Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
August 18, 2011

When it comes to electronically tuning your Mustang, the "chip" has been around for so long that trying anything else might make you leery. Of course, not all change is bad, and often there's a good reason to use the new stuff.

There's no need to be apprehensive about using handheld programming devices. Having been on the market for a few years now under one brand or another, these programming tools offer most of the same functions as a chip with the ease of push-button tuning. One of the most popular-as well as the newest-models is the DiabloSport Predator programming tool. Around $420 retail, the Predator uses a proprietary, Linux-based operating system to interact with the Ford Powertrain Control Module, allowing changes in several key areas.

Take the '03 Cobra Predator we're testing here, for example. This unit features a performance-tune upgrade option that adjusts parameters in the PCM for more performance, but which uses the stock boost levels. Also available is a pulley tune-up program that is used in conjunction with a 2.80-inch pulley for more boost. Both of these programs take only a few button pushes to implement, and you're done (except for the pulley install, of course). Best of all is the option for custom tuning, where you can adjust fuel and spark parameters in percentage increments. In addition, the Predator allows such functions as turning off the rear O2 sensors, calibrating the speedometer to your new gear or tire sizes, turning off the traction control, and so on.

We brought our '03 Cobra to DiabloSport's sister facility, Blue Dot Performance, in Delray Beach, Florida, to see what the Predator can do for these popular blown Mustangs. DiabloSport has Predators for most Ford applications.

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