Part 15: Superchips' Flashpaq Super Tuner
Anyone who has driven a stock Wrangler JK knows that the 3.8L V-6 leaves you wanting more, much more. But what happens when you add suspension, wheels, tires, axles, body armor, bumper, winches, etc.? Well, in our experience a fully modified Unlimited can weigh in at well over 7,000 pounds, which isn't doing anything to help endear the 3.8L to Wrangler fans. Fortunately, there is some help out there from aftermarket companies such as Superchips, who will gladly wring some additional power out of your 3.8L.
Superchips has been an industry leader in fuel-injected performance tuning since 1983 and continues to innovate in the segment. Our first memories of Superchips were as a piggyback module that plugged into the back of our factory ECM. Install, enjoy, and forget was all there was to it.
Today Superchips makes a full line of high-feature programmers that do more than just alter the factory tune for more power. One of the latest products is the new Flashpaq tuner for the Wrangler JK. Superchips sent one out for evaluation on Project 'Con Artist, so we familiarized ourselves with all of the features and took some time to get to know all of the different settings.
In addition to performance tunes (Performance 93, Performance 91, Towing, 87-Octane, Mileage XS, and Crawl) that are said to deliver up to an additional 18 horsepower and 22 lb-ft of torque, the Flashpaq offers other basic features such as the ability to correct the speedometer through overall tire diameter and gear ratio settings and change the speed and rev limiters. The Flashpaq works with most intake and exhaust kits, including snorkels and shorty headers, and on automatic transmission-equipped vehicles can adjustable shift points and shift firmness. We also like that the Flashpaq allows for real-time data logging, can check various sensors and report back such data as ignition timing and fluid temps, as well as check and clear trouble codes.
Where the Wrangler JK Flashpaq goes the extra distance are in the inclusion of Jeep-specific advanced features such as a special "Crawl" tune which makes low-range crawling a breeze by eliminating jerky throttle response and increasing low-end torque. With the Flashpaq plugged in on the trail, you can also operate one locker at a time, front or rear, in 4-Hi. If you have an onboard welder or air, the Flashpaq will allow you to bump up idle rpm, a neat trick considering how low modern Jeeps idle. And for those of you who swapped out transfer cases with a different gear ratio than stock, that ratio can too be changed. If that weren't enough, if your Jeep is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), the threshold can be altered to eliminate the annoying warnings on the dash when you air down.
The last major feature of the Flashpaq, one that we got to experience firsthand, is the ability to update the tuner online (PC-only at this time). Through the Superchips website, the tuner can be upgraded with additional features-or in our case, when the programmer is not preloaded with your specific tune, the Superchips engineers will take your program, make a tune for it and update your programmer.
Follow along as we used the simple to understand menus to add a little extra drivability and enjoyment to Project 'Con Artist in less than 15 minutes.
How It Works
While we didn't have a dyno to verify rear-wheel horsepower gains, we could detect a very noticeable improvement with the 91-octane tune. Throttle tip-in and response were better, and Project 'Con was much more eager to accelerate, feeling like it had gained better mid-range and WOT power. We like the fact that the Flashpaq offers so many features, really allowing you to dial in your Jeep. We loved being able to pick a perfect idle speed for our onboard air to charge the tank without burning up the compressor.
We haven't had the programmer installed long enough to gauge fuel economy, but in our short testing, we would say it is comparable to what we were getting before.
Unlike most tuners that are "set and forget," we would recommend carrying your Flashpaq in your Jeep at all times. Many of the features, such as locker ability in 4-Hi and real time idle control, are only available with the programmer plugged in. Also, for those wanting to use the Crawl tune, it can't reside in the ECU when a performance tune is in place, which means you'd have to swap tunes at the trail head.
We like the Crawl tune so much, we wish Superchips could find a way to incorporate it into the other performance tunes so it would become active when you shifted into low-range and you wouldn't have to swap tunes at the trailhead.
All in all, the Flashpaq is a worthwhile mod that is hard to beat for under $400.
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