The Exhaust Brake Every Second-Gen Turbo-Swapped 6.7L Cummins Needs
Whether you’ve ditched your 6.7L Cummins’ factory Holset HE351VE to make more power or you were forced to upgrade because of the VGT’s untimely failure, your ’07.5-’18 Ram is now equipped with a fixed geometry turbocharger. You love the new performance, but you miss the factory exhaust brake in a bad way. For thousands of late-model Ram owners who work their trucks hard, losing the OEM exhaust brake function is the only real downside to switching to a fixed geometry turbo.

Well not anymore!

As a manufacturer of bolt-in fixed geometry turbo systems for the 6.7L Cummins, which it calls its second-gen swap kits, Fleece Performance Engineering was well aware of just how lauded the factory exhaust brake function is among third- and fourth-generation Ram owners. As such, the company developed an electronic exhaust brake that works in conjunction with its fixed geometry kits, integrates using the factory VGT’s electrical connector, and matches the performance of the OEM brake. Prior to publicly releasing its exhaust brake, Fleece sent us one to try out on a ’12 Ram 2500 that had been fitted with one of its turbo systems, a box S467, a PowerFlo lift pump, and EFI Live tuning.

Not unlike what you’d find in traditional exhaust brake systems, a butterfly is used to control exhaust flow, restricting it as needed to produce the appropriate back pressure. However, Fleece Performance Engineering’s exhaust brake is fully electronically controlled. There are no air lines, vacuum lines, belts, or air pump to worry about.
A heavy-duty actuator with a high-torque, brushless DC motor handles the exhaust brake’s operation. A high-quality, brushless motor was chosen for its long-term durability advantage over a traditional brushless unit. Further aiding longevity, the actuator’s geartrain is liquid cooled (the inlet and outlet ports are visible here with red caps covering them).
The supplied discharge elbow installs between the turbo and the exhaust brake valve assembly by way of 4-inch V-band clamps. The piece is made of a thick casting to deal with the excess backpressure that’s created after the brake is activated and the butterfly is closed. The elbow, as well as the exhaust brake valve assembly, come powder coated black to resist corrosion
As mentioned, our truck was previously treated to one of Fleece’s popular second-gen swap kits, complete with a BorgWarner S467.7, Steed Speed T4 exhaust manifold, and the company’s 5-inch ManTake cold-air intake setup. After that, the owner dropped the tank and installed one of Fleece’s PowerFlo lift pumps. On the dyno, the ’12 Ram 2500 cleared 573 hp and more than 1,100 lb-ft of torque.
Because installation of the exhaust brake means you have to tap into the coolant system at the block, all engine coolant has to be drained. With a clean 5-gallon bucket positioned under it, the 17-mm drain plug was opened up and the radiator cap removed.
With the majority of the work taking place along the passenger side of the block, it pays to pull the inner fender well liner for ample working space. In doing this, you gain better access to the back of the turbo, the coolant port under the oil filter base, and also have enough elbow room to run the supplied coolant riser delete hose.
It also behooves you to remove the air intake assembly. In our case, the 5-inch diameter ManTake cold air system that came with Fleece’s second-gen swap kit was loosened at the S467 inlet and removed from the engine bay.
Next, the previously installed downpipe that came with the second-gen turbo swap kit was pulled. With the exhaust brake installed, this downpipe can no longer be used.
To correctly orient both components, the cast discharge elbow and exhaust brake valve should be bolted together prior to being bolted on and then be installed as a single assembly. The two pieces mate together via one of the supplied 4-inch V-band clamps. Properly installed, the exhaust brake valve’s coolant ports will face outward (away from the engine).
Because the exhaust brake must be installed from beneath the truck, a second set of hands is required to attached it to the turbo. Together, the cast elbow and exhaust brake valve assembly weigh more than 20 pounds.
Once the cast elbow’s machined mating surface was flush with the turbo’s exhaust housing discharge, the second supplied V-band clamp was cinched down. It’s important to note that the entire assembly may have to be re-clocked later when it’s time to install the new downpipe.
After that, it was time to address the cooling side of the exhaust brake. Coolant supply
comes from the same point in the block that fed the factory turbo (under the oil filter
housing) but was capped off with this plug during the installation of Fleece’s second-gen
swap kit.
Because our engine had already been treated to a coolant riser delete hose during the installation of the second-gen swap kit, the brand-new hose included with the exhaust brake wasn’t necessary. Instead, we made a cut in the existing hose (which we’d routed alongside the block), installed the supplied T-adaptor and its corresponding 3/8-inch hose, and snugged up all worm gear clamps.
The old coolant block-off plug (bottom) is replaced with this fitting. The AN to metric adaptor fitting (-6 AN male JIC to 18 mm x 1.50) comes with a sealing washer and accommodates the supplied coolant supply hose.capped off with this plug during the installation of Fleece’s secondgen swap kit.
With the supplied 18 mm to -6 AN adaptor fitting threaded into the block, the 3/8-inch hose could be attached and routed toward the exhaust brake actuator. The opposite end of this hose was connected to the upper (or front) port on the exhaust brake via its 120-degree -6 AN fitting.
On the exhaust brake end of the T-adaptor coolant hose, there is a 90-degree -6 AN fitting. The hoses themselves are precut the perfect length, with minimal droop between the block and exhaust brake and no chance of rubbing on anything inside the frame rail.
Remember this guy? It’s the connector for the factory VGT turbo actuator. Hopefully you zip tied it up in such a way to keep moisture and debris out of it during your hiatus from having a functioning exhaust brake. That’s right, the Fleece exhaust brake communicates directly to the ECM by using the factory wire harness
One of the last steps in installing the exhaust brake is bolting the supplied downpipe in place. If your truck is equipped with a 4-inch aftermarket exhaust system to begin with, installation of the 4-inch downpipe is straightforward. However, in order to integrate the downpipe with our truck’s existing 5-inch diameter exhaust system, a 5×4-inch reducer was used.
Plug-and-play in every sense of the term, plugging the exhaust brake’s connector into the OEM VGT harness is all that has to be done electronically. No calibrating is required, it uses the factory back pressure sensor to maintain safe back pressure levels, and it works with all aftermarket tuning.
With the downpipe installed, we turned our attention toward ensuring the other two V-band clamps were tight. The last clamp to be fully tightened up was the unit located on the back of the turbocharger. After that, all fittings were checked.
Refilling the engine with coolant was the next item of business, with roughly five gallons required to top the Cummins back off. After that, the ManTake cold air intake was reinstalled and it was time for a test drive.
In its finished state you can see that we took care to make sure each V-band clamp was positioned to give easy to access the nut should the clamp ever need to be removed. At this point, it was time to reinstall the inner fender well liner.
The exclamation point for hundreds (if not thousands) of 6.7L owners who’ve installed fixed geometry turbo systems on their trucks is going to be the ability to push the in-cab exhaust brake button again and have it work. Along with its simple physical installation, this is the beauty of the Fleece exhaust brake’s design.

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