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  • 5 Best 5.9L Common-Rail Cummins Upgrades

5 Best 5.9L Common-Rail Cummins Upgrades

Sorry, 12-valve fans. Fueling makes a big difference in performance.

Jul 16, 2020
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Whenever the question, "What is the all-time best diesel engine (installed in pickup trucks)?" is asked among hardcore diesel enthusiasts, the very subjective responses usually favor Cummins' venerable 5.9L oil burners, the 12- and 24-valve engines that powered Dodge Ram rigs from 1989 to midyear 2007. Regardless of statistical data that glaringly proves otherwise, diehards firmly believe no other engine on the planet is better than a mechanically fueled (P7100 injection pump) 12-valve Cummins.
While the loyalty is very real, we know that designating a diesel powerplant as "best"—with genuine authority--should be done after equal and objective evaluation. But the fierce rivalries created by brand-loyalty are fun, and if the Cummins Nation deems P-pump 12-valve is "the one," then so be it (wink).
However, looking at 5.9Ls from a realistic perspective and considering street performance (which is highlighted by drivability), there are more good things to be said about 24-valve, "common-rail" versions that were introduced for Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups starting in 2003. With a then-new, fully electronic, "common-rail" (a 24,000-maximum-psi rail that feeds injectors) high-pressure fueling system, the engines produced 305 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque (they were retired in mid-2007 making 325 hp and 610 lb-ft) and were capable of churning much bigger numbers with ECM tuning, as well as hard parts being developed for the platform.
Because sale of stock 2003 to 2007 Dodge Ram pickups are on an upswing (check out this Best Diesel Deals on Craigslist report for common-rail scores in Cleveland, Ohio), we decided to check with an authority on the popular rigs to learn whether our thoughts on recommended upgrades aligns with those of the experts.
Rick Fox, sales manager at Firepunk Diesel in Plain City, Ohio, offers these suggestions: five sure-shot "must-do" mods, plus two bonus parts that a truck will need at some point, as the quest for more power goes on.

Top 5 Common-Rail Cummins Upgrades

  • Tuning. There are many options for all 5.9L common-rail Cummins engines. The most popular offerings are (by year): HP Tuners, MM3, and Smarty (2003 to 2005), EFILive (2006 to 2009), MM3, EFILive, and EZLynk (2010 to present).
  • Cylinder-head studs. ARP 2000 (ARP-247-4202) is budget-friendly and rated these for approximately 800 hp. ARP 625 (ARP 247-4204) is the more expensive option but offers much greater clamping force.
Photo 5/10   |   005 5 Best 5 9l Common Rail Cummins Upgrades
  • Cold Air Intake system (with dry filter)
Photo 6/10   |   006 5 Best 5 9l Common Rail Cummins Upgrades
  • Four-inch exhaust
Photo 7/10   |   007 5 Best 5 9l Common Rail Cummins Upgrades
  • Lift Pump. Bad fuel is Public Enemy Number One to a diesel engine and its fuel system. A lift pump helps protect both because of its filtration and water-separation capabilities, along with being a pump that can support other fueling upgrades such as bigger injectors and CP3 injection pumps, if/when they are added.
Photo 8/10   |   008 5 Best 5 9l Common Rail Cummins Upgrades
  • Transmission (Bonus). Automatic or a manual makes no difference. A transmission should be considered any time future plans include increasing horsepower and torque. Although the investment is sizable, you only want to spend the money once if possible.
Photo 9/10   |   009 5 Best 5 9l Common Rail Cummins Upgrades
  • Drop-in Turbocharger (Bonus). As these things go, the stock turbo is going to become the limiting factor in performance (typically around 525 550 hp). Drop-in, "stock-appearing" turbochargers for 5.9L common-rail engines are upfitted with larger compressor wheels that range between 63mm all the way up to 68mm.
Photo 10/10   |   010 5 Best 5 9l Common Rail Cummins Upgrades

Source

Firepunk Diesel
614-733-3744
https://www.firepunk.com

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