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TUNE ONLY

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How Much Power Can You Squeeze Out of a Stock Truck?

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How much horsepower can my truck make with a programmer? It’s a question we get a lot. And—as you can imagine—it isn’t the easiest one to answer. Truth be told, the real question is: How much power can I squeeze out of my stock injectors, turbo and transmission? Being that more than 80 percent of all diesel owners call it quits after installing a cold-air intake, exhaust system and tuning, this is an area that definitely appeals to the masses. Compiled from our years covering dyno events, attending private dyno sessions and testing parts on our own project vehicles, we’ve broken down the maximum rear-wheel horsepower each brand is capable of producing when a tuner is used as the sole power-adder.

And because we’re often asked who makes the best tuning for a specific make and model, be it Ford, Ram or GM (Power Stroke, Cummins or Duramax), we’ve included the type of device and software we tested that allow the numbers listed here to be achieved. As you peruse our comprehensive list, keep in mind that every truck is different. Some simply run better than others. For example, we’ve seen a 20hp difference between two (presumably healthy) LBZ Duramax engines running the same EFI Live tune, on the same dyno, and on the same day. For this very reason, a 20-30hp variance is built into each section below. We’ll kick things off with the ’94.5-17 Power Strokes, then shift to the ’98.5-17 Cummins, and conclude with the ’01-18 Duramax-powered GMs.

’94.5-97 7.3L Power Stroke

Max Horsepower: 240-260 hp
Tuning: Custom-tuned TS Performance 6-Position Chip or Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip

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With 95cc injectors, a 15-degree high-pressure oil pump, and a cam-driven mechanical lift pump supplying just 40-45 psi worth of fuel pressure, you’ll never see an early 7.3L Power Stroke make a lot of power on tuning alone. However, being that the ’94.5-97 Fords left the factory making roughly 160 hp at the wheels, picking up an extra 80 to 100 hp (a 50-60 percent gain) will wake one up tremendously.

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’99-03 7.3L Power Stroke

Max Horsepower: 300-320 hp
Tuning: Custom-tuned Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip or TS Performance 6-Position Chip

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Thanks to larger injectors (130cc on early ’99s and 140cc from ’99.5-03), a more efficient 17-degree high-pressure oil pump (except for early ’99 models, which still had the carryover 15-degree HPOP), and an electric lift pump supplying more fuel pressure to the injectors, the ’99-03 version of the 7.3L makes considerably more power than the old-body-style Fords with just a tune. Depending on the model year, Super Duty trucks from this era laid down 190 to 210 rwhp in stock form. Well-tuned early ’99 trucks typically make 290 to 300 hp, while later models usually make anywhere from 300 to 320 hp (and we’ve even seen one clear 330 hp).

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’03-07 6.0L Power Stroke

Max Horsepower: 400-430 hp
Tuning: SCT

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Graced with a higher-pressure HEUI injection system and an overall more efficient package than the 7.3L, a 6.0L Power Stroke-equipped Super Duty can make 100 more horsepower with custom tuning. SCT software is the weapon of choice for most 6.0L calibrators, and we’ve seen everything from 400 to 430 hp achieved on reputable chassis dynos. Our own testing of custom 6.0L tuning yielded 415-420 hp on the rollers—right smack-dab in the middle of what most folks see. By comparison, off-the-shelf universal tunes typically lay down somewhere between 360 and 380 hp.

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’08-10 6.4L Power Stroke

Max Horsepower: 550-590 hp
Tuning: SCT or MCC

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Although the ’15-and-newer 6.7L Power Stroke is nipping at its heels, the 6.4L Power Stroke is still the king of tune-only horsepower. Compound turbos, a high-flowing K16 injection pump, piezoelectric injectors and a strong factory lift pump all play into this engine’s vast performance potential. This is the only Power Stroke that can double its power output with nothing more than a custom tune (280-290 hp stock, 550-590 hp tuned). Over the years, we’ve come across several custom-tuned 6.4L trucks that’ve dyno’d 550 hp but achieved trap speeds indicative of 580 to 590 hp while at the track.

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’11-17 6.7L Power Stroke

Max Horsepower: 460-500 hp (’11-14), 540-560 hp (’15-17)
Tuning: SCT or MCC

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Due to the restrictive Garrett GT32 SST turbo choking off airflow and limiting high-rpm potential on the ’11-14 6.7L Power Stroke, you’ll be hard-pressed to break the 500hp barrier—and most early 6.7L-powered Fords live in the mid 400s. As for the ’15-and-newer Power Strokes, the less-restrictive Garrett GT37 turbo and higher-flowing CP4.2 injection pump paved the way for tuners to push the late-model Super Duty well into the mid-500hp range.

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’98.5-02 5.9L Cummins 24-valve

Max Horsepower: 270-300 hp
Tuning: Edge Products Drag Comp Module

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Although there isn’t a whole lot of potential with a stock-injector VP44 Cummins, the Edge Drag Comp has always been one of the best timing and fueling modules for getting the ’98.5-02 Dodges near the 300hp range. To get the most out of the Edge Drag Comp, you have to tap the pump wire. Tapping the wire is a fairly easy process, but it requires you to remove the intake horn and throttle position sensor in order to access the wiring at the back of the VP44.

