Know Your Engine

2021, ECM -

Know Your Engine

Please take 5 minutes today to learn what engine you have. There should be a tag or a plate on the engine that will give you some information about the engine like the model number and it’s factory specifications including horsepower, torque, and RPM. In order to better serve you when you call us for technical help, It helps to know what engine you have including the factory horsepower rating. If you are looking for a tune, we need to know what your horsepower is now and how much power and torque you would like to have. If you have an engine rated at 450 HP, it may not be able to take the same amount of power as a factory 550 HP engine. I realize you may not know what torque your engine produces, however if you know the horsepower, we will know about what the torque is. These tags are often missing so you may also find the engine serial number or call the truck dealer with the last 6 numbers of your vin and they will tell you the engine serial number. If it is a Caterpillar, we need to know the first 3 letters or numbers of the serial number such as 5EK, 6NZ, and MXS. Detroits are DDEC3, DDEC4, DD15, DD13. Cummins have a CPL number such as 625, 1844, 2392, and the ISX goes by CM570, 870, 871, 2250, 2350, 2450, the latter numbers are the X-15 engine. 

In addition to knowing the specs on your engine. It also helps to know more about the truck you're driving. The best tool for the job is a VIN decoder website. The one we like to use is ( It’s very easy, just type in your VIN and you’ll get good information back like some basic specifications on the truck as well as recall information. There is sometimes information on the engine and how the truck was equipped when it was new as well. It’s always a good idea to know your VIN and have it ready when calling to schedule a service appointment. 

 Something to think about, horsepower accelerates on the level, race cars need horsepower, semi-trucks need torque, torque is what pulls the truck and trailer up the hill. Our goal when performing a tune is to increase the torque by about 300-foot pounds. On average, a diesel engine will produce 3-foot pounds of torque per horsepower. The 14, 15, and 16-liter engines can be as high as 4-foot pounds of torque per horsepower. On the 12.7 DD3 and 4 engines, sometimes we need to increase the horsepower higher than requested by the owner operator to obtain the additional 300-foot pounds of torque. Remember, it’s not the horsepower, it’s the torque a semi-truck needs to run like a thoroughbred on the mountains. 

Let talk about fuel mileage.  With the 14-hour rule and electronic logs truckers are driving faster to meet their delivery schedules. Just in time freight also requires higher speeds. However, speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour are hard on fuel mileage. With rear gears of 2:17, 2:21, or 2:47, and running in direct gear, along with low rolling resistance tires, it can be possible to run at 70 miles per hour and still get decent mileage. You will need to drive by the turbo boost gauge and keep the boost under 8 psi.

Most new trucks do not come equipped with a turbo boost or exhaust gas temperature gauge. However, it’s imperative to have them and know what they mean to be able to operate the truck efficiently. For troubleshooting, these gauges are a must.  If the turbo boost decreases and the exhaust gas temperature increases then there is a boost leak, problem with the air filters, turbocharger, hoses, and clamps to or from the charge air cooler, or the hoses going to the air compressor. If the turbo boost decreases and the exhaust gas temperature decreases, then it’s a fuel problem. First item to change is the fuel filter, then check the fuel pressure, fuel restriction, and then the ECM settings. Keep in mind, it takes fuel to make turbo boost. If the fuel is restricted, power will decrease and the turbo boost will decrease. Fuel makes heat, turbo boost controls the heat.  If there is a boost leak, the heat will climb.

Summer is here.  It’s time to ride the Harley Davidsons and your boat and both engines love the Max Mileage fuel borne catalyst. The mixture rate is 1 cc per gallon or 1 ML, per gallon. Harleys gain 7 miles per gallon with the catalyst and the engine will run quieter. Most gasoline engines are quieter with the Max Mileage fuel catalyst. Mid sixties muscle cars love the catalyst. All older engines were not designed for today's gasoline and the catalyst can act as a lead substitute. 

Attention Cummins Q-series off-highway engine owners, increase your power, efficiency, and productivity with one of our custom tunes! Get the job done faster with extra power and torque. That also means more money in your pocket at the end of the day. If you have a tractor, harvester, chopper, or sprayer, having one of our tunes is a no brainer. The Cummins Q-series engines are commonly equipped in Versatile, John Deere, New Holland, and many more Ag equipment manufacturers. Cummins Q-series tunes can be done at our shop or at one of our remote tuners. Please call us for more information at 724 360 4080 

Written by;

Bruce Mallinson & Andrew Wilson

Pittsburgh Power Inc.

3600 S. Noah Dr.  Saxonburg, Pa. 16056, 724-360-4080