Looking to add more Torque for Hauling with my Silverado 6.5L diesel!

I am looking to add more Torque and Horse power to my 1997 Silverado 6.5 Litter Diesel truck and am looking for some performance upgrades that would take care of that specifically programmer chips, marine fuel injectors and air intake systems. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I need to do this in order to haul a 10,000 lb 5th wheel to Michigan and back. Thanks!

I don’t think programmer chips do much for a gas motor, and likely even less for a diesel. Changing fuel injectors without changing other parts of the fuel system could raise compatability issues. Do they need the same level of flow and pressure from the fuel pump and regulator that you currently have? If you have no clue, I’d say don’t go there. You can go with a K&N type of filter but don’t get into changing the manifold, again it might not be compatible.

If your truck is stressed by this load perhaps you should trade for a stronger truck. If you keep your speeds at 55 to 60 mph you shouldn’t have any problems. You might slow down on some hills but that is part of life when towing a heavy load.

You will compromise the reliability of your truck if you make modifications and the benefits in added power will be small. Torque is more an issue with displacement and you can’t increase the size of the motor. The chip might allow higher rpms and get you some more hp, but won’t do much for torque and more torque is what you need for towing.

You might consider increasing the cooling capacity of your truck and in particular get a bigger transmission cooler. Keeping the motor and transmission cool will give you more “performance” and more longevity at the same time.

The performance mods you’re talking about typically add (at most, in a lot of cases don’t add any) like 6 hp. Which really isn’t going to make a noticeable difference on whether you’re truck can tow 10,000 lb.

You say you are hauling this trailer to Michigan and back, but back where? Where are you leaving from? I ask because if are not exceeding your truck’s towing capacity, the answer might be to find a route that avoids mountains. If you are planning to exceed your truck’s towing capacity, horsepower and torque aren’t the only problems you need to worry about.

I will be going from California to Michigan and back. My plan is to avoid the mountain passes as much as possible. I spoke with some guys at heathdiesel.com and they recommended their Turbo Charge Booste Controllers for around $614. They claim that this will increase the engines performance by as much as 40 to 60 HP. I believe the stock Horse Power is around 190 now and by adding this device, it will increase to 230 to 250 HP. What are your thoughts on this?

You can go with a K&N type of filter … I would generally advice against a K&N or any oiled filter. The claimed advantages are usually greatly over stated and the potential for problems is real.

They claim that this will increase the engines performance by as much as 40 to 60 HP.

And do you believe that?

One shop I’ve heard about for years is Gale Banks Engineering (Bankspower.com). Surprisingly, they don’t list anything for the 6.5l, just the earlier 6.2l and the later 6.6l. Might be worth giving them a call. Just don’t count on it being cheap!

Key words: “as much as”…so it can be anywhere between 1hp and 40 to 60hp. Ask them what increase they will guarantee!

Consider the power-to-weight ratio of a commercial semi. They usually have about 400-500 horsepower, and fully loaded they weigh almost 80,000 lbs., but loaded, they usually weigh between 60,000 and 80,000 lbs., giving them an average power-to-weight ratio of about 0.0065. Your truck and trailer probably weigh about 15,000 lbs. together, giving you a power-to-weight ratio (with 190 HP) of about 0.0137. You already have about twice the power-to-weight ratio of a loaded tractor trailer, and they take loads through the mountains all the time. How much more do you need?

As long as your truck has more than 10,000 lbs. of towing capacity, I think you should be fine with what you have now. I should warn you that the 2010 Silverado I looked at only has 8,900 lbs. of towing capacity. If this is the case for yours, no amount of additional torque or horsepower will increase your towing capacity. This job might be too much for this truck, and if it is, no amount of modifications will be enough to make it safe. Towing capacity is about more than just horsepower and torque, as we can see by looking at commercial semis. You also need frame strength, heavy duty suspension, and big brakes with a lot of stopping power.

I have a dully truck, so the frame is pretty tough. I may decide to upgrade the rear suspension by adding a towing spring to the existing springs. I know that the limit for the gas powered dullys is 10,000 lbs. It is basically the same truck (frame, chassis, shocks, springs) but with a gas engine. I figured that if I could increase the transmission cooling system and add more torque to the engine, that I would be able to make the trip with what I have.

On the contrary, turbo diesels respond extraordinarily well to ECU tuning. Gains of 60-100 HP and 80-200 torques are commonplace, with bullydog or banks systems. Of course with such dramatic power increases, transmissions start failing and EGT’s rise tremendously. In the 3/4 -1 ton truck market, the diesels they use are intentionally detuned from the factory in interest of transmission longevity and more recently, emissions standards.

I tend to believe what professionals tell me. Heathdiesel.com seems to be an admired and reputable company based upon the blogs and responses. Do you have other info regarding this?

I would, it doesn’t take much to wake up a turbo diesel, they respond much, much better to ECU tuning than gas powered engines do.

You’re pushing the truck’s limits.

What’s the purpose of the trip?

If it’s a camper and you’re going RV’ing, you may want to trade for a bigger vehicle.

If it’s a one time trip for transporting something only, you might want to consider contracting to have it pulled. It might be cheaper than damaging what you have, and it’d likely also be safer.

Diesels do take very well to performance modifications and I would think gains of 50 HP could be had pretty easily.
There is a local guy here running a Ford diesel pickup with a very lightly modified and chipped engine. That truck has also been run at the drag strip where he absolutely whomped a Subaru WRX badly and repeatedly; to the tune of low 12s/high 11s in the quarter mile.
That’s not just fast; it’s kind of amazinging fast for a king cab pickup with a toolbox full of junk in the back and the A/C running. :slight_smile:

The thing that would concern me would be if this truck is rated to even pull this much weight, towing that much weight in the heat of summer, and things like that.

If I were going to do this I know one thing I would do for sure and that is add a very heavy duty external transmission fluid cooler if the truck does not have one already.
I’d also change the trans fluid before and after the trip.

Maybe I haven’t done a very good job of being clear.

You need to determine the trailer’s GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). The actual weight of the trailer is usually less than its GVWR, so the GVWR usually trumps the actual weight.

You need to determine your truck’s towing capacity. It could be as high as 13,000 lbs., but we need to know for sure. You should be able to find it in your owner’s manual.

If [towing capacity] < [GVWR of trailer] you need another tow vehicle. No modifications will make it safe to exceed the towing capacity.

If [towing capacity] > [GVWR of trailer] the truck can handle the job without any modifications, so no modifications would be necessary.

In conclusion, no amount of modifications will solve your problem. The truck will either handle this load or it won’t. If it will, use it as it is. If it won’t, don’t use it with this trailer.

The Freightliner also has a 15-18 speed gearbox ( usually a six speed with a splitter and dual speed axles IIRC). It also has 1200-1800 lb/ft of torque. Kinda an apple to oranges comparision with the OP’s pickup.

It isn’t really supposed to be an apples-to-apples comparison in the first place. The main point is that both vehicles can handle weights in their manufacturer-declared safe range, and modifying horsepower or torque on either one wouldn’t be enough to extend that capacity. Your point that there are other design aspects that are equally important is the exact point I was trying to make.

How many MILES on this 1997??? What MODEL truck?/ Asking a tired old engine to suddenly find 50 more horsepower is asking a lot…What you are going to wind up with is a lot more SMOKE pouring out your tailpipe, a lot more fuel burned, and very little increase in performance.

If you need a bigger, heavier truck, you need a bigger, heavier truck…