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Old 01-26-2013, 05:59 PM   #1
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Looking for help and suggestions for Exhaust Brakes and Diesel Performance Tuners

I'm currently towing a 29' 1992 Excella Classic Airstream with 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie Mega Cab, 5.9 Cummins diesel.

I love my truck and I'm hoping I can find some helpful suggestions on what others have been happy with when it comes to add on Exhaust Brakes and add-on performance Tuners for cummins diesel pickups. What brands you have liked and if you were able to do the installs yourself.

I've done some research on Banks, and BD.

Banks seems pricier, it also has viewable installation manuals that are very detailed and show how to do the installs. I did not find the same to be true for BD.
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
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I would avoid the Banks tuner.I have had to remove way too many that had failed and caused check engine lights-Mainly ckp codes due to the way they are wired in.The most versatile is the the Smarty,very easy to install.It takes about 5 minutes to load it or put it back to stock,no hardware to add or remove.Mads Electronics - Smarty - Catcher - Products
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:44 PM   #3
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I agree with Bob on the Smarty. Probably one of the most useful tuning/scanning pieces of equipment out there. I have used Marco's stuff since way back when the CaTcher ECM's were just starting and have been impressed ever since.

As far as exhaust brakes are concerned, I would take a look at the Pacbrake PRXB for your truck.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:23 AM   #4
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PACBRAKE, most often recommended. Same for SMARTY, but tuners also tend to mess with factory programming such that removing it in the future is not quite a clean break.

No A/S is heavy enough to need either, but the brake sure makes life easier.

.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
PACBRAKE, most often recommended. Same for SMARTY, but tuners also tend to mess with factory programming such that removing it in the future is not quite a clean break.

No A/S is heavy enough to need either, but the brake sure makes life easier.

.
The Smarty leaves the factory tune in-tact with-out a trace of corruption.I have even used it when the oem flash did not want to go through for the required smog update to show monitors on an 05 (that had always been bone stock)
The Smarty will however have the latest version of the oem software at the time the smarty was bought or up-dated on line
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bob4x4 View Post
I would avoid the Banks tuner.I have had to remove way too many that had failed and caused check engine lights-Mainly ckp codes due to the way they are wired in.The most versatile is the the Smarty,very easy to install.It takes about 5 minutes to load it or put it back to stock,no hardware to add or remove.Mads Electronics - Smarty - Catcher - Products
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Originally Posted by Midnightmoon View Post
As far as exhaust brakes are concerned, I would take a look at the Pacbrake PRXB for your truck.
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Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
No A/S is heavy enough to need either, but the brake sure makes life easier.
.

First of all let me thank one and all for coming to my aid. I know next to nothing about tuners, or exhaust brakes and no actual experience with them. So, I've been combing the internet for information. Sometimes that works well, but sometimes not.

All I'd really come up with was Banks, Edge and BD Diesel. Smarty and Pacebrake were more or less unknown to me.

I did not reply right away to your posts because I wanted to check them out first.

I was not aware of the problems you mentioned with performance tuners, but it makes sense. I'm way past warranty concerns I believe. I bought my truck used and I"m pretty close to 100K on the Odometer. All that said, I see that the Smarty seems much simpler to install less intrusive and per the maker leaves your setting at stock if you choose to remove it.

As far as the PaceBrake I guess it appears similar to the BD in that is uses and electronic compressor, testimonials at the Pacbrake website prove they have happy customers, but I'm sure all of the makers have those. In this case though I get the impression that a couple or all of you have some first hand experience.

Is the pacbrake something that a guy with reasonable mechanical ability can install? Are the directions pretty clear and easy to follow?

The exhaust brake to me is a no brainer since I've done some extensive mountain driving, down shifting a diesel automatic does not really seem to provide all that much drag on steep declines. I can tell you that not long after I bought my AS I took it through West Virginia on two lane mountain roads and I had to rely way to much on my mechanical brakes. I won't even go into how dumb an idea that was. Hahaha, Oh well, live and learn. I would feel much better tough, if I did not have to rely on my wheel brakes so heavily in that kind of situation.

