Dawn of the Diesel

Mar 2, 2012

(Main image courtesy www.image740.com)

When you think about it, some of the technological advancements found in the performance aftermarket are pretty amazing. A good example is diesel.

A decade ago, diesel performance was marked by large black clouds of stinky exhaust bellowing from shuddering behemoths that seemed ready to literally shake apart at any moment. These days, horsepower and efficiency have come together in sleek, powerful packages that allow users to tackle everything from the largest towing jobs to a day at the drag strip.

Sure, the sled-pullers can still put on a smoke show out of their stacks. But the distance the market has come in 10 years or so is a testament to the innovation and talent in the industry.

For performance shops serving the diesel niche, opportunities come in threes-the chance to upgrade diesel for high-horsepower street and strip applications, the need to fix or circumvent factory weak spots the OEMs can’t seem to shake, and, possibly soon, the ability to open up these services to a new generation of diesel cars as well.

Many professionals predict that diesel cars will be the next big thing in automotive circles, and performance shops already serving their bigger brothers will be in prime position to take full advantage.

In fact, many opportunities currently exist within the diesel market. To learn more, we turn to aftermarket product manufacturers that are already preparing for the dawn of a new diesel age.

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Diesel Performance Parts Inc.
Nashville
Mark Craig

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…mileage products, mileage products, mileage products. Did anyone hear me say “mileage products?”

The advent of the new emissions devices on the 2007.5-newer diesel trucks has decreased the mileage available, and upped the cost to run these trucks as well with the addition of DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) being required to operate them and still be emissions-compliant. So, the majority of our customers are looking to increase mileage any way they can.

Of course, intake systems such as aFe and exhaust systems like MBRP are still the first modifications owners make, and that usually nets 1- to 1.5-mpg increases. It also lowers EGTs to a more acceptable level for medium to heavy haulers.

From there, adding electronics to remap the EMC will gain most folks an extra 0.75 to 1 mpg as well. With diesel fuel in the Northeast at over $4 a gallon, adding 2 mpg is a huge benefit.

Beyond that, we are still seeing a huge market in replacement parts for trucks such as the 6.0-liter Ford. The number of Black Onyx/MAHLE/Victor Reinz gaskets, ARP stud kits and Bulletproof EGR coolers we sell is unbelievable. Same with 6.6-liter Duramax head gaskets and stud kits, and now the Ford 6.4-liter is starting to make big inroads in head gaskets and stud kits sales, too.

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…diesel is still in its infancy. I expect to see a 100-percent growth in the market in the next five years.

As the Big Three automakers as well as imports start to understand the benefits of diesel in the U.S. market, we will see all sorts of passenger cars hit our showrooms. That spells more and more opportunities for those that are already in the diesel industry, allowing them to capitalize on the diesel product segment in a big way.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…as I mentioned before, with the advent of the DPF (diesel particulate filter) and now DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), the technical side is deeper and it requires installers and repair facilities to be up-to-date on their technical knowledge.

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…staying up on the learning curve of the new trucks and the technology they have. The shops that keep up on that info will get business from the dealers while the trucks are under factory warranty. As we all know, the dealers just can’t fix some of the problems that the aftermarket always seems to have a way to handle.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…

…stepping up to the plate today on trucks like the Ford 6.0-liter, as there is still a 5- to 7-year cycle to make major repairs on them such as injectors, head gaskets, EGR replacements and ARP stud kits.

Large-ticket repairs on these trucks are easy and don’t require a large capital investment. With the exception of a two-post lift, there are no special tools or knowledge required. It’s a great way to get in and start learning.

Of course, the intakes by aFe, exhaust systems by MBRP and electronics from companies like H&S, Edge and Superchips, and TS Performance are just natural add-on sales when you have a truck in for major service.

You might not get that sale the day the customer picks up the repaired truck, but if you plant the seed it will grow to a sale later on-more often than you may think.

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Design Engineering Inc. (DEI)
Avon Lake, Ohio
Ken Maynard
Product Manager – Power Adders

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…the Ny-Trex Big Diesel Nitrous System with CryO2 cryogenic technology.

Its best features include…

…this is a system designed specifically for the diesel market. The purge spray does not go unused-it cools the intercooler and eliminates heat-soak, improving its efficiency.

All DEI Ny-Trex solenoids have a no-hassle lifetime guarantee. Our systems are very shop/installer friendly. They are the most complete systems available on the market today.

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…the diesel market is in its infancy, yet it is growing at an exponential rate. The diesel guys are serious. They demand the kind of performance that will cause the gassers to stand back and take warning.

Many manufacturers like Ny-Trex are serious and committing themselves to this market. We have just signed on as the official nitrous system of NADM/DIESEL Motorsports. The commitment of such companies should provide proof-positive that this market is viable and growing.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…the common-rail diesel engine has moved diesel trucks out of the stinky, dirty, work truck category into a new category-the performance machines of tomorrow.

