Total Data Monitoring Combined with Precision Engine Calibration
When it’s time to add some power to your truck, where do you start? Do you start replacing hard parts under the hood or do you opt for a modified tune to begin with? Most of us will start with the latter—often choosing to wait until a truck’s warranty is up instead of voiding something we paid extra money for. But when this low-mileage, last-generation 6-speed manual Cummins truck came into our lives, we didn’t exactly want to wait. There was a lot of its 100,000-mile warranty left, but there was also 140lb ft less torque in the last generation of manual transmission Ram trucks (than their auto counterparts)—an excellent justification of why we needed to add a little extra pick-up to our pickup!
There are two basic ways to tune your engine. You can flash or reprogram the factory ECU or you can use an inline tuner that modifies the signal prior to the fuel injector, MAF, etc. Flashing a modern truck’s ECU will likely leave a footprint—one that dealers can see. An inline tuner does not recalibrate the factory settings of the vehicle. As long you carefully remove the physical parts, it’s doubtful a dealer would ever know.
We had two requirements for a new tuner setup: We wanted multiple data points (PIDs) displayed and we wanted to keep the truck’s powertrain warranty. That meant we couldn’t reflash the ECU and we needed an in-cab monitor. Enter Edge Products. Edge’s CTS monitors have proven themselves to be the gold standard of performance monitoring, and the newer CTS3 5-inch touchscreen displays have upped the game. On top of that, the CTS3 can be packaged with the Juice With Attitude inline tuning module that allows five-position shift-on-the-fly tuning via the CTS display. The complete package would add five different options to increase power (with an unlockable sixth power level), monitor almost every PID possible, allow us to perform a variety of performance tests, add defueling safety parameters, and gives the option to control lockers, lights, cameras, or even other brands’ tuner modules with the Expandable Accessory System (EAS).
The total install time of all electronics took less than a couple hours. The trickiest part was unplugging the injector harnesses with our fat fingers. Upon turning on the truck, the performance module fired up more quickly than the stereo did and the beautiful 5-inch display was easily readable (day or night). The touchscreen feature is excellent and does not skip around nor ignore our touch like some displays sometimes do. The readout is infinitely customizable with 23 different gauge layouts, multiple color differences and backgrounds, and numerous data points to choose from. The slide-down or slide-up menus offer quick access to everything, and you can quickly toggle between three different main displays you customize by sliding your finger left or right.
The five power increase levels are noticeable when unloaded, but hauling 10,000 pounds is when we really noticed the valuable difference. Going up the same grade with the same load with the extra power meant no longer having to downshift from 6th gear to 5th and losing momentum or turbo boost. While we have not created a rocket ship, we did put horsepower and torque levels over what a stock auto Cummins truck would have. Does the truck now make enough power to create clutch slip at lower rpms? You bet. But we’ll be addressing that clutch (a non-warrantable item like brake pads) soon, and luckily for us Edge’s setup has an adjustable torque management option that can defuel the engine when the clutch or torque converter slips.
We’ve had this system on the truck for about six months now, and it’s been a wonderful addition to interact with while behind the wheel. Check out the Long-Term Updates at the end of this article to see how it’s been working out!
Automatic Screen Dimming
The CTS3 display has an auto light sensor that automatically adjusts the monitor for optimal viewing whether it be day or night. Of course, this, too, can be adjusted—much like almost every feature of the Edge Juice Attitude CTS3.
Pedal Quickening Makes All the Difference—Amp’d 2.0
This manual transmission Cummins truck had more usable power with the Juice module, but because this is a late-model 6-speed truck it created a unique situation: This fourth-generation Ram has a throttle response delay built in from the factory that, when combined with a manual transmission where the boost drops off when off the throttle between shifts, creates a lot of lag rowing through the gears. On the highway when towing in 5th or 6th gear, it isn’t an issue. When accelerating and shifting, though, it makes for a bit of an erratic driving experience as the power goes from low boost, low power to jumping back into the Juice-supplemented powerband. Of course, the Juice unit has an adjustable low boost parameter, but the fact was that the pedal delay was killing the performance. While not as noticable in auto trucks, as your foot stays in the throttle and boost barely budges between shifts of the automatic transmission when accelerating. But on this pedal-delayed stick shift, it needed help.
Adding Edge’s Amp’d 2.0 throttle booster is the icing on the cake needed to get the most out of this Edge package. Five different presets and three custom settings quicken the throttle response, allowing turbo boost to be built more quickly and making a huge difference in drivability. For those of you who like to link everything to your smartphone, yes; it has that Bluetooth feature that gives complete control. But this author is a bit old-fashioned and prefers to leave the small supplied remote control in the middle console.
It’s been about six months since we installed the Edge Juice With Attitude CTS3 package, and the CTS3 remains a joy to see turn on every time we get in the truck. We’ve seen maybe 30 extra miles per tank which equates to just over a 1mpg improvement in fuel economy. We’ve put about 10,000 miles on since the Edge equipment was added, and in all that time we’ve seen it glitch once when we cycled the ignition on and off and back on too quickly. That was remedied by pulling the OBDII plug momentarily with the truck off. The pedal delay issue on the tuned manual transmission truck suddenly became apparent after the Juice unit was added and therefore the Amp’d 2.0 throttle booster quickly was purchased to supplement it, rounding out a truly fantastic revision of the power and control on this truck.
The available built-in performance tests are nice to have, but this Edge package was added to help a work rig do its work with increased power output and complete monitoring of the powertrain. We rarely use the off-road pitch/roll screen either, but it is a neat novelty. We tend to leave the CTS3 on the main screen layout we chose, and while toggling through power levels is easy, we leave the power level on 4 or 5.
We’ve already had to use the DTC reader and code eraser a couple times thanks to some DEF emission equipment failure that happened after using some off-brand diesel exhaust fluid. It was nice to be able to quickly scan and see that it was an emissions equipment issue in the exhaust and not something detrimental to the engine that set off the Check Engine light.
Will this be the last power addition we ever add to this truck? Who’s to say? But for now, while this powertrain warranty is in effect, this will likely be the extent of our under-hood modifications. It has improved the drivability of this truck and made it easier to hold speed when climbing grades.