Diesel & Truck Performance

Dec 20, 2011

For work or play, nothing matches the power and versatility of a full-size truck. And when it comes to capitalizing on the opportunities diesel and truck performance presents, the aftermarket has it covered.

From internal engine components to tuners, suspension products to brakes, truck enthusiasts love to remake their pickups top to bottom. No group is more passionate about its machines, and no market offers a greater opportunity for profits.

Gas prices, green initiatives, governmental regulations-regardless of the challenge, trucks just seem to keep on trucking. Mild upgrades appeal to weekend warriors, while truck pulls, drags and other off-road competitions have shown growth and staying power.

To help you get a jump on the diesel and truck market for 2012, we polled industry manufacturers regarding their latest hot products, industry advancements, and ways shops can succeed the next time a pickup rolls into the parking lot. If diesel and truck performance isn’t already on your list of services, read on to discover why this market has such tremendous pull.

Diesel Performance Parts Inc.
Mark Craig

Our hottest product for the diesel/truck market is…

…currently we have seen a huge sales increase for products for the Ford 2003-’07 6.0-liter as well as the Ford 2008-’10 6.4-liter trucks, including injectors, head stud kits and gasket sets, as well as EGR systems and BulletProof EGR coolers and oil cooler systems.

Of course, along with that are the replacement OEM oil coolers for those that don’t want to upgrade. The diesel performance industry standard of exhaust, gauges, intake and programmers, as well as injectors and turbochargers, are selling very well, too. Our segment of the performance market is really booming-we are seeing monthly records over and over.

Its best features include…

…cooler exhaust gas temperatures, cleaner exhaust emissions and of course increased fuel mileage and lower maintenance costs, too.

Shops can expect big things from the diesel/truck market this year because…

…I don’t see a slowdown on the replacement parts business at all, especially for the Ford 6.0- and 6.4-liter engines.  It’s sort of like the early days at the beginning of performance products for the 7.3-liter Power Stroke. You never thought there were that many trucks out there to sell to. The 6.0- and the 6.4-liter are going to provide that growth for a number of years.

That’s great for all the folks that have been smart enough to get into and understand the operations of these engines. The labor profitability is high and the parts are making good margins, too. Plus that consumer/truck owner is finally getting that truck fixed once and for all and making it reliable and economical-after as many as 6-7 years.

Think what a relief that is to the consumer. Don’t think they won’t think you’re the hero that finally pulled it off!

The biggest challenges shops face serving the diesel/truck market are…

…parts availability, especially in injectors. The manufacturers have dropped off supply and sub-suppliers due to the 2008 slowdown. Now they are so far behind it’s crazy, and I don’t see them catching up anytime soon.

Shops can immediately increase profits in the diesel/truck market by…

…learn and market yourself as knowing how to repair the main three trucks. If you don’t, the profits will pass you by and once they’re gone there’s no getting them back.

If you have the ability to write repair orders on the Ford 2003-’10 trucks, the Dodge 2003-’09 and the GM Duramax from 2001-’09, you’ll be getting the bulk of the business.

An extremely big byproduct of being able to repair the OEM faults is that you will be the main source of performance products for those same customers as well. If you can repair the OEM issues then that same customer is going to trust you to know which performance products really work and which ones just work OK. It’s a built-in profit model for you.

MAHLE Motorsports
Fletcher, N.C.
Trey McFarland
Sales/Marketing Manager

Our hottest product for the diesel/truck market is…

…our new Chromoly Steel Monotherm racing piston assembly for the GM Duramax engines. We have had great success with the version for the Cummins 5.9-liter, and the Duramax competitors have been beating down our door for their version.

Its best features include…

…the Monotherm piston is considerably stronger than even a forged aluminum part. The all-chromoly construction eliminates the erosion issues associated with advanced injection timing, increased heat and cylinder pressure.

OE cast aluminum diesel pistons utilize a steel top ring groove insert and under-crown cooling gallery to greatly increase durability, both of which are not possible with a forged aluminum construction. The Monotherm piston incorporates both. Also, the sleek low-drag design of the Monotherm utilizes a shorter (lighter) DLC coated pin allowing combined piston and pin weights that are comparable to the OE cast aluminum piston and pin.

Shops can expect big things from the diesel/truck market this year because…

…the MAHLE Monotherm piston assembly eliminates the engine’s current weak link and will enable the diesel racer/puller to push the limits of their combinations to new levels.

