Hypertech's Power Programmer - Performance You Can Feel

Increasing Your Fun Factor With Hypertech's Power Programmer

Bob Mehlhoff Sep 23, 2005 0 Comment(s)

Nail the go-pedal and watch the tach climb. If you're behind the wheel of one of today's late-model musclecars, you'll enjoy the thrill of a broad and powerful torque curve, as well as the civil street manners that computer-controlled engine tuning offers.

After purchasing a super-clean F-body for commerce on Southern California's freeways, Ed Calaba wanted to refine the performance of his LS1 engine while still maintaining the reliability and mileage the original package offered. He began by allowing the motor to breathe a little better with the addition of an Andy Granatelli mass airflow sensor, a BBK 80mm throttle-body, and an LS1 Motorsports airbox fitted with a K&N air filter. He trashed the stock exhaust system and fitted a freer-flowing Flowmaster package.

With these parts, Ed immediately noticed the improvement in performance but realized that reprogramming the stock computer configuration would provide a certain synergy. For this, he chose a Hypertech Power Programmer that plugs into the Camaro's underdash DLC (Data Link Connector). By answering a series of simple Power Programmer prompts, the Camaro's computer would learn how to improve the vehicle's onboard tuning and to alter the transmission shift points as well. In a nutshell, he's been able to increase the Camaro's fun factor. We wanted to learn how well this worked, so we joined Ed as he cycled the Hypertech Power Programmer with the help of Magnuson Products' tuning guru John Germanson. Germanson has spent the last few decades running dynos on computer-controlled Camaros and modifying plenty of late-model iron. He is also very familiar with Chevrolet's latest LS1 performance tuning requirements. With the PP in hand, Germanson simply connected the lead under the dash, tabbed through, and responded to a series of questions displayed on the programmer screen. The device is able to alter engine tuning, rev limiter, coolant fan operating range, and top speed limiter. If the tire size or axle ratio differs from stock, the programmer allows the user to enter those changes as well. It also alters the shift points of the automatic transmission (in 1-mph increments) and shift firmness. Ed chose to increase the firmness by 25 percent. The real beauty of the programmer is that any of these changes can be modified or returned to the stock setting by simply reconnecting the unit. With all of Ed's choices entered, Germanson simply pressed "Y" (yes) to program while we waited for the reprogramming to complete. The entire process took about one hour.

Ed fired up his LS1 and we testdrove it on the open road, quickly feeling the crisper shifts and broader torque curve. The LS1's performance from off-idle and through the midrange was noticeably increased. So with just an afternoon's work and a few entries in the programmer, you too can modify your late-model Camaro's performance, but most importantly your fun level. That translates into performance you can feel.

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Ed bought his LS1-powered '98 Camaro SS because he loves the performance it offers, but after driving it for a few weeks, he felt it would respond well to some improvements. And he also needed something to complement his small-block Chevy-powered '80 Trans Am.

To increase available airflow to the engine, Ed added a LS1 Motorsports airbox fitted with a K&N air filter element.

Looking for more, Ed installed a Granatelli Motorsports mass airflow sensor and a BBK 80mm throttle-body.

Where the stock LS1 exhaust once resided, Ed hung a Flowmaster 3-inch diameter after-cat system.

To improve driveability and enhance the performance of the new bolt-ons, Ed chose the Hypertech Power Programmer III to recalibrate the onboard computer.

The Hypertech programmer simply attaches to the vehicle's DLC (which is located below the steering column under the dash), and then displays a series of easy-to-follow questions.

With Germanson at the controls, we wanted to see what changes we could discern on the dyno. We found that the entire power curve had increased over our baseline results. But for the real test, we needed to drive the car.

The performance improvements were immediately noticeable and the shift points enhanced; fuel mileage is about the same. For just an hour's time, Ed has improved his Camaro's power and driveability without even getting his hands dirty.

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