What are the Best Mods For a Diesel Truck?
September 18, 2021
So, you’ve got a diesel truck, and you’re ready to get building on it. The age-old question is, “where should I start?” With a ton of modification options out there from wheels to suspension to performance parts, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out which direction to take your build process. There’s no shortage of badass brands and products out there in the aftermarket community to choose from. We’ve whipped up a list of some of the best modifications to make to your diesel just to give you a starting, middle, and ending point to aim for during your build process.
- What's the Difference Between a Diesel and Gas Truck?
- What are the Best Mods for Diesel Trucks?
- Why Should I Put a Lift Kit on My Diesel?
- Why Should I Put New Wheels on My Diesel?
- Why Should I Get a Tuner for My Diesel?
- Why Should I Get a Cold Air Intake for My Diesel?
- Why Should I Get a New Exhaust System for My Diesel?
- Why Should I Add a Turbocharger to My Diesel Truck?
- Why Should I Modify My Diesel?
What’s the Difference Between a Diesel and Gas Truck?
First off, we’re going to give a brief rundown of what makes a diesel truck different from a regular gasoline truck. To put it simply, both trucks can serve the same purpose and look equally sick, but a diesel truck is your go-to if you’re looking for certain qualities in your truck. Here they are:
- More torque output to attack heavy-duty demands like towing
- Higher fuel economy ratings (this is because of the difference in maximum cold and hot temperatures, but remember diesel fuel is a little spendier though)
- Reliability due to a simpler engine design that has fewer moving parts (this means fewer maintenance costs and a longer-lasting engine, hell yeah)
- Bigger, more aggressive look than light-duty or mid-sized trucks
Honestly, people get a little turned off by diesels because there’s a thought process associated with them that they’re way more expensive than gas trucks. To that, we say, sorta. The initial cost upfront is undoubtedly higher, but when you factor in the better mileage and less maintenance attention, it evens itself out pretty closely.
On the flip side, gas trucks are usually your best bet if you’re looking for functions like:
- More horsepower and acceleration
- Easier and cheaper maintenance (gas engines usually need more attention than diesel engines though)
- Better at handling heavy payloads because it’s lighter than a diesel truck
What are the Best Mods for Diesel Trucks?
Alright. Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, onto the good stuff. Where the hell should I start on my diesel’s build? First, we want to reassure you that there’s really no right or wrong way to build your truck. These are just a handful of parts or accessories that we’ve found success in to achieve a really badass setup. Let’s get into it.
Why Should I Put a Lift Kit on My Diesel?
So, this first one we’re suggesting is being listed first because it’s a really good idea to make it one of your first mods, if not your first: a lift kit or leveling kit. Installing a lift kit or leveling kit is a pretty great way to add some aggression to your build. With more height, it delivers more of an intimidating presence on the road. On top of the pure fact that it just looks awesome, you’ll also be able to take advantage of some cool features like increased ground clearance and visibility and room for bigger wheels and tires. We suggest starting with this mod because it will help determine what sizes of wheels and tires will fit and look the best on your setup.
There are a ton of really great suspension brands out there to choose from, whether you’re looking for something big and bold or a little tamer. Whether you want to start off with a beginner’s kit or go full-fledged high-end quality, the options are endless. Here’s a list of some of the best brands that carry a variety of lift kits for diesels:
Why Should I Put New Wheels on My Diesel?
So, this next suggestion is a little obvious, but by no means should be downplayed because it’s arguable the most important: new wheels. You can comb through just about any automotive forum or social media group and see that one of the first (or first) things people notice in someone else’s truck is the wheels. Why not make a good first impression?
With what seems to be a billion wheel brands out there to choose from, it can be pretty overwhelming to scroll through all of your options in order to figure out what’s going to make your diesel badass. It comes down to what type of build you’re trying to achieve. Maybe you want to spruce up your daily driver or your workhorse needs some attention. Maybe, you’re trying to have the flashiest truck at the next show. Either way, there’s a brand out there that will help you get what you’re looking for. Here are a few lists to help narrow the search.
Best wheel brands for show builds:
Note: These brands were chosen because of their large wheel sizes available to work for big, lifted applications, flashier chrome/color options, and the elite forged look.
