When you're doing something with your diesel truck that requires a high degree of performance, like towing or racing, stock components might not be enough to get the job done. Unfortunately, between the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s more difficult than ever to make sure your vehicle stays within the rules and regulations. Strict and ever-evolving emissions standards can make it confusing to know if your modifications are within the legal limits. Here, we explain how to achieve increased capability and performance from your rig - while keeping it green.
Your diesel engine is more energetic than its gas-powered counterpart, using higher-density diesel which causes it to burn at a higher –temperature – meaning it takes less fuel to produce the same amount of power. As a result, diesel engines naturally get better fuel economy.
Your truck’s exhaust system is like the pipe that drains a fresh water reservoir – the bigger the pipe, the better the results. The stock components of your vehicle are similar. Poorly bent stock pipes are a leading cause of power-robbing restrictions. Your air intake operates with this same principle – the more air you introduce, the more power you produce.
Increasing Capability and Performance
Aftermarket exhausts and air intakes are a powerful pair when it comes to increasing your diesel’s capability and performance. Performance exhausts are engineered to maximize your engine's exhaust flow by providing a smoother conduit for spent gases to escape. In fact, upgrading to a performance-grade diesel exhaust system turbo-charges your rig's tone while allowing you to tow more, climb easier and pass faster. Coupling a new exhaust with a CARB-legal intake, like the K&N 57 Series FIPK Air Intake (50-State Legal), allows your engine to breathe easy. These improvements enhance your motor's efficiency, which translates into even greater fuel economy and a rumble you can feel in your chest.
Still not enough power? Plug in a power programmer, like the Bully Dog Triple Dog GT Tuner (50-State Legal), and increase your engine’s output with HP and torque gains into the triple digits. On-the-fly power level adjustment and custom tunes make programmers a great way to get your ride ready for off-roading or even the drive to work.
Stay Street/CARB Legal
With the ever-increasing number of rigs on the road, aftermarket manufacturers are wisely putting out products that make more power while satisfying emissions standards. CARB exemptions are somewhat new to the diesel performance world, but are quickly becoming the standard for staying street legal when it comes to smog. Opting for CARB-approved aftermarket products is an easy way to add engine modifications while paying respect to ol’ Mother Nature.
Late-model diesel trucks, like the GMC Sierra HD with the LML Duramax engine, come stock with advanced emissions equipment, including SCR urea injection, and still produce almost 400 HP. Some think that dumping your DEF, removing your DPF or performing urea deletes is the best way to get that sought after increase in power. But, for those who aren’t willing to void the warranty on a $60,000 truck and want to keep the environment unpolluted for future diesel enthusiasts, abiding by the rules and regulations is a better bet.
The path to more diesel power may be different than you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a less impressive engine. When you need performance, think about plugging into a programmer, upgrading your exhaust and improving your air intake – a legal way to get a big boost.