Diesel performance upgrades are a great way to add horsepower and torque to any diesel engine, but one often overlooked platform that has incredible potential is the 3.0 EcoDiesel. Ram used the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 from 2014 until 2023 in their 1500 series trucks where it provided excellent fuel economy with an EPA rating of 32 MPG on the highway which is astounding considering the engine also makes a best-in-class torque output of 480 lb.ft. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a great engine choice for a driver wanting the power and hauling capability of a half-ton truck without the thirsty gas guzzling V8 under the hood. While the MPG ratings and torque output are impressive, they can be improved even more with a few performance upgrades which can take your EcoDiesel Ram to the next level.
Best Performance Upgrades for 3.0 EcoDiesel
There are quite a few performance upgrades available for the Ram EcoDiesel, but which ones should you install on your truck, what benefits can you expect to gain after installing them, and most importantly, how will they improve the functionality of your truck? If you are shopping for EcoDiesel performance parts, you’re in luck because today we’re going to discuss the top 5 performance upgrades for a Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel 3.0 V6 under the hood.
When it comes to adding power and torque to any engine, whether it’s powered by gasoline or diesel the goals are exactly the same: you need to allow more air into and out of the engine with less resistance to improve its volumetric efficiency. While that idea may sound a bit abstract, in practice it’s quite simple. If you fill each cylinder of an engine with more air, you can mix in more fuel, and the result will be a bigger explosion pushing down on the piston which will produce more power from your EcoDiesel. While increasing the volume of air entering the engine is the first goal, if you can also lower the temperature of the air entering the engine, you will increase its density which further raises the potential for performance improvements.
One side effect to greater air density entering the engine is the increase in fuel efficiency. Even though the EcoDiesel is already an extremely efficient engine, the upgrades we will be discussing today can also lead to an improvement in fuel economy and more miles traveled each time you fill up the tank. In addition to increasing the performance of an EcoDiesel by freeing up airflow, changes can also be made to the calibration of the computer which will further optimize the combustion process which will add more power, but also improve the driving experience by increasing the responsiveness of the turbo to help the EcoDiesel accelerate even quicker. The first three upgrades any EcoDiesel owner should perform work very well together and make up a “Stage One” performance package that includes the air intake, the exhaust, and the computer calibration.
One of the first upgrades you should make to any diesel truck is a cold air intake. They are an affordable and extremely effective way to increase power, plus they are also one of the easiest performance modifications to install on your EcoDiesel. A cold air intake from S&B has been designed with maximum airflow in mind, which means the pathway from the air inlet to the turbocharger has minimal restrictions, as few bends as possible, and a filter that will provide maximum flow while still removing any dust or dirt. In addition to the increases in airflow volume on your EcoDiesel, an S&B Cold Air Intake is constructed from durable plastic that will not radiate engine bay heat into your air pathways like an aluminum or steel intake would.
Speaking of heat, every S&B Cold Air Intake has been designed with an airbox that will only allow cooler outside air to enter the intake tract by using an opening in the fender, and if you are looking for the highest airflow and performance gains, there is an optional plug in the airbox that can be removed to let even more air into the filter, which makes the S&B Cold Air Intake one of the best 3.0 EcoDiesel Performance Upgrades you can install.
By installing a cold air intake, you are only addressing half of the EcoDiesel performance upgrade equation, so to keep things in balance and maximize the performance of your Ram 1500, the next modification you should take care of is the exhaust. MBRP is a well-known name in the world of diesel performance, and they have exactly what you need for a further boost in power for you EcoDiesel 3.0. Their 3.5” Armor Series Filter Back Exhaust is designed to replace the entire exhaust system after the diesel particulate filter, and it offers numerous benefits. The tubing is a larger diameter than stock and is built using mandrel bent construction which means it offers minimal restriction and maximum exhaust flow, plus it will give your half-ton Ram a rich and mellow exhaust note. MBRP offers their Filter Back Exhaust in two different material options, the first being their Armor Lite Series which is made from heavy duty 16-gauge aluminized steel which gives an affordable yet durable solution to the exhaust on your EcoDiesel. If you want your exhaust to withstand the harshest conditions, MBRP also offers their Filter Back Exhaust in the Armor Plus version which still uses 3.5” mandrel bent tubing, except with this version it’s made from corrosion resistant T409 stainless steel tube.
Once you have the intake and exhaust systems taken care of, your EcoDiesel can now breathe freely, but there are still more gains that can be found by making some adjustments to the engine control module. Banks Power is a name that is synonymous with high performance diesel engines, and they have just what you need to tweak the electronics on your Ram and find a surprising amount of horsepower from the already potent 3.0 EcoDiesel V6. Their Derringer Tuner with iDash Super Gauge will easily install with just a few wiring connections, but it can add a maximum of 57 horsepower and 73 lb.ft. of torque, and it offers five lower power levels as well, which are all adjustable on the fly using the iDash super gauge that mounts on the dash. On the maximum power setting, the Derringer will shave a full second off your 0 to 60 time, and in a ¼ mile drag race, you will be four truck lengths ahead of a stock EcoDiesel which is a significant improvement that will make merging onto the highway something to look forward to.