Recent technology has affected the diesel/truck market by…

…allowing huge strides in all areas of performance, durability and efficiencies. A lot of technology is making its way to the aftermarket from the OE side-some from outside the medium-duty truck market.

Equally as impacting is the greater emphasis on diesel-specific products from many of the performance industry’s leading manufacturers.

The biggest challenges shops face serving the diesel/truck market are…

…for a longtime diesel-savvy shop, I would think it will be learning to work with and educate their new novice diesel customers. And for the truck performance shop that is just getting into diesel performance, it would be learning all the differences between gas and diesel performance.

Shops can immediately increase profits in the diesel/truck market by…

…educating themselves on who (demographically) their new diesel customers are and what they want. Then identifying the distributors that are supporting (stocking) these performance diesel products and partnering with them.

Bully Dog Technologies
American Falls, Idaho
Brett Garner
Product Manager

Our hottest product for the diesel/truck market is…

…the Triple Dog GT (Gauge Tuner) part number 40420.

Its best features include…

…the first feature we always talk about is, of course, power. We pack over 100 hp into our Extreme tuning level. We offer four different tunes in our product including a stock power level, a towing power level (plus-50 hp), a performance level (plus-75 to 100 hp), and Extreme (over 100 hp).

The second feature is fuel economy. Typically when you tune a diesel engine for more power you also benefit with an improvement in fuel economy.

The third feature is that we only have one part number that covers nearly every diesel pickup on the road in the U.S. This makes decision-making easy for the end-user and it makes the product transferable.

The fourth major feature is the gauge package that comes with the GT. Since the GT programs and tunes the vehicle’s engine computer, it also has access to a multitude of on-board vehicle sensors through the engine computer. During normal vehicle operations the GT stays plugged into the OBDII port and feeds that sensor data back to the driver in near real time.

Shops can expect big things from the diesel/truck market this year because…

…I have some good news and bad news. The good news is that the OEMs are still making really great light-duty diesel pickups. The bad news, for some, is that the EPA and CARB have their eyes on diesel tuning products, especially any diesel tuning product that defeats emissions devices like DPF-delete for licensed vehicles.

Removing any emissions devices from a licensed vehicle is a violation of the Clean Air Act and is breaking federal law. The EPA is starting to crack down on these “defeat devices.”

Fortunately, at Bully Dog we have made a conscious decision not to defeat emissions devices and we are one of two companies that are on the Products in Progress list conducting testing in the state of California to achieve an EO (executive order) for our GT product.

Achieving an EO number would give our California dealers peace of mind that the GT isn’t going to come back to bite them. Any products that don’t get the proper testing in California are illegal for any sort of on-road use in the state-kind of scary for this market.

Recent technology has affected the diesel/truck market by…

…the new emissions devices placed on new-model diesels aren’t necessarily news to the world but it is worth mentioning. As emissions devices become less tolerant of diesel emissions, tolerances for the entire engine operation must “tighten up.”

So, if you make a diesel engine tuner for one of these late-model vehicles, you really need to be a better tuner to be certain that your product doesn’t adversely affect those emissions devices.

For instance, the DPF or diesel particulate filter is installed on those vehicles to collect large particulate matter. If we create a tune for a new-model diesel pickup where we just pump a bunch of fuel into the system to try and gain power, we are essentially going to clog those diesel particulate filter systems up much faster. That is an example of poor tuning and a poor level of awareness.

It’s our goal to create utility and a better experience for the end-user using the tools we have available and the vehicle in its stock form from the OEM.

The biggest challenges shops face serving the diesel/truck market are…

I’m not an economist so I’m not even going to touch the market situation. But I do know about the regulations being placed on the diesel tuning market.

I would tell any dealers who are selling emissions equipment defeat devices that they know are going on licensed vehicles to be wary. Why risk it when there are heavy-duty fines for violators? Why not go with a company and a product that can provide clear-cut benefits for the end-user and for the retail shop while still remaining 100-percent compliant with federal law?

Shops can immediately increase profits in the diesel/truck market by…

…I think that many shops will be happy to know that we are the first company to successfully tune the 2012 Ford, Dodge and GM diesel pickups. If you have customers looking for any of the features that a diesel engine tuner can offer and they have a 2012 diesel, then Bully Dog is ready to service their needs.

It’s almost common knowledge that customers outfit their new vehicle purchase with aftermarket products within the first 90 days of ownership and then don’t really do much after that initial 90 days. So it’s important for us to be first-to-market with new vehicle tunes and it’s important for shops to get that product in their shops to service those customers when they are ready to buy.

