This month, to get the New Year started off right, I thought it might be a good time to review some of the topics we have discussed over the past few years regarding fuel efficiency and horsepower (two things everyone wants). We are continually finding new ways to squeeze more power and mileage out of today’s (and yesterday’s) diesel engines. Here are just a few of the things we have discovered over our decades of building thousands of performance diesel engines.
One of the most important things your engine needs to do is breath. To make more turbo boost, installing a larger turbo is not enough – if the air can’t get INTO the turbocharger or the exhaust can’t get OUT of the engine effortlessly, the larger turbocharger will not be able to make more boost. That is why we at Pittsburgh Power started designing free-flowing mufflers way back in the early 1980s. After all, you would never build a performance hot rod, street car, or race car and install a stock muffler on it! So, you must start by replacing your muffler, which will allow the engine to gain 1/4 mpg or more, and yes, dual exhaust will out-perform a single stack any day (and the exhaust gas temperature will run about 50 degrees cooler). If you don’t idle your engine to stay cool or warm, then a weed-burner (below the truck) is the most efficient exhaust system.
Now, let’s look at the air intake system. Two air filters mounted outside of the hood is much better for air flow than just one under the hood, but most of the newer aerodynamic trucks have the air filter under the hood, so we just have to work with it. The best thing you can do to improve your air flow is to install a Fleet-Air reusable filter. This air filter is made of three layers of foam, sprayed with oil, over an aluminum frame. The Fleet-Air filter will greatly enhance the air flow to the turbocharger and the engine will gain another 1/4 mpg as a result (and you will never have to buy another air filter again).
The next change to make for maximum efficiency and power by enhancing the air and exhaust flow is to install one of our heavy-duty, high-performance, ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds on your truck. This manifold flows 20% or more exhaust than a stock manifold, will lower the exhaust gas temperatures (EGT) by about 125 degrees, and WILL NOT LEAK at the joints. The extra exhaust flow will allow the turbo to spool up quicker and, in turn, the ECM will see the turbo boost sooner and release the fuel sooner, which all improve performance and economy. Now you will have quicker acceleration, the engine will live longer because the EGTs are lower, and there is less soot in the oil because the exhaust flows more. By making this change, you will gain another 1/4 mpg.
Once these changes have been made to your truck, the engine will now be ready for a larger turbocharger, and yes, you will feel the difference in performance, gain turbo boost, decrease the EGTs even more, gain more fuel mileage, and not have to push as much on the throttle because your engine will now be running free! You will also gain another 1/4 mpg in fuel savings, for a total of a full 1 mpg increase in fuel savings. By improving your mileage 1 mpg, you will burn 4,000 less gallons of fuel for every 100,000 miles you drive – that’s about $16,000. And, if you run 150,000 miles a year, that’s $24,000!
There are just two more items to go on our journey to better fuel efficiency. If your fuel lines are 8-10 years old, you need to replace them (old lines will swell shut on the inside and restrict the fuel flow and cause a loss of power). When the engine loses power, the truck will lose fuel mileage. And, if you want another 1/4 mpg in fuel savings, you should install a FASS Fuel System on your truck. The FASS system will remove the air from your diesel fuel, which will not only help your injectors and fuel system to last longer, but will also give you an additional 30 horsepower.
Last, but certainly not least, if your ECM or ECU is acting up, please send it to us and we will run it on our desktop engine simulator (DES) and advise you of any problems it may have. We will also make sure it is allowing the engine to produce the power it was designed to make. Our engineers designed this amazing piece of equipment and, as far as we know, it is the only desktop engine simulator in existence! When bright, eager, young minds are given creative freedom and encouragement, amazing things can happen. We are proud of what they have accomplished and can’t wait to see what they will learn from the new emissions testing equipment we recently purchased.
In closing, I want you to realize that your engine, if you make these changes, will be a cleaner-burning, more-efficient machine and the emissions will be reduced by at least 30%. We are now installing emissions testing equipment in our engineering and dyno testing facility and will have more results in the coming months as to how much cleaner we can make your engine. Our goal is to be able to build emissions-compliant performance diesel engines so you will never have any problems because of changes you have made to your engine pertaining to emissions. The cleaner we make the exhaust, the better the fuel mileage will be and the longer the engine will last.
We are confident that wonderful things are going to happen this year for the owner operators who bring their trucks to us. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact me at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA by calling (724) 360-4080 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can improve your truck AND make the EPA happy – let’s do this together in 2014!