Want to read that engine trouble code, easily? Do your own tune-up at home, so you don’t get overcharged for a small problem? Tweak your performance car’s engine to the perfect pitch? An engine tuner can help, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Everyone knows that cars need regular tune-ups to keep them running their best. But how do you do that without paying your mechanic an arm and a leg? Can you buy a particular engine tuner to do the job for you? These are questions that you may be asking yourself while on your quest to make sure that you are properly caring for your car.

The good news is that getting your engine tuned is not that big of a deal. In fact, you may even be able to do it at home. You just need the proper tools to help you out.

Tune Up Your Engine? What Does That Mean?

Essentially, engine tuning means making adjustments to your car’s engine to improve its performance. A tune-up can increase your engine’s power output and fuel economy. It can also make your engine more durable. Some of these adjustments might include changes to the carburetor, ignition system, fuel and air mixture, spark plugs, and more.

There are two kinds of tune-ups: a major tune-up and a minor tune-up.

Minor tune-up

A minor tune-up, as you might imagine, consists of low-level adjustments. For example, changing out spark plugs. You might also change the oil and filter, and check the other fluids, as well.

Major tune-up

A major tune-up is a lot more extensive. In addition to switching out spark plugs, a mechanic might change the spark plug wires, the distributor cap, the rotor, and more. A major tune-up will also involve adjusting the fuel system, fluids, and suspension.

If you take your car to a mechanic for a tune-up, always check to see which services are included. This video can give you an idea of the process:

What Is an Engine Tuner?

First, some people refer to a mechanic who does tune-ups as an engine tuner. There are also some degreasing sprays that use that term on their label. Also, the term can refer to various devices and apps to help individuals to tweak engine’s functions and performance. Let’s have a look at that last one.

CTS programmers, CTS scanners, and the engine tuner

Obviously, no app can change your air filter for you. But since the 1980s, cars have used increasingly sophisticated computers to keep an eye on engine functions. And today, there are dedicated devices, as well as phone apps, that can give you information about your engine’s performance, help to identify problems, and read fault codes. Some devices will even allow you to use your car’s computer system to tweak your engine functions to increase your engine performance.

So, while you, or your mechanic, still have to make some physical adjustments by hand, there are tools to help you know when you need to make those adjustments. Below are a few of the best engine tuner tools.

Vivid Linq

Vivid Linq, from a company called Superchips, was one of the first engine tuner tools on the market. Over the years, it’s become very sophisticated.

This unit has two parts: a scanner that plugs into your car, and an app for your device. The scanner takes information from your car’s computer system and broadcasts it to the app. As a result, you can read your car’s diagnostic trouble codes in an easy to understand format and take the appropriate action.

It’s important to be aware that this device appears only to be available for Android Devices. Also, you must select the appropriate device for your car’s year, make and model.

You can buy Vivid Linq on Amazon for $349.65.

SCT 4015 iTSX wireless tuner

The SCT 4015 iTSX is an engine tuner tool that allows you to wirelessly adjust your car’s performance, using the computer system. It comes with an OBD unit that plugs into your car, then sends diagnostic data to an app on your phone or device. From there, you can read and clear your car’s trouble codes, as well as adjust performance parameters such as maximum horsepower and torque. This model is available for both the iPhone and Android devices.

You can purchase this device for $399 on Amazon. Please note that this device is not legal for use in California.

This video can give you a better idea of how to use this device, and what it can do for you.

DiabloSport 12030 inTune i2 tuner

This tuner is another tool that will help you to not only read and interpret your car’s trouble codes but also to adjust its performance. It is a discrete unit that can interface with Windows and OSX devices via Wifi. In addition to reading trouble codes, it comes with numerous pre-programmed performance-improving tunes to increase your car’s horsepower and fuel efficiency.

You can buy the Diablosport tuner for $327.96 on Amazon.

Superchips 2845 Flashpaq F5 Tuner

Rather than sending your car’s trouble codes and other data to an app on your device, this is a handheld unit that connects to the scanner with a cord. Once you plug in the scanner, a list of tuning options will appear on the screen, for you to choose. From there, it’s easy to calibrate your car’s performance to your specifications in general, or for a specific task. Check out this video to see how it works.

The Superchips Tuner is available for $349.95 on Amazon.

DiabloSport 7202 Predator 2 Tuner

The Predator 2 is another handheld unit. It allows you to access your vehicle’s performance information, and make adjustments to increase your car’s horsepower, fuel efficiency, and more. In addition to pre-programmed tuning functions, it allows you to create custom tunes as you see fit. Importantly, this engine tuner is legal in all 50 states.

You can buy the Predator 2 Tuner for $329.95 on Amazon.

Do You Need an Engine Tuner?

Are you interested in maximizing your car’s engine performance? Do you want to increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency? Or perhaps you’re more interested in improving your car’s horsepower. Maybe you’d like to learn more about how your car works, by understanding its trouble codes. An engine tuner can help you to take charge of your car’s performance. It can help you to understand your vehicle, and calibrate its functions to your specific needs. It’s a bit of a financial investment, but if you’re willing to make that investment, you might be surprised how far you and your car could go.

 

Featured image: CC by-SA 2.0, by Darryl Braaten, via Flickr

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