When programmers first jumped onto the scene, many people were skeptical about modifying their vehicle’s delicate electronics. Now more enthusiast than ever are upgrading their rides with these easy-to-use electronic tuners. Modern programmers are much more than just horsepower in a box. They are data-logging and recalibration tools that allow you to optimize your vehicle’s performance in a variety of ways. From gear ratio swaps, tire size changes, and automatic transmission shift points, you can easily modify a range of parameters on your vehicle without getting a bead of sweat on your brow or a grain of dirt on your hands.
At 4-Wheel & Off-Road we enjoy testing both new and existing products, especially when there are promises of power and fuel economy gains. So to try our hand at getting a little more out of our Cummins diesel–equipped ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4, we ordered up a Superchips Flashpaq programmer. With the help of the high-end car tuners at National Speed in Wilmington, North Carolina, we put the Flashpaq to the test by strapping our 3⁄4-ton onto their all-wheel DynoJet diagnostics machine. To learn the most about our tuning tool, we tested the truck in stock, tow, and performance settings both on and off of the dyno. Want know how things added up? Read on.
Using the DynoJet, we were able to simulate load so the turbocharged Cummins diesel could build boost. For each of our pulls we set the brake resistance to 30 percent and ran the truck with overdrive turned off.
The Superchips Flashpaq offers three specific tuning options: Performance, Tow, and Mileage XS. Switching among the settings takes roughly five minutes and is very simple and straightforward.
Since the programmer plugs into the truck’s OBD-II (onboard diagnostics) port, it is easier than ever to read and clear the DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes). We had a code pop up recently and were pleased to discover that the Flashpaq provided an actual description of the problem in addition to the codes number.
The Flashpaq has a few handy features, such as the tire and gear ratio recalibration. With our Ram sporting 35-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers and 4.10 gears, it was nice to be able to adjust to the proper parameters and stop guessing at the speedometer.
With the correction factor set to SAE, we did multiple runs on the DynoJet with each of the power settings. Our base run with the truck on the Stock setting (blue) netted us 272 hp and 489 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. With the programmer turned to Tow (green), we saw an increase of 45 hp and 95 lb-ft. The real power came with the Performance tune (red) downloaded, netting us 368 hp and 652 lb-ft. The truck not only makes substantially more power, but carries it longer throughout the rpm range.
While we realize that not everyone has a DynoJet, most of us do have a good idea for how our truck’s power feels on a daily basis. We’ve found that driving daily with the truck on the Performance setting not only feels great, but has netted us a mild increase in fuel economy over stock. Couple the power and economy gains with an onboard data logger and trouble code reader, and we say the Flashpaq is a great investment that will let you get more from your 3⁄4-ton workhorse.