UniChip Performance Chip Engine Tuner

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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 Performance Chip

Unichip Performance Chip

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.

Plug and unplug with ease.

Plug and unplug with ease.

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.

In-dash module.

In-dash module.

On/off switch.

On/off switch.

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.

Colby's 2008 Tundra.

Colby's 2008 Tundra.

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.

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Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories

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  1. tmac says:

    gotta use premium fuel thats a major drag

  2. Mickey says:

    Tmac if it helps with the added horsepower of mpg savings then it may as well be worth it. Time will tell. Then if it does as well as it’s advertised then I can see $600 for it. I haven’t got my income tax yet and it looks to be a good candidate.

  3. tmac says:

    ya id hafta see someone else do it and check out the mpg that it actually saves you.
    Where are u and what does gas cost there ?
    Cuz in vancouver the regular costs around 3.85 a gallon roughly converted.
    It would hafta save me quite a bit to be worth it…….

    • jim says:

      It may have been $ 3.85 a gallon then but regular now at about $1.23 a litre works out to about $5.50 for a imp gal. So premium would be pushing $6.00 if not more if you buy name brand gas.

  4. Mickey says:

    Oohh mann I way cheaper than you. Right now unlead regular is $1.85 and premium is $2.05. I live just north of Jacksonville, Florida. If I go 15 miles north to the border of Georgia unlead is $1.73 and premium is $1.95. SO I go get the premium every other tank.

  5. tmac says:

    ouch we get f’ed…
    great place to live honestly but cut the cost of living is ridiculous

  6. tmac – Yikes! My hat’s off to you sir – driving a Tundra in a place where gas costs $4 is a major commitment. Hope that truck is doing everything you need it to!

  7. tmac says:

    well i need it for the job, its my baby but its also a work truck for sure and it gets the job done for sure.
    i had 1700 hundred pounds of drywall in a month ago, and a couple of months ago i had 2400 hundred pounds of drywall mud in it, barely sagged the supension.
    plus my work covers most of my mileage in fuel costs. just out of curiousity what does it cost for a fill up ?

  8. Mickey says:

    I just filled up at an Exxon which was $1.99 per gallon premium. It cost $44 for 22 gallons. This was in Georgia.

  9. ingle says:

    if money isn’t an issue then I would definitely love to get one of this.

  10. tmac says:

    gasp gasp, choke choke….
    are u f’in kidding me ??!!
    44 bucks, not even in my dreams dude, last tank cost me 78 dollars in canadian play money
    get this though when gas was at its highest last summer i filled up once for 110

  11. Mickey says:

    Wow… I feel for you…. Man that’s high.

  12. Steven Hitchcock says:

    when ’87 octane was close $4 a gallon here in orlando I had to fill up from almost completely empty after a 334 mile round trip towing a boat. When I say almost completely empty, i mean the gas light was on for the last 40 miles before i filled up. I didnt want to take the chance of running out of gas before getting to my house to I stopped at a 7-11 and filled up. At $3.97 a gallon it ran me $104.00 to fill up. I’m so glad its dropped back down to under $2/gal

  13. xtreme6669 says:

    Micky, the ad right next to the article claims its now only $379…. Is that not true for the Tundra? Why do you say its $600?

  14. xtreme6669 says:

    Never mind… I just realized that’s for Superchips….. I just assumed that since the article was about the unichip that the ad would be for there product….

    and you all know what happens when you ASSUME……!

  15. Mickey says:

    XZtreme I constantly make mistakes so it’s nothing to worry about.

  16. Tex says:

    is it true that you can have unichip custom tuned for lower-octane fuel? even a tune to mid-grade would help, money-wise. if you can lower the octane required, would the performance drop too much to justify the chip purchase in the first place? gas is going to go up, a lot, in the not so distant future.

  17. Tex – I think so, but at that point I would guess that you start to lose a lot of the benefits of the uni-chip. The reason for the higher octane is that it allows more aggressive engine tuning while protecting against pinging and knocking. If you run regular, the engine’s knock sensor will basically counter-act the unichip at various times.

  18. DAN says:

    I have an 2008 tundra supercharged. Was wondering if this programer would work on my truck and if so what % in horespower would i see. also fuel mileage.

