Dodge Cummins Performance


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Cummins Parts - Turbo Diesel Performance

This page will look at a few of the most common ways to boost performance on a Dodge Cummins engine.  These great diesel engines are manufactured by Cummins for the Dodge Ram trucks.  You may have noticed that there is a natural rivalry that sometimes exists between owners of Chevy, Ford, & Mopar vehicles.  In much the same way, some people have a strong bias towards the Chevy Duramax, Ford Powerstroke, or Dodge Cummins diesel engines.  Everyone thinks their choice is best!  However, the Cummins is truly a favorite for many truck owners.  Cummins diesel engines have been widely used in all sorts of different heavy duty vehicles over the course of many years.  Whether it be in a semi-truck, a bus, a bull dozer, or a pickup truck, the Cummins diesel engine is known for it's rugged reliability, efficient fuel economy, and impressive power output.  This already impressive power can be boosted further to amazing levels!  This page will look at some ways to further boost Cummins turbo diesel performance.  Below is a video showing the Banks Monster Exhaust installed on a Dodge Truck.  You can buy this exhaust and other Cummins diesel performance parts at Summit Racing (a great online speed parts supplier).

Dodge Cummins 3500

Before trying to boost the power of a Cummins (or any other diesel engine), it's wise to invest in a set of gauges that allow you to keep an eye on important system temperatures.  At the minimum, an Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) gauge should be used, so that the temperature of the exhaust gases flowing into the turbo can be closely watched.  An EGT gauge should be considered first before other Cummins parts of turbo diesel performance are considered.  If you run with EGT's that are too hot for extended periods of time, then the engine can be seriously damaged.  If your Dodge truck has an automatic transmission, then a transmission temp gauge is also a very good idea if you plan on doing any heavy duty towing.  Automatic transmission life can be cut short if temperatures are allowed to get too hot.  Make sure you have a good transmission cooler installed if you are running with an automatic.       

EGT, Boost, & Transmission Temp Gauges

Example of EGT, Boost, & Trans Temp Gauges

Exhaust gas temperature is measured in the exhaust system as close to the engine as reasonably possible.  In other words, you don't want to install the EGT sensor out by the tailpipe where the exhaust gases have cooled down!  It should be monitored before the turbocharger and as close to the cylinder head as possible.  Usually, right after an exhaust manifold is a good place to position it.  With the proper gauges in place to be able to safely monitor EGT's and other vital vehicle info, then the real fun can begin! 

On newer Dodge Cummins diesel engines with electronic controls, there are various performance modules or chips that can be added to give major increases in power output.  Bully Dog is one popular brand of these tuners, and on their Power Pup module they state a maximum increase in power of up to 230 HP and 450 ft*lbs torque is possible!  Just by plugging in one of these modules!  That's right, you can ADD that much more power on top of the big power the Cummins is already pumping out in stock form!  Sounds too good to be true??  Well, it's true that you can add large amounts of power with this type of Cummins parts turbo diesel performance module.  The secret is in the characteristics of the diesel engine.  On a diesel engine, injecting more fuel will result in more power... up to a certain point.  This is almost the opposite of a gasoline engine where adding fuel and richening the mixture excessively will kill performance and lower power.  A diesel engine is different.  As you add more fuel and richen the mixture, power output will continue to climb until the point that there is so much fuel that much of it is unburned (or partially burned - black smoke) and then the power increase will taper off.  Before the power increase drops off dramatically, you'll be facing another limiting factor.  It's called EGT.  Adding more fuel makes more power, but it also raises exhaust gas temperature.  If you add too much fuel and the exhaust gas temps get too hot, then you can seriously damage your engine.  So, at very high power levels, you will really need to keep an eye on your EGT (try to keep it BELOW 1300 degrees F)!  It's very likely you will only be able to drive with the "pedal to the metal" for short periods of time, unless you make other modifications to your Dodge Cummins that allows more air to be ingested by the engine.  Adding additional air and leaning the air/fuel mixture helps cool the exhaust temperatures on a diesel engine. 

Dodge Cummins Performance Module

Dodge Cummins Bully Dog Power Pup Module

On earlier models of Dodge Cummins diesel engines that had mechanical fuel injection, an electronic performance module (as described above) will not work.  On these older models, the injectors are not computer controlled.  In order to increase power output on these engines, fuel needs to be added other ways.  An injection pump might be able to be adjusted some to increase fuel delivery and therefore increase power output.  However, running higher fuel injection pressures might damage the injector pump.  EXPENSIVE mistake!  Another way to increase fuel delivery on these earlier models (and even on new models) is to install a set of performance injectors that have a higher flow rating.  The additional diesel fuel added by the higher flow injectors will boost power output.  Once again, be sure to install an EGT gauge so you can keep an eye on your exhaust temperature.  If you allow things to get too hot, you can damage the turbine wheel on the turbocharger and do other expensive damage to your engine.   

Cummins Turbo Diesel Injectors

Dodge Cummins Fuel Injectors (earlier models)

Another category of Cummins parts for turbo diesel performance gain is the exhaust system.  The factory exhaust does a fairly good job of allowing the exhaust gases to exit the engine at stock power levels.  However, at elevated power levels, a further reduction in backpressure can not only free up some additional power but also lower EGT.  The lower exhaust temperature of a performance exhaust is probably the biggest benefit on a truck that has a chip or module.  The freer flowing exhaust helps lower temps, which in turn allows you to add more fuel and get more power.

Dodge Cummins Exhaust Upgrade

Bully Dog Performance Exhaust for Dodge Cummins

How do these Cummins parts for turbo diesel power gain actually work?  GREAT!  Let's just say that a BIG, HEAVY full size 4x4 Dodge Cummins diesel truck can go to the drag strip and put sports cars to shame!  It's amazing how much power can be added to a diesel engine for a relatively low cost - especially on the newer electronically controlled engines.  Just don't loose your senses and overfuel your engine.  You can melt down your turbo or do other costly damage.  Keep a close eye on your exhaust temps.  Handled responsibly, the increase in power and performance on your Dodge Cummins can be very impressive... and very FUN!