Best wheels brands for daily drivers/workhorse diesels:
Note: By no means do these brands have any less style, but they’re designed with durability and reliability in mind as well. Plus, the price tag is a little less than the popular show wheel brands.
Why Should I Get a Tuner for My Diesel?
Looks aside, some of the best mods you can make to your diesel are performance-based. Like we mentioned earlier, diesels were designed to be a little slower than their gasoline counterparts, so we recommend some parts to help unlock your engine’s full potential. A diesel tuner can help adjust your driving needs to be reflected in your engine’s performance. Some examples of benefits drivers experience when adding a tuner include:
- increased horsepower
- increased engine responsiveness
- better fuel efficiency
- increased torque
Getting tuners for diesels is pretty common because they’re usually pretty affordable and require an easy installation process. Two of the most popular brands that carry tuners for diesel trucks are Bully Dog, Banks Power, and Edge.
Why Should I Get a Cold Air Intake for My Diesel?
Installing aftermarket cold air intakes and air filters is another good way to unlock some power in your diesel engine. The cold air being brought in translates into more oxygen for the engine, which means the combustion reaction within your engine is more effective. In the end, your engine will produce more power and mileage because of the boosted efficiency in the engine system. When it comes to air filters, they will help filter out contaminants in order to keep your engine clean while allowing for more airflow at the same time.
Brands to check out when looking for an aftermarket cold air intake include:
Why Should I Get a New Exhaust System for My Diesel?
We recommend taking a look at installing an aftermarket exhaust system to enhance your diesel’s performance. You might be thinking, “Really? You want us to buy another performance mod?” Truth be told, it’s a good idea to eventually have all three we’ve mentioned for the simple fact that they all perform better together. There is no magical quick one-part solution to tackling the performance of your truck. The best way to explain it is that performance parts are like puzzle pieces, you need multiple to work together to deliver the best possible outcome.
With that being said, here’s why we recommend a new exhaust system. You’re going to want an efficient system that will allow the gases from the engine to be released. Now, with more room for your intake to bring in some cold air, your engine can get more oxygen quicker to generate power faster. You’ll probably even notice better fuel economy too.
We haven’t even mentioned the best part... That aggressive sound. Your new exhaust system will deliver a unique look and sound to your build that you just wouldn’t get from stock. Some of the best brands to check out when scoping out a new exhaust system for your diesel include:
Why Should I Add a Turbocharger to My Diesel Truck?
Last but not least, consider upgrading to a turbocharged diesel engine if you don’t already. For the most part, all modern diesels are turbocharged. A turbocharger compresses the air flowing into the engine’s cylinder in order to have oxygen particles that are closely packed together for more generated mechanical power and efficiency during the combustion process. In simpler terms, it’s just an air pump that allows for extra air to be blown into the combustion chamber allow for more fuel to be burned.
If you by chance do have an older, naturally aspired diesel engine...it’s time to splurge on this upgrade. Without a turbo, your diesel engine isn’t even touching its full potential in terms of power. It’s not even considered safe to not have a turbo on your diesel because they’re too slow to even accelerate on a highway ramp at a safe speed. Other benefits of a turbocharged diesel include:
- increased fuel economy
- fewer emissions
- less weight
- noise reduction
Why Should I Modify My Diesel?
Well, why not? Just kidding, kinda. In all seriousness, when it comes to building your truck, it’s really an unmatched feeling you’ll get when starting the build process and join the aftermarket community. A group of enthusiasts who get just as excited about hearing a super loud exhaust rip out of the parking lot or when you pass a guy sitting on a 10” lift and you’re wondering what is view of the world is like up there; sign us up. Trucks are a big part of who people are. They require time, money, and attention to keep them up and running at the capacity we need them to. And for some people, part of that process means getting them to look and perform the best they possibly can.
If you’re interested in starting to modify your diesel, we’re a group of enthusiasts and industry experts read to make the build process as smooth as possible. With our one-click wheel and tire packages, you can bundle your wheels and tires together to receive a package-rate discount and free mounting, balancing, and shipping right to your door. Plus, we understand that starting your build can’t always mean putting the rest of your life on hold, so we offer financing options with Affirm so you can make easy monthly payments on your order while building your credit at the same time. Since it’s so exciting to start the process, our quick delivery guarantees your order could be at your door in as little as 7 days. What do you say? Are you ready to start building your diesel?