UniChip Performance Chip Engine Tuner
Toyota does a few things differently than most of their competitors. While some of these differences are quite good (see industry leading quality and reliability for decades), some of these differences are, well, weird. Toyota doesn’t offer special orders, for instance. Toyota charges extra for floor mats on all of their vehicles (weird). Toyota also locks down their engine computer control systems making it almost impossible for aftermarket performance chip manufacturers to “crack” the codes and start playing with the motor’s performance settings.
Enter Unichip. Since Toyota locks their computer control systems, it’s hard (maybe impossible) to create an engine tuner (aka programmer) that will interface with the computer and change ignition timing, fuel delivery, etc. Jet, Superchips, and others don’t offer programmers for a lot of Toyotas because it’s just too expensive and/or difficult to crack the code and design one.
Unichip bypasses the problem by interfacing with the signals that are passed to the engine control module (ECM). Rather than try to change the stock settings in the ECM, Unichip changes the signals that the ECM receives. By altering the input, Unichip “tricks” your Toyota’s ECM into producing more power.
There are a few advantages to this approach. First, since the stock settings are never changed, there’s no danger of permanently changing any important factory computer settings. Secondly, it’s very easy to disconnect the Unichip performance tuner when it’s time for service or warranty repairs. While it’s true that this tuner won’t effect your warranty, disconnecting it is the easiest way to bypass the conversation with your local Toyota dealer.
Each Unichip tuner is custom-tuned by Unichip at the factory before it’s shipped to you for installation. Colby, one of our readers, purchased a Unichip tuner from AutoAnything.com for his 08′ Tundra. After letting them know about his K&N air intake and his Magnaflow exhaust, Unichip custom programmed his tuner specifically for his truck and sent it to him. [Actually, there was a bit of a problem. AutoAnything messed up the order and sent Colby the wrong chip at first, but they were good about fixing it.]
In addition to custom programming with each order, Unichip’s system can be re-programed or further adjusted by a certified technician, typically found at your local dyno/tuning shop.
According to Colby, installation isn’t too bad. There was a problem with the directions – they mentioned an LED indicator that doesn’t exist on the unit. Unichip says that the instructions will be corrected.
As far as install time, Unichip says it can take as little as 15 minutes, but it might last a couple of hours depending on how easy it is to access your ECM and route the wiring.
Unichip promised Colby that a custom tune for his 08′ 4.7L Tundra with K&N intake and Magnaflow exhaust would add about 38 hp. While Colby hasn’t had a chance to dyno the truck yet, he definitely feels a difference. You can call him a satisfied customer.
Unichip performance tuners aren’t cheap – at least not at first glance. A good deal on one will be right around $600 (for the Tundra), making it one of the more expensive performance options we’ve reviewed. HOWEVER, if you take into consideration just how much horsepower you can add (figure 5-9% more horsepower on a stock vehicle), the Unichip might actually be the least expensive dollar-per-horsepower performance accessory you can buy for a Toyota.
Do you have any experience with the Unichip? Let us know your thoughts below.
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories