• Would You Tune and Boost Your Brand New Diesel HD Truck? (Ask TFLtruck)

    2017 2018 gmc chevy v8 duramax diesel tuner intake exhaust
    2017 GM 6.6L Duramax L5P [Photo credit: aFe POWER]
    We recently got a question about tuning and performance gains on the latest diesel hd trucks. 2017 model year diesels are already very impressive from the factory. Ford Power Stroke, GM Duramax, and Ram Cummins engines are rated at 900 lb-ft of torque and above from the factory.

    The aftermarket companies can always find ways to get even more power and performance from these impressive engines. There is just one major question that keeps coming up. Will the aftermarket modifications void the warranty on a brand spanking new $70,000+ truck?

    There are companies, such as aFe POWER, that claim to have solutions to power-hungry truck guys and gals. (Note: I am referring to aFe POWER here because they have tuners, air intakes, and performance exhaust systems for the latest 2017 GM 6.6L Duramax V8 and 2017 Ford 6.7L Power Stroke V8 engines. This is not an ad or an endorsement of these products.)

    Ike Gauntlet extreme towing test

    We (at TFLtruck) have found that just installing a high-performance air intake or exhaust system is not quiet enough to feel an increase of performance by the seat of the pants. It’s when you combine the intake, exhaust, and an engine management tuner together – you get a significant and very noticeable performance improvement.

    The question still stands. Would you tune and modify a brand new diesel truck without worrying about warranty issues; or would you wait until your truck is two, three, or five years old before messing with it?

    Here are the three big 2017 dually trucks duking it out on the Ike Gauntlet™ – world’s toughest towing test.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    77 thoughts on “Would You Tune and Boost Your Brand New Diesel HD Truck? (Ask TFLtruck)

        1. The better performance of the Chevy and RAM when Ford rates their truck as more powerful is the most useful discussion.
          Why do so many here have a socialist bend? They want to shut up everyone? aAnd not for good reasons.

          1. Simple. You already tossed out the word socialist. Next will be liberal or communist or climate-alarmist and the whole discussion turned into a purse slapping fight.

            I’m suggesting talking about the actual subject of this article. It has absolutely nothing to do with Ford vs Chevy vs Ram vs Trump vs Clinton vs water vs sunlight.

            1. My post has everything to do with this article.

              But your post post had nothing to do with the article.

        2. Easy. If he had said the other are “junk” or something dead-brained like that I think you would have a point. He’s joking around.

      1. Its amazing Ford advertises higher poer ratings when it obviously has less poer than the RAM and Duramax as independently tested here on TFL.

        How does Ford get away with their advertising and specifications? Other manufacturers do it too, but Ford is the most dishonest most often.

        1. Reading the maximum hp is misleading. Reading the maximum torque is a complete waste of time. Those numbers can be extremely deceptive, especially torque. Comparing the power curves on a chart is the only real way to evaluate the engine performance.

          1. Agreed. I wish those curves where easier to find-and something that doesn’t start at 2500 RPM would be great.

          2. Torque is a measurement and if done using the same tools is a very good comparison tool. Horse power on the other hand is nothing more than a calculation.

            1. Comparing a hypothetical 100 lb-ft of torque at 10 rpm to 100 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm is completely useless. The reason hp is needed to be listed is because torque’s power can only be represented when rpm is factored. Otherwise, it’s just a force, not power.

            2. That’s why you need to see the torque curve.
              HP was a calculation used by James Watt to make his advertisement pitch to sell steam engines. He actually made his steam engine pitch by comparing weight and distance to what horses could do.
              That pitch won’t work these days so we now calculate HP by measuring torque and multiplying that, times the rpm and dividing that total 5252.

              You MUST know the torque to come up with HP.

              Most Americans want to know HP, because that was the mark they were trained to understand by the auto industry.

              You MUST have torque to move a truck. You can have torque without having HP. But not the other way around.

              You can not move anything with out torque because of basic math.

              If you take the equation and insert 0 in the torque position you will get 0 for the GO result.

              If you have two torque numbers both the same but at different rpms. The higher rpm will calculate out to more HP. But you can never measure that HP number.

              I will agree the HP situation is a lot like Americans understanding the metric system.

              I know the the mathematical differences. But in order to understand any metric measurement I have to convert the metric into our system.
              Our system is branded into my brain. It seems you can’t train a old brain new measurements. Lol

              But you can measure either feet or meters.
              But you can’t measure HP.

        2. Yes ford lies and under performs, I guess that is why so many people have bought one of the years and why even more continue to year after year.
          GM is perfect and that is why it went bankrupt and Ram didn’t fail and require new ownership to keep it afloat.

      2. Well the dmax has to be faster up the hill….cuz it needs to go up twice to tow the same loads that ram and ford do.
        Ram and ford rated for over 30,000 lbs towing vs Chevy/gmc at just 22,000 lbs
        22k just wouldn’t do it for me, had to get a new ram!

      3. All diesels are junk compared to the new EV vehicles in the fleet market. Workhorse has a pick up coming with likely twice the torque of these diesels at 0 rpm.

        1. And will it tow an 8k lb trailer a hundred miles and back home again in the dead of winter without recharging?

          1. Soon and yes if we stop buying junk; it will come sooner. Workhorse makes a step van that weighs 19,500Lbs and has an extended range of 120miles. With a few modifications due to the market that we demand then you can obtain something with further battery range with a bigger tank on the generator for the extended range. Right now fleets they sell to don’t demand more than 120 miles but its coming and this van has 1620 Lb-ft of torque at 0 rpm. They are a growing business because they are proving to exceed the benefits of a diesel engine by getting 400% better fuel economy as shown on their website. So your 8k lbs aint so much against 19,500Lbs

          2. Lohchief the W15 has a 2200Lb payload with 5000Lb trailering capacity with 460HP at 0 rpm while getting a combined 30mpg. This truck is not Range limited and is capable of getting 310 miles per tank on the generator. 75mpg if you never use the generator and charge it. Now it wont pull your 8k but they stated they are coming out with a W25 and a W35 and you can bet they will tow your 8k with unlimited range. They did not release the torque on the W15 but judging the step van’s electric motors with only 268HP and 1620Lb-ft of torque you can bank on the W15 as having monster torque and the W25 and W35, maybe even more. The solution is to just add a larger generator as needed based on demand, consumer demand and that requires educating people and advertising. I want one so I want it to take off. It has better balance, no transmission and better ground clearance with huge power, good mpg and no smell when you want to floor it. Lots of advantages yet to be explored as well.

            1. Rambor says some funny things here and there, but the above comment is dead right on every word. Study it well. It is all of your futures.

            2. Just what I thought,it needs a gen set. Would that be a diesel gen set too? And what is the projected cost of these vehicles btw?

            3. Actually, getting rid of the transmission and rear end and other gears and other complexities can make a truck like this very cheap and easy to manufacture. It does depend on how you go about it though, and how big of a battery you want. You don’t have to have a big battery at all (unlike the Workhorse). However, the battery will come down in price and weight eventually. And the long term reliability and ease of maintenance and high efficiency and keeping the engine in its power band with the generator will make it last a lot longer and not need as big and expensive of an engine. You need to think about it longer.

            4. Lohchief remember when you see the price you have to do your homework to see what you spend on fuel per year and whether or not you can live without the benefits of electric. These vehicles will be exciting. Not sure what the pricing will be but if you look at fleet buyers they have done studies to show they come in cheaper based on their criteria, and this could mean you and them are getting government kickbacks as well. But they are looking successful in the fleets. Bollinger with a 6100Lb payload is stating they will be well under 100 grand. One magazine estimated 60-80 grand for that truck minus gas minus subsidies. Not sure what the price will be. But it looks optimistically promising.

