Best Programmers for 5.3 Silverado & Buying Guide (2018)

Best Programmers for 5.3 Silverado & Buying Guide (2018)

Updated August 2018

Maximum power and performance is a basic requirement, but it becomes critical when you are towing or hauling. Manufactures’ vehicle stock tune is intended to optimize for a variety of demands, fuel quality, and driving types. Programmers, tuners, and performance chips are essential computer vehicle modifications that help boost power, in addition to usual changes/upgrades to the camshaft, carburetor, and compression.

There are many after-market programmers and tuners that can boost your Chevy Silverado 5.3 pickup performance regardless if you have a stock setup or have modified it with bolt-ons. Performance programmers and calibration features are designed to read and customize the vehicle’s power and performance options.

The least expensive means of boosting horsepower and fuel economy is to install a performance chip. Other performance programmers/tuners are hand-held or plug-in types. Installed programmers more-permanently connect through the diagnostic port and are not generally removed for (these have a sleep mode when the vehicle is not in use). After they are installed and programmed, you can easily select and modify after-market gears or tires to improve horsepower, torque, and fuel economy using the data screen.

Programmers are basically compared on their capacity to increase horsepower and fuel efficiency. Not all programmers and tuners are suitable or adapted to all years, makes, or models of vehicles. They are also generally not for legal sale or use on pollution-controlled vehicles in California. The exceptions are performance chips.

The following reviews include 5 of our top tuners for Chevy Silverado 1500 truck.

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Table of programmers for Chevy Silverado 5.3

NameOur ratingTypeScreenAdapterPriceShops
Bully Dog 40417 GT Platinum Tuner
Installed (Tuner)2.4” LCD screenOBDII adapter plug$$$
DiabloSport S1000 Sprint Car Fuel Management Module 2005
Installed (Plug-in) n/aOBDII adapter plug$$
Innovative Performance Chip/Power Programmer
Installed (Chip) n/a n/a$
Superchips 2845 Flashpaq F5 Tuner
Handheld (Tuner) 2.8” HD screenn/a$$$
Range Technology Active Fuel Management
Installed (Plug-in) n/aOBDII adapter plug$$

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How we decided

11
models considered
23
hours spend
1
experts interviewed

Best programmers for 5.3 Silverado

Our rating:
5.0

The Bully Dog 40417 GT Platinum Tuner is an all-in-one engine tuner, monitor, gauge, and diagnostic device for gas applications. It provides a complete set of on-dash monitoring features and diagnostic functions. On-screen virtual gauges display essential vehicle data. Read and clear diagnostic error codes (i.e.: Check Engine). Pre-loaded DYNO tune files (customized by your local custom tuning dealer) increase horsepower and torque, and improve fuel economy, especially when towing. The tuner stores up to 10 custom tune files. Power-level tunes on are based on the fuel octane used.

The GT Platinum Gas programmer features a 2.4” LCD screen with has (7) capacitive touch buttons. A T-slot mount socket for different mounting options, HDMI port, micro SD card port, and mini-USB port are on the device’s back side. Software upgrades are available through the USB.

The programmer’s OBDII adapter plug is used to connect the assembly through the diagnostic port (typically located on the driver’s side of the vehicle, under the dash). The plug has an HDMI connection for the cable that plugs into the back of the GT Platinum Gas head unit.

This GT Platinum Gas unit includes a programmer tuner, power supply, all necessary chords, suction mount, fuse tap, and SD card. The GT Platinum Pyro Calibration helps prevent heat damage to your engine. It determines the best temperature to use for the GT Platinum temperature warning setting. The gauge warnings for coolant as well as pyrometer temps may be set to Fahrenheit or Celsius.

GT Platinum Gas programmers are easily installed and programmed. They are intended for Chevrolet Silverado 5.3 V8 as well as other GMC, Cadillac, Ford, Lincoln, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan model applications.

The Bully Dog GT Platinum Gas is not for legal sale or use on pollution-controlled vehicles in California.

Pros
  • Easy to install and program
  • Dyno tested pre-loaded tunes
  • Color LCD screen readout
  • 1-Yr. Limited Warranty
Cons
  • California Prop 65 warning

Our rating:
4.0

The DiabloSport S1000 Sprint Car Fuel Management Module is a plug-in performance tuner, with LED indicator lights, that increases your Chevy Silverado 5.3’s horsepower without mounting hardware or unit installation. DiabloSport is a leader in vehicle calibration that offer increased mileage, power, driving, towing and hauling efficiency. The Sprint OBDII adapter plug connects through the diagnostic port (typically located on the driver’s side of the vehicle, under the dash).

