Looking for a way to get more out of your Ford truck or van? If it’s got the 6.0L Powerstroke engine, then one of these performance tuners may be the way to do it.
Performance tuners help get the most out of the legendary 6.0L Powerstroke engine. The Powerstroke is a diesel engine that doesn’t reach its full potential direct from the factory. Whether you’re looking for additional horsepower, better fuel efficiency, or a more sensitive throttle, there are programmers and tuners available to accomplish these goals. They often can make a difference to an unmodified powertrain, but they ‘re essential to tuning an engine to aftermarket mod kits designed to increase its potential.
We’ve put together this guide after an exhaustive review of the performance tuners and programmers available this year that work with 6.0 Powerstroke engine. We narrowed down the field to the top 9 best tuners for 6.0 Powerstroke available, so you won’t have to spend hours trying to separate the best products from the chaff.
|Product||Screen Type||Monitoring||Max HP Gain||Price|
|SCT Performance 5015P||Touch screen||Yes||120|
|SCT Performance 7015||Color||Yes||TBD|
|Bully Dog 40420||Color||Yes||110|
|Edge Products 15003||Monochrome||Yes||100|
|DiabloSport T1000||Touch screen||Yes||100|
|BD Diesel 1057732||None||No||n/a|
The Top 9 Tuners for the 6.0 Powerstroke Reviewed
SCT Performance Livewire TS+ 5015P – State-of-the-Art Monitor/Programmer
SCT’s Livewire TS+ is designed to serve as both a performance monitor and a programmer that can upgrade the Powerstroke engine’s computer settings on Ford vehicles made between 1999 and 2016. With a large touch-screen display, it’s made to be mounted on your dash, so your engine’s settings are at your fingertips.
This is a high-tech, modern tuner with one of the largest touch-screen displays among the tuners we reviewed for this guide. The Livewire TS+ also supports Wi-Fi connections, and it includes a USB port for connecting a rear-view camera. The package comes with an OBDII cable, a mini USB cable, and a suction cup dash mount.
SCT spent the time needed to make the Livewire TS+’s software easy to use. The menus are transparent and navigating to the features you want to access doesn’t require searching non-intuitive submenus. The touch screen is a big plus from an interface standpoint, but the way SCT designed the menus is what really makes this tuner shine.
SCT includes a set of tuning profiles they call their Pre-loaded Dyno Proven package. It includes several tuning methods to achieve different things. You can improve the Powerstroke’s air/fuel mixture ratios, maximize its performance with better timing and fuel curves, or use a towing profile to increase the loads that your truck can handle. These profiles also consistently improve the engine’s fuel efficiency by one or two miles per gallon.
This is one of the best tuners for 6.0 PowerStroke on the market if you’re looking for a monitor that you can install on your dash and interact with like a modern mobile device. The color touch screen and menu design make navigation uncomplicated, and the tuning profiles deliver measurable performance improvements. There’s also a good variety of tuner profiles depending on what it is you need most.
SCT Performance Tuner X4 – Versatile Monitor/Programmer
This is a more affordable product by SCT that sacrifices some of the advanced hardware of the Livewire TS+. It’s designed to be a handheld device or mounted on your dash. It lacks a touch screen, but the simple keypad makes submenus quick to access.
The interface consists of a color LCD screen that you control with four arrow buttons and a select button. This works well to quickly navigate the X4’s menus and set values. It’s just a bit more time-consuming that using a touchscreen. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity that makes it possible to update its software without cables.
The menus are designed well, and the X4 does more than tune your engine. It has a high-contrast monitoring screen and can access diagnostic information like check engine light codes. It also has the option of logging engine performance data for later review.
The X4 can tune a number of different Ford engines in addition to the 6.0 Powerstroke, and it has several tuning profiles that can be applied to an engine to improve horsepower, towing, and fuel efficiency. You can also create your own custom tuning profile if the pre-loaded profiles don’t fit your needs.
We liked the programming and diagnostic functions of this tuner, especially given that it supports several older Ford engines found in both cars and trucks. The tuning was just as good as other SCT tuners. The package is more cheaply made, cutting the costs of a touch screen and other frills that pricier tuners will include. We recommend this tuner if you need something that you can use as a handheld device as well as mount on your dash for monitoring.
Bully Dog GT Platinum Tuner 40420 – Best Value Multi-Purpose Tuner
Bully Dog’s GT Platinum 40420 is another great multi-function tuner product that can serve as a dash or windshield-mounted monitor, a diagnostic tool, and an engine tuner. It has a 2.75-inch color screen that’s easy to read, and it comes with a set of pre-loaded tuning profiles to get you started. What makes this tuner unique is Bully Dog’s Driving Coach.