              The torque as Troverman said before is based on a top speed of 67 miles per hour. Dont understand electric fully but that is just one motor. I believe as they increase the top end speed you make less torque possibly so there will be lots chew on an these trucks progress. It surely wont be boring like the current market. Imagine getting mpgs on the way down the gauntlet. When was the last time your vehicle put gas in its tank because you drove downhill. Instead they charge you to replace breaks. There is a lot more to it. Its worth looking at.

            5. As for the diesel generator it would improve mpgs a little but they are more expensive and likely heavier with more red tape to go through. Likely why workhorse went with a gas generator but it all depends. The biggest point here is the generator will give us range in the transition. Imagine if we had the electric infrastructure with the batteries that arc charge in seconds. Then the cost and weight of the generator will be gone as well.

            6. Or if you dont need the range and you live in Suburbia than the all electric is a bigger advantage. Tesla released an affordable car now which is selling out right now. So its coming. I just want a truck. I dont need as much ramge as you do so the Bollinger might work for me. I sighned up for it.

    1. I typically do all the upgrades I can within the limits of the warranty.
      Voiding the warranty on something like an HD diesel truck is not a great idea unless you literally have money to burn

    2. I’ve found that most of these tuning/modding product don’t work nearly as well as advertised. They just create more noise and use more fuel. Save your money on the products. Save more money in fuel. It can go to buying a new truck every two years.

        1. Yup, I did. The saved money plus trade in value is worth a ton. Then, your new truck will be much better than the two year old “tuned” truck and it’ll save you even more in fuel.

            1. There is actually scenarios for 1/2/3 year trading in depending on miles and maintenance schedules. It is the same reason you see some businesses with new year model trucks. We have companies that purchase every year new trucks and trade in ones only one year old with 60-90k-ish miles. After 125k miles it becomes mostly impossible to finance and their values drop below KBB and NADA because if you stuck to those values, you’d never find a cash buyer. For the average person, it will not save. The most financially secure work truck you can trade almost every year for a new one and not be out of pocket is a white, regular cab, v8 engine, long box in 4×2. You can purchase new at end of year model for around 20-21k and trade following year is 20k-21k. A vehicle never out of warranty and something new every year.

            2. There is absolutely no way you will save money buying new trucks over keeping one and maintaining it for ever. Period.

            3. Yes you are are right, sorry I am wrong, only been in the business 14 years. I know companies that do what you recommend and make service departments very happy as well. You have drivers who don’t give two farts in company vehicles is enough to break a chain of good maintenance routine. There is nothing in business lines for tax write offs, depreciation expenses, maintenance costs, over time analysis of ownership….. There is a lot more factoring to consider other than 1st year depreciation.

            4. Bingo! You are in the business.

              Let all see what motivates many of the comments in this comment section.

              They don’t want you to buy a used truck and maintain it well for decades or possibly the rest of your life. They want to ring it out of you.

              And sometimes they even convince themselves they are right.

            5. They don’t even want you to buy a new truck and keep it forever. They want you to keep buying and buying and buying. And the incredible mind bending that goes on in sales departments is sheer dishonesty. Remember “lawrence of Arabia”. “lying may mean you say untruths, but half lying means you forgot where you put the truth.”

            6. Ridiculous, I wright off my truck and maintenance all the time in my small business, and I don’t buy a new truck all the time. I take care of it.