  19. Jason says:

    Dan – It will work on a supercharged Tundra, but I don’t know how much power it will add.

  20. Dan says:

    can anybody tell me if this chip will increase your fuel economy. with gas hitting above $3 and climbing at a steady rate, will this chip add fuel mileage to the truck?

  21. Jason (Admin) says:

    Dan – It’s not specifically designed to improve gas mileage, but a side-effect of improved performance *can* be improved gas mileage…provided the driver keeps his or her foot out of it.

  22. Jason F. says:

    I just ordered a Unichip, not fully understanding what I was ordering. It asked me to specify which add-ons I had on my truck, which I have an AEM Cold Are Intake, and that was all the information it required. So what exactly am I getting? Is the chip already tuned for better performance, and it will then take into consideration my CAI, or is it simply being tuned for the CAI and I’m not getting any added performance? Their website does not specify where the chip improves the engine’s performance, or how, it just keeps mentioning that it will ‘calibrate’ your add-ons. I tried to send them this question, but their ‘support’ option is currently not working. Anyone who may know anything about this, I would appreciate your feedback!

  23. Jason (Admin) says:

    Jason F – The chip is tuned to maximize the performance of your truck, specific to your accessories. If you have a stock Tundra, the chip will add a certain amount of power. If you have a Tundra with an air intake (or headers or exhaust or supercharger), the chip’s base program will be modified to maximize that accessory as well.

    You can read our interview of the UniChip founder here: http://www.tundraheadquarters......stom-tune/

    We asked him some questions related to your question that might be informative.

  24. [...] See our full review: UniChip Performance Chip Engine Tuner Review [...]

  25. pete fallon says:

    i have a 2002 tundra w/4.7 V8 with 250,000 miles. with 20,000 miles on truck i installed downey headers, cold air intake, and converted exhaust to full duals (easy job since there are two cats), two dynomax mufflers (they pass 1000cfm / twice what flowmaster offers). i did lose a small amount of low end torque but the high end is extreme. the truck goes from 40 – 100 in a hurry. my gas mileage on the highway is over 20+. it’s fun to spank a mustang gt at a traffic light. as for premium gas (91), it is worth every penny. my engine doesn’t measure any wear, the gas is cleaner. synthetic mobil 1 every 10,000 miles and the truck still uses no oil. thanks, pete

  26. Jason (Admin) says:

    Pete – Sounds awesome man! Do you remember if those are short-tube or long-tube headers?

  27. Mark says:

    In the article at the top of the page it says colby would gain 38hp with his unichip. Is that combined with his CAI and magnaflow exhaust or is it 38hp on top of the gain of those 2 excessories

  28. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mark – That’s 38hp on top of the hp gains from the air intake and exhaust. I’d guess 48hp total.

  29. [...] safe operation. Curiously, some vendors are listing the 2005-2009 version of the kit as coming with a Unichip, but turbo output is still reported as a conservative four psi, which makes it difficult to [...]

  30. Charlie says:

    Hey guys, I just bought a used 04 Tundra crew cab with 30,000 miles. I had a silverado as my first truck and this trucks only has a 4.7 and hauls ass! I’ve only put a K&N intake on it and a magnmaflow muffler, 3″ IN(center) and 3″ dual (out), so there’s not much done to it but it’s fast. I’m in college so I’m basically broke. I had a jet on my 2000 silverado and it was the worst decision. These UniChips look killer but I just can’t afford that. What other good chips or programmers would you recommend for my 04, 4.7L, anyone. Thanks

  31. willie says:

    i just purchased the uni chip for my 2010 tundra 5.7, but i plan on adding headers to the truck after instillation of the chip. since i live in alaska and there are no unichip tecs here how would i retune the chip to offset for the headers.