As for the performance tuner. I might not need that as much as I thought I did. See I just found out yesterday that my 2006 Dodge came with a Tow/Haul and an OD Off button on my gear shift. Thank god for the internet in this case. I was researching the Banks Tuner and mentioned in it's installation material is turning on and off the factory Tow/Haul and or Overdrive. It took me another half an hour to find out that the button was located in the end of my gear shift. Been there the entire time and I never knew about it. I guess the decal had worn off.

I'm thinking this will solve the shifting in and out of OD when I'm on a steep hill trying to maintain my speed (depending on Highway or Interstate 45 to 55). Any feed back on this? I'm looking for encouragement here.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:27 PM   #7
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Is the pacbrake something that a guy with reasonable mechanical ability can install? Are the directions pretty clear and easy to follow?
I'm going to give you a non-answer if that is OK with you. I've installed quite a few Pacbrake and Jacobs brand exhaust brakes over the years. The install is not extremely difficult in any of the steps. Probably the worst for you, with a truck around 100K miles, will be getting the exhaust downpipe off the back of the turbo, replacing the elbow with the brake, and getting everything lined back up again. You will definately need a second set of hands for that segment of the install. Everything else will be rather strait forward.

When I do one, I usually plan on a full Saturday to do everything from start to finish. Give yourself at least double that if you are going to do one for the first time. A diesel shop will probably charge you $400-$500 to do the install. It really is going to depend on how much time you are comfortable for the job.
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:12 PM   #8
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I'm going to give you a non-answer if that is OK with you. ...

When I do one, I usually plan on a full Saturday to do everything from start to finish. Give yourself at least double that if you are going to do one for the first time. A diesel shop will probably charge you $400-$500 to do the install. It really is going to depend on how much time you are comfortable for the job.

That was actually a very good answer. I'm very comfortable with taking my time and I can get a friend. for the hard part.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:30 AM   #9
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I tow a 30'er AS with a truck much like yours. Mine is a 3500 automatic. I find it comfortable to keep my transmission in OD and occasionally float between OD and tow/haul and don't notice much difference. I rarely find a need to take it out of OD even in the Rockies last summer. I would appreciate an exhaust brake but after talking with a friend of a friend in Florida, eh maybe not. He has a diesel shop and I was thinking of having one installed next month while we're down there. He advised against it on the automatics. Says he's found them troublesome and therefore advised against it. He was more optimistic about installing a mild tuner but still said the fuel economy savings wouldn't show much improvement. For other reasons OK but not mainly for mileage. I've gotten 13.5 -14.5 mpg while towing and my truck is bone stock. I'm planning on some exhaust upgrades but probably not until I'm in need of some exhaust work.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:58 PM   #10
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The Smarty leaves the factory tune in-tact with-out a trace of corruption.I have even used it when the oem flash did not want to go through for the required smog update to show monitors on an 05 (that had always been bone stock)
The Smarty will however have the latest version of the oem software at the time the smarty was bought or up-dated on line
No, the factory programming is never the same again. There is no free lunch when it comes to any brand of "tuner". Folks find what they think are acceptable trade-offs to bowdlerize.

There is discussion of this on Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum . . it ain't no secret.

.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:03 AM   #11
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No, the factory programming is never the same again. There is no free lunch when it comes to any brand of "tuner". Folks find what they think are acceptable trade-offs to bowdlerize.

There is discussion of this on Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum . . it ain't no secret.

.
I am a dealer tech,Like I said the smarty will not leave a trace and will reinstall the latest version of the factory software that the smarty was loaded with.The Bulley dog tuner used some off shore version and created issues.The Cummins Forrum is full of kokers who will perpetuate rumours that they have read and have no personnal knowledge of
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:09 AM   #12
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Update

So here's and update.

Midnightmoon, having done the reseach since your suggestion I have decided to get the Pacbrake PRXB exhaust brake for the 2006-2007 Dodge Ram Automatic, Direct Mount with air tank (C44045). Ease of installation and because of the side benefits that it includes. As mentioned the kit that comes with it includes a half gallon air tank (for the compressor which also comes with it) and a 25' curly air hose and air chuck that can be used to top off tires, etc.