            7. As I stated previously in the first post, it is not for everyone, and not everyone can even do it. How big is your fleet? Do you have mechanics on hand or hire outside? How many miles do you rack up a year? Who’s driving your trucks, 18-20 year olds out of trade school? It is not impossible to eat your butt in costs swapping within 1-3 years. It is also possible to be in a new truck like stated earlier and get in out and next to nil. You are not buying from me, so I do not care what you do where you buy or what brand you buy either new or used. To state it can not be done when I see it done every day is quite naive. Look at the new sale value of a regular cab, 8 ft box, v8 engine work truck at end of year model. Calculate normal miles and then look at your trade and resale one year later on NADA. I know people who break even and sometimes cash in hand. Anyone can pull it off when the market is right, and has been for 7 years. It is knowing your market. As for business aspects of early trades, you have company A who buys 15 new trucks a year on fleet account, they trade in 10 from previous years which racked up higher miles to a dealer, almost 90k in one year which can still be financed and gets more value because of it and do not want to under shop bills which could be applied to a newer one. Company B who only buys newer used trucks gets the benefit of used trucks still able to finance them because the miles are lower than 125k is supplied by Company A. Have you seen the price of new trucks to used trucks right now in market? It is a pretty narrow line. Sure trucks can last and make it so. Some companies who are huge have done the time to research and look at their books for their company and see it more cost efficient for them to do it like this. They are not just stupid and blowing money, they do what is best for their company.

            8. I have never rented an old vehicle. Rental companies stick with new all the time and it works for them.

            9. Rental fleets are leased 1-2 yrs. These are too many miles for them because they can ground a vehicle if it racks up more miles. I am referring to a lot of the pipeline, oil field, contractor business, and it works for them.

            10. Dudes, buying used and keeping it for ever is way , way , way cheaper. And everyone knows that. Business many times goes new because they want convenience and don’t want to manage it. Especially government. They couldn’t manage a healthy vehicle it if they wanted to.

            11. Hal,

              You need to do a lot more research. People who dont repair their own vehicles pay close to the same amount for old vs new, they just dont realize it. I lease and my loss is the 13% tax but its a lot lower in the states and it depends on what you buy. Old vehicles are money traps and they further leave you stranded more often which can also cost you money. Im bringing my Tacoma back after three years and I paid 40,000 for it. Its worth 38,000 right now if it wasnt for my high tax. If I keep it for another 3 years I will need brakes and tires gauranteed plus whatever else goes plus if keeping it you have to wash it more and undercoat it to make it last longer, this costs money, garage rates are 100-150 dollars for most people. Then the tie rods go, then your infotainment system acts up, then your airconditioner goes, then the door latch doesnt work, then you need windshield wipers, then a sensor fails, then the thermostat breaks. I deal with non of that. My time is money. I give the vehicle back and get a new one. Now I will lose more than 2 grand because of my tax so a dealer will only give me 34,000 at best, but I am willing to spend that to stay problem free and to avoid long term service and replacement of tires and brakes etc. My time is worth too much to me. So when you say way way less for an old vehicle, is not true. I had my Sierra Denali for 9 years and I added up all the repairs plus my cost to buy minus what I got for it and it was 600 per month. My new Tacoma is 540/ month indefinately if I want to keep trading every three years but because the resale is so high Toyota ows me money on trade in so that goes against my new payments which will be around 400 a month this time. So it did not pay to keep my Denali for 9 years and deal with the problems. I loved it for quad steer, kept it until the frame rotted off. Which is another thing. I live on salt covered roads most of the time so vehicles here dont last long like they do in Arizona where my experience would be different. My Denal would still look new there and likely not have the problems I had.

      1. It depends upon the tuner you buy. To realize anything worthwhile you need a delete capable tuner. Any of afe or edges dpf on tuners are a joke, AND they will STILL void your warranty. If you don’t care about a warranty then why not dwlwtw the thing and see some actual gains. But why buy a new truck if your gonna do that? Kinda defeats the purpose in my mind

      2. One of my vehicles is an older diesel truck. I put a tuner on it and boy-o-boy did it make a difference! It subdued my desire to buy a newer, more powerful (full size) truck substantially-and it cost about 1 months payment of a new truck.
        I don’t think the difference would be quite so profound on one of these new trucks however.
        I recently bought a mini-Duramax; it wouldn’t be getting any mods that might interfere with the warranty. We’ll take another look once the warranty has expired-I need this truck to last a long time and I don’t want to be shorting its life much.

    3. I didn’t say it would save you money. I suggested that people save the money spent on those products and fuel. Big difference. You should take your own advice and read what I wrote.

