Feature Story

By Bruce W. Smith & Peter duPre
Editorial Services

If you have been out of the country for a couple years and just dropped back into life on the road towing your big travel trailer, you probably noticed there’s a lot of talk around the RV campground about hot-rodding diesel-powered pickups. You may have also noticed that your tow rig seemed to get a lot slower since the last time you drove it.

Well, it may not have slowed down at all. What you’re seeing is a lot of other diesel trucks have become a lot more powerful.

A sudden diesel performance swell has swept across the country, bringing with it a huge number of new manufacturers and products that can turn the doggiest of diesels into decent performers.

Today;s performance upgrades can be electronic or mechanical, simple or complex. They can range from following a few simple instructions on a hand-held programmer to getting out the hand tools and replacing the turbo or injectors.

Such upgrades can give your diesel pickup or SUV more power, make it more efficient, and make it more enjoyable to drive—with or without trailer in tow.

To give you just a small glimpse of what types of new products are out there, we’ve compiled a selection of hot new diesel performance products. There are numerous companies that offer them, and shops all across the country that specialize in the installation of such upgrades if you are so inclined to pass on doing them yourself.    

Whether you choose one upgrade or a combination, the end result is a tow vehicle that does the job of towing a big trailer with a lot more ease. That takes a load off the driver.—TL


Cooler air, more power is a hot-rodding mantra. Advanced Flow Engineering Cold Air Intake Systems do just that. They claim the GM 01-04 LB7 Duramax Diesel kit adds 15 horsepower and 34 Ft/Lb of torque while the Ford 6.0L Power Stroke version adds 14 Ft/Lb of torque, 18 horsepower and faster turbo spool-up. Kits mount using factory connections without any drilling or modifications. www.afefilters.com; (877) 512.8111


Owners of model (‘99 – ’02) Ford Power Strokes can drop-in the new High Tech Turbo and drop EGTs by 350-degrees while adding 175-horsepower to a system that already ahs one of the “100hp” chips. Each HT housing is cast from new molds and machined to new specifications for the larger turbine and compressor wheels. The new HT turbo requires less drive pressures and less boost pressure to make the same amount or more horsepower than the a Garrett ball-bearing turbo. Price: $1,450. www.htturbo.com; (801) 304-0700.


Electronic hot-rodding is the rage with today’s diesels, so Bully Dog  Technologies’ Rapid Power module fits right in. It’s engineered and designed with performance and towing safety as the #1 feature. The Rapid Power offer settings of stock, 40- and 103-horsepower gains to increase towing performance, drivability and fuel mileage of Ford Power Stroke, Dodge Cummins and GM Duramax diesel vehicles. www.bullydog.com; (208) 397-3200.


If you want horsepower and torque gains, plus improved fuel economy and drivability, in your 2001-05 Chevrolet/GMC Duramax LB7 & LLY diesel, TS Performance’s Activator is just the ticket. It is the only module on the market that reprograms both the map sensor and fuel pressure sensor. The unit uses factory-style connectors for simple hookup to existing connectors in the engine compartment and is truly a plug and play module. The Activator has a MSRP of  $595.00. The company also has power improvement modules for Dodge and Ford diesels priced at $645 and $595, respectively. www.tsperformance.com;  (270) 746-9999.


Before spending hundreds or even thousands on diesel powertrain mods, start with a high-flow capacity Fuel Injection Performance Kit (FIPK) from K&N Engineering. Whether you use your GM heavy-duty pickup for work or play, the K&N FIPK unlock the extra power for hauling those big payloads by eliminating the restrictive O.E. intake resonator, factory airbox and intake system, replacing it with a low-restriction K&N FilterCharger. FIPK is compatible with O.E. engine management and emissions systems, and easily installs using common hand tools. www.knfilters.com;  (800) 858-3333.


A TransGo 4L80E Performance Shift Kit is a must for any 1991-2002 5.7L or 7.5L diesel-powered GM truck, SUV or full-size van used for towing or carrying heavy loads. In the 4L80E Performance Shift Kit is a unique boost pressure valve that reduces high line pressure that causes case, drum and piston breakage. It also reduces the likelihood of direct clutch failure from worn center support lugs in older or high mileage transmissions. TransGo's 4L80E Performance Shift Kit can be installed using normal hand tools without removing the transmission; an instructional video comes with the kit. www.transgo.com;  (626) 443-4953.


Gaining horsepower has never been easier on a Powerstroke, thanks to Quadzilla Diesel Performance’s new Stealth Module. The new Quadzilla Stealth Module for the Ford utilizes the ability to do more fine tuning than ever before, is adjustable on-the-fly and has four settings--from stock up to as much as 160hp. You can expect from 1-4 mpg increase when you are empty or when towing. This module is also one of the few available that defeats the top speed limiter. Installs in just 10 minutes using common hand tools. . www.quadzillapower.com; (888) 842-6572.


