How Do Engine Tuners Work?

engine tuner on display

If you’re new to the world of engine tuning, it probably stands to reason that you want to know how it all works. The various ins and outs of engine performance tuning can seem a little complex at first, however, the benefits of using engine programmers are fairly easy to spot!

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at all the benefits of engine tuners and performance tuner systems. Even if you are completely new to tuning up vehicle engines, it’s worth looking into the wider reaching benefits before you go ahead and buy!

How Do Engine Tuners Actually Work?

Ok – so let’s take a look at the science and tech behind engine programmers first. Essentially, engine tuners are miniature devices which you can use to sync with the firmware of your vehicle. However, if this sounds a bit vague, it actually does a bit more than that.

You’re effectively looking at a handheld computer that can help you to tweak and adjust certain areas of performance in your vehicle. While you can do plenty of things to improve performance by switching out physical elements and features, you can do a lot to improve the power of your car, for example, by using an engine tuner to communicate with your on-board CPU.

Normally, you’ll find that you can connect engine programmers directly through your engine via your dashboard. You don’t have to go for a dash mount, but it’s often one of the most convenient places to keep your tuner in case you want to change things up at short notice.

Engine performance tuners cover a lot of different ground. For example, they can help to improve your horsepower, to keep your coolant temperature in check, and to balance out the performance in your engine. While it’s easy enough to assume that your car is going to come operating at peak performance when you first buy it, this isn’t always going to be the case. Therefore, if you are finding yourself struggling for horsepower and really want to get your money’s worth, then there are more than a few things you can do to ‘crack’ into the system.

Types of Tuners

It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are a few different pieces of tech you can use in performance tuning, no matter the vehicle or make you drive. These are, in brief:

  • Chips, which connect to your CPU or PCM. These are some of the most common tuner types and are those we described above. This link directly to your engine.
  • Modules, which instead of connecting to your engine, focus on different sensors you may have under your bonnet. These will read information from a sensor and send a different result to your PCM.
  • Programmers, meanwhile, plug directly into your diagnostics and let you tune up via control module. These systems are very popular with drivers who are looking to change up pressure and temperature, for example.

All three types of tuners work through engine modification. This means that they will focus on a range of different factors in your engine and PCM communication. This may include the size and frequency of pulses, as well as timing.

Unlock the Full Potential of your Vehicle

As mentioned, you will naturally want to buy a vehicle that’s the best you can get for your cash. However, when you start driving, you may find that there are some aspects which you need to fine tune. This may include horsepower, air pressure, or even coolant temperature.

Overall, engine tuning allows you to improve the performance of your car up to its optimal potential. Why settle for anything less than the best for your money?

You Can Improve Your Fuel Economy

It’s entirely possible to use performance tuners to help your fuel go that little bit further. For example, you may find that some tuning systems or chips have coach services on-board. These will tell you what you need to tweak and adjust, and when, to make sure that your engine is using enough fuel, and to make sure you are not wasting anything.

The possibilities for improving your economy when it comes to miles to the gallon will, of course, vary from case to case. However, it’s great to know that you may not have to do too much to really get the most out of your performance.

It’s Easy to Manage

One of the most popular reasons for people taking up engine tuners is for the simple fact that it is much easier to manage than people imagine.

In many cases, as stated, you’ll be able to completely tweak and tune your engine from a control panel, which means you can always see what’s going on. Some of the best performance tuning systems even make suggestions to you, meaning that if you are completely new to the world of tuning up your engine, you can follow a template or guide, so you know how to make the most of it. If you really know what you’re doing, of course, you don’t have to follow this!

Easier to Install Than You Think!

What might put some people off tuning altogether is the misconception that car tuning and performance engineering is likely to be difficult. This is rarely the case. Custom tuning, for example, is based around your specific vehicle and is likely to be easier and more flexible to manage.

However, tuning systems come in all shapes and sizes, and from a variety of brands. No two might ever be the same! Take your time to look through some of the top brands available online and see what’s picking up the best reviews.

We all want the best out of our cars, and sometimes, that means giving them a bit of an extra push. And why not? Take your time and find the right fit.


Hopefully our guide has helped you understand a lot more about the process of how engine tuners work and function. If you found this article interesting, we’re sure you’ll enjoy our article about engine performance tuning and how that works. Feel free to contact us any day of the week