I located a place in Charlottesville, VA, Truck Parts East, (I live in Virginia) that has the best price I've found and offers free UPS ground. Of course there's a hitch, they have not answered their phone during their posted hours either yesterday or today so far at least. I get a bit cautious buying stuff online when it's a smaller business and one I'm not familiar with. It's probably fine, but I cannot even find a decent review on them so I'm playing it careful. I've sent them an email and a message from the website so hopefully they'll get back to me soon and I can get this done and for a good price.

If you've got any other suggestions I'm all ears.

BOB4X4, I'm sure you know your tuners and having done my homework since you made me aware of the Smarty, what I've read makes me agree with everything you've said. Should I add a tuner I feel that the Smarty would be the right way to go; however, now that I'm aware of the Tow/Haul feature on my Dodge I'm wondering if I should give that a serious try, before adding a Smarty. Also, since I'm not 16 and looking to boost my power to the point I'm trailing billowing black clouds of unburned diesel exhaust when I pull away from a stop
I'm thinking maybe the Smarty Junior would be the right way to go, if I do decide to add a tuner.

Another guy who loves his Smarty told me that I should also consider adding some good gauges to monitor EGT, Trans Temp, Fuel Pressure and Boost.

I'd like to get your learned thoughts on all of the above. Wait, don't wait, gauges or no?

Pete
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:23 PM   #13
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So here's and update.

Midnightmoon, having done the reseach since your suggestion I have decided to get the Pacbrake PRXB exhaust brake for the 2006-2007 Dodge Ram Automatic, Direct Mount with air tank (C44045). Ease of installation and because of the side benefits that it includes. As mentioned the kit that comes with it includes a half gallon air tank (for the compressor which also comes with it) and a 25' curly air hose and air chuck that can be used to top off tires, etc.

I located a place in Charlottesville, VA, Truck Parts East, (I live in Virginia) that has the best price I've found and offers free UPS ground. Of course there's a hitch, they have not answered their phone during their posted hours either yesterday or today so far at least. I get a bit cautious buying stuff online when it's a smaller business and one I'm not familiar with. It's probably fine, but I cannot even find a decent review on them so I'm playing it careful. I've sent them an email and a message from the website so hopefully they'll get back to me soon and I can get this done and for a good price.

If you've got any other suggestions I'm all ears.

BOB4X4, I'm sure you know your tuners and having done my homework since you made me aware of the Smarty, what I've read makes me agree with everything you've said. Should I add a tuner I feel that the Smarty would be the right way to go; however, now that I'm aware of the Tow/Haul feature on my Dodge I'm wondering if I should give that a serious try, before adding a Smarty. Also, since I'm not 16 and looking to boost my power to the point I'm trailing billowing black clouds of unburned diesel exhaust when I pull away from a stop I'm thinking maybe the Smarty Junior would be the right way to go, if I do decide to add a tuner.

Another guy who loves his Smarty told me that I should also consider adding some good gauges to monitor EGT, Trans Temp, Fuel Pressure and Boost.

I'd like to get your learned thoughts on all of the above. Wait, don't wait, gauges or no?

Pete

I will PM the contact info for a shop here in PA that can handle your needs if the one in your area doesn't come through. I have a long standing work/friendship with the owner. He can answer any questions on the brake, Smarty, or any other performance upgrade.

As far as gauges are concerned, it is my opinion that you should have them in place before any performance upgrades. You especially need to be concerned with Exhaust Gas Temp under heavy load/towing situations. Some of the Smarty programming is designed to be able to tow without gauges or worry about excessive EGT's, but I always suggest having them in place. For your automatic truck, I would do EGT', Boost, Fuel Pressure, and Trans temp. I also monitor rail pressure in both my automatic and manual Rams.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:55 AM   #14
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Once someone uses a tuner there is no going back. There is no free lunch as there is no perfect tuner software. And the proportion of those who use such generally see earlier transmission problems than those who do not. Expect a trans rebuild eariler, in other words.

The need for gauges undercuts the merit of using a tuner for towing. The stock configuration has no need, especially for lightweight/aero TT's such as found here. These trucks are overpowered straight from the factory.

Your characterization of those who post on CF is without merit; too broad a brush. As with any vehicle forum there is a mix. And more than one "tech" around.

The Smarty may be good (relative to others), but it is still unnecessary. And adds potential problems. The cost is higher than at first glance.
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