if you choose the correct model for the right truck, that is. At the end of the day, you’ll need to do some research to determine whether acquiring one is the best decision for you and whether it would genuinely benefit your vehicle.