The DiabloSport Sprint module is compatible with GM vehicles (2005 to present) that have an Active Fuel Management (AFM) feature. It allows vehicles equipped with AFM to constantly remain in V8 mode without re-flashing or reprogramming the ECU (onboard computer). It maximizes power and vehicle performance by disabling the factory Active Fuel Management (AFM) feature that is made to drop cylinders and reduce power. Hesitation upon acceleration and exhaust buzz when the AFM activates are eliminated as a result. Towing, hauling, off-road, commuting, and performance and mileage efficiency are generally increased.

The DiabloSport Sprint module performance tuner’s emission status is currently pending in all 50 states. It is not for legal sale or use on pollution-controlled vehicles in California.

Pros
  • No mounting or installation
  • Disables factory AFM
  • Eliminates exhaust buzz
  • No battery draw (in sleep mode)
  • 1-Yr. Limited Warranty
Cons
  • California Prop 65 warning
  • 50 State Emissions Status Pending

Our rating:
3.0

The Innovative Performance Chip and Power Programmer is a simple, inexpensive, easily installed means of gaining significant horsepower and fuel efficiency for your Chevy Silverado 5.3 without permanently impacting your vehicle’s ECU (onboard computer). It is one of the safest and best performance chips you can install that ensures no footprint or trace is left in the memory. Additionally, your horsepower, torque, throttle-response, and fuel efficiency will noticeably improve after the chip is installed. The air/fuel ratio and timing curve will be optimized, increasing horsepower approximately +35 HP and mileage as much as +5 MPG.

The proven, time-tested Innovative performance chip/power programmer sends a continuous, modified signal that your Chevy Silverado 5.3’s ECM monitors. Since the chip does not directly interface with the ECM, the ECM retains factory safety parameters while optimizing itself to achieve a more efficient fuel mixture and timing curve.

This performance chip has a high-end aluminum casing with a durable, high-quality anodized finish that is available in a variety of colors. It installs in the engine compartment. No prior mechanical experience, and only a pair of pliers, are necessary. Detailed step-by-step installation instructions, with pictures, is included. Generally, installation may be completed within 15 minutes. Innovative’s

award-winning technical staff is also available to answer questions.

The Innovative Performance Chip is fully-compatible with Silverado, Silverado 1500 HD, Sport, WT, XFE and Z71, 4.3, 4.8, 5.0, 5.3, 5.7, 6.0, 6.2 and 7.4 Vortec engines as well as 454 SS, Base, Cheyenne, Classic Hybrid, Classic LS, Classic LT, Classic SS, Classic WT, High Country, Hybrid, LS, LT, LTZ, SS, and Scottsdale models. Results may vary.

This performance chip is completely emissions safe and will not void your Chevrolet factory warranty.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Completely emissions safe
  • Easily installed
  • +35 HP and +5 MPG
  • NO permanent changes to your ECU
  • 100% Money-Back Guarantee
  • Lifetime Warranty
Cons
  • No data read-out or light indicators

Our rating:
4.0

The Superchips Flashpaq F5 handheld performance tuner increases your Chevy Silverado 5.3’s horsepower without mounting hardware or unit installation. The Flashpaq F5 is the leading handheld tuner, offering more “power per dollar,” economy, and daily driving and towing efficiency than its industry/market competitors.

The Flashpaq F5 has a redesigned graphic interface that simplifies use and operation without sacrificing functionality. Diagnostic error codes (i.e.: Check Engine) are clear and readable. This extreme tuner makes it easier to monitor vehicle parameters, select your power level, and gain immediate horsepower and performance without the need to downshift. It allows you to adjust speed and rev limiters, correct the speedometer (for modifications made in gear ratio or tire size), and actively manage fuel (AFM) control.

Optimized tuning shift points helps maximize mileage. The Flashpaq F5 tuner also allows TQ management and you to adjust shift firmness. This programmer tuner allows transmission shift pressure and set point changes (for gas engines only).

The Flashpaq F5 tuner features a high definition 2.8” color screen, tuning levels, and scanning features. The faster processor improves tuning and speed. It has also increased memory. The tuner is able to be updated with new software updates periodically via USB.

Superchips Flashpaq F5 performance tuners are compatible with other performance upgrades added to your vehicle. Features may vary for other year, make, and model vehicles, however.

The Superchips Flashpq F5 tuner is not for legal sale or use on pollution-controlled vehicles in California.

Pros
  • No mounting or installation
  • Compatible with after-market bolt-ons
  • AFM control
  • 1-Yr. Limited Warranty
  • 2-Yr. Powertrain Warranty
Cons
  • California Prop 65 warning
  • Incomplete/Cab and chassis trucks not supported
  • No control settings to modify individual parameters

Our rating:
4.0

The Range Technology Active Fuel Management Disable Device is a plug-in performance tuner with LED indicator lights, that increases your Chevy Silverado 5.3’s Vortect horsepower without mounting hardware or unit installation. The Range Active Fuel Management Disable adapter plug connects through the diagnostic port (typically located on the driver’s side of the vehicle, under the dash).