  32. Erv Felker says:

    I’ve been trying to find a Unichip for a 08 crewmax for a month. Even paid autoanything, but they refunded my money. Ideas?
    Erv

  33. Daniel says:

    Hey Jason,

    First of all, just want to say how awesome and helpful this blog is and thank you for doing such a good job responding to everyone’s posts; I’ve really learned a lot from this site.
    I bought a 2008 Tundra TRD 5.7L crewcab in October and will be receiving my AFE Stage 2 Si Pro 5R cold air intake as well as my Corsa Sport cat-back exhaust system on Monday. Was wondering with that setup if the Unichip would be the best third option for power gains, and what kind of horepower/torque increases I might expect from the tuner. Also, do you know if they can program the chip to accept regular octane fuel? Or, just out of curiosity, what might happen if you continued to use regular unleaded fuel with the Unichip tuner? I only ask because the 5.7 is quite the guzzler and with regular gas in Idaho already being at $3.50 per gallon or more, I don’t know if I could afford the hundreds of dollars on the tuner as well as being stuck with premium gas only for the rest of the time owning my truck, which I hope to be a long time.
    Any thoughts or recommendations would be much appreciated, thanks!

    • Daniel – UniChip tunes frequently require higher octane fuel (premium), and if you use regular, you’ll probably get worse fuel economy and performance than you did without the UniChip tune, as the knock sensor will just trick the truck into running extra rich.

      In any case, UniChip is one of the only options available for tuning a Tundra, and they claim to have maps for most popular accessories…so you should be good to go. Having said that, we’re finally testing a UniChip tuner, and we’ll have a more detailed review of the product coming up in a few weeks. You might want to wait. :-)

      • Daniel says:

        Awesome, I’ll definitely look forward to seeing that. I wonder if they could program the tuner for regular octane fuel or if that would hinder the potential capabilities of the chip

        • Daniel – They can absolutely be programmed for regular gas, but it’s not quite as effective. There’s also a “fuel economy” mode that you can activate as well that will sacrifice some performance for improved fuel economy.

      • Daniel says:

        Also Jason, I was curious about what advantages with my setup, if any, that I might gain from a high-flow catalytic converter, and/or lt headers (vs. shorty headers?), and how this might affect the exhaust sound. Don’t know if these upgrades are really worth it without a supercharger or tuner. Thanks!

        • Daniel – Generally speaking, the only thing that really effects exhaust sound is your muffler – headers, racing cats, etc., won’t change noise levels.

          As for headers, I’m not a huge fan of shorty headers on trucks, as they tend to diminish low-end torque a bit in exchange for better top-end performance. I think long-tube headers are better for pickups.

          Finally, high-flow catalytic converters (cats) can be a good idea on a supercharged vehicle, only in the Tundra’s case I’m not so sure. Toyota designed the stock cats to function with the TRD supercharger, so I don’t think you need to replace them…maybe just wait until they fail normally, then replace them with a performance cat for a few more horses.

          Whatever you ulimately add, you can have your UniChip tuner reprogrammed each time you add new parts.

          • Daniel says:

            Awesome, thanks for the advice! That’s cool about the different modes on the Unichip, sounds like a solid, versatile piece of equipment. I’ll have to start saving again and look more into it. I read someone’s comment about whether or not long tube headers have to delete or bypass the catalytic converter? I assume that this was just speculation since you never mentioned that as one of the trade-offs of lt headers. Sounds like Thorley is a good brand. Are most headers ceramic-coated? I’m guessing for better heat dispersal? Do you think that sacrifices any longevity of the headers, or do you think most breaks/failures are caused by user error?
            Sorry for so many questions, I’m a noob in the Tundra arena and its just great having a real person to answer your questions directly, so thanks again!

  34. Daniel says:

    Also, do you know why they ask on the Unichip website if you have a 5.7L TRD to specify a “reflash” or not? Thanks

    -The Noob

  35. robert says:

    i have a 2013 tundra double cab rock warrior 5.7L and want to know how to remove the engine govoner.. top speed is 110mph and stops there.. i have air raid cold air intake and tru dual flowmaster mufflers and pipes exit b4 the rear tire. i would like to also be able to program the tranny shifting also, any advice?

    • Ryan says:

      Robert, I also have the same problem with my 07′ tundra. Being young and dumb at 16 (was Dad’s truck at the time shh)I was racing a Civic on the highway twice topped the truck out each time above 120+ MPH. It now only tops out around 112 MPH and kicks down to 105 if I even try to hit any higher. I know if you ask the dealer they can reset the codes but removing it messes with the MPG, Torque, etc.- or so I’ve been told. If anyone else has another option I would also be interested in hearing it

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