Diesel engines are the perfect recipients for mild engine modifications. They are considerably robustgenerally much more so than gasoline engines. Without going into a diesel history lesson, this is what led to the diesel mod craze in the first decade of the 21st century. Quadruple-digit power numbers were actually obtainable to the everyday diesel owner who was willing to shell out enough dough. But, as many diesel hot rodders will tell you, there is a price. Blown head gaskets, melted pistons, burned-up turbos, and destroyed fuel injectors can be real downers when you have an expensive diesel engine.
When our 6.0L Powerstroke diesel ate its fourth turbocharger in 80,000 miles, we decided it was time to try something a bit different than the stock variable-geometry turbo (VGT) that we kept replacing on our truck. The factory VGT turbocharger enhances boost and minimizes turbo lag. It’s great in theory and actually performs well when properly working, but the unreliability makes them a high-risk part and a no-no for many Powerstroke engine builders. We have learned our lesson.
We’re not looking for making major power enhancements, as our diesel truck already makes enough power to pull our trailers, but we’re ready for a big reliability enhancement. Luckily for us, we’re not blazing new trails here, and the perfect 6.0L modification recipes were already cooked up long ago. It was no secret that a comparably-sized fixed-vein ATS turbo would solve our turbo issues.
After a quick call to ATS Diesel, we were recommended the Aurora 3000 turbo kit, complemented by an E-Power tuner. This package would not only improve the dependability of our Super Duty, it’d also boost the power a little and up the fuel economy slightly. OR
1 The Aurora 3000 kit comes with a new stainless-steel, braided oil supply line, and hooks up to the factory connection requiring no splicing. The new turbo has a superior bearing system and high-temperature coating that keeps heat in and corrosion off the turbo.
2 Instead of a variable-geometry turbo like the one found stock on 6.0L Powerstroke engines, the Aurora 3000 is a seven-vein fixed-blade turbocharger. It can produce up to 42 pounds of boost and make up to 500 rear-wheel horsepower. Since it’s a fixed-vein turbo replacing a variable geometry one, ATS supplies a turbo control inline interrupt pass-through module that breaks into the MAP sensor line.
3 The ATS Aurora 3000 turbocharger has smaller dimensions than the factory turbocharger, and is theoretically easier to install because of it. The Aurora 3000 can produce similar power levels and be smaller because it has no complex moving veins inside it.
ATS also provides a new turbo pedestal that has a more substantial grasp on the turbocharger.
4 The ATS Aurora 3000 kit comes with a new Y-pipe replacement intake manifold. It bolts directly in place of the factory Y-pipe and connects to the new turbo pedestal.
The new Aurora 3000 and Y-pipe allow for lower exhaust gas temperature, therefore minimizing heat damage to other vehicle parts.
5 Once the old turbocharger is removed and the new Y-pipe and turbo pedestal are on, you can install the Aurora 3000. This job is fairly time-consuming. The install is pretty straightforward, but the turbo is hard to access and lots of patience will be needed.
6 As per ATS’s recommendation, we complemented our Aurora 3000 turbo with an E-Power tuner. The E-Power is a flash module that plugs into the OBD II port on the truck and allows you to change a number of parameters.
You can choose from stock, two towing modes, and an extreme power level that will give an extra 170 horsepower. You can also change transmission shifts and axle-gear ratios. This not only allowed us to enhance our truck’s power, but also modify the vehicle computer’s interaction with the geartrain.
7 The E-Power tuner is a tool to be kept in the glove box at all times. Not only does it allow you to custom tune some engine and transmission parameters, it also doubles as a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) reader.
8 With the new Aurora 3000 turbocharger mounted to our 6.0L, we felt confident enough to try towing our fullsize Cherokee project to Vegas for the SEMA show. This may not seem like a big deal to a Dodge or Chevy owner, but to owners of pesky 6.0L Powerstrokes like us, this was a feat. This is the first time in years that we’ve felt confident enough to tow with this truck (it’s characteristically been the one on the trailer).
We’ve been running this turbo-and-tuner package for about eight months now with no problems to date. In fact, this is probably the longest stretch of time that the truck has continuously run.
We keep our truck set to the higher towing mode with the E-Power tuner, and the increase in power over stock has definitely made our Super Duty more enjoyable to drive.
Our fuel economy increase is negligible. We see a little better fuel economy when on longer trips, but around town the change is not noticeable.
ATS Diesel Performance