The patented Range Active Fuel Management Disable technology allows vehicles equipped with AFM to constantly remain in V8 mode without re-flashing or reprogramming the ECU (onboard computer). Simply remove to uninstall and return to factory settings.

It maximizes power and vehicle performance by disabling the factory Active Fuel Management (AFM) feature that is made to drop cylinders and reduce power. Hesitation upon acceleration and exhaust buzz when the AFM activates are eliminated as a result. Towing, hauling, off-road, commuting, and performance and mileage efficiency are generally increased.

The Range Active Fuel Management Disable unit fits all GM V6 and V8 active fuel management

(AFM) cars, trucks, and SUVs. It is not for legal sale or use on pollution-controlled vehicles in California.

Pros
  • No mounting or installation
  • Disables factory AFM
  • Eliminates exhaust buzz
  • 30-Day 100% Refund
  • 1-Yr. Limited Warranty
Cons
  • California Prop 65 warning

Best programmers for 5.3 Silverado Buying Guide

Performance programmers are competitively compared according to the vehicle engine, tuner, monitor, gauge, and diagnostics. Not all programmers and tuners are suitable or adapt to all years, makes, or models of vehicles. For example, programmer chips are

Before buying, ensure the performance programmer/tuner is permitted for legal use and operation in your state. Many devices are not permitted for legal sale or use on pollution-controlled vehicles in California. Approval of other devices may be pending in other states (i.e.: The DiabloSport Sprint module performance tuner’s emission status is currently pending in all 50 states). The exception is performance chips.

Also ensure that installation of the device does not void your vehicle’s factory warranty.

Types of Performance Programmers/Tuners Performance programmers/tuners and chips help increase horsepower, torque, and fuel economy by modifying the vehicle’s ECU-controlled timing, shift points, air/fuel mixture, and other performance settings. The type of performance programmer/tuner or chip you choose partly depends on your year, make, and model of vehicle, including fuel type, as well as your preference and budget.

Installed Programmers/Tuners

Installed performance programmers/tuners are typically the most expensive options. They are generally installed and mounted easily. The assembly is connected through the diagnostic OBDII port (typically under the dash on the driver’s side of the vehicle). These programmers offer HDMI ports, micro SD card ports, and mini-USB ports for software upgrades. There are pre-loaded custom tunes, specific to the vehicle engine, that are stored.

Handheld Tuners

Handheld performance programmers/tuners are available for both gas and diesel engines. They do not require installation, but many have HD, LCD screen displays, some that are touch screen. Handheld performance programmers often have features such as speedometer correction for tire/rim modifications, troubleshooting diagnostic error codes, and monitoring engine performance data. Many have USB capabilities that allow software updates.

Performance Programmer Plug-Ins

Plug-in after-market performance programmers are the most common choice for modifying a stock engine computer (ECU). These tuners plug directly into your vehicle’s OBDII port (typically under the dash on the driver’s side of the vehicle). The plug-in tuner accesses the ECU through the OBDII port to recalibrate the engine’s factory programming. By altering the stock ECU parameters, tires and gear ratio are sensed, horsepower and torque are increased, and fuel economy is increased with a push of a button.

Performance Chips

Performance chips are different than programmers/tuners. They are the least expensive means of upgrading horsepower, torque, and fuel economy. Performance chips are designed for vehicles that pre-date using OBDII ports. Unlike a handheld device, a performance chip typically plugs directly into the vehicle’s computer (ECU). The chip essentially recalibrates ECU programming, ultimately increasing power.

Performance chip increases in gas engine horsepower and torque vary among vehicles. You may experience modest single-digit gains or horsepower and torque increases as high as 40. Performance programmers allow you to monitor performance parameters your ECU monitors (i.e.: oil pressure, intake temp, voltage, etc.) that are absent from your vehicle’s stock gauge. It also allows you to diagnose DTC (diagnostic trouble codes).

Increases in diesel engine horsepower and torques gains are even more effective than the significant power increases produced by a gas engine. Performance chips can significantly increase torque as much as 100 ft/lbs or more. Monitor sensors can be added to more highly-optioned models to oversee important transmission and exhaust temperature data. A performance programmer is a vehicle care instrument as well as performance enhancer

Benefits of Performance Programmers

Performance programmers are installed to boost horsepower and torque, and increase fuel efficiency/mileage. Once installed, the programmer does the rest. Data and results may be as complex (multiple tunes, race mode, etc.) or simple (horsepower, torque, and fuel economy boost) as you choose.