Fuel and injector timing can now be precisely controlled via flash tuners. This allows for the incredible high-torque and horsepower necessary to move, essentially, a 7,000-pound tow vehicle down the quarter-mile in 9 seconds.

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…shops need to lose the preconceived notions and get educated. Diesel is not what it was 10 years ago. It is a performance market and a lifestyle that should be taken seriously.

Diesel trucks are not going away, and they are getting faster every day. Be as serious as the diesel racers are and you will gain their respect. Don’t be just another gasser shop trying to grab some quick cash off the shirttails of innovators.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…

…shops can quickly get the returns on this growing market by educating themselves and marketing their services accordingly. Many diesel guys are looking for a strong, knowledgeable shop they can trust. Knowledge isn’t just about having the right answers either; it’s about having proof, prowling the streets.

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ARP Inc.
Ventura, Calif.
Chris Raschke
Director, Sales & New Products

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…diesel rod bolt kits including Chevrolet 6.6-liter Duramax, 1999-2003 Dodge Cummins 5.9-liter and Ford 6.0/6.4- and 7.3-liter Power Stroke applications.

Its best features include…

…ARP2000 material provides better strength and fatigue life than OEM rod bolts. All parts are center-less ground and threads are rolled after heat treating to provide up to 10 times longer fatigue strength.

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…with hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles on the road, enthusiasts are looking for ways to upgrade power and performance. As warranties expire on older models, those unwilling to void their warranty are now doing more extensive modifications.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…allowing increased power and performance, with electronic fuel injection, turbochargers and nitrous all creating greater demand on fasteners holding it all together.

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…maintaining inventory on the shelf. Customers will find another shop if they have to wait for you to order it.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…

…add-on fastener sales. Every performance modification on the vehicle requires fasteners. Shops should think ARP beyond head and main studs.

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Diamond Eye Performance
Athena, Ore.
Tom Terjeson
Marketing Manager
Mike Nygaard
Engineering Manager

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…ironically enough, one of our hottest new products is actually for one of the oldest diesel applications available-our 1989-’93 Dodge Cummins 4-inch aluminized turbo-back single exhaust kits for two- and four-wheel drive applications.

Its best features include…

…these vintage trucks have seen a lot of years and a lot of miles, so upgrading the exhaust is beneficial to performance and considerably cheaper than trying to locate an OEM factory replacement.

The kits are designed for the longest wheelbase applications and all the parts are mandrel-bent from the best-quality 16 gauge 4-inch aluminized tubing available. We use precision-machined end forms to ensure a perfect turbo connection.

Two-piece tailpipes are designed for maximum adjustability during installation and perf-packed 409 stainless steel mufflers are included in each kit. All the parts are washed after the manufacturing process to clean them of any leftover bending lube or cutting debris, ensuring the customer receives a quality, clean product.

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…there are thousands and thousands of diesel trucks out on the road today and many of them are getting to an age where they need to replace their OEM system, offering a great opportunity for shops to fill that need.

Also, many people are using their personal trucks for their business. Upgrades like exhaust, tuners and air intakes are great ways to boost performance and efficiency for demanding work environments while still keeping the drivability for personal use without breaking the bank.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…the use of high-pressure fuel systems, urea-injected DPF units and the increasing number of components being controlled electronically have been major factors in the way the performance market has shaped up in recent years.

Manufacturers have a lot of research that goes into products before they can be approved for use on the newest diesels. Product testing is more critical than before, and education for the end-user is more challenging.

Shops will find in many cases that a simple exhaust installation can involve more than a Sawzall and a few wrenches with the newer trucks.

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…diesel shops today have a variety of manufacturers and parts to choose from and offer to their customers, but because of this large selection they will probably run into customers who want components their shop just doesn’t carry.

Service and personal attention is still something that you can’t get from the Internet, though, and the shops that excel at taking good care of their customers and making a name for themselves will do well.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…¦

…learning about all of the diesel performance products available to improve their customer’s vehicle.

A new performance diesel exhaust kit can be beneficial on its own, but will ultimately benefit the most when combined with a tuner and a performance air intake. Shops can also learn a lot on the diesel forums, from finding helpful installation tips and advice to new and trendy performance products.

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Fluidampr
Springville, N.Y.
Ivan Snyder
Sales

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…Fluidampr Performance Diesel dampers. We feature a full line, including most popular Dodge Cummins, Ford Power Stroke and Chevy/GM Duramax applications.

Its best features include…

…Fluidampr Performance Diesel dampers help protect engines from damaging crankshaft torsional vibration. Torsional vibration occurs naturally and is caused by the initial torque spike slightly twisting the crank during each compression ignition cycle.

When not properly controlled, the vibration that sets up leads to accelerated main bearing wear, inefficient valve timing, reduced performance and eventually crank failure. A rubber damper (harmonic balancer) is commonly used stock and is not intended to provide adequate protection when performance upgrades are made.

The Fluidampr design automatically adapts to your modifications, then continuously self-tunes in real time across the entire rpm range to provide optimum protection, regardless of frequency. Proper damping can also unleash lost power and help improve fuel economy.