The new Airaid Power Stroke Intake System replaces the restrictive and expensive factory inline air filter on ’05 Ford Power Stroke diesels with a high-flow, high-filtration SynthaFlow filter, which draws in cool air from the factory location while providing additional airflow through the Cool Air Dam on top. The end result is dramatically improved throttle response and a 21.2 rear-wheel horsepower gain over stock. The Airaid Power Stroke Intake System fits Super Duty pickups and `05 Power Stroke-equipped Excursions. www.airaid.com;  (800) 498-6951.


Power Programmers for Ford, GM, and Dodge diesel trucks and SUVs from Hypertech offer owners an affordable way to enhance horsepower and torque. The company’s new Power Programmer #30029 maximizes the performance of 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engines in 2004-2005 GM 2500/3500 series pickups, producing gains of up to 87 horsepower and 173 ft.-lbs. of torque over stock tuning. The unit’s feature 3-Stage Tuning that allows drivers to select one of 3 power curves that best suits their needs and all 3 levels maintain safe exhaust gas temperature (EGT), eliminating the need for accessory EGT gauges. www.hypertech.com; (901) 382-8888.


Abrasive Flow Machining (AFM) is a process developed by Extrude Hone to polish microscopic holes in diesel fuel spray nozzles to deliver a more precise and consistent fuel flow from one tip to another.  The company has recently established service centers to support over 50 on the nations’ top diesel performance tuners to provide the ultimate in performance diesel fuel spray nozzles.  Over 50 hp can be gained by applying the AFM process to an engine set of fuel spray nozzles and increases of over 100 hp are possible when combined with electronic adjustments. www.extrudehone.com; (800) 367-1109.


Diesel performance enthusiasts who want to balance the power gains of the Gale Banks Engineering  Six-Gun® Diesel Tuner and Speed-Loader® upgrade with major airflow improvements to lower EGTs, raise mileage and improve longevity, Banks offers Six-Gun and Big Hoss® Bundles. Six-Gun Bundles Cummins include  Six-Gun and Speed-Loader, four-inch Monster® exhaust, Banks Ram-Air® filter, BigHead® wastegate actuator, Techni-Cooler™ intercooler and exclusive electronic DynaFact® gauges. Power gains up to +155 hp and +385 lb-ft. www.Bankspower.com;  (877) 227-1691


High Tech Turbo offers several HTB2 high-flow turbos for aftercooled Dodge Cummins engines. Each provides quick spool-up and plenty of boost at low-end for towing while minimizing smoke and EGT's. Popular compressors include the standard "62", redesigned "Killer B2" 64mm inducer, and brand new "Sled Puller 66." The HTB2 62 reports dyno figure of 450 - 480 HP and 900-1000ft.lbs torque while the KillerB2 and Sled Puller 66 typically show 585-625 HP with 1200 ft. lbs. torque. Prices start at $1,195. www.htturbo.com; (801) 304-0700.


Stanadyne Corporation’s Power Products Division has released a new brochure detailing the proven performance and protection benefits which can be gained by using their diesel fuel additives. The brochure was developed to provide specific information regarding Performance Formula, Stanadyne’s premium multi-function, all season diesel fuel additive. The company also makes three other diesel fuel additive products designed to address specific problems. To obtain a copy of this new brochure, call (800) 842 2496 or visit www.stanadyne.com.


Looking for easy DIY plug-and-play power gains for Ford, GM, or Dodge diesel, Edge Product’s Juice/Attitude kit combines performance, functionality and adjustability in electronic performance. Its clear LCD read-out replaces aftermarket gauges and allows switching among five power levels on-the-fly to add up to 150 more rear-wheel horsepower. The monitor displays EGT, boost, power level, true road speed (for non-stock tires), engine temp and load, tranny lock-up and slip, 0-60mph and Ľ-mile times. Safety features include cold-engine protection, excessive EGT defueling and tranny-slip monitoring. www.edgeproducts.com;  (888)360-3343


Your 6.6L GM diesel doesn't have to sound like a brute when hauling heavy loads, thanks to new exhaust technology from CORSA Performance. Their 4-inch diameter 304L stainless steel exhaust utilizes CORSA's patented Reflective Sound Cancellation technology, which enhances the vehicle's sound while eliminating the distractive cabin resonance found with other performance diesel exhaust systems.    

www.corsaperformance.com; (800) 486-0999.


You won’t find an exhaust brake with higher retarding efficiency than BD Diesel Performannce’s version. This turbo mount exhaust brake utilizes exclusive variable orifice technology that makes it quick acting and gives you peak retarding power at low, cruising and top engine rpm. The brake aids in warming up your Diesel engine and decreased wear on wheel brakes is another plus.  The kit includes a heavy duty air compressor and all the necessary mounting hardware for $1,195.  www.dieselperformance.com; (800)887-5030


Need more power for towing, highway performance, or at the dragstrip, then Bully Dog’s Dodge Cummins CR 600 Power Pup downloader is a solution. The Power Pup increases horsepower and torque simply by re-flashing the vehicle ECU. Installation takes place in the cab by plugging it into the OBDII port. This downloader gives the user the choice between four different power programs: Stock, tow (50-70 hp), performance (90 hp) or extreme (130 hp). www.bullydog.com; (208) 397-3200.


