Hot Rod Tow Vehicle
It’s easier than you think to hot rod your pickup or SUV nowadays. Many of these highlighted upgrades can be done by simply plugging in parts, using a few basic hand tools and following instructions to “bolt on” the parts. However, sometimes “plug-and-play” products aren’t enough. That’s why we also included a few projects such as aftermarket performance exhaust manifolds (headers) for the advanced mechanic.
We’ve selected some of the hottest “white glove” and “bare-knuckle” performance upgrades for this guide. Although these products are some of the newest offerings, these same companies offer a wide variety of other products for a range of vehicles. We’re sure one or more of these ideas will stoke your vehicle’s fire.
DiabloSport’s Predator ($400) is a versatile tool for tuning, troubleshooting, data monitoring and logging. It also features dyno-tested, preloaded performance calibrations for towing and performance. Among the high-speed custom programmable flash tool’s talents: extended speed and rev limiters; remap fuel and timing; improved shifting and acceleration; tuned for different gas octane levels; and provides up to five diesel tunes. DiabloSport: 561/908-0040; /diablosport.com/.
Edge Products’ F-150 Evolution programmer for the 2004-’06 Ford F-150 ($490) offers three power tunes including altered shift points and pressure, fuel economy and low-octane gas and power, adding up to 35 horsepower and 50 lb.-ft. torque. The F-150 Evolution remains permanently mounted in the cab in a custom-designed pod, which allows reprogramming among the different levels in less than 20 seconds. Edge Products: 888/360-3343; /edgeproducts.com/.
According to Granatelli Motor Sports, its “C” Model high-performance mass airflow sensor ($595) for 2004-’06 Ford Trucks with 4.6-liter engines adds 17 horsepower to the rear wheels. The “C” model is compatible with stock and aftermarket cold air inductions. The manufacturer claims the installation takes about 15 minutes with simple hand tools. Granatelli Motor Sports: 888/446-6548; /granatellimotorsports.com./
Jet Performance Products offers its Dodge Performance Module ($310) for Dodge V-6 and V-8 trucks, providing performance gains of up to 25 horsepower through improved throttle response, acceleration and low-end torque. Installation is a simple plug-in and can be completed in less than 30 minutes. The product is available for 1989-2006 fuel-injected trucks. Jet has similar modules for Ford and GM. Jet Performance Products: 800/535-1161; /jetchip.com/.
Nology HotWires ($172) will “save you money mile after mile,” according to Nology President Werner Funk. These high-performance ignition wires feature special capacitors that accumulate energy from the coil and release a much more powerful spark. The results include more horsepower, increased mileage and cleaner exhaust. Nology: 800/665-6491; /nology.com/.
The Superchips Flashpaq 1815 ($550) for the 2005-’06 Ford F-150 is a handheld tuner designed to enhance F-150 4.2-, 4.6-, 5.4- and F-250 5.4-liter gas engines. The Flashpaq reprograms the engine to operate more efficiently, and users can report both increased fuel mileage and added power. Like some of the other tuners, it also reads diagnostic codes so you can “troubleshoot” their own vehicle. Superchips: 407/585-7000; /superchips.com/.
Dynatech offers its new 2004-’06 Ford F-150 SuperMAXX Headers ($1495) that provide a bolt-on horsepower gain of more than 10 percent over stock. The smooth-radius 1-3/4-inch-diameter, full-length header is a key design feature, as are the extra-long primary tubes that increase and broaden the torque output of 3-valve engines. Dynatech: 800/848-5850; /dynatechheaders.com/.
The DynoMax Performance Exhaust is a highly efficient performance exhaust system engineered to bring increased horsepower and torque to 2005-’06 Jeep Commander and Grand Cherokee models ($369-$399). The new Jeep Commander/Grand Cherokee system features the Ultra Flo welded muffler and all-mandrel-bent tubing for exceptional exhaust flow. The bolt-on installation is fast and easy. DynoMax Performance Exhaust: 734/384-7805; /dynomax.com./
Hedman Hedders has HTC (Hi-Tec Coating) Ceramic-metallic Coated Headers ($595) that bolt up to the stock exhaust on any 1999-2005 model-year 4.8-, 5.3-, 6.0-liter 2WD or 4WD Chevy Pickup, Silverado, Tahoe, Yukon, Denali, Suburban, Avalanche, Sierra, Escalade EXT, XL or ESV, or 2002-’04 Hummer H2s. These 50-state legal headers provide a significant increase in torque and horsepower. Hedman Hedders: 562/921-0404; /hedman.com/.
Hooker entices Dodge truck owners to slip on a set of Truck Force 50-state legal Hemi Headers for 2003-’05 5.7-liter Dodge trucks ($480 for high-tint painted; $710 for ceramic-coated painted). The primaries merge into a big 3-inch (OD) collector for higher performance. The Truck Force headers accommodate all factory emission control devices and bolt right on. Holley/Hooker: 800/HOLLEY-1; /ilovemyhookerheaders.com/.
