Once upon a time, V-8 engines got horrible gas mileage, barely broke 200hp, and were incredibly slow. That’s no longer the case. For instance, my family and I acquired a Ram 1500 with the 5.7L Hemi engine recently. At 390 horsepower, it’s no slouch, pulls a trailer incredibly comfortably, and gets better gas mileage than my first truck did (back in the 1990’s).
Superchips Flashpaq 3841 on a Ram 1500
However, this wonderful machine came at a cost I did not expect. Chrysler, from the factory, recommended 89 octane rather than 87. Just today, 87 octane was at $2.48 and 89 octane was at $2.68–a twenty cent difference. In general, this is not a horrific cost as 20 gallons at twenty cents difference is really only $4.00. But, this adds up.
Superchips Flashpaq 3841 on a Ram 1500
Enter the Superchips Flashpaq. Superchips has long been making devices for years that have claimed increases in horsepower and fuel economy. Could this be true? How could I justify the cost?
With some time, I found the Superchips Flashpaq 3841 (an affiliate link)–one of the appropriate programmers for my 2012 Ram. However, there was a difference between it and the Flashpaq 3842 (another affiliate link); one met CAFE standards while the other didn’t. Did one modify the program of the truck differently than the other? The 3841 (the CAFE compliant device) was cheaper on a particular day and it was a good buy. So, in order to answer my question, I called.
I was put on the phone with a really friendly guy at Superchips who seemed to know his stuff. From what he says, it turns out that the 3841 and 3842 are basically equivalent devices. But, in order to meet CAFE standards, they needed to have a device with a different part number. With this in mind, I had to convince myself of the purchase price.
I estimated that I was driving about 100 miles per week or 5200 miles per year (really, that low). The truck was currently averaging right at 12.5 miles per gallon. That’s no so bad for a big truck that only towed a 2000+ pound boat and drove around a small town. The arithmetic helps me to expect that I purchased 416 gallons of gasoline per year. At $2.68 (89 octane), that’s $1114.88 in estimated gas expenses.
Follow some of the computations for fuel savings.
Step 1: Knowing that the 3841 had an 87 octane tune (a tune that modified how the truck ran to more effectively run 87 octane), it meant that I saved about 20 cents per gallon. Basically, I reduced my annual gas costs by 416 gals x ($.20/gal)=$83.20. If there was no further fuel economy gain, then I reduced expenditures by $83.20.
Step 2: The advertisement claimed that I would see 2-3 mpg fuel economy gain. I estimated that 1 mpg (mile per gallon) was probably more likely to be observed. In practice, with similar driving as before, I notice that fuel economy has climbed to (you guessed it) 13.5 miles per gallon. With a similar calculation as before, it dropped my fuel purchases to 385.2 gallons. So, 87 octane brings the cost of this fuel usage to $955.26.
In all, through both steps, the Flashpaq 3841 is estimated to lower my annual fuel costs by $159.62. Last I saw, the flat rate was $314 for a new version of the 3841. That means, in just shy of two years, the device pays for itself. But, I drive very little. If you, as a man, drive the average of 16,550 miles, the progression is linear and you make back the cost in less than a year. For the average woman, 10,142 miles per year is what you drive, and you make back the cost of the Flashpaq in about just over a year. (This information can be found at http://cars.lovetoknow.com.)
So, could I justify the cost? Absolutely, I could and so I ordered the device. The following video shows the process of unboxing the tuner and installing the tune on my truck.
If you have any questions about the post or the video, feel free to leave comments below.