Diesel Bulletproof Services

Diesel Repair & Performance Upgrades

Head Studs

Whether you drive a Ford, GM, or Dodge, a Power Stroke, Duramax, or Cummins, adding head studs is always a good provision for avoiding a blown head gasket—we’d even use them on a stock engine. With tuning alone, many diesels can produce more than 35 psi of boost on a regular basis. Throw a set of injectors in the mix, and your boost will creep up even further.

By threading completely into the block (whereas bolts thread in until the heads bottom out), studs have the ability to increase cylinder-head clamping force tremendously. Automotive Racing Products (ARP) has become a household name in the diesel industry for its head stud lineup and offers the highest-quality fasteners you’ll find. An extra piece of advice here—which actually applies to all fasteners holding your rig together—is to torque every bolt (or stud) to spec.

Traction Bars

Adding traction bars should be a top priority when bulletproofing your diesel. With as little as 100 more horsepower, rear axle spring wrap becomes noticeable, and you can start to experience differential twist, driveshaft plunge, wheelhop, driveline vibration, premature U-joint failure, and a host of other issues. Traction bars allow your truck to maintain the ideal rear axle position, suspension geometry, and driveshaft and pinion angle while under load. They’re what’s needed to get that perfect launch at the dragstrip, go the farthest distance during a sled pull, improve your rig’s towing manners, and smooth out firm transmission upshifts.

Differential Lockers

Along the same line as traction bars, a locking differential is essential for getting all your available power and torque to the ground. Particularly for competition use, ensuring each tire along the axle is taking an equal bite out of the pavement or dirt is vital for optimum traction. Popular options for the truck segment are Eaton’s ELocker and Detroit Truetrac, ARB’s Air Locker (front and rear), and Yukon Gear and Axle’s Grizzly locker. The electronically selectable lockers allow you to still have the great driveability characteristics of an open differential but full locking capability when you need it.

Automatic Transmission

With nearly all diesel trucks running (at least) a programmer these days, most automatic transmissions are virtual ticking time bombs. From GM’s Allison 1000 to essentially every Dodge 68RFE and Aisin automatic transmission, even an additional 100 to 150 hp can destroy them. And, while torque converter and valvebody upgrades have been known to prolong a stock automatic’s life, nothing beats a complete transmission build. When key components like a torque converter, valvebody, shafts, clutches, friction plates, bearings, and seals are upgraded, it’s the ultimate insurance policy for getting your engine’s power to the ground—reliably and consistently. Deep transmission pans also help by increasing fluid capacity (so ATF doesn’t wear out as quickly) and can even stiffen the transmission case (especially on Dodges).

Aftermarket Clutch

It doesn’t take much to harm a factory clutch behind a manual transmission, especially while towing in Overdrive. Several aftermarket clutch manufacturers offer single- and dual-disc units with different linings on the clutch disc, which allow for vastly increased holding capacities over stock. The pressure plates are also modified for increased plate load. In many cases, smooth engagement and good driveability characteristics are retained as well. Although the streetable, dual-disc clutches can get expensive, it’s still much more affordable than buying a bulletproofed automatic.

Fuel System

As the heart of any diesel engine, the fuel system must be as free of contaminants as possible. When air, water, vapor, dirt, or other debris gets into our engine’s lifeblood, it’s hard on injection pumps and injectors. And once we need more fuel than the factory equipment can supply, we install aftermarket systems that incorporate a more powerful electric lift pump and a water separator, such as the FASS system shown. Thanks to the FASS’ mass flow return (MFR), only pure fuel makes it to the engine, and all contaminants are removed and returned to the tank.

 

Custom Tuning

Not only do custom-crafted engine calibrations produce more power, they’re often the safest tuning you can install on your truck. This means you can have the best of both worlds: power and longevity. Parameters such as pulse width (injector on-time), timing advance (start of injection, before top dead center), injection pressures, and injection events can all be manipulated to maximize performance. Better spool-up, cooler EGT, reduced cylinder pressures, and more power are typical results found when Duramax and Cummins engines are tuned via Smarty or EFILive, and Power Strokes are tuned via SCT flash devices.

Gauges, Gauges, Gauges

One of the most important ways to bulletproof your truck is to install a set of gauges or run a monitor that displays what the ECM is seeing. Why is this so important? Because no engine, fuel system, transmission, or programmer is perfect, and the unexpected can happen. And while gauges can’t revive something like a stuck injector, they can tell you something’s wrong before you trash an entire engine. Devices with customizable alerts (like the Edge Insight shown) are extremely valuable when you don’t have time to watch everything. After all, once coolant temperature gets hot enough to warp a cylinder head, it doesn’t really matter that EGT never exceeded 1,200 degrees…

Reduce the Strain

To be sure, each of the Big Three’s diesel offerings are heavyweights. So, why not make life easier for your powertrain? Ditch the heavy bumpers, brushguards, winches, and oversized wheels and tires for some weight savings. In the end, your engine, transmission, fuel, tires, and brakes will last much longer. To further reduce strain on things like your engine, transmission, and driveshafts, install lower (numerically higher) axle gearing. While you’ll sacrifice some highway fuel economy, your truck will get up to speed quicker, and in most cases it will leave the engine in the meat of its powerband.

Keep It Clean

The last order of business when maintaining your truck’s bulletproof stature is keeping its frame, axles, suspension, crossmembers, and body free of rust and corrosion. If your geographic location exposes your truck to road salt and moisture (Midwest and Northeast) or alkaline soil (out West), wash your truck frequently and make sure a good coat of paint is present on the underbody at all times. Remember, humidity leaves a constant layer of moisture on all metal surfaces, so parking your truck in a garage (with a concrete floor) and keeping it dry is key as well.

AB&T Diesel Repair and Performance

710 S Interstate 35

Round Rock, TX 78681

abtair@sbcglobal.net

(512) 388-1977