The best part of the Derringer tuner is it adds performance in the safest way possible by using engine data from your OBD2 port to only add full power when the coolant temp is above 150°F and by monitoring EGT to ensure the exhaust temp always stays within a safe zone. The iDash Super Gauge allows you to monitor parameters not normally displayed on the instrument cluster like exhaust gas temp, fuel rate, transmission gear, torque converter status and more, plus it allows you to easily raise or lower the EcoDiesel performance level with a touch of a button.
In the good ol’ days before electronic fuel injection, if you wanted your vehicle to take off quickly, all you had to do was push your foot a little further down on the accelerator pedal, the throttle would open, and your vehicle would start to take off. Because there was a mechanical linkage or cable that connected your right foot to the throttle blades, there was a direct correlation between the movement of your right foot and the vehicle’s acceleration. If you wanted to take off at a leisurely pace you would lightly press on the throttle pedal, or if you wanted to get up to speed in a hurry, just press the pedal a little further. As fuel injection technology has advanced over the years, the throttle cable has been tossed aside for a much more complicated system of sensors and wiring, so your foot is no longer directly connected to the throttle (or injection pump) on your engine. While there are plenty of benefits to an all-electronic throttle control system, one unfortunate drawback is that you are no longer fully in control of your vehicle’s acceleration. As you press on the throttle pedal, the computer will now measure the position of your foot and then determine how much throttle it thinks you really need, and often the computer isn’t as enthusiastic of a driver as you want it to be. If you’ve ever needed to pull out into traffic in a hurry while driving a modern vehicle, you’ve likely experienced the “dead pedal” effect where you are quickly pressing the accelerator, but the engine is just not responding. Thankfully, there is a simple upgrade you can do to cure this.
BD Diesel has been building performance upgrades for diesel trucks for an extremely long time, and they now have an offering for the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel that will increase its acceleration, reduce turbo lag and give you the throttle response that you need to regain control of your acceleration with their V3.0 Throttle Sensitivity Booster. It’s one of the easiest performance upgrades you can install on an EcoDiesel Ram, and you don’t even need to pop the hood. The V3.0 Throttle Sensitivity Booster simply plugs into the wiring harness at the throttle pedal using an OEM connector, and the display module allows you to choose from six different throttle response levels ranging from a valet mode which actually reduces the throttle response below stock all the way up to a “ludicrous” mode for maximum throttle sensitivity, plus they offer an Eco mode to help save fuel, as well as Sport, Street, and Race settings which will cover any situation you may find yourself in. The best part of a throttle sensitivity booster as a performance upgrade on an EcoDiesel is it will not affect your warranty, it does not tamper with any of your emissions systems, and if you ever decide to sell your truck it can easily be removed and transferred to another vehicle.
Ram EcoDiesel Upgrade Honorable Mentions
The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a powerful and efficient pickup, but as always, there are areas of the drivetrain the factory skimped on that can be fortified with aftermarket upgrades to help the truck last longer and run more efficiently. Attached to the 3.0 EcoDiesel V6 is an 8-speed automatic transmission designed by ZF. While the transmission itself is fairly robust and has a great spread of gear ratios to blend acceleration, pulling power, and highway efficiency, there is one major shortcoming to the ZF 8-speed gearbox. For some reason, ZF decided to build the transmission pan out of a plastic material and integrate the filter into the pan itself which makes for a costly service since you need to replace the pan and filter assembly instead of just a filter.
PPE has developed a replacement transmission pan for your 3.0 EcoDiesel that is much more durable than the stock plastic pan, and because it is made from aluminum it will also help dissipate more heat away from the fluid. It’s a well-documented fact that a cooler transmission will last longer, so in addition to lower fluid temps due improved heat transfer, the PPE 3.0 EcoDiesel transmission pan also holds two more quarts of transmission fluid than stock which will further reduce the fluid temperature of the ZF 8-speed. The best part of the PPE Transmission Pan is they have developed a new replaceable filter assembly which means the cost of future services will be much lower, and with the integrated stainless steel drain plug, the service will be a lot less messy as well.
Ram EcoDiesel Performance Parts
The 3.0 EcoDiesel ticks all the boxes for a truck enthusiast with its perfect blend of horsepower, torque, and fuel mileage, plus the smooth riding chassis of the Ram 1500 will make it a pleasure to drive every day. Of course, the top 5 performance upgrades will make it produce even more power, consume less fuel, sound better, and of course everyone’s favorite, accelerate faster. By combining a free-flowing cold air intake with a low restriction filter-back exhaust and tweaking the computer with a Derringer, you are optimizing the performance potential of your 3.0 EcoDiesel and saving money at the pump all at the same time. The top 5 performance upgrades for your EcoDiesel are all available at Diesel Power Products and can be shipped to you in no time flat, so the only question that remains is what are you waiting for?