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’03-07 5.9L Cummins (common-rail)

Max Horsepower: 480-500 hp
Tuning: Smarty or EFI Live

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Even though ’03-05 Rams aren’t supported by EFI Live due to their SCI communication system (vs. CAN bus being employed on ’06-07 trucks), thanks to MADS Electronics (Smarty) software the early common-rail 5.9Ls can still make similar power as later versions. With either tuning platform, knocking on the door or even surpassing 500 hp is possible. We’ve seen six-speed trucks dyno 495 hp with nothing more than custom tuning and a clutch upgrade. We’ve also seen Dodges equipped with built 48REs clear 490 hp.

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’07.5-17 6.7L Cummins

Max Horsepower: 490-520 hp
Tuning: Smarty or EFI Live

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While limited by a similarly sized (albeit variable geometry) Holset turbo, the 6.7L Cummins’s second-generation common-rail injection system supports slightly more power with custom tuning in the mix. Fitted with an upgraded clutch, it’s not uncommon for G56-equipped Rams to lay down 520 hp on the rollers—and we’ve even heard of some clearing 530 hp. For trucks with automatic transmissions, marginally lower numbers can be expected. The trick to keeping the factory 68RFE alive at 500 hp rests in good TCM tuning.

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’01-04 LB7

Max Horsepower: 460-500 hp
Tuning: EFI Live

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Thanks to its ability to access and alter virtually every parameter in the ECM, EFI Live was nothing short of revolutionary when it debuted in the Duramax segment. Once aftermarket calibrators had mastered the software, 6.6L-powered GMs were more powerful, efficient and driveable than they’d ever been. More than a decade later, it’s still the tuning method of choice for truck pullers, drag racers and daily drivers alike. Taking advantage of all that EFI Live has to offer, many tuners can push an LB7 to the 500hp mark, especially in a ZF-6 truck with a clutch upgrade. As for the stock Allison, it’s on thin ice at this power level, which is why most tuners draw the line between 425 and 450 hp.

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’04.5-06 LLY

Max Horsepower: 460-500 hp
Tuning: EFI Live

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Even though you can expect similar peak horsepower numbers from all ’01-10 GMs, the LLY might be good for a couple extra ponies. This is because the ’04.5 to early ’06 Duramax was graced with the largest turbo of the bunch. However, as with the LB7-powered trucks, the factory Allison won’t tolerate it for long. If held in gear for a few dyno pulls it will live, but you definitely don’t want to allow a factory five-speed Allison 1000 to shift through every gear at this power level (i.e., drag racing).

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’06-07 LBZ

Max Horsepower: 460-500 hp
Tuning: EFI Live

DW-1807-HPTUNE-22Essentially the same injection system (along with similarly sized turbos) was used across the board on ’01-10 GM trucks. This means that even though the LBZ came with considerably more factory horsepower than the LLY and LB7 versions (360 hp vs. 310 hp and 300 hp, respectively) the ’06-07 trucks still hit a wall somewhere near the 500hp mark. And while the six-speed Allison proved stronger than its five-speed predecessor, it too requires some beefing up in order to survive 500 hp and 1,000 lb-ft. Again, ZF-6 equipped trucks with upgraded clutches seem to make a little more power than automatics, but we have seen one ’06 sporting a stock Allison dyno 499 hp without a lift pump.

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’07.5-10 LMM

Max Horsepower: 460-500 hp
Tuning: EFI Live

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It’s the same old story with the LMM Duramax—there’s a 500hp barrier and you’ll need a built Allison to be able to fully enjoy it. However, spot-on TCM tuning does seem to make the ’07.5-10 version of the Allison capable of handling
500 hp a bit longer than the ’06-07 units. We’ve seen a handful of EFI Live-tuned, stock-transmission, crew-cab LMMs run low 13s in the quarter mile over the years, indicating that 480 to 500 hp was on tap in those instances.

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’11-16 LML

Max Horsepower: 460-490 hp
Tuning: EFI Live

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Although it comes with a stronger Allison 1000 behind it, the LML Duramax isn’t quite capable of matching the 500hp number that the tuned ’01-10 trucks can. The CP4.2 injection pump, which flows approximately 20 percent less fuel than the previously used CP3, is to blame for this. For most owners the difference in horsepower is marginal as well as hardly noticeable. For those who are worried about their LML’s horsepower deficiency when compared to the earlier trucks, CP3 conversion kits are available in the aftermarket.

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’17-18 L5P

Max Horsepower: TBD
Tuning: TBD

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To date, no one has successfully infiltrated an ECM on a ’17-18 GM, which means no custom tuning is available and that the full performance capability of the new L5P Duramax remains to be seen. However, Area Diesel Service has been able to unleash an extra 90 hp with its Ag Diesel Solutions Truck Edition module. The plug-and-play module simply ties into the factory fuel rail pressure sensor to achieve its gains. So far initial reports have confirmed a noticeable seat-of-the-pants difference in power along with a 3mpg improvement in fuel economy.

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SOURCES

Adrenaline Truck Performance
208.685.1000
ATPtrucks.com

Area Diesel Service
800.637.2658
AreaDieselService.com

Edge Products
888.360.3343
EdgeProducts.com

EFI Live
EFIlive.com

GDP Tuning
GDPtuning.com

MADS Electronics (Smarty)
503.908.7783
MADSelectronics.com

Power Hungry Performance
678.890.1110
PowerHungryPerformance.com

SCT
407.774.2447
SCTflash.com

TS Performance
270.746.9999
TSperformance.com

Hypertech
Hypertech-Inc.com

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