You can have more power and cleaner air.
Mark Nyholm | Staff Product Development Engineer And Mechanical R&D Manager
If any of you diesel nuts out there are like me, finding reliable and legal power-adders is becoming trickier. Guess what, folks; the EPA sets emissions standards for good reasons and we shouldn’t attempt to bypass them by modifying or removing the factory-equipped exhaust systems. And, if you’ve read the news lately, you know that a notable and respected company in the industry has joined the list of violators and is now forced to pay fines for using software designed to cheat emissions tests.
If you’ve ever read a diesel magazine or talked to anyone in the industry, 2007 was the year that light-duty turbodiesels took a turn for the worse in some customers’ eyes. That year marked the introduction of the diesel particulate filter (DPF), which is designed to manage exhaust particulates and soot.
An old friend and magazine editor, David Kennedy, once wrote, “How many times have you gotten up in the morning, gone outside, taken a deep breath and said, ‘You know, the air here is just too clean”?” Although you may believe the DPF is the worst invention ever, it’s in your exhaust system to help protect the air we breathe. So, instead of despising it and being confused about what it does and how it does it, let’s clear the air on the device to improve your understanding. Clear the air…get it?
The diesel combustion process is imperfect. It always has been and likely always will be. For example, diesel fuel does not burn completely, creating soot as a byproduct. The DPF is a honeycomb-like filter positioned downstream from the exhaust manifold that catches soot As soot accumulates over time, the DPF begins to plug. A diesel engine requires huge volumes of air for combustion and needs to quickly exhale that air through the exhaust. A plugged DPF creates restriction, which leads to reduced power and fuel economy, and eventually chokes off the engine entirely, which is why some folks remove them.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) designed a process called “regeneration” to clean the DPF. Your truck monitors DPF restriction and automatically begins a regeneration cycle when the pressure exceeds a specific limit, illuminating a DPF regeneration light on the instrument cluster. You’ll also likely notice a hot smell coming from your exhaust. If you’re lucky, it will regenerate while you are flying down the freeway and you’ll never know. This all depends on your driving habits. The more you drive in town or idle, the more often the DPF will regenerate. So, for diesel truck owners who only head to church on Sunday, put some right foot into it once in a while to help burn trapped soot in the DPF.
There are two methods of DPF regeneration. The first is to spray raw diesel fuel into the cylinder on the exhaust stroke after combustion. Diesel fuel injected on the exhaust stroke does not combust; instead, it travels down the exhaust stream until it reaches the DPF, where it combines with soot and burns. The second method uses an injector in the exhaust upstream of the DPF that sprays fuel to raise pipe temperatures. Both methods generate the high temperatures needed to burn DPF soot.
This first method works fairly well; however, injecting fuel on the exhaust stroke can cause fuel to wash past the piston rings and into the crankcase, diluting the engine oil. That’s a pretty big issue considering diesel fuel and engine oil readily mix, resulting in reduced oil viscosity. I’ve seen oil analyses from trucks with fuel dilution up to 10%. That might seem relatively low, but 10% fuel dilution can cause your 15W/-40 engine oil to thin to the equivalent of an SAE 20. That’s a big reduction in engine protection for engines designed to operate on 15W-40.
So, how do you know how your engine is faring? Oil analysis, my friend. Wait until you are about to change oil, take a sample and have it tested. It’s the best way to know the health of your truck. Then you can make an educated decision on the oil’s service life. Get details at oaitesting.com. It’s also best to use AMSOIL synthetic diesel oils. They provide exceptional protection no matter what your driving style and deliver excellent protection for diesels prone to fuel dilution.
Now, about finding legal power-adders. Before you join the ranks of those who have removed their factory emissions systems, check out what the folks at places like Banks Power and ATS Diesel Performance are doing. They’re developing some pretty interesting technologies that add power while maintaining your factory emissions system, giving you plenty of power – and clean air.
SLS Note: Oil Analysis Kits are available from AMSOIL. Testing is done by OAI Testing. (Oil Analyzers Inc.) Oil Analyzers Fluid Analysis is performed at independent ISO 17025 A2LA accredited testing laboratories. This is the highest level of quality attainable by a testing laboratory backed by the most stringent accrediting body in the industry.
For oil analysis there are 3 basic kits available:
- Kit01 is a USPS Postage Prepaid Kit (Return sample by US Mail)
- Kit02 is a UPS Prepaid Kit (Return sample by UPS)
- Kit06 is a kit where you choose the return method and pay the shipping when you send the sample. I use the Kit06 and sending them by US Mail usually runs between $5.00 and $6.00 when mailed. (as of March 2023)
You can check out this prior Tech Tip post for additional information on oil analysis and to view a diesel oil analysis report. And be sure to check out the OAI Testing Site. It has a wealth of information on testing not only your oil but fuel, coolant, and specific tests that are available.
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