These days owners of late-model vehicles are more comfortable with performance modifications they can do without having to tear into the engine, possibly voiding a warranty. So electronic mods that can be unplugged and removed top the lists of most new truck owners. That's why chips and programmers are so popular.
Because you are a faithful 4-Wheel & Off-Road reader, we're going to let you in on a little secret. By installing a chip or reprogramming your vehicle's computer, the engine makes more power with the old-fashioned trick of adding more timing. This isn't voodoo. Advancing the ignition timing 8 to 12 degrees can cause more of the fuel in the combustion chamber to burn. The result is more power. But as with any engine, too much timing can result in harmful detonation. So chip manufacturers recommend 180-degree thermostats and premium fuel, but take it a step further by adding more fuel to cool the combustion chamber. Four-barrel guys wish they had it this easy.
How do we know all this? We recently spent some time at JET Performance Products in Huntington Beach, California, learning about fuel-injection computers and how the aftermarket squeaks more power out of them. JET showed us what all the common OEM computers look like and what it takes to reprogram them for more performance. JET can reprogram almost any computer with a 50-state-legal chip or program, but we thought we'd show some of the more common computers and how easy it is for you to upgrade them.