In 2010, Chevrolet finally unleashed the long awaited return of the Camaro . They gave the top of the line Camaro SS two different 6.2 L V8 engines: the manual got the LS3 and the automatic got its cousin the L99. Chevy tuned the LS3 to pump out 426 hp and 410 ft-lb of torque and the L99 to make 400 hp and 410 ft-lb of torque. Starting in 2016, Chevy dumped the LS3/L99 combo and instead put in the identically sized 6.2 L LT1. The LT1 Camaro SS makes 455 hp and 455 ft-lb of torque, significantly increasing output over the outgoing LS3.
Yet, while having just north of 400 hp is fun, it doesn’t come close to doing the Camaro SS justice. After all, this is one of the most iconic muscle cars and muscle car manufacturers of all time. The 1969 Camaro SS made 430 hp (SAE gross), and its roided-out cousin the 1970 Chevelle SS made 450 hp and 500 ft-lb of torque (SAE gross). Surely, 50 years of racing technology should improve power output, not diminish it, right?
Absolutely, and you can easily improve on the Camaro’s underpowered 400-455 hp by just doing a couple of simple mods. One of the best mods you can do is tuning for the Camaro SS. With good tuning, the Camaro SS can easily pick up 20+hp and 25+tq without any other upgrades. With other mods, the sky is truly the limit for what custom tuning can do.
This guide is going to break down everything you need to know about getting your Camaro SS tuned. We’ll cover the basics of Camaro SS tuning, the benefits and risks, and we’ll give you our top options for reputable tuners. First, let’s start with the basics.
Camaro SS Tuning Basics
While Camaro SS tuning might sound intimidating and ominous, as we’ll show you it’s actually pretty straightforward. While they don’t often get a lot of attention outside of enthusiast circles, car tuning is actually one of the best performance mods for almost any car. A tune can offer increased horsepower, a larger powerband, compensate for other mods, and improve fuel economy.
Tunes change parameters in the Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which controls basically every aspect of how the engine functions. The most common changes that tuning makes to naturally aspirated engines are to air-to-fuel ratios (AFRs), ignition timing, camshaft timing, and fuel pressure.
AFRs at wide open throttle (WOT) are generally leaned out a little bit to create more power. While it is different for every setup, on pump gas most Camaro SS’ are going to target around a 12.5:1 AFR (.85 lambda) at WOT. If the car is supercharged, that becomes richer to about 11.5:1 (.78 lambda) at WOT.
A few degrees of ignition timing advance are also usually added at WOT to increase horsepower. Camshaft timing can also be advanced a few degrees for more top end power. Fuel pressure is also usually turned up to add more fuel into the cylinders, which equates to more power.
Chevy 6.2 L Flash Tuning vs Piggyback Tuning
Now onto the most important part of tuning: installing the tune on the car. The two most widely used Camaro SS tuning methods are flash tuning and piggyback tuning. Both are done using external devices that are installed on the car, though typically installation is incredibly straightforward and easy.
Flash tuning works with a handheld tuning device, often referred to as a “tuner,” that is plugged into the Camaro’s OBD II outlet. The tuner then “flashes” a new tune to the ECU, which rewrites certain engine parameters – like the ones we mentioned above. Typically, these devices take your stock settings and save them so they can be reinstalled if you want to get rid of the tuner in the future. They are also usually detectable by dealers looking to see if the car has been modified for warranty claims.
The other option is piggyback tuning. “Piggybacks” works by manipulating signals between the ECU and vehicle sensors.They do not rewrite ECU tables, like flashing, but rather fool the ECU into behaving differently without it realizing. Piggybacks have the same practical effects as flash tuning, but are typically harder for dealerships to detect. It is a much cruder option than flash tuning, and does not allow for nearly the same level of customization and margin of safety.
For the Camaro SS we wholeheartedly recommend flash tuning over piggyback tuning. Flash tuning offers safer and more substantial power increases without needlessly manipulating the external ECU.
Camaro Tuning Terminology
One thing we should probably clarify before going any further: tuning terminology. The terms “tune,” “tuning,” “tuning,” and “tuned” are sometimes used interchangeably with each other but they describe slightly different things. Additionally, E-tuning is a blanket term that is also widely used.
- Tune/Map – The file or software that is flashed to your ECU or manipulates it signals
- Tuner – 1) The person/company setting the engine parameters in the tune file; 2) The handheld device used to flash or piggyback your ECU
- Tuning – The process of adjusting the engine’s parameters
- Tuned – A car that has been modified through either a flash or piggyback tuner
- E-Tuning – The process of having one’s car tuned by a tuner through email correspondence
It’s easy to mix these up when you first start learning about the process, so don’t be discouraged. If you ever have a question as to what something means you can always double check here.
