What’s Under Your Hoods?
What’s Under Your Hoods?
Since the late ’90’s, virtually all diesel trucks (and even some cars) have been open to computer programming. As time went on, these simple devices that did one thing (tuned the vehicle) have developed into powerful tools that can be used by any diesel enthusiast to extract more performance out of their vehicle. From the weekend warrior who is hooked to a trailer, to a competitive sled puller, a tuning device can be an extremely powerful tool.
Today’s modern tuners, programmers, and monitors are very different from those of yesteryear. Not only can they recalibrate the computer for more power, they can compensate for changes in tire size, clear trouble codes, and read a variety of engine functions such as engine coolant, exhaust gas temperature, boost, and much more. Building a sled puller or drag racer? Tuners are available for competition use that are able to make any exhaust system work with the factory engine and turn off the EGR, all while giving the custom tune you’ll need for maximum performance.
If you’re the owner of a newer GM, Ram, or Ford truck, good news–these things are turned way down from the factory. On most of these trucks, 400 to 500 horsepower at the rear wheels is easily achievable, even though the truck might only make 250 rear-wheel horsepower stock! There are certain models that are more capable than others, but adding a solid 100 to 200rwhp is very commonplace. With custom tuning, it’s possible to dramatically increase a truck’s performance. We know of one 6.7L Ford that went 16.3 in the quarter-mile stock, then dropped to a 15.0 with an aftermarket tuner. The customer still wasn’t happy with the performance, and another custom tune was added that dropped the otherwise stock truck to a 13.8! Not bad for an 8,200-pound truck.
One of the biggest mistakes we see when it comes to tuning concerns power level settings. Contrary to how a lot of people use them, many tuners have their “max power” setting designed for short bursts, like sled pulling, drag racing, or passing that slowpoke in the left lane. We’ve seen cracked heads, smoked turbos, and blown head gaskets from people racing their buddies up hills with 20,000 pounds in tow. It’s possible to make 400 to 500 sustained horsepower, but this requires a concentrated build effort including head studs, an upgraded turbocharger, and improved cooling.
Another common error is running a mis-matched combination on a pickup. We saw one VP44 truck that had huge injectors (200hp) but had a factory turbocharger. The programmer was at the highest setting for both fuel and timing. On the dyno, the truck made a lot less power than he thought it should. “Let’s try tuning the fuel down,” suggested the dyno operator. Sure enough, the truck made more and more power, ending in a 40-hp gain with the fuel setting on “Level 1.” With a different turbo, the truck definitely would have made more power, but with the stock turbo setup the tune definitely wasn’t matched to the engine.
Whether you’re someone with a stock truck, or you’re that sled puller looking for the last few inches, there’s always room for improvement. The Pure Diesel Power staff will help in whatever way we can, to get you the combination that’s right for you and for your truck’s usage. We have the latest updates for most software, custom tunes from a variety of manufacturers, and the exciting new EZ Lynk technology that allows for custom tuning or diagnostics via smartphone! Need help with tuning? Give us a call–that’s what we’re here for.