Gale Banks Engineering’s PowerPack systems ($3298 for 2003-’06 Ford Powerstroke 6.0L Crew Cab long bed) are the ultimate one-kit-does-all upgrade for gasoline- or diesel-powered trucks. The system includes a Banks Ram-Air intake system (in diesel applications, a Banks Techni-Cooler intercooler and larger boost tubes), and a Banks high-flow exhaust system. For diesel trucks, the PowerPack system includes the Banks OttoMind6 diesel tuner. All systems get the Banks PowerPDA vehicle command center that allows the driver to change power levels, up to 100-plus horsepower and 235-plus ft.-lb. at the rear wheels, on the fly, by simply pushing a button. Gale Banks Engineering: 800/396-9196; /bankspower.com/.
Installing the Trans-Dapt Swirl-Torque TBI spacer (Model No. 2533) and Cold Air System (Model No. 2459) is said to add 15 percent more torque to 1988-’92 Chevy 5.7-liter (350 cid) V-8 engines for a total cost of less than $200. Both components are street-legal and installation will take the average shade-tree mechanic about an hour. Trans-Dapt Performance: 562/921-0404; /tdperformance.com/.
Airaid has a new, easy bolt-on GM LS-1 PowerAid 1-inch Throttle Body Spacer ($107) for GM’s 8.1-liter big block. The patented Helix Bore design better atomizes the air/fuel mixture at the combustion chamber, resulting in better part-throttle torque, improved midrange power and overall fuel economy. Airaid Premium Filters: 800/498-6951; /airaid.com/.
Burning fuel leaves behind carbon and other byproducts that can build up on pistons, combustion chambers, injectors and valves. Justice Brothers’ Fuel Injection System Cleaners for gas engines (two 15-ounce bottles available, $8.32, Product No. 240015P; $8.64, No. 24015PS; 15-ounce can, $8.32, No. 100015) and its Diesel Fuel Supplement (32-ounce bottle, $19.62, No. 10277AP) works on the entire fuel injection system while you drive. They attack old deposits that rob your engine of power and fuel economy, and help to prevent build up. Justice Brothers: 626/359-9174; /justicebrothers.com/.
A tuned suspension improves towing performance and the Rancho Suspension RCX Kit ($179) delivers that by allowing the driver to choose one of 10 preset settings of front- and/or rear-mounted RS9000X shocks (not included) while the vehicle is in motion. The in-cab kit includes an analog dash display, high-output air compressor, and air tubing to plumb the system. A digital display version will also be available. Rancho Suspension: 734/384-7804; /gorancho.com/.
Installation of the heavy-duty Ride-Rite air helper springs by Firestone Industrial can be made easier now using the company’s new No-Drill kits ($TK) for most late-model pickups equipped with fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitches. Ride-Rite products for these vehicles don’t require any drilling during installation using existing factory holes, and don’t interfere with any part of the hitch system. Firestone Industrial: 800/888-0650; /riderite.com/.
The advanced technology of the Reese Brakeman Digital all-electronic brake control ($130) takes the guesswork out of trailer brake control adjustment. The amount of braking power (output) and rate of application (sync) are both adjustable for the individual driver’s preference, road conditions, type of trailer and load. The brake control can be mounted in virtually any position, unlike other controls that must be mounted within certain angels. Reese: 734/656-0300; /reeseprod.com/.
Schefenacker Vision Systems offers a state-of-the-art Telescopic Trailer Tow (TTT) Mirror ($400-$550) that consists of two mirrors and LED turn signals. The first is 7.25×8.75 inches; the second is a wide-view adjustable spot mirror about 4.25×3.5 inches. The system provides a 48-degree field of view. When fully extended, the mirror spans 22 inches and 17.5 inches retracted. Schefenacker Vision Systems: 877/888-6472; /ttt-mirror.com/.
Skyjacker helps 2005-’06 Ford Super Duty trucks perform better with its Heavy-Duty Sway Bar ($188). The Skyjacker heavy-duty front anti-sway bar is designed to give F 250/350s quicker handling response and reduce the sway of larger tires, heavy towing, or hauling. The 1-inch-diameter, heavy-duty sway bar is approximately 220 percent stronger and 21 percent larger that the original bar. Skyjacker Suspensions: 318/388-0816; /skyjacker.com/.
HOT ROD WARRANTY CONCERNS
Under the 1975 Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, you have every legal right to add aftermarket products to your new vehicle without voiding the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty. The act states that a vehicle manufacturer cannot void the warranty on a vehicle due to the use of an aftermarket part unless they can prove that the aftermarket part caused or contributed to the failure in the vehicle. However, do be aware of any specific terms or conditions stated in your warranty that may result in it being voided.