Ford Diesel Performance


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Increasing Diesel Power on a Ford Power Stroke

Below are some examples of ways to increase diesel power in Power Stroke vehicles.  In this particular case, the vehicle is a 2000 Ford Super Duty E350 equipped with a 7.3L Power Stroke turbo diesel engine.  This particular Ford diesel rig started life as a sheriff's convict transport vehicle (complete with cage and blocked windows inside).  It was bought at an auction and converted back to civilian use.  Later, this particular van was customized with dual rear wheels and other upgrades that were not factory options.  The Ford E350 is basically a truck with a van body.  In other words, the Ford F350 trucks and E350 vans are basically the same in terms of the engine and powertrain.  The primary difference is that the 7.3L Power Stroke E350 vans did not come with an intercooler.  The trucks have a little more space under the hood which makes it easier to fit an intercooler up front.        

Diesel Power Powerstroke

Custom Ford Power Stroke Turbo Diesel Dually Van

Before trying to boost the diesel power of a Power Stroke, it's important to consider a set of gauges so you can keep an eye on critical temperatures.  At the very least, an Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) gauge should be installed so that the temperature of the exhaust gases going into the turbocharger can be monitored.  This is important for any diesel performance increases.  Run EGT too high for too long, and the turbine wheel on the turbo can be damaged (meltdown).  If your rig has an automatic transmission, then a transmission temp gauge is also a good idea - especially if you plan on doing any heavy duty towing.  Automatic transmission life can be dramatically cut short if temperatures are allowed to get too high.  The owner of this E350 likes to see transmission temps below 200 F and EGT below 1250 F.  Other people may have different opinions.  This is a situation where "the lower the better" (to a point) comes into play.  Too much heat can destroy.       

   Diesel Performance Gauges

EGT, Turbo Boost, & Transmission Temp Gauges

Another gauge that offers some interesting information is a turbo boost gauge which displays how many boost pressure the turbo is producing.  On this E350, the boost pressure is normally peaked at around 15 psi.  In diesel performance mode with an aftermarket chip, the boost levels soar to 25 psi with a significant increase in power.

Diesel Chip

Bully Dog Diesel Performance Chip

On this van, a Bully Dog 6 position chip was installed.  Normally, these come programmed with multiple power increase settings and some other features.  In the case of the van, the chip came custom programmed with just 1 setting probably equivalent to around +75 HP and +150 ft-lbs increase.  The performance difference is VERY significant on this van, and this is a modest increase compared to some of the settings available for other diesel power Power Stroke chips which can boost power levels by around 150 HP and 300 ft-lbs increase.  Yes, you read that right!  That's the increase in ADDITIONAL power and torque!  On some of the chips with the most extreme settings, power increases are amazing. With the simple installation of a ford diesel performance chip, increases in power can be stunning!  BUT, you do HAVE TO keep an eye on the exhaust gas temperatures.  On some of the more extreme power settings, it may not be possible to run for long durations without exceeding safe EGT's.  That's usually OK since often times a quick jump into traffic or the need to pass another vehicle can often be done with a quick burst of power.   

Diesel Truck Exhaust Systems

EGT Probe Location & 4" Turbo Downpipe

Exhaust gas temperatures are 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.  On this van, the EGT probe was installed in the exhaust pipe coming off the cast iron exhaust manifold on the driver's side of the engine.  The picture above shows the EGT sensor location.   

Another area to improve Ford diesel performance is in the exhaust system.  The factory exhaust system was around 3" diameter.  A 4" diesel performance exhaust system was installed.  The exhaust system came as a kit and included a new downpipe that attaches to the turbo outlet.  The 4" exhaust was clamped together with exhaust clamps and then once everything was positioned and hung correctly, the exhaust was welded to ensure that everything stayed in place.

Performance Exhaust System

Ford Diesel Performance Exhaust - 4" Diameter

The picture above shows the new exhaust system tailpipe and also shows a close up of the duals and the fiberglass fenders that were added.  An adapter kit was used to convert this van to a dually arrangement and the custom fit fenders were attached with self tapping stainless steel screws.  In order to put these diesel power Power Stroke upgrades to use, a Reese Titan class V hitch was installed and provides the ability to tow some serious loads.  Class V is about as high as you can get in terms of weight towing capacity with a bumper pull setup. 

Reese Titan Class V Hitch

Ready to Tow - Reese Titan Class V Hitch

How does it all work?  By far the biggest improvement came from the Bully Dog ford diesel performance chip.  When the switch is moved over to power mode, then the vehicle is transformed into a different machine.  The turbo spools up much quicker and acceleration is much stronger.  This big, heavy E350 vehicle takes off like a sports car and there is plenty of traction with 4 tires out back!  The performance exhaust did not make as big of an improvement in power, but it should help reduce EGT by allowing the exhaust gases to escape more freely (less backpressure).  The gauges work great and it's nice to be able to keep an eye on critical temperatures while towing heavy loads.  If you're looking for more diesel power from Power Stroke engines, then it can be as simple as installing a good gauge set and a performance chip.  The increase in power and performance can be quite impressive!

If you've got a Power Stroke powered truck, then the video below shows a Banks performance exhaust from Summit Racing installed on a 7.3L powered Ford F-350.  By the way, if you've never ordered anything from Summit, then the author of this article can tell you from personal experience that they are a great place to do business with online.