Chevy 6.2 L Tuning Benefits
Some of the benefits of Camaro SS tuning include:
- +20-40 hp/tq (tune alone)
- 100+hp/tq (with other mods)
- Improved Powerband
- Data Logging
- DTC Code Viewing and Clearing
- Real-time Engine Monitoring
- Maximizing gains from mods
The most important gains from Camaro SS tuning are going to be in the horsepower and torque department. With just a tune alone, the Gen 5 Camaro SS picks up about 25 hp/tq. The Gen 6 Camaro picks up about 40 hp/tq with just a tune. Camaro SS tuning also increases the entire powerband on the LS3/L99/LT1 V8s. It gives it more low end torque and power that stays sustained until redline.
However, power gains are not the only benefit to Camaro SS tuning by a longshot. You can also check DTC codes and usually clear them if you want. The other crucial benefit to tuning is the ability to log and monitor your engine. Most tuners have a feature known as “data logging,” which allows you to take a snapshot of your engine’s performance when driving.
You can check to see if everything is working together as it should to detect problems as early as possible. For example, if you notice your AFR is running too rich or lean at it might indicate you have a leak in your system.
Another key aspect of tuning is that it allows you to maximize the gains from other mods. Installing mods like a cold air intake or headers add some power by themselves, but to truly maximize the gains you need tuning to take advantage of the increased airflow and reduced backpressure. A popular mod for the Camaro SS is to add a flex fuel sensor, and tuners can provide specific E85 maps that have leaner AFRs and more ignition/cam timing for more power.
Camaro Tuning Risks
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of Camaro SS tuning, it’s important to also acknowledge the risks. One of them is somewhat obvious, but the more power you add to your engine the shorter lifespan it has. Adding just a few basic mods like an intake or headers probably won’t do a ton to hurt longevity on any of the Camaro SS engines, but when you get above ~50-60 hp/tq it starts to take effect.
In addition, having a “bad” tune can also hurt your engine – and potentially even blow it up. If inexperienced tuners add too much ignition/cam timing, make AFRs too lean, or don’t properly diagnose leaks and problems, your Camaro SS can be a very expensive paperweight in short order. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure you are only getting tunes from reputable and experienced tuners – like those on our list.
The final risk of Camaro SS tuning has to do with dealerships and warranty work. Generally, it’s accepted that if you flash tune your car the dealership can tell that you have done so. Piggyback tuning is harder to detect, but still possible – especially if there is physical evidence on your ECU.
Many dealerships will use the existence of aftermarket tuning software to deny warranty claims on engines. And to be fair, they have some justification for doing so. It’s not Chevy’s fault if you get an inexperienced tuner who blows up your engine by making bad adjustments. So, if you plan on tuning your car you should be prepared to accept all risks, which might potentially mean a new engine. It’s not a big concern for small builds, but when you really jack up the power you also increase the risk.
3 Best Camaro SS Tunes/Tuners
Without further adieu let’s get to the important part: the 3 best Camaro SS tuning options:
- Livernois Motorsports
- Jannetty Racing
- SCT BDX Tuner
For custom flash Camaro SS tuning there are several good options to increase power while staying safe. We’re going to cover the top 4 Camaro SS tuners based on price, performance, customer service, and reliability. This is not an exhaustive list of Camaro SS tuners, as there are dozens and dozens, but only represents the top choices.
1) Livernois Motorsports Camaro SS Custom Tuning
Purchase Links: 2010-2015 (Gen 5) Camaro SS Livernois Motorsports Flash Tuner; 2016-2022 (Gen 6) Camaro SS Livernois Motorsports Flash Tuner
Our first recommendation for Camaro SS tuning comes from Livernois Motorsports and Engineering. Livernois has a long history in performance parts in racing, having been founded way back in 1949. Recently, they added customized flash tuning to their inventory, and it has already made a big impact for the community.
Livernois offers custom tuning for the Camaro SS through their MyCalibration handheld tuner. It’s a very simple process. You plug in their tuner to your car’s OBDII port to extract the stock ECU data, which gets sent to Livernois once you plug the tuner into your computer. Livernois then takes your ECU data and develops a custom tune specific to your car, which you can then upload to your car via the MyCalibration tuner.