The GT Platinum is designed to be mounted on your dash for monitoring, but it also works as a handheld device. The color screen gives you enough room to display multiple engine parameters, and menu buttons are arranged along the right and left sides. You get an OBDII adapter, windshield mount, mini-USB cable, and other accessories to set it up.
Bully Dog presents many engine performance parameters with gauges, and the monitoring screens make good use of space. We liked that you can switch the color scheme between a dark or light background for difficult lighting conditions. Menu options are designed to align with the side buttons for quick selection, which sometimes is better than tabbing around on the screen with a cursor. One feature that we thought was great with the Driving Coach, which gives you feedback on the efficiency of your driving habits with on-screen messages.
The programming side of the GT Platinum Tuner includes several tuning profiles and the ability to adjust settings manually for custom tuning. It supports several Ford, Dodge, and GM motors going back to 1999 in addition to the 6.0 Powerstroke. Like other tuners, it can sometimes increase fuel economy by a couple of miles per gallon and maximize the horsepower the Powerstroke can deliver. The range of settings that can be manually tuned makes it a good choice for setting up your Powerstroke engine for aftermarket mod kits.
Bully Dog’s GT Platinum Tuner is another strong contender for the title of best performance tuner this year. We liked the interface and the fact that you can toggle the background color from light to dark. It’s a flexible device that can serve as a monitor while you drive and help with engine diagnostics. The Driving Coach was also a fun way to discover how much efficiency we could squeeze out of the Powerstroke engine by changing our driving habits.
Hypertech Max Energy Programmer 42002 – Extreme Performance Tuner
Hypertech’s line of Max Energy programmers are originally intended for extreme performance tuning needed for racing circuits, but they’ve also been marketed to street vehicles with diesel engines like the Ford 6.0 Powerstroke. This is not a tuner that can monitor engine parameters while you drive, but it can help with diagnostics.
This is a much simpler product than tuners that are designed to double as monitors. The screen is a two-line, text-only LCD, which you control with a four-direction keypad. It’s a portable device that fits in large pockets and comes with a cable used to connect to your vehicle’s OBDII port.
The Max Energy programmer can do a few different things for a stock 6.0 Powerstroke engine.
- It can read and clear engine error codes, so it’s a good tool for maintenance work and troubleshooting.
- It can adjust your vehicle’s odometer and speedometer to correct for non-standard tire sizes.
- It also boasts better performance gains than many other programmers with three power-tuning levels. The fuel efficiency gains can be between 3-6 miles per gallon.
Where this product shines, though, is programming your Powerstroke for high-performance modifications.
If you don’t need a monitor that lets you watch your engine’s performance in real-time, Hypertech’s Max Energy 42002 can be one of the better choices as an engine tuner and diagnostic tool. We liked the results of its tuning, even if the interface is 1980’s technology.
Edge Products 15003 Evolution Programmer – Good-Value 6.0L Powerstroke Tuner
Edge Products’ Evolution is designed specifically for tuning the 6.0 Powerstroke engine to squeeze as much additional power and efficiency from it as possible. It’s a basic programmer tool that doubles as a diagnostics scanner, and it includes some limited monitoring.
Like other basic programmer products, the 15003 Evolution Programmer has a small LCD screen and simple four-button control that’s used to move through menus and make selections. It has a larger window than Hypertech’s Max Energy Programmer, which give the space to monitor up to four parameters at a time. The smaller screen does mean the unit is small and portable, making it great as a tool that can be carried in your toolbox.
As a diagnostic tool, the Evolution Programmer can read error codes and clear them. The tuning profiles come in three power levels, and it can reprogram the engine computer for non-standard tire sizes. The tuning can add up to 100 horsepower to the 6.0 Powerstroke’s performance, which is great for stock racers or towing large loads that push its limits.
This basic programmer is designed to ride in your pocket or sit on your dash, and you can program it to display four engine parameters while you drive. If you don’t need any more monitoring than that, then the Evolution Programmer has more value than a straight programmer/diagnostic tool. The power gains from its tuning profiles are also respectable, which is why this programmer made it onto our list.
Superchips F5 Ford Flashpaq – Best Handheld Tuner
The F5 Ford Flashpaq by Superchips is designed to mimic the iPod with a color screen and circular group of buttons below it. This familiar design makes it handy as a tool you can carry in your pocket, but it isn’t designed with dash mounting in mind. Still, it can serve as a basic multi-purpose tuner that can perform diagnostics, tune engine performance, and monitor engine parameters in real-time.
Superchips did a good job of designing the Flashpaq as a handheld multi-purpose tuner that’s highly portable. The mp3 player form makes handling the programmer and navigating its menus painless and familiar.
The Flashpaq includes many features common to other multi-purpose tuners. It reads errors codes, adjusts your speedometer for tire size changes, and can help with managing the engine’s fuel efficiency.