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…we’re in a very exciting time for engine technology. Soon the mix of powertrain and fuel choices will get more complex.

Diesel engines have been and will likely continue to be a versatile workhorse in trucks, but in the United States diesel is also gaining broader acceptance and will soon begin to be featured in more passenger cars as well. New technologies in cleaner emissions, higher fuel efficiency and their ability to run on a variety of fuels may make them an attractive choice.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…today’s diesel performance technologies and modifications can produce impressive power-but power that’s not uncommon day-after-day in heavy-duty diesel engines.

The damper-an essential part that helps keep crankshaft torsional vibration produced by that power from accelerating wear or destroying other critical parts-is often overlooked on the street or track, with consequences to both the owner and the reputation of the engine builder.

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…educating consumers on the benefits of upgrading OEM parts to quality aftermarket choices. The damper is one of those examples.

Viscous-type dampers are an essential part responsible to help protect and prolong the life of high-output, heavy-duty diesel engines, yet are omitted from the majority of light-duty diesel trucks.

The financial impact on a street performance enthusiast, local race team or small business operating a fleet of diesel work trucks could be significant if they upgrade to a performance diesel damper. In any economic time, it benefits the entire industry to keep these owners engaged and loyal to performance diesel.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…

…carefully selecting quality product lines, like Fluidampr, that will benefit the consumer for the long term.

Fluidampr has been involved in diesel performance for a very long time. We have great relationships with leading diesel engine builders like Banks Power and Scheid Diesel. We’re protecting the engines on teams such as Big Bad Dodge, 5E Diesel Pullin’ For A Cure and the Bully Dog Drag Truck. Fluidampr is also the official damper of DIESEL Motorsports (formerly NADM).

If you are doing a new build for a customer, install a performance damper from the start. If you are servicing, inspect the stock damper for signs of cracked, missing or bulging rubber. Those are early warning signs that the stock damper is not adequately protecting the engine and your work.

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Champion Oil
Clinton, Mo.
Karl Dedolph
Director of Performance and Racing Products

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…Champion “Classic” Blue Flame Performance Diesel Oil, intended for use on pre-2007 diesels and DPF/delete-equipped diesels, is a unique hybrid synthetic blend 15W-40 diesel engine oil that combines workhorse high-zinc performance additives, superior protection, advanced polymer technology, and high TBN, supported by a carrier blend of synthetic and conventional base fluids for increased horsepower and torque.

Its best features include…

…performance diesel owners have reported decreased cylinder, cam and bearing wear in their early-model engines, especially in competition diesel engines. Development of this oil included attention to the concentration and synergistic behavior of anti-wear and detergent additives in an effort to obtain more robust protection at high temperatures and heavy loads.

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…the diesel performance market has become a hot niche playground for aftermarket performance products, with the customers’ main pursuits being increased horsepower and torque.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…over the years, emission regulations and fuel economy are drivers for change. Emission regulations have gone through a metamorphosis and fuel economy changes are right around the corner with new engine designs and more than likely a new spec oil-probably a 5W-30 full synthetic.

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…in our opinion, not understanding the changes that have taken place in engine design, specifications, fuel, lubricants, emissions, chemical additives, exhaust fluid, etc. Those that become experts in this understanding will achieve greater success.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…

…adding chemicals, additives, lubricants and performance diesel oils to their product mix.

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Volant Performance
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Danny Moniz
VP/COO

Our hottest new diesel performance product is…

…our new Chevy/GM Duramax intake.

Its best features include…

…the new-generation PowerCore Filter with Ultra Web NanoFiber Technology, offering 20-percent more flow (cfm) than the first generation, plus more efficiency and longer life. The PowerCore Filters are the only OE-approved filter that will not void your factory warranty. It comes with a 150,000-mile warranty and never needs oiling or cleaning

Shops should be optimistic about the diesel performance market because…

…mostly due to rising diesel fuel costs. We find when diesel prices go up for a measurable time our sales drop.

Therefore, I would concentrate on products that have fuel saving advantages. The more performance products, the fewer miles per gallon-it’s simple math. So concentrate on the basics: intakes, chips and exhaust.

New technology has affected the diesel performance market by…

…as a manufacturer of performance products, the new technology coming out of the factories now is more efficient than previous models, making it harder to improve the performance

The main challenge shops face serving the diesel performance market is…

…selling the customer what he’s asking for, and not what a shop wants to sell. We find the more performance products a diesel owner installs on his truck, the more chances he will end up unhappy with the additional results.

More is not necessarily better with diesels-listen to what the customer wants, don’t oversell and the retailer will have a customer for life.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in diesel performance by…

…staying with the basics and selling quality products that make a difference. Air intakes are always your best bang for the buck as a performance upgrade. They’re also the least expensive.

Don’t spread yourself thin with trying to offer every product available. By reducing your product offerings you should be able to increase your margins by concentrating on a handful of suppliers that will offer better pricing with higher volumes. Once again, it’s simple math.