Adding a performance programmer/tuner to your Chevy Silverado 5.3 truck is not a complicated installation. It is considered the easiest way to boost your power and fuel economy. Programmer/tuner boxes typically plug into the OBD II port under the dash on the driver’s side of your vehicle. They sync with the ECU

What to Look for When Buying Programmers for Chevy Silverado 5.3 Vortec

Before buying, decide what results you want to achieve. While some tuners effectively boost horsepower, torque, and fuel economy, you may want a product that also allows you to adjust your speed limiter, rev limit, and tire size, and multi-tune and DTC reader capabilities. Some programmer/tuners display clearing diagnostic codes while others have no display.

Desired Performance Results

Essentially look for a performance programmer that:

  • Increases horsepower and torque
  • Improves throttle response
  • Reduces lag
  • Leaves no footprint on the ECU
  • Is easy to instal

Programmer/Tuner Device Compatibility

Choose a performance programmer/tuner type that fits your year, make, model, and engine. Not all products fit every vehicle. Programmer chips are better suited for older, pre- OBDII ports, for instance.

Programmer and Installation

Cabin-installed Chevy Silverado 5.3V8 programmers are permanently plugged-in. Installed performance programmers typically have a display LED screen that allows you to see data in real-time and power adjustments that are made. Consider:

  • What information/data is available and is it easily seen on the screen?
  • When the programmer/tuner is left in sleep mode, is it pulling power from your battery?

Many Chevy Silverado 5.3V8 hand-held tuners can adjust the speedometer to adapt to after-market gears and tires. Some have LCD screens, others do not.

More cost-effective Chevy Silverado 5.3V8 performance devices, modules, and chips simply plug-into diagnostic ports.

  • Are they high-quality and durable?
  • Are they easily installed?

Choose a performance programmer you can easily install, operate, and upgrade as necessary.

Choose a performance programmer that ensures it does not leave a footprint in your ECU’s memory.

Tunes

Most programmers come with pre-loaded tunes you choose, that will enhance your desired performance features.

Programmer tunes may be canned or custom. Canned tunes are made specifically for a particular year, make, and model of engine. Custom tunes are designed to perform with certain modifications you might have made or for specific applications.

Canned tunes are fairly generic and do not take into account certain modifications that may be made to the specific year, make, and model vehicle. After-market injectors, superchargers, or intake systems are not factored into mass produced canned tunes. They acknowledge and enhance stock and slightly-modified upgrades, but may not appear as effective on vehicles that have major improvements.

Custom tunes may be requested from the product manufacturer. They are essential for heavily-modified fuel system improvements and, twin turbo and larger injection systems. You may install custom tunes they ship you, or you may have more complex tunes installed, tested, and adjusted for you. For example, you would want race mode applications professionally dyno tuned.

Conclusion

The primary purpose of performance programmers, tuners, and chips is to increase a vehicle’s horsepower, torque, and fuel economy without investing a lot of capital. In addition to after-market bolt-ons and modifications, programmers, tuners, and performance chips also enahnce carburetor, camshaft, and compression upgrades.

The Bully Dog 40417 GT Platinum Tuner all-in-one engine tuner, monitor, gauge, and diagnostic device is a top pick installed performance programmer/tuner for Chevy Silverado 5.3 V8 and other various year, make, and model gas applications. This gas unit includes a programmer tuner, power supply, all necessary chords, suction mount, fuse tap, and SD card. The GT Platinum Pyro Calibration helps prevent heat damage to your engine, which is as much a vehicle protection measure as well as performance upgrade. The device is easily installed, will not drain the battery in sleep mode, or leave a footprint on the ECU. Dyno-tested pre-loaded tunes are upgradeable via the USB.

The Superchips Flashpaq F5 is a leading handheld performance tuner is for gas engines only. It increases your Chevy Silverado 5.3 ’s horsepower without mounting hardware or unit installation. It has a redesigned graphic interface, tuning levels, and HD screen readout that simplifies use and operation without sacrificing functionality. It allows you to monitor vehicle parameters, select your power level, and gain immediate horsepower and performance without downshifting. It allows you to adjust speed and rev limiters, correct the speedometer (for modifications made in gear ratio or tire size), and actively manage fuel (AFM) control.

There is a California state Prop 65 warning that prohibits legal sale or use of these programmers on pollution-controlled vehicles. Check your state for pending restrictions or regulation.

Performance programmers/tuners and chips have been popular engine enhancement features for more than 30 years. They are a relatively inexpensive means of effectively gaining more power and mileage without much requiring mechanical or installation experience or effort.

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