The performance tuning offers four profiles to choose between:
- Daily Driving
- Extreme Tuning
You can also access driving experience settings like changing the time of gear shifts, control downshifting when climbing hills, and resetting speed limiters.
If you’re looking for a full-featured handheld tuner for the 6.0 Powerstroke, the Flashpaq by Superchips is a strong contender. It can do most the functions that other tuners do, and its handy MP3 player design works well. Our only gripe is that it doesn’t work well as a real-time monitor while you drive.
DiabloSport Trinity T1000 Programmer – Great for Professional Racing
Designed for performance enthusiasts and professional racing, DiabloSport’s Trinity T1000 is a programmer that can be mounted in your vehicle’s cabin for real-time monitoring. Its modern interface includes a color touch screen and a circular keypad. It can even approximate the racing times your vehicle can achieve with its current engine parameters for 1/4-mile drag racing.
The Trinity T1000 is a modern tuner that performs all three roles as an engine tuner, real-time monitor, and diagnostic tool. It’s designed for accessibility on the fly with a touch screen and four-button keypad, and you can place it with an adjustable suction-cup mount that comes in the box.
The main menu is well-designed and attractive with meaningful color icons for each item. The T1000 includes a 100 MB of onboard memory for logging data for later analysis, which can be expanded with an SD card to add hours of logging time. The Virtual Dragstrip is fun feature that helps you determine how well the engine is running and how the performance gains from tuning will translate racing speeds.
The Trinity T1000 comes pre-loaded with engine tuning profiles that give you many ways to tweak your engine’s performance. They include Economy, Performance, Towing, Pulley, Extreme, and Factory profiles. You also get five free slots for storing your own custom tuning data if you can’t find a profile that fits what you need. Diesel engines can gain as much as 185 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque with the Extreme profile under the right conditions.
We liked DiabloSport’s Trinity T1000 as a tool for racing and performance refit enthusiasts. It competes head-to-head with SCT’s well-designed Livewire TS+ tuner. The only real downside for this tuner is its price tag, but specials can be found if you’re patient.
Hypertech Power Programmer 2.0 – Most Versatile Engine Programmer
Hypertech’s Power Programmer 2.0 is intended to be your one-programmer-fits-all device for tuning engines to their maximum performance. It can also customize a variety of engine computer settings ranging from automatic gear shifting to cooling fan temperature triggers. The downside is that this is not an engine monitor, so you’ll need another product if you need to see performance metrics.
The Power Programmer 2.0 has a no-nonsense design that’s portable enough to take wherever you need to go or tune multiple vehicles that you own. Like most other products, it plugs into your vehicle’s OBDII port, and it takes no more than 15 minutes to install and operate. It uses a monochrome LCD screen to display information and five menu selection buttons to navigate the software.
The versatility of this programmer is found in its software: It’s designed to interface with most computer-controlled gas and diesel engines. Hypertech has packed every possible custom setting that’s available on modern powertrains, which goes beyond engine performance. You can use it set up your engine for an aftermarket air intake, tune the throttle’s sensitivity, or fine tune the way an automatic transmission shift gears. It can also serve as a diagnostic tool to scan engine error codes.
The Power Programmer 2.0 is a product designed for car enthusiasts and race car technicians to carefully tune their engine computers for custom builds and aftermarket upgrades. It includes a set of pre-loaded tuning profiles for owners who need to get the most out of a work truck. We’d recommend it to anyone who wants full control over their powertrain’s computer settings.
BD Diesel Throttle Sensitivity Booster – Best Throttle Tuner
The Throttle Sensitivity Booster by BD Diesel is a device designed to solve one problem: The sluggish response of a Ford vehicle’s throttle. It’s designed to interface with most Ford car and truck engines made from the mid-2000s to the present, so it’ll work with the 6.0L Powerstroke engine.
This product is designed to be installed, set up, and left in place as a permanent upgrade that modifies the pedal position sensor’s signal to the engine computer. It comes with cables for connecting the unit between the sensor’s port and the engine, and the housing is designed to be screwed into place. You can also get a push button switch that makes it simpler to select the throttle sensitivity it will apply.
The Throttle Sensitivity Booster is a simple modification, but it does have a few different settings that you can choose to control just how sensitive your truck’s accelerator pedal will be. It has three power boost levels that increase the throttle’s response from the slower factory setting to suit your driving style and needs. The signal boost ranges from no boost at the lowest level to a 100% signal boost at the highest setting.
We included BD Diesel’s Throttle Sensitivity Booster in this guide because it’s a common modification that doesn’t require more complex programmers and tuners to accomplish. We liked the simple solution that this product represents if what you need is a quick throttle response rather than a power boost. It’s simple to install and won’t cost as much as a programmer.