      1. You said most of these things don’t work. means some do. So we will save money and get a more powerful and more fuel efficient truck, and we will save money by keeping our truck for a long time before buying a new one. WE have a 97 Cummins, it is easily tuneable and can easily take a significant amount of power without any harm to the truck. Its great, and it is so great we don’t even want a newer truck with all their problems

        1. The 2.8 Durmax is only $500 to tune with a software flash which GM makes very easy to do. The transmission is rated to 460 torque, so no problem there. About 300 hp. About very little to no mpg hit if you get a good flash, which many have reported you can easily get. Worth it. Especially in the ZR2!

          1. Any tuning on newer diesels bumping power output without deleting the exhaust treatment system is dumb (and illegal). Your adding extra heat and significantly shortening your dpf life expectancy. On top of that without a more free flowing exhaust your engine temps are rising causing accelerated wear. Not even to mention this is a very new engine so we are still waiting to see how durable it is before someone starts screwing around in its ecm.

      2. You know a lot of people buy their new truck and tune it because they will keep it forever and need more performance for a job. And we know how to work on them ourselves.

    4. I bought a 16 Ram 2500 and chose to not modify it. It has all the power I need currently and I have other cars that I can choose to modify. I have no reason to possibly void my warranty to gain 50-100hp.

      1. I’ll 2nd that- its pointless. There are of course those who buy a 70k truck and then throw 8″ of lift, 37’s on 20″ wheels on them, just to rip down the highway. How does that big a clown even pay for stuff?

      2. Lohchief – – –

        Absolutely agree. No tuning during the warranty period:
        1) If anything major goes wrong, the manufacturer has plenty of justification to void the warranty.
        2) Diesel trucks change anyway during the break-in period, so any engine management devices would need to be continually re-calibrated, — probably at least for 7,000 to 10,000 miles.
        3) Since you would be in the break-in period, you don’t really know what your truck is capable of, and putting it on a dynamometer to get near redline with a new diesel IS NOT recommended during that time.
        4) If you wanted more power and torque, you should have bought a different truck in the first place! (^_^)..

        So, yeah, after serval years and 30K-50K miles, then go for it. More power to ya’! (literally 😊)..


        1. Mornin’ Bernie,

          Good point about the breakin period.That’s very true,especially for diesels.

      3. I agree! The new diesels are insanely powerful enough stock. Do you really want to drive 85mph up the IKE pulling 20,000 pounds??

        1. Some folks just aren’t satisfied until they have their version of the ‘ultimate’ whatever.My next truck will be a diesel ranger/colorado/jeep pickup/or a new frontier.I’ll decide when all are available.In either case,whatever I end up buying,it will remain bone stock.Once a new diesel is broke in,and you’ll feel it,there is no need for more anything.

    5. I recently bought a 2017 Denali Duramax, and I will not be modifying until after the warranty- if ever. The truck is already quick, its quiet, and no black smoke.

      People have cited $25k repair bills for total engine replacement on the LML duramax, and while that seems high to me- I’m not interested in finding out with my truck.

      1. That is about an average price maybe even low for the new l5p. You want to avoid tbat make sure you change your fuel filter/seperator st regular intervals and drain your seperstir periodically. Most damage (besides stupidity) to newer diesels is because of water getting into the fuel system. That is about a 9-10k bill. Don’t really see too many total engine failures except when tuning is involved (yes there are instances but not the norm for ANY of the HD diesels).
        And if yours is a 17 than its an L5P unless they did an overlap. Don’t know much about that one yet but spunds promising so far

    6. The GDE tune for RAM ecodiesels is all I have researched, and there is a lot of positive feedback from users on forums. Their ECM tune improves throttle response, slightly increases HP/Torque, reduces regens, reduces DEF usage, deletes EGR, adds engine breaking, eliminates limp mode, and adds 2-3 mpg in both city and hwy. That is a LOT of positives. The biggest benefit is by far the EGR delete, as it keeps the engine and oil clean and should add life to the engine. A negative is that NOx surely increases and probably violates emissions. It will still pass inspection, because states don’t test for NOx as the equipment is too expensive. Buyers of deletes like this have to weight the driving-positives against the environmental-negatives. To the greenies out there…are you aware that NOx counteracts and significantly reduces greenhouse gases? Think on that before you draw your green-card from your holster and fire off one-sided comments!

