Tuner Updates - What they are and what the process is

If you look at all of the tuners out on the market right now, you’ll notice that one of the common features they share is the ability to be updated online.  Today we’ll be talking about this feature, why it’s important, why it’s not important, what you get with an update, and what the process is.

The invention of a handheld tuner was an awesome thing.  One of the first companies to manufacture them was Hypertech with the Hypertech Power Programmer.  The tuner would connect to your vehicle, recognize the computer calibration, and retune the car for improved power and driveability.  The only problem is that sometimes the vehicle manufacturer would come out with a new calibration for the computer after the tuner had been manufactured.  Because of this, the tuner would not be able to recognize the calibration and would be unable to tune the vehicle.  The user would receive a Code 6D or calibration not found error on the screen and disappointment would soon follow.  Hypertech recognized this and offered updates where the customer could mail the programmer in to them to have the hardware updated for the new calibration.  However, as time went on and the vehicle manufacturers started updating their computer calibrations this became highly inconvenient and time consuming to a growing number of customers.  This problem was solved in the next generation of tuners which included the Hypertech Max Energy, Diablosport Predator, and Superchips Flashpaq.  With this new generation of tuners, the manufacturer could create a new tuning file and put it on their server whenever the vehicle companies came out with a new computer calibration.  Now their customers could simply connect their programmer to their PC at home and update themselves in a matter of minutes.

Now I know we often hear people talking about the updates and thinking they need the most up to the minute update so they can get the best tuning and most power out of their vehicle.  Unfortunately, the update feature is really not going to change anything with your tuning as it rarely involves any tuning changes, the updates are really just there for application support to support new calibrations and sometimes additional vehicles.  So no, you are not going to get another 10 horsepower by installing an update.  For the most part, if the tuner works on your vehicle there is no reason to be worrying about the updates.  The tuner companies aren’t constantly working to improve tuning on your 2005 Silverado, they already did the work 10+ years ago and made sure they got it right at that time.  Contrary to what most people think, the tuning you’ll get for a 1996 Silverado from a 360202 Hypertech Power Programmer is going to be exactly the same as what you’ll get on a brand new Hypertech Max Energy 32500.  Hypertech (and all of the tuner companies) just take their tuning they had on the old version tuner and put it on the new version tuner.  So even though that Power Programmer might be 20 years older than the Max Energy, it’s going to have the same tuning for your truck and you’ll get the same power improvement, so you might as well save your money and buy the Power Programmer…but I know us gear heads have a hard time not wanting to buy the best and newest things.  Now let’s talk about the different tuners and update programs.

Now all of the tuner companies have update programs, but they differ significantly in their speed and ease of use.  Hypertech has had one of the best update processes of all of them.  Simply download and open the Tuner Update software available on their website, plug your programmer in to your PC using the included USB cable, click on “update”, and select your vehicle from the list.  The updates usually take less than a minute to install and it is very easy, user-friendly, and nearly impossible to screw up.  The new Max Energy 2.0 programmers do take a little longer, probably around 5 minutes, but it’s because they have enough memory on them to store the tuning files for every application.

Superchips has had a really great update program as well, but it does take a little longer.  Simply download and open the Spark update software from their website, connect your tuner using the included USB cable, and the software will automatically recognize the tuner and let you know if it needs an update.  If it does, the update button appears and you click on it to install the update.  The program is very simple but seems to have errors fairly frequently and the updates can take a long time, 5-30 minutes depending on the application.  The new F5 tuner uses the Ignition program which is basically the same thing except that the updates are lightning fast and typically install in a minute or two.

Diablosport started out pretty terrible compared to the other manufacturers with their Predator updates but they have improved significantly with the inTune and the i2 probably has one of the easiest update programs of any of them.  The original Predator was not internet updateable (these can be identified by checking the version number.  The ones such as 1.03 or 2.10 are not updateable but the newer ones such as 7r19, 8r10, 9r01, etc. are updateable) When Diablosport sold the Predator, they didn’t include any update cables with them.  Instead, they sold the update kit separately which included a USB cable and a power supply.  This was an expensive kit, around $60!  The update program can be found online and the specific files for the update were online.  That’s right, instead of the files automatically being downloaded for you, you had to hunt for them and make sure you select the correct one.  The update cable is also very tricky to get the drivers installed in some situations and different Predators needed different protocols to be followed.  The update files are no longer available online (but don’t worry, we have them saved!) and Diablosport stopped supporting updates on the Predator a few years ago so there will not be any new ones coming out for the Predator. 

With the release of the Diablosport inTune, they decided to make things a whole lot better by including a USB cable with the tuner and improving the update software dramatically.  The coolest thing about the inTune updates is that the update program is located on the tuner, so you don’t have to download a program before being able to run it.  Simply plug the inTune in and wait for it to load up.  A drive should appear on your computer and in that drive is the update software.  Run the software and it will automatically install the update.  This is incredibly easy but it does take a long time, I’ve seen it take as long as two hours!  Over the years, it has gotten more difficult to install the updates on the i1000 inTune because the first update software was replaced by a newer version.  So if you have any old inTune, the first update will actually only update the updating program on the inTune.  After that, you need to run an update again to update the actual tuning on the tuner, and this frequently causes issues where you have to manually place an update on the tuner and then run an update.  On a lot of these tuners, it take us 3 or 4 hours just to get them updated, and we’ve got experience doing it!  A new customer would probably get highly frustrated in the process and need to wait for tech support’s help, I could easily see it taking a couple of days for a newbie to get their i1000 inTune updated.  The new i2’s however have been drastically improved and updates seem to work really slick and fast.  So it took Diablosport a while and they had some growing pains, but I think they now probably have the best update process of any tuner on the market.

If you have any questions about updates or if you’d like some help getting your tuner updated, be sure to send us a message, we’d love to help!



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