Diesel Engine Performance Parts


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Diesel Performance Parts Can Really Increase POWER!

It is possible to dramatically increase both horsepower and torque on a diesel engine with some relatively simple changes.  On a gasoline powered vehicle, getting a comparable increase in HP and torque could take $1000's and $1000's, and a LOT of engine work which adds even more cost if you are unable to do the work yourself and need to hire a mechanic.  Even if you spend BIG money, a street driven gasoline engine will rarely be able to experience an increase in power and torque comparable to a diesel.  The diesel engine is different from its gasoline burning relative in that more fuel equals more power.  Up to a point that is... at some point you will start to get black smoke and dangerously high exhaust temperatures from over fueling the engine excessively.  In other words, a diesel engine will continue to make more power as you add more fuel, up until the point that you add so much diesel that it is unable to burn it all during that combustion cycle.  The partially burned fuel is what causes the black smoke from performance diesel trucks.

The Black Cloud of Diesel Performance

Blowing a Black Smoke at the Drag Strip

As mentioned, another big factor that limits how much fuel you can dump into a diesel engine is the Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT).  Adding more fuel raises combustion temperatures.  Too much fuel can result in too much heat that can cause engine damage.  This is quite different from a gasoline engine where adding extra fuel (richening the mixture) often lowers engine temperatures, and it is the excessively lean mixtures (not enough fuel) that can cause damage in a gas engine.  The diesel engine behaves differently in this respect. 

Yes, both gas and diesel engines are 4 stroke internal combustion engines, but there are some unique properties of diesel engines which makes it very easy to add a diesel engine performance part and substantially increase power on newer computer controlled diesel engines.  It is possible to add a single part and gain as much as +150HP and +300 ft-lbs of torque!!  Often installation will just take a matter of minutes!  Sounds too good to be true doesn't it?!?!  What is this "magic" part that makes huge increases in power and performance?  Well, that diesel engine performance part is simply a computer chip or module that plugs into the computer engine management system of modern diesel engines.  The chip or module tells the computer to inject more diesel fuel.  Remember, on a diesel MORE FUEL = MORE POWER!  Up to a point, of course.  At some point, you can meltdown your engine from excessive EGT's and before that you will likely be blowing a massive black cloud of smoke from over fueling.  On gasoline engines, performance chips will often add only an insignificant amount of power that is hardly noticeable to the driver.  Not so with the diesel engine!  The number of different companies and diesel tuner products available to enhance the performance of diesel powered trucks can be mind boggling.  Because there are so many choices, it's important to make a good choice for maximum performance, economy, and reliability.  One of the big names in power chips for diesel trucks is Bully Dog.  They are a trustworthy company that has been around for a long time producing diesel performance products for Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford trucks.

Bully Dog Power Chip

There are also many other companies and products available to enhance the performance of your diesel truck.  Just be careful to choose a brand that has a good reputation for quality products and good customer service.  It's a good idea to visit some online forums and search in the archives on the particular brand that you are interested in buying.  Ask other owners some questions and see what their experience has been with the chip or tuner that they are using.

Banks Six-Gun Tuner 

Another well established brand of power chips for diesel trucks is Banks.  One of their popular tuner systems is the Banks Six-Gun which allows choosing different tuning curves on the fly.  In other words, as you are driving your truck, you can change the programming of your tune.  This is a very nice option, and some of the less expensive diesel performance chips out there require you to stop your truck in order to change the tune. 

Edge Juice Tuner

Yet another popular brand of performance diesel tuner is Edge Products.  The Edge Juice is popular with truck enthusiasts because it not only incorporates performance features, but it also has built in safety features to help protect your truck.  Just like the Bully Dog and Banks tuners shown above, the Edge Juice allows tuning changes on the fly.  You can even select a fuel economy tune, and depending on your driving style, you can see some fuel economy gains.  With today's fuel prices, this can be a great feature! 

Before installing any chips or tuners, you should probably first install a good Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) gauge.  What good would it do to get a short burst of amazing power, but then destroy your engine in the process!  Some of the tuners include an EGT gauge readout on their display modules.  If not, then you just buy an EGT gauge to mount in the cockpit.  An EGT gauge requires that a small thermocouple probe be installed in the exhaust system as close to the engine exhaust ports as reasonably possible.  The thermocouple itself is basically a high temperature sensor that measures the outgoing exhaust gas temperature.  It is important to install the EGT probe BEFORE the turbocharger.  You are trying to keep an eye on exhaust temperatures that can result in turbo failure if allowed to reach too high for too long.  If exhaust temperatures get too high for a prolonged period of time, then the turbine wheel can be damaged inside the turbocharger.  Typically, it is best to keep EGT temperatures under 1300F in order to be safe. 

EGT Gauge   

Exhaust Gas Temperature Gauge

Another popular upgrade for a diesel engine is the exhaust system.  Don't expect the same sort of performance gains as you get with a good chip upgrade, but a larger diameter free flowing exhaust can help exhaust gases escape easier, reduce backpressure, and lower EGTs.  This in turn can allow more fuel to be safely burned.  A performance exhaust can release additional horsepower and torque, but it's just not as noticeable on the seat-of-the-pants.  On some systems, you'll notice it more with your ears with a more aggressive diesel rumble.  There are probably more complete exhaust system upgrades available for older trucks.  The newest diesel trucks have much more emissions equipment that make it much more difficult to change out in favor of a freer flowing exhaust.  In addition, it may be illegal in some places because of emissions laws.  Also keep in mind that you might void your warranty with any modifications that you make with exhaust or with other performance products.  Some people prefer to wait until their factory warranty is up before upgrading their trucks.

Larger Exhaust

4" Diameter Performance Exhaust System

There are many other diesel performance parts available like bigger turbochargers, twin turbo conversions, propane injection, nitrous oxide injection, larger intercoolers, free flow intakes.  Aside from the intake systems, most of these upgrades are very expensive.  So, if you are looking for the best bang for your buck in a diesel engine performance part, then you might want to consider a good performance chip.  Don't forget the pyrometer to check EGT to make sure you are keeping your safe.  If you choose wisely, the increases in power and performance on a modern diesel engine can be AMAZING and for a relatively small price!