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Duramax Power Recipes

For $1,500, $2,500, $5,000, And $10,000 Budgets

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Back in 2001, GM retired its 19-year-old indirect- injection (IDI) 6.5L diesel and replaced it with the all-new 6.6L Duramax diesel. At the time, the new Duramax represented a paradigm shift in diesel technology. It was the first diesel engine sold in an American pickup to offer common-rail injection, the first to be fitted with aluminum heads, and the first to be mated to a medium-duty truck transmission. Fast-forward to today, and the Duramax engine has become a powerful force in the diesel-performance world. A Duramax-powered truck has won Diesel Power Challenge three times, and a Duramax finished Second Place in last year's challenge. It is now common to see diesel Chevrolets and GMCs making 400 to 500 rear-wheel horsepower, while still giving their drivers 20-mpg daily driven capability.

The General's Pros and Cons GM trucks are lighter than their Ford and Dodge counterparts, and their independent front suspension tends to give them a superior ride. If you tow, a Duramax-powered rig can be your best friend, thanks to the Allison transmission that comes behind it. If you plan on drag racing or sled pulling, however, the Allison will need some serious work, as adding any more than 90 to 120 rear-wheel horsepower, and you'll be skating on thin ice. With all this in mind, let's take a look at some power combinations we've witnessed work on $1,500, $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000 budgets.

BUDGET: $1,500
MODIFICATION: COMPANY: REASON: PRICE: VENDOR:
Gauges Auto Meter, Isspro To keep an eye $250-$300 Auto Anything
DiPricol on boost and EGT Laguna Speed
Programmer Banks Six-Gun Adds fuel and $500-$1,000 Banks, PPE
PPE Hot+2, EFILive timing EFILive
Cold-air Airaid, Banks More airflow is needed $250-$400 Auto Anything, Banks Power
intake K&N, S&B with more fuel Laguna Speed
4-inch exhaust Banks More exhaust flow $320-$700 Auto Anything
Diamond Eye is needed with intake Banks Power
MBRP, RBP and fuel upgrades Laguna Speed
Power: 350 to 400 hp
(Tuner must be limited to avoid long-term transmission damage)
Weak Links: Torque converter, stock transmission, and lift pump TOTAL: $1,320 to $2,400

Chevrolet and GMC trucks powered by the 6.6L Duramax engine have become a force in diesel performance. Last year, Matt Gainer (opposite page) was tied for the lead in the Diesel Power Challenge before a unit bearing took him out during the 150-mile ride and drive competition. EFILive (above) allows customers to share and download custom performance tunes for their Duramax diesels. It can also be used as a diagnostic tool to troubleshoot rough-running engines.

Budget: $2,500
MODIFICATION: COMPANY: REASON: PRICE: VENDOR:
Gauges Auto Meter, Isspro To keep an eye $250-$300 Auto Anything
DiPricol on boost and EGT Laguna Speed
Programmer Banks Six-Gun Adds fuel and $500-$1,000 Banks, PPE
PPE Hot+2, EFILive timing EFILive
Cold-air Airaid, Banks More airflow is needed $250-$400 Auto Anything, Banks Power
intake K&N, S&B with more fuel Laguna Speed
4-inch exhaust Banks More exhaust flow $320-$700 Auto Anything
Diamond Eye is needed with intake Banks Power
MBRP, RBP and fuel upgrades Laguna Speed
Lift pump FASS More fuel is needed $500 FASS
AirDog to support programmer AirDog
Power: 350 to 400 hp
(Tuner must be limited to avoid long-term transmission damage)
Weak Links: Torque converter and stock transmission Total: $1,820 to $2,900

There's a massive amount of power potential in the 6.6L Duramax engine. The 1,300hp engine in Buck Spruill's race truck (pictured) shares the same block, heads, and crankshaft with the factory 365hp LBZ version.

Budget: $5,000
MODIFICATION: COMPANY: REASON: PRICE: VENDOR:
Gauges Auto Meter, Isspro To keep an eye $250-$300 Auto Anything
DiPricol on boost and EGT Laguna Speed
Programmer Banks Six-Gun Adds fuel and $500-$1,000 Banks, PPE
PPE Hot+2, EFILive timing EFILive
Cold-air intake Airaid, Banks More airflow is $250-$400 Auto Anything
K&N needed with more Banks Power
S&B fuel Laguna Speed
4-inch exhaust Banks More exhaust flow $320-$700 Auto Anything
Diamond Eye is needed with intake Banks Power
MBRP, RBP and fuel upgrades Laguna Speed
Lift pump FASS More fuel is needed to $500 FASS
AirDog support the programmer AirDog
Torque Sun Coast Converters Stock converter $1,100-$1,300 Sun Coast Converters
converter (auto) ATS, NADP will slip ATS, NADP
Goerend Transmission Goerend Transmission
Shift kit TransGo Increased line pressure will help $215 TTS Power Systems
keep the transmission from slipping
Clutch upgrade South Bend Clutch Stock clutch will slip-get an upgraded $1,300 South Bend Clutch
(manual) single- or dual-disc clutch
Power: 450 to 500 hp
Weak Links: Transmission and CP3 injection pump TOTAL: $3,320 to $4,415

For the plug-and-play crowd, Banks Power offers a Six-Gun tuner that is clean and powerful and even carries an E.O. number for 50-state use on '01 to '03 Duramax-equipped trucks.


