Custom Diesel Tuning With An EFILive Device

If you start a conversation with almost any diesel truck owner, you will surely find that conversation leads to custom diesel tuning. Performance junkies (a.k.a. most diesel truck owners) are always looking for ways to improve how their truck performs and ultimately tows and hauls stuff. Finding a reputable supplier of custom diesel tuning is easy. Simply ask for a recommendation on any social media page and you’ll get an abundance of answers. But how many actually understand how to accomplish custom tuning with a shop that is several hundred miles away and then uploading this tune into the truck’s ECM?

But many truck owners are new to this tuning stuff, and we have all had a “first-time” experience with uploading a custom tune to our truck. So, I thought I would put together a short tutorial about how to do it with an EFILive FlashScan device and a little insight from a custom tuner — PPEI Custom Tuning.

custom diesel tuning

Before you can tune your truck, you need to download the EFILive V8Scan And Tune program to your computer.

Custom Diesel Tuning: Getting Started

PPEI specializes in diesel performance, the team at PPEI have set many world records along with continuing many industry firsts. So, I was more than comfortable talking to them about the process.

Logan Forbes is one of the guys at PPEI and when he heard I had a few questions, he was eager to respond. For instance, my first question was, what should readers know about using an EFILive FlashScan or AutoCal?

custom diesel tuning

Once you have the EFILive program on your computer, you will need to upload your custom tunes from wherever you saved them on your computer to the EFILive device using the EFILive program.

“Using an EFILive tuning tool, like most tuning tools currently on the market, can be intimidating. However, you can rest assured we will provide you with all necessary documentation and are available for remote assistance to make the custom tuning process go as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Most tuning we offer can be accomplished in just minutes.”

Tuning Your Device

While the custom tuning process might seem daunting, it is not difficult. In fact, if you can plug a USB cable into your computer and follow some simple instructions, it really is not very hard. Although EFILive has two devices you can use (AutoCal and FlashScan), either will handle your tune uploading. You can read about how they differ by reading this.

If a customer is confused while trying to download or upload a tune from PPEI, can they call and get some direction? “Absolutely”, says Logan. “PPEI’s tech staff can be reached anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. CST via phone, messenger, website chat, or support portal. We are always happy to provide quick assistance for our customers.”

Unless you are physically at a shop that does custom diesel tuning, you will find the tuning you choose via a website like Once you select the tuning you feel is right for your truck, you will purchase the tune files and watch your email. The file(s) you purchase will be emailed to you and will then need to be downloaded to your computer.

Before you receive your custom diesel tuning file(s), you will need to download the EFILive software onto your computer. Once that is complete, you will need to connect your EFILive device to the computer. Do not try to upload your tune to the EFILive device at this time, as you will need to make sure the device has the latest software updates.

custom diesel tuning

Next, save the tune file(s) you purchased somewhere on your computer so it will be easy to locate. Personally, I place them on my desktop until they are loaded into my EFILive device and then I have a folder for my truck stuff that I keep it in. Once your EFILive device is updated, it’s time to load the tune into the device.

Open the EFI Live V8 Explorer Program. Once you open it, locate the “F3: Data Files” tab, it should have the following folders within: EFILive folder, Scan folder, Tune folder, and Read folder. Click on the ‘Tune Folder’. With that folder open, minimize the EFILive Explorer window so you can see your desktop icons. Locate the tune file(s) that you saved from your email, right click on the file(s), and either drag it to your desktop or select ‘Copy’. After you have copied the file, you need to paste it in the area to the right of the Tune folder.

Once the green progress bar finishes moving across the screen (this might take a couple of minutes), your tune is uploaded to the EFILive device. Now you can disconnect the AutoCal or FlashScan device and flash the truck with the new file.

Custom Diesel Tuning Your Truck

Now that you have the tune(s) loaded on your EFILive device, connect it to your truck via the OBD-II port. Depending on the make of your truck and the year it was built, you might need to utilize an unlock security cable to accomplish the tune upload.

With your EFILive cable connected to the OBD-II port, connect the other end to the EFILive device. EFILive devices have several possible connection ports, but there is only one that connects to the OBD-II cable. Next, make sure everything in your truck is turned off. (radio, lights, blower motors, etc.).

When your EFILive tuning device is connected to your truck, turn your key (or push the start button) so the truck is On (do not start the engine). When the hand-held device comes on, “Scan Tool” will be your first option. Use the arrow buttons below the scren  to scroll down until you see “Tuning Tool.” Then press OK. Next, using the arrow buttons, scroll until you see the words “Program Full” and then press OK. When that is done, you will see “Read”. Press the down arrow once again and you’ll see the actual tune file. When you locate this file, press OK and your module will read “Checking”. Once the EFILive device is ready, it will start flashing the custom tune onto your truck’s ECM.

custom diesel tuning

Once you have started to upload the tune to your truck’s ECM, the EFILive device will tell you what to do.

Finally, I asked Logan what is the first thing any new customer should know about getting a tune from PPEI.

“PPEI tuning is engineered and designed to optimize your vehicle’s performance. We build tuning according to your vehicle’s mods and usage, along with how we believe the vehicle will perform at its best. If for whatever reason you have an alternative preference or feel it could be improved in any way, let us know. The tuning is 100-percent adjustable and can be tailored to your liking. With that said, we are geared toward performance enhancement and avoid modifications to tuning that would result in a decrease in performance.”

Whether you’re using AutoCal or FlashScan, you will have a couple of prompts to follow, and your dashboard will light up. When your new custom diesel tuning is uploaded to your truck, you will be prompted to turn the key off and on. Once all of these prompts are done, you have successfully flashed your tune. Finally, make sure your truck does not have an interruption of electrical power. If the battery goes dead or causes the truck to “shut down”, your ECM can be “bricked” and then be useless until you get it reflashed — usually at a dealer. That’s why tuners recommend a battery charger be connected to your truck before you begin the upload process.

While tuning your truck might seem like a bit of black magic, it really is not hard if you take your time and be patient.

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About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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