Tuner Buying Guide for the 6.0 Powerstroke Engine
Ever since engines became computer controlled, it’s been possible to tweak their performance by editing the factory settings for parameters that control engine timing, RPM limits, and transmission gear shifting. The catch was that you needed special electronic equipment to access the engine’s onboard computer and overwrite its settings. That’s where tuners come into the picture: They plug into your truck’s electrical system and interface with the engine’s computer.
If you’re not already familiar with the difference between tuners and programmers, it can be confusing when you shop for a device to enhance your 6.0 Powerstroke’s performance. There’s also a large selection of tuners on the market to choose from. Which one will work best for you?
Tuners vs. Programmers
Tuners and programmers are both products designed to give Ford truck owners access to the 6.0 Powerstroke engine’s onboard computer and make custom changes to its settings and parameters. What’s the difference between them?
- Tuners are designed to be permanently installed with a connection to the onboard computer. This allows you to monitor key measurements of performance like horsepower, RPMs, and torque while you drive your truck and make adjustments accordingly. Tuners change the engine computer’s settings with profiles, and many support custom tweaks to specific parameters.
- Programmers are very similar to tuners. They usually have a screen that displays important metrics like tuners do, but they are designed to be plugged into the onboard computer temporarily to upgrade the computer’s settings with profiles designed for higher performance. Once the programmer has made the needed changes, it’s disconnected from the computer. They usually double as diagnostic tools that read check engine light codes but don’t including real-time monitoring.
What’s the Best Way to Select the Right Engine Tuner?
Choosing a new tuner for an engine like Ford’s 6.0L Powerstroke can be a challenge. The factors that determine which will be best for your situation can include the price, monitoring features, and interface. It also matters whether you need a device for maintenance work or to set up high-performance mod kits. Below is a list of the most important things to consider when comparing engine turners:
Price: Your budget will be the first filter for the list of choices you’ll want to consider. Tuners fall into a wide price range, so your initial budget will narrow your list of candidates.
Installation: The method of installing and using different tuner products can vary quite a bit. Some are plug-and-play and others may require some wiring work to get them hooked into your truck’s electrical system.
Interface: As with most consumer electronics, the interface design can make or break a product despite its overall performance. A tuner that’s difficult to control or has an unwieldy way of navigating its menus can be frustrating to use. It’s a good idea to demo a unit or browse honest reviews before making a purchase.
Monitoring: Tuners are often designed to function as engine monitors as well as programmers, but many products that fall into this category have only limited monitoring features. Carefully review monitoring features to ensure they meet your needs.
Enhancements: The performance enhancements offered by different programmers isn’t the same from one product to another. Some will reprogram the engine’s computer with a comprehensive profile of parameters. Other tuners are specialized and improve only one engine parameter like throttle sensitivity.
Diagnostics: Many of these products can also double as diagnostics tools that read check engine light error codes and clear them. This is handy if you perform your own maintenance on your vehicle.
Other Features: Tuners can change settings besides those that add power or fuel efficiency. They can change transmission settings to make shifting smoother or make the throttle more responsive. These options don’t add to the engine’s overall performance, but they do personalize the way your truck drives.
Can performance tuners make the 6.0L Powerstroke engine more fuel efficient?
Yes, this is one of the primary performance benefits that tuners can provide. Because the factory settings in the Powerstroke’s computer are designed for the average driver, they aren’t as efficient as they can be. Some engines can get as much as two or three miles per gallon more with the adjustments that a tuner can make.
How much of a performance boost can the 6.0L Powerstroke gain from these devices?
There can be a substantial increase in horsepower for large diesel engines like the 6.0 Powerstroke. Some manufacturers claim to increase power by 180 horsepower and over 200 pound-feet of torque. The actual performance gains depend on the engine model, any upgrades you’ve made, and its overall condition.
Why don’t engine manufacturers program their computers for maximum performance settings in the first place?
Truck manufacturers like Ford try to create vehicles tuned for the driving needs of the typical driver, considering safety and convenience as important as performance. As a result, engines aren’t programmed to realize their full potential, but they do have a cushion of capability beyond what the average truck owner needs.
That wraps up this buying guide of the best tuners for the 6.0L Powerstroke engine. We tried to choose the top 9 tuners that cover different vehicle owner needs, ranging from simple upgrades like BD Diesel’s Throttle Sensitivity Booster to full-featured tuners like SCT’s Livewire TS+.
Some are designed to fix specific problems with stock Powerstroke engines, and others are full-featured tuners that reprogram and monitor your engine’s performance. Whether you want to program the Powerstroke for mod kits or reclaim the extra power that its factory settings waste, there’s a tuner here to match your needs.