At power levels more than 550 hp, the stock CP3 injection pump may be insufficient at high rpm. To combat this, companies such as Industrial Injection offer modified CP3 injection pumps that can support up to 700 hp.

Budget: $10,000
MODIFICATION: COMPANY: REASON: PRICE: VENDOR:
Gauges Auto Meter, Isspro To keep an eye $250-$300 Auto Anything
DiPricol on boost and EGT Laguna Speed
Programmer PPE Hot+2, EFILive Adds fuel $500-$1,000 PPE, EFILive
TTS Power Systems and timing TTS Power Systems
Cold-air intake Airaid, Banks More airflow is $250-$400 Auto Anything
K&N needed with more Banks Power
S&B fuel Laguna Speed
4-inch exhaust Banks More exhaust flow $320-$700 Auto Anything
Diamond Eye is needed with intake Banks Power
MBRP, RBP and fuel upgrades Laguna Speed
Lift pump FASS More fuel is needed $500 FASS
AirDog to support programmer AirDog
Rebuilt transmission (auto) Sun Coast Converters Stock converter $4,500-$5,000 Sun Coast Converters
with upgraded clutches ATS, NADP will slip ATS, NADP
and torque converter Goerend Transmission Goerend Transmission
Clutch upgrade (manual) South Bend Clutch Stock clutch will slip-get an $1,800 South Bend Clutch
upgraded single- or dual-disc clutch
64mm-68mm turbocharger ATS, PPE More airflow is needed $2,500-$4,000 ATS, PPE
Industrial Injection at this power level Industrial Injection
Fleece Performance Fleece Performance
Dual injection pumps ATS, PPE A second CP3 pump is needed $3,200 ATS, PPE
Industrial Injection to maintain rail pressure Industrial Injection
Power: 600 to 650 hp
Weak Links: Price (automatic transmission) Total: $9,520 to $15,100

If you plan on making some serious power, dual CP3 injection pump kits such as this one from ATS can support more than 1,000 hp without dropping rail pressure.


Duramax engines are also known for having a fuel economy advantage over Ford and Dodge offerings. This two-wheel-drive GMC got 29.52 mpg during a 181-mile test loop in our September '08 Fuel Economy Shootout.

Pacific Performance Engineering (PPE) offers complete running and wired engines starting at $15,000 that anyone can drop into their muscle car, street rod, or 4x4. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, $48,000 will buy you this turnkey, twin-turbo'd, lowered-compression, dual-CP3-pump-equipped 1,200hp street engine.

SOURCES
Auto Meter
413 W. Elm Street
Sycamore
IL  60178
866-248-6356
http://www.autometer.com
Fass
4302 E Congress Ave
Spokane
WA  99223
866-379-8685
www.fassride.com
PPE
303 N Placentia Avenue
Fullerton
CA  92831
714-985-4825
www.ppediesel.com
Goerend Transmission Inc.
119 North Main Street
St. Lucas
IA  52166
563-778-2719
www.goerend.com
ATS Diesel
5293 Ward Road
Unit 11
Arvada
CO  80002
866-490-5573
www.atsdiesel.com
EFI Live
Auckland, NZ
AK
www.efilive.com
K&N Filters
1455 Citrus Street
Riverside
CA  92507
800-858-3333
www.knfilters.com
Airaid
2688 E Rose Garden Lane
Phoenix
AZ  85050
800-498-6951
www.airaid.com
Sun Coast Converters
819 Navy St
Fort Walton Beach
FL  32547
800-868-0053
www.suncoastconverters.com
Diamond Eye Performance
107 West Main
P.O. Box 119
Athena
OR  97813
800-635-9950
www.diamondeyeperformance.com
MBRP Performance Exhaust
N/A
AK
888-636-7223
http://www.mbrpautomotive.com/
Isspro
2515 NE Riverside Way
Portland
OR  97211
888-447-7776
www.isspro.com
Banks Power
546 Duggan Avenue
Azusa
CA  91702
866-738-5915
www.bankspower.com
PureFlow Technologies
705 West Mausoleum Rd.
Shelbyville
IN  46176-9720
877-421-3187
http://www.pureflowairdog.com
S&B Filters
787 S. Wanamaker Avenue
Ontario
CA  91761
800-358-2639
www.sbfilters.com
Fleece Performance Engineering
2463N 625W
North Salem
IN  46165
855-839-5040
www.fleeceperformance.com
Industrial Injection
1201 South 700 West
Salt Lake City
UT  84104
800-955-0476
www.industrialinjection.com
Laguna Speed
33171 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano
CA  92675
877-660-6676
www.lagunaspeed.com
South Bend Clutch
709 W Jefferson Blvd
Mishawaka
IN  46545
800-988-4345
www.southbendclutch.com
RBP
2380 Railroad Street #101
Corona
CA  92880
951-272-9090
www.rollingbigpower.com
Auto Anything
9210 Sky Park Court
Suite 100
San Diego
CA  92123
800-874-8888
www.autoanything.com
TTS Power Systems
1280 Kona Dr.
Compton
CA  90220
310-669-8101
www.ttspowersystems.com
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