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Everything You Need to Know About Ram 1500 Tuners

By:  Zach Wright  / Sep 25 2019
Everything You Need to Know About Ram 1500 Tuners

The Ram 1500 has a lot of power underneath the hood, but even more is waiting to be unlocked. From the 3L V6 EcoDiesel to the 5.7L V8, the Ram 1500 is designed to have a good amount of low-end torque, with decent mid-range power, ideal for hauling or getting through a tough spot off-road. However, your Ram’s engine can offer improved power, drivability, and even fuel economy through the use of an aftermarket tuner. This guide will go over everything you need to know about tuning your Ram 1500.

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Tuners go a long way for those Ram 1500 truck owners who are looking for a significant improvement in their vehicle's performance. You can make several modifications on your ECU depending on your truck's needs. Whether it is used for towing, driving long distances, or taking on especially steep loads, tuners are the best way to get that little extra you need for your truck.

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What is a Ram Tuner & What Does It Do?

A Ram tuner is a device that plugs into your OBD II port and can reprogram the truck’s ECU in order to improve the acceleration, power, and fuel economy. Some tuners have the ability to also diagnose any check engine light codes and clear them, but not all. Typically, all tuners have a screen on them, but they can be small and basic or large LCD screens. 

Tuners will download the stock or factory tune from your truck’s ECU and then upload one of the following:

  • ‘Canned’ tune
  • Email tune
  • Dyno tune

Once the new tune has been upload to your Ram’s ECU, you will be able to unplug the device. If you ever want to return your tune to stock, you can plug the tuner back in and re-upload the stock tune.

Canned & Preprogrammed Ram 1500 Tunes Explained

A canned tune is a tune written to improve the performance of your truck, but was written to be generic enough that it will work with any Ram 1500. These tunes come preloaded onto some devices and only make minor changes to the parameters of the stock tune. Preprogrammed tunes are good for delivering a small, but noticeable bump in power and slightly better fuel economy. 

However, if you have made modifications to your Ram’s engine, you will more than likely not be able to use a canned tune. Canned tunes really only work with a stock truck and also don’t really allow you to add any engine upgrade later on down the line. If you have no plans of modifying your Ram’s engine, then this shouldn’t be a concern and a canned tune could be a viable option for you.

Email Tunes For Ram 1500 Trucks Explained

Email tunes are files that are written remotely and sent to you over the internet. Email tunes allow more customization than canned tunes and in turn will provide you with greater power, performance, and even fuel economy. With an email tune, you typically work with someone remotely, providing them with some information about your Ram 1500 and what you have done to it, what you are planning on upgrading, and things of that nature. 

They will then take a tune file and optimize it for your truck based on the information you provided. Once the file is ready, they will send you an email with it as an attachment, and you will plug your device into your computer and download the file onto the device. From the moment you provide the Tuner (the person writing your file) with all the information they need to the moment you get the tune will usually take anywhere from one day to one week. For really popular aftermarket tuners, wait times can take as long as two to three weeks.

Dyno Tunes for Ram 1500 Trucks Explained

Dyno tunes are the most customizable tunes you can get. Dyno tunes are usually completely unique to your truck and are written on the spot as your truck goes on the dyno. Dyno tunes will provide you with the largest power increase of all three types of tunes, the best fuel economy, and the best drivability.

To get a dyno tune, you will need to go to a shop where they have a dyno machine and schedule time to get on the dyno with a tuner. The two major benefits of a dyno tune the other options don’t have are 1) it is a completely custom tune designed and written just for your Ram, and 2) the tune is written using real world data coming in as the tune is written. 

As the truck is on the dyno, it is hooked up to a computer and the Tuner is watching the air/fuel ration, spark, timing and other key data points that tell them what is needed to maximize the tune. All of this data is coming in real time, allowing the Tuner to make a few tweaks, have your Ram make another run on the dyno, look at the data, make some more tweaks, rinsing and repeating until the truck is dialed in perfectly.

How Do I Select the Best Tuner/Shop to Tune My Ram 1500?

Picking a Tuner or a shop to work on your Ram 1500 can be a daunting task; even if you are getting an email tune sent to you, you want to be sure you are being provided with the best services and a safe/reliable tune. When it comes to tuning, the best search and discovery comes from word of mouth recommendations as well as forums. 

Talk to other enthusiasts who have tuned their Ram and find out where they went, what they had done, what other modifications their Ram has, and how satisfied they are with their tune. Be sure to ask if there is anything they are unhappy with or wish had been done differently. Reading Google reviews about a business can also be a good tool, but be careful – some shops will manipulate their reviews and bury any bad ones while stuffing them with positive ones written by employees or friends.

How Much Does a Ram 1500 Tune Cost?

For a handheld tuner or tuning device you are looking to spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000 as there are a wide variety of options on the market. You can find a lot of good tuners that offer a wide range of functionality for right around $200 - $400. For an actual tune, that will run you anywhere from $150 to $600, with dyno tunes being on the higher end of that spectrum. For a device and a tune you can expect to spend about $500 to $750 when all is said and done.

Ram 1500 Throttle Enhancers Overview

Falling into the tuner category is Ram throttle enhancers. Ram throttle enhancers are a minimally invasive way to improve the acceleration of your Ram. A throttle enhancer plugs right into your OBD II port and basically tells your ECU to advance to the position of the throttle, meaning when you press the accelerator a ¼ of the way down, it accelerates as if it is ½ way pressed down. Throttle enhancers do not make any permanent changes to your truck and the effects of it are immediately undone as soon as it is unplugged.

Will Tuning My Ram Impact My Truck’s Warranty?

Tuning your Ram 1500 can impact your warranty and potentially void it depending upon the dealership. If you have a major warranty claim, i.e. engine replacement, and the dealership discovers you had a tune on your truck, they may elect to deny you the warranty claim. Under the Magnuson Moss Modification Act, the dealership has to prove the damage done to your vehicle was caused by the aftermarket modification they are claiming caused it. This can be tricky when it comes to a tune that dictates how the engine performs/functions, but you can fight it. 

Not all dealerships are hard to work with; some dealerships will be understanding and willing to work with you. To find a dealership like this, check out some forums and see if anyone has any recommendations. To be safe, you can always just reset your Ram to stock before you take it in (pending you can do that with any modifications you may have done).

Will Tuning My Ram 1500 Improve My Towing?

Tuning your Ram will not increase your overall towing/hauling capacity, ​however it will make it easier to tow. An aftermarket tune will give you some extra grunt and power to help you get going and hauling whatever is hooked up to your hitch, eliminating that sluggish feeling you can get when hauling a large load.

Fitment includes: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-10, SLT, ST, Laramie, Sport, SXT, TRX, TRX4, RT, LaramieLonghorn, Tradesman, Express, HFE, Rebel, Longhorn, Limited, Bighorn, LoneStar, Outdoorsman