Another exciting opportunity is the heavy-duty market, meaning semi-tractor trailers. Bully Dog has a lineup of tuning products, turbochargers and ceramic coated exhaust manifolds that are in demand and hold really good margins for a shop owner.

The market is still in its infancy, so there is still a huge amount of potential.

Gale Banks Engineering
Azusa, Calif.
Steve Jones
Sales Manager

Our hottest product for the diesel/truck market is…

…our Ram-Air Intake System.

Its best features include…

…the Banks Ram-Air is an enclosed cold-air intake system for diesel trucks. Its streamlined components eliminate stock restrictions for greater power and fuel economy. Flowbench-tested, the Banks Ram-Air delivers greater air density to the turbo.

Shops can expect big things from the diesel/truck market this year because…

…diesel technology continues to become more sophisticated. Gale Banks Engineering is constantly researching new engine and electronic designs and adapting a full product line of intake, exhaust and tuning products to deliver impressive power and economy gains while honoring the host vehicle.

Recent technology has affected the diesel/truck market by…

…making diesel trucks even cleaner than before. The emissions output of today’s diesel engines is in many cases cleaner than their gasoline counterparts.

This added complexity puts aftermarket companies to the test. Rather than looking for ways to defeat these devices, Banks seeks to provide products that fully integrate with the onboard emissions systems, providing performance enhancements within emissions regulations.

The biggest challenges shops face serving the diesel/truck market are…

…offering emissions-compliant products, which is crucial to long-term success. Gale Banks Engineering has worked closely with the California Air Resources Board in establishing test standards for the diesel aftermarket as a whole. Banks has the know-how to build emissions-compliant products that shop owners can offer to their customers.

Shops can immediately increase profits in the diesel/truck market by…

…learning about how diesel products work and passing that information on to their customers. Knowledge is power! Take the time to educate yourself.

Gale Banks Engineering offers ample training material to dealers of Banks products. Once a person or shop is known as the authority on power up-fits, word will travel fast and customers will come from miles around to benefit from that knowledge.

SSBC Performance Brake Systems 
Clarence, N.Y.
Bill Cummings
Sales Manager

Our hottest product for the diesel/truck market is…

…our Quick Change caliper upgrades and 14.5-inch rotor kits for GM, Ford and Dodge diesel trucks.

Its best features include…¦

…the Quick Change caliper upgrade allows you to add massive 3- or 8-piston (depending on application) aluminum calipers to your vehicle in a matter of minutes. This caliper upgrade can give you up to a 36-percent increase in stopping power over stock brakes.

All Quick Change caliper kits are designed to fit in all factory wheels and will work with stock rotors. For enthusiasts running 20-inch-plus-size wheels, adding our 14.5-inch rotors will also increase stopping ability and help fill those massive wheels.

Shops can expect big things from the diesel/truck market this year because…

…the SSBC brake systems have now allowed truck owners to safely lift their vehicle and add towing capacity without limitations of the stock braking system.

In the diesel drag racing markets, these new SSBC brake systems allow racing enthusiasts to push their trucks to the limits and add more horsepower without the fear of not being able to stop at the end of the track.

Recent technology has affected the diesel/truck market by…

…allowing truck owners to easily increase the horsepower of their vehicles by adding electronic programmers. This easy and relatively inexpensive add-on has allowed the novice to add big horsepower to a vehicle without enhancing any other safety components.

SSBC saw this as an opportunity to help the truck owners improve the safety of their vehicles by offering upgrades to their stock brake systems.

The biggest challenges shops face serving the diesel/truck market are…

…educating the consumer and their employees. All the big changes the diesel/truck market has seen over the past couple of years in emissions controls, performance and vehicle weight changes make it tough to keep up.

Consumers know they want big power, big wheels and heavy accessories sometimes without knowing how it may affect the performance of the rest of the vehicle. An educated shop and/or consumer will know what additional weak links certain upgrades may cause in a vehicle and be able to add a product to the vehicle to eliminate these weak links before it’s too late.

Shops can immediately increase profits in the diesel/truck market by…

…providing customers with an education center or consultant. Become a place where they can go and talk with someone about building a vehicle with everything they want and have the confidence that it is safe, it will perform and not let them down.

Offer to build their truck in stages if finances are an issue, but build it so that there is a safety solution with every upgrade. You will have a happy customer that will return in the future and bring their buddies along as well.