DieselPro Xtreme SS four-inch exhaust systems are a “turbo back” design made from 100% 304 stainless steel. The company claims the turbo back exhaust will provide 20hp and 70 ft.lbs of torque, while lowering exhaust gas temps (EGTs) 150 to 200 degrees. All hangers, clamps, muffler and a 24-inch long, 6-inch round tip included. Limited Lifetime Warranty. Price: $575 with free shipping and no tax. www.truckfittings.com;  (877) 388-6552


This new S300 Air Werks Super “B” Single Turbo kit was designed by BD Diesel Performance for both 12- and 24-Valve 1994-2004 Cummins 5.9 engines with 75-200 HP plug-in devices or 300-425 total HP. The kit has been engineered to provide outstanding low engine rpm turbo spool up resulting in 75-150 lbs ft. of torque increase and reduced smoke emissions with 100-250 F drop in exhaust temperature at peak load levels. $1,383 USD; One year warranty. www.dieselperformance.com; (800) 887-5030.


 Quadzilla’s new Stealth Tuner for Duramax engines offer gains of up to 215 hp and as much as 424 ft. lbs. of torque. The tuner installs in just a few minutes, features 4 power levels and has great towing programs for improved low-end torque, lower exhaust temperatures, and improved mileage. The Stealth Tuner also allows you to remove your top speed limiter and adjust your speedometer and odometer for tire size. The unit also features a transmission retraining option that allows the Allison transmission to properly compensate for added horsepower and torque. www.quadzillapower.com;  (888) 842-6572.


MBRP Inc specializes in diesel exhaust systems and their newest is the “COOL DUALS" dual exhaust for the 6.0 Power Stroke Ford. MBRP manufactures this exhaust to allow the use of the stock Ford converter to be bolted back into the turbo-back system. MBRP says this gives the muffler shop or DIY installer the opportunity to utilize a " legal" exhaust system. Price: $525. www.mbrp.com;  (888) 636-7223.


The Edge Evolution is a palm-sized programmer that any Ford truck owner can use to add up to 100 HP and 200 lb-ft to their 7.3L Ford Power Stroke in less than five minutes. Display walks the user through the simple steps key on, key off steps. The Evolution stores the factory engine-management program and replaces it with one of three power programs: Tow, Race or Extreme. The unit even includes a diagnostic tool that reads, describes and clears engine trouble codes. www.edgeproducts.com; (888) 360-3343 


Going fast isn’t as much a problem with towing big trailers as stopping fast. Stainless Steel Brakes has a new Quick-Change Aluminum Caliper Upgrade kit just for GM 2500-3500 Series pickups and SUVs that significantly increases braking power. Tri-Power HD calipers are swapped in to replace the stock calipers, ensuring faster stops and less brake fade. www.ssbrakes.com; (800) 448-7722.


Superchips has just released  their Max MicroTuner, an easy-to-use handheld programmer for the 2004 Ford 6.0L Power Stroke. This new tuner features allows you to program one of three power modes: Performance (towing up to 6000 Lbs.), which adds up to 150hp/225 ft.lbs. torque; Economy (towing up to 8000 Lbs.), that can add 120hp/180 ft.lbs. torque; and Tow-Safe (factory tow limit) that boosts power 80hp/120 ft.lbs. torque. Plus, Superchips customers report increases in gas mileage of up to

5 mpg for diesel vehicles. www.superchips.com;  (888)227-2447



Trying to get the best deal you can on your diesel engine’s electronic upgrade? It might pay to do a little comparison-shopping for your electronic performance parts at these Diesel Performance E-Stores:

www.allaboutdiesels.com; 888.329.8963

www.cyclonediesel.com; 800.697.0194

www.diamondeyeperformance.com; 800.635.9950

www.dieselhouse.com; 602.525.6262

www.dieselmanor.com; 603.497.2281

www.dieselperformanceparts.com; 866.455.7788

www.heathdiesel.com; 877.894.6266

www.martelbrothers.com; 800.882.7223

www.performancecenter.com; 949.598.8285

www.performancecombos.com; 800.875.2112

www.pmtchips.com; 954.974.1768

www.realtruck.com; 877.216.5446

www.sfxperformance.com; 817.303.2255

www.shopdiesel.com; 856.273.9607

www.stcperformance.com; 562.944.3694

www.therevshop.com; .877.523-6130

www.truckracingparts.com; 208.771.0767

www.uglytrucksplus.com; 866.900.8459

www.usdieselparts.com; 800.823.4444

www.xtremediesel.com; 888.343.7354