So you just purchased that new (or used) diesel truck that you have been saving up for. Within the first few days, there is a good chance you will start to get the “itch”. No, not that itch, we’re talking about the desire to add some additional horsepower and torque. You probably did some research online already, but are still wondering what modifications should you start with. We decided to come up with a list of the “Top 5” Diesel Bolt-Ons for late-model trucks. This list was put together with the assumption that your truck is still relatively stock and you do not want to void your factory warranty. It does not contain lift kits, wheels/tires, exterior accessories, etc., as those can be more subjective. These are some of the more popular performance-oriented bolt-ons that are a good starting point for any diesel truck.
1. Air Intake
You are probably already aware that an internal combustion engine is basically a big air pump. The more air you can get it to pump, the more power your engine will produce. This is true for both gasoline and diesel engines. Late-model diesel engines all make use of a turbocharger to feed compressed air into the cylinders. The turbocharger sucks air in thru the factory intake plumbing and stock paper filter. An easy way to visualize this is to think about the engine breathing thru a restrictive straw. By improving the intake design and utilizing a freer-flowing filter will allow the turbo to suck in more air, which results in more power!
2. Filter Back Exhaust
The factory exhaust has to satisfy the demands of many different types of consumers. When engineers design factory mufflers/exhaust systems they try to keep it quiet on the inside (and outside) for the average person. Of course, diesel enthusiasts aren’t the average person! We like it louder and always want more power. An aftermarket exhaust utilizes freer-flowing mufflers and larger diameter pipes. This will help increase the amount of air (exhaust) that can flow out the tailpipe.
There are a wide variety of exhaust manufacturers that offer filter back exhausts to keep it 50-state legal. When picking your exhaust system you can choose the pipe diameter (4″ or 5″), material (aluminized steel, T409 stainless steel, or T304 stainless steel), different finishes, and even the exit location. If you live in a northern region with snow and salt, you may want to upgrade to a stainless steel system so it doesn’t rust within a few years.
3. Hand-Held Tuner/Programmer (Plug and Play)
Now that you have increased the amount of air being pumped in & out, how do you optimize all of this additional airflow? By simply reprogramming the stock ECM, you can increase the power gains even further. Hand-Held Tuners or Programmers for diesel engines offer significant increases in horsepower and torque. You can also see an improvement in fuel economy if you can manage to keep your foot out of it. They also offer other benefits such as screens to display additional gauges, the ability to act as a scan tool for reading and clearing codes, built-in performance meters, and they are compatible with EGT pyrometers for additional engine protection.
4. Lift Pump
Once you start pushing your diesel truck past its stock power levels, aftermarket fuel lift pumps are a popular upgrade to help maintain proper fuel supply to the engine. A lift pump is a supply pump that transfers fuel from the tank up to the engine’s injection system. You might be thinking my truck already has the factory lift pump why do I need to replace it? When the fuel demand is increased, the factory lift pumps are typically one of the first parts of the system to fall short. You can purchase just a pump, or an even better choice is to upgrade to a pump and filter combination. In addition to increased fuel supply, this will help to remove water, particulates, and entrained air from the diesel fuel.
5. Throttle Adjuster/Sensitivity Booster
A Throttle Adjuster/Sensitivity Booster can help make your truck feel much quicker. Modern diesel vehicles utilize an electronic throttle system which is controlled by an accelerator pedal position sensor. Due to the factory programming, throttle sensitivity can be a little lackluster and offers a relatively slow response to your throttle inputs. Reducing or eliminating the pedal lag can really help transform your truck. You will start to feel a more instantaneous throttle response and can also benefit from a quicker turbocharger spool-up.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about upgrading your diesel, call and speak to one of our Performance Specialists today at 1-888-DIESEL-4. Shop at XDP.com today and upgrade your Ford, GM, or Dodge Ram truck.
Disclaimer: XDP is in no way affiliated with Cummins or any of its subsidiaries or related companies, and that Cummins has not authorized the sale of any of XDP’s parts, and has not tested or approved any of XDP’s parts for use in genuine Cummins brand products.