      1. With SCR still in place (requiring DEF) there has to be a somewhat significant reduction of NOx, compared to no aftertreatment. I’d be curious to know how much.
        I like the elimination of EGR-that itself brings a whole lot of positives. I won;t even mind buying more DEF if I could get rid of my EGR.

        1. I can’t fathom if your gonna start unplugging, and blocking things off why you’d only go 50%. Your voiding your warranty so why not get rid of the scr and the DPF to maximize your mileage? Id you get quality tunes these trucks still run VERY clean compared to older diesels.

      2. California has diesel smog inspections every 2 years starting when new. No 6 year grace period.

        If you pull in with a tuner on. It is an automatic fail.

        Vehicals must have emissions warranted for 7 years or 70,000 miles. If manufacturer proves you put a tuner on. Emissions will lose its warrantee.
        Those trucks must pass smog as long as they are registered.
        I think it would very hard too sell a truck with a manufacturers emissions warranty refusal.
        After warrantee I suppose do what you think is right.
        But don’t confuse what you want with what is right.

        1. I’ve witnessed the “Smog Police” Air resource board set up portable emission testers in conjuction with the Highway Patrol at various drag racing strips and the ever popular Pomona Car Show Swap meet. It is quite a site seeing the modified diesel truck owners pulled over and the Highway Patrol issuing citations. I can only wonder if they saved the exhaust filters that they will have to reinstall.

    7. Why is TFLTruck not logging obd2 data of the Ike Gauntlet towing? Instead of subjective engine performance maybe we should use real performance data instead.

      1. Tom – – –

        Great! That is an excellent suggestion.
        TFLT already quantifies other things to be careful about results (distance, speed, fuel mileage, time, tongue weights, etc), this OBDII output would be a perfect upgrade to their techniques.
        And we could even see a plot of some engine parameters vs distance up the Ike Gauntlet, as well as averages and variability.


    8. I’d do a full emissions delete but leave the programmer either stock or economy and let the power increase from no emissions equipment fill in the tuned down power.

    9. Nice ram air integration graphic who made that? oh that’s right I did.

      TQ is the measurement that matters, because it’s the only thing engineers care about. HP is “movie magic”.
      Most manufacturers post their TQ and HP numbers engine out of the chassis, which technically is not misleading. If you took your PS 6.7 and put it in a Abrams tank you would say, “That engine has no power.” If you are worried about your warranty, then most likely you are not an AM performance customer anyway. Do you think a guy who buys a new Harley or Triumph and chops it up into a bobber is worried about a warranty? No. There’s the Midas Customer, then there is the aftermarket customer. One goes to the automotive aisle at target, the other goes to SEMA. one isn’t better than the other, my point is, if you are more worried about your warranty than figuring out how to do both, then the answer is: you are not an aftermarket customer. It’s not that complicated.

    10. So most of you sound like qualified Diesel Mechanics. Can a guy ask for some lamens terminology without being prosecuted? Half of the words everyone is using, I would be willing to bet a hefty bet that 95% of the people reading this thread dont understand!
      I guess bottom line is do not tune your new $70k hd diesel truck? Unless you just have stupid money to burn and dont care if you burn up your new truck because you will simply just go buy a new one? Is that what were suppose to take out of all this information?
      I apologize for getting lost in confusion from all these threads! I apologize in advanced for being uneducated.
      Just spent every penny I have on a new 17 GMC SLT and would love to kow what I should and should not do. I heard there are tuners where you can get good gains but then reverse the tune if you have any warranty issues. Any truth to that?
      Thanks guys!

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