Best Emissions Friendly Diesel Tuning Options
Want Diesel Tuning that’s eco-friendly and won’t lead to the EPA at your doorstep?
Diesel trucks hold so much untapped potential, horsepower and torque only a fingertip’s length away. How do you access all this untapped potential? All you need is a tuner or programmer. Tuners help achieve high horsepower, torque, and better overall performance from your diesel. There are a lot of options out there, but not all of them provide the same results. If you have an older diesel, tuning is much less complex. There aren’t emissions systems you have to worry about. Tuning a newer diesel is a completely different story. You have to worry about picking a tuner that is CARB approved and offers emissions friendly tuning. What are emissions friendly tunes? Keep reading! We’ll give you everything you need to know.
What is Emissions Friendly Tuning?
Emissions friendly tuning refers to tuning that doesn’t disable emissions devices on a diesel truck. While they don’t delete emissions devices, they still might not be CARB approved or have an EA number. Emissions compliant tuning refers to tuners and programmers that have been tested and approved for use by state and federal governments. They also don’t increase the amount of tailpipe emissions from the truck. Diesel emissions include Nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide, and diesel particulate matter. Scientists have found these to be detrimental to human health and have also cited them as a reason for global warming.
What are Diesel Emissions?
Ever seen a diesel “black smoke”? The black smoke emitted from the tailpipe is unburnt hydrocarbons. This is most commonly seen on older trucks that don’t have emissions systems. Newer trucks feature emissions devices like diesel particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, exhaust gas recirculation systems, and diesel exhaust fluid systems that prevent “black smoke” and other emissions from being released.
Upon release, these emissions systems were at best unreliable. They broke frequently and they costed an arm and a leg to replace or repair. Instead of spending a couple thousand dollars to replace the emissions devices, truck owners opted for emissions removal and delete tuning. Emissions-removed or noncompliant tuning refers to tunes that defeat emissions devices and allow their removal. Deletes or deleting means removing emission devices. While it does lead to increased carbon emissions, it makes tremendous impacts in terms of improved fuel economy and power gains. It’s also only a fraction of the cost of emissions repair and replacement.
Why You Should Roll With Emissions Friend or Compliant Tuning
Although it’s not as cool, you should stick with emissions friendly or compliant tuning. Because of the EPA crackdown in 2019, delete tuning is almost non-existent. Many of the largest tuning companies shut down after they were slapped with huge fines. Modern emissions systems have become more reliable too. The newer diesel trucks already have impressive horsepower, torque, and fuel economy numbers too, so the gains needed by deleting emissions aren’t really necessary. Take the L5P Duramax for example, it provides a whopping 445 horsepower and 910 ft/lb of torque from the factory. Ram’s 2019 HD trucks equipped with the 6.7L Cummins and Aisin transmission produce over 1,000 ft/lbs of torque. Ford’s 2020 SuperDuty tops both of those with an impressive 475 horsepower and 1,050 ft/lbs of torque.
Delete tuning also results in the loss of your factory warranty 100% of the time. The last thing you want to deal with is powertrain failure. Unfortunately, it can happen. If your truck is deleted, manufacturers will give you the bird when it comes to covering this failure under warranty. Deleted trucks featuring emissions noncompliant tuning will also fail emissions testing. This means every year you would have to take off your exhaust, and install all of your emissions devices back on the truck.
Why Get Tuning At All?
Why do you want more horsepower, torque, and better overall performance from your diesel? It’ll help you tow that extra heavy trailer or extend the time it takes for you to fill-up your tank. It can seriously make a difference. If you’ve ever driven a tuned diesel, you know what I’m talking about. It helps improve drivability, fuel economy, and most importantly it makes driving a diesel even more fun.
Best Clean, Emission-Friendly Tuners & Programmers
The best tuner for you depends on what truck you have. Certain trucks have more secure ECMs decreasing the amount of tuning available. We’re going to a write an entire post about tuning an L5P Duramax because there aren’t many options. For the rest of you guys, here is what we recommend.
1. EZ Lynk Custom Tuning
The EZ Lynk tuning platforms allow you to receive custom tunes directly from the cloud. This is ideal, because you don’t have to upload any tunes to a computer and then download them to a tuning device. EZ Lynk also gives you access to custom tuning. Custom tuning offers personalized tuning that is based on existing modifications. It produces the best results because it is based on your exact truck. It can also be tweaked to achieve optimal performance. With this product, you’re going to want to pick a reputable tuning company. Check out our best custom tuning companies post for a list of our favorite custom tuning companies.
2. EFI Live Custom Tuning
EFI Live is my favorite tuning platform for my Duramax or Cummins trucks. While it doesn’t allow cloud-based tune delivery, it’s very straightforward to download tunes to an Autocal and it allows you to store your tune files on a computer. It’s less expensive than EZ Lynk tuning and it delivers the same results. Just make sure if you opt for EFI Live tuning that you have a windows computer. EFI Live tuning isn’t compatible with Mac computers. EFI Live requires custom tunes. Check out our Custom Tuning Companies post for help deciding which tuning company to use.
3. Bully Dog or SCT BDX Custom Tuning and Box Tuner
Bully Dog’s BDX programmer is unique because it offers box tuning for a variety of trucks while also offering custom tune capabilities. Custom tunes are delivered via the cloud. I actually used the BDX to get custom tunes for my 2014 Powerstroke from Innovative Diesel. Check out our Bully Dog BDX programmer review for more information.
4. Banks Derringer
Banks Power has been around a long time and they are known to test their products extensively. They were the first company to come out with L5P Duramax tuning and their new Derringer delivers! The Derringer is now available for most Diesels 2010-Current and is a wonderful option for diesel enthusiasts looking for smooth, reliable power. For optimal results and more insight on your diesel, pair your derringer tuner with a banks idash datamonster for real-time truck monitoring. For older trucks, consider Bank’s Automind, Economind, Big Hoss, or Six-Gun tuners.
5. Edge Products
Edge is another company that has been around a long time. They not only offer tuning, but some of the best monitoring devices around. This is where I believe Edge really shines. Edge products like the CTS Juice /W attitude or the Evolution CTS2 offer quality emissions-friendly tuning with data monitoring. Definitely don’t overlook Edge because they offer tuning for just about every Diesel available. Recently, Edge released their new Pulsar tuner for the L5P Duramax which is the easiest tuner to install on these trucks. They’re also really affordable compared to other tuning available for the L5P Duramax. Even if you decide to go with another tuner like EFI Live or EZ Lynk, invest in a CTS2 Insight. You won’t regret it!
Want Specific Tuning Recommendations for your Vehicle?
Not all of the tuners listed above are available for every diesel. If you visit our diesel resource page, select your diesel type and click product recommendations. We’ll have our favorite tuners listed for your specific truck! Don’t forget to invest in a monitor and a pyrometer to keep an eye on your EGTs!