Livernois Motorsports’ Camaro SS custom tuning offers gains of more than 22 hp and 27 ft-lb on the Gen 5, and more than 40 hp and 35 ft-lb on the Gen 6. They also make adjustments for revised cooling fan settings, to the rev limiter and speed limiter, for modified shift points and firmness (automatic), and they remove the skip shift feature on manual transmissions. Livernois also includes free updates whenever they make changes to their software.
They offer both 91 and 93 octane tunes, with more power coming from the 93 octane tuning. They are very well regarded in the community and are a popular choice for those looking to make serious power. Livernois can also adjust the tune to compensate for additional mods, like intakes, you just have to tell them you have them installed.
2) Jannetty Racing Camaro SS Custom Tuning
Price: $799.99 – 1,299.99 (total): $199.99 (one time fee) + $300-600 (tune) + $300-400 (handheld tuner)
Purchase Links: 2010-2015 (Gen 5) Camaro SS Jannetty Racing Tuning; 2016-2022 (Gen 6) Camaro SS Jannetty Racing Tuning
Our second recommendation for Camaro SS tuning is the very popular Jannetty Racing. Jannetty racing offers custom tuning options for the Camaro SS similar to Livernois, but at a higher price. How Jannetty Racing’s tuning works is you have to buy a handheld flash tuner first, and then you can buy a custom tune from them to be loaded onto the tuner. They do not have their own proprietary handheld tuner like the Livernois Motorsports MyCalibration tuner. However, they do offer a range of handheld tuner options they work with, such as HP Tuners, DiabloSport, and SCT.
Jannetty Racing is very well known in the Camaro SS community, and they have been tuning the newest generations since they were released in 2010. They are highly regarded as making safe and reliable power on the LS3/L99/LT1 platforms for the Camaro SS. Jannetty can tune bone stock Camaro SSs or modified ones – similar to Livernois – including supercharged engines.
They are a solid option for Camaro SS tuning and will undoubtedly leave you happy with how your car performs. The only downside is that they are somewhat expensive. You have to pay a one time $199.99 fee to secure their services, plus the cost of the actual tune. The tunes range from an additional $300 for lightly modified cars, all the way up to $600 for heavily modified ones. And that doesn’t include the cost of the handheld tuner device. You could quickly be out $1,000 just to tune your car one time.
3) SCT BDX Flash Tuner for Camaro
Purchase Links: Camaro SS (Gen 5/6) SCT BDX Flash Tuner
Our final recommendation for Camaro SS tuning is the SCT BDX Flash Tuner. The SCT tuner is a handheld tuning device that plugs into the car’s OBD II port. It is a very common option on the Camaro SS and comes with several base maps already installed, though those maps are not customized to your specific car but rather all Camaro SSs from that specific generation. This means it won’t give you the performance of either a Livernois or Jannetty Racing tune, but it will add some power.
The SCT BDX tuner also allows for custom tuning to be done. That means they can be used by some independent E-tuners, like Jannetty Racing, but not all. You can also make adjustments to the tune yourself, but that is recommended only for experienced tuners. Like other handheld tuners, you can also datalog, check/clear DTC codes, and monitor engine performance in real-time through gauges.
The SCT Flash Tuner is a good option for those looking for minimal power increases on a tight budget. It is the cheapest option available, but it also has the least customization, and thus the least performance.
Camaro SS Tuning Summary
Overall, Camaro SS tuning is a great way to increase performance and power from the factory on the LS3/L99/LT1 engines. Especially on Gen 5 Camaro SS’ with the automatic transmission, they are woefully underpowered from Chevrolet. Adding a tune will make the car much more responsive while adding horsepower and torque everywhere. Gen 6 Camaro SS tuning alone will add around 40 hp, and it can bring much, much more with other supporting mods.
Our top choices for Camaro SS tuning are from Livernois Motorsports, Jannetty Racing, and the SCT BDX Handheld Flash Tuner. Livernois and Jannetty both offer custom maps that specifically tailor the tuning to your specific car. The SCT tuner doesn’t offer as customized maps, as they are specific to the entire generation rather than your specific car.
We recommend the Livernois Motorsports tuning option of the bunch. They offer the best custom tuning price while making solid improvements to power output and drivability. The process with Livernois is incredibly quick, and they can help adjust for other performance modifications, too.
Are you considering tuning your Camaro SS for some more horsepower and torque? Have you already had your LS3/L99/LT1 tuned and are you making good power?
Let us know about your Camaro SS builds in the comments below!