Let your Diesel breathe with help from Banks Power.

Let your Diesel breathe with help from Banks Power.
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Let your Diesel breathe with help from Banks Power.

Here we have a Ford 6.0L Power Stroke to help show that even though they may be known for their problems, they can be great workhorses with low initial investments and the right aftermarket products.­­

This 2005 XL regular cab long bed was purchased by a heavy truck turbocharger manufacturing company that needed a parts truck to haul substantial loads, mostly to local warehouses, sometimes on long highway trips. Purchased used for just $5200, the relatively “low” mileage truck has just over 120,000 miles on the odometer and appears to be in good mechanical condition with some previously installed aftermarket parts under the hood. These parts consist of an Absolute Performance Coolant Filtration and Delta oil-cooler kit and a performance EGR system; we assumed these were installed due to a failed factory EGR Cooler and/or Oil Cooler. The transmission shifts well even under heavy load, and the engine has no signs of rough running problems, regardless of oil temperature—hopefully it still has some miles left in it.

“Replacement OEM air filters are expensive and hard to replace, due to a poor clip system that often breaks, causing unfiltered air to enter the system. With Banks Ram Air system, that’s no longer a problem.”

Cosmetically, the truck looks rather boring and a little beat up, but none of that will stop it from performing its primary task: hauling and towing heavy parts around the Rocky Mountain region. This truck was chosen as a DW project vehicle due to its relatively stock condition, typical of what’s available on the used 6.0L market. But owners looking to improve performance and reliability on a budget will find that this truck has plenty room for performance and reliability upgrades. Follow along as we begin part I of how to turn  an average 6/0L Power Stroke into a safe and reliable diesel hotrod.

1 The Banks Ram-Air Intake system is a simple-to-install stock replacement kit. It increases airflow by up to 38 percent on the 6.0L Power Stroke, which improves throttle response and turbo spool-up time.

2 The factory air box uses a large oval-shaped paper filter that does its job well; however, its design makes servicing a bit of a hassle, and replacement filters can be quite expensive. It’s also common for the metal clips that help seal the box to break or come up missing, allowing unfiltered air to enter the turbo.

3 The new Banks Ram Air box goes in just as easily as the stock system comes out. You’ll want to first secure the main box to the outlet piece with the supplied bolts before dropping it into the engine bay as an assembled piece. The factory filter minder and mass airflow sensors will be reinstalled into the new Banks intake with supplied grommets and seals.

4 Not only will the Banks Ram Air intake system outflow the stock unit, but its closed-box design helps keep air temperatures cool and offers a sleek OEM appearance.


The first place to start on the path to better efficiency and power is by improving airflow. The factory 6.0’s air box does a good job at filtration but at the high cost of overall airflow: the restrictive inlet before the filter kills flow, and the sharp bends and tight corners on the outlet side create turbulence, slowing air’s entry into the turbocharger.

On top of this poor design, the factory intake uses a paper-style filter that makes the engine work much harder than it should have to, limiting performance and mileage. The replacement filters are expensive and hard to insert due to a poor clip system that often breaks and causes unfiltered air to enter the system.

“The factory exhaust system has tight-crimped bends and a large, restrictive muffler, which slows exhaust flow and creates unneeded drive pressure, leading to hotter Exhaust Gas Temperatures.”

Banks engineers spent a lot of time developing the Ram Air system that will outflow the stock setup by over 38 percent. The large cotton gauze dome-shaped filter offers the best and easiest airflow passage to the turbo, while offering great filtration; the large radiuses on the inlet and outlet maximize flow, which helps improve turbo spool-up and throttle response. The kit can be installed in less than thirty minutes with basic hand tools by even the most novice mechanics and, in the long run, can save on maintenance costs: the new high-flow filter can be removed, cleaned and reinstalled with no need to replace!


5 The Banks 4” Monster Exhaust system offers OEM fitment with high-quality hangers, clamps, and a large flow through muffler. This system maximizes exhaust flow and sound without giving off that loud, obnoxious in-cab drone commonly heard with other aftermarket systems.

6 The unique mandrel-bent two-piece 3.5” turbine outlet pipe used in the Monster Exhaust kit makes for an easy installation with ample room between the engine and cab firewall. The 3.5” diameter helps minimize the back pressure within the engine for the best torque and power curve, improving tow performance.

7 The Banks Monster Exhaust will retain the factory catalytic converter, but one end will need to be cut off: This will make an easier and higher-flowing connection point to the rest of the 4” system.

8 We opted for the 6” Stainless Steel tip, but Banks also offers a black tip for those who like a stealthier appearance.


Once the intake side of the engine is taken care of, the next step to a better running 6.0L engine is to upgrade the exhaust system to improve exhaust flow and eliminate back pressure within the engine. The factory exhaust system has tight-crimped bends and a large, restrictive muffler, which slows exhaust flow and creates unneeded drive pressure, leading to hotter exhaust gas temperatures. To overcome these design flaws, the 4” Banks Monster Exhaust uses high flow mandrel-bent stainless tubing: This reduces back pressure and helps broaden the engines usable torque curve, making towing heavy loads or accelerating past muscle cars on the freeway much easier.
Coming right out of the turbo is a 2-piece 3.5” turbine outlet pipe, which makes installation easy and offers ample room between the engine and firewall. From there, the system flows through the factory catalytic converter and then into the 4” streamlined system. The big 8.5” diameter Monster Muffler offers a patented high-temp ceramic packing and expansion chamber inside that allows for maximum flow without the annoying in-cab drone heard from other aftermarket flow through mufflers. Designed specifically for diesel applications, the ceramic packing won’t degrade over time like fiberglass would. On the tail end of the system, you’ll find a choice of 5” polished or high-temp black exhaust tips delivering that authoritive throaty sport truck sound.


The Banks Power Six Gun tuner has been available for the 6.0L Power Stroke for nearly a decade now, but thanks to the continuing product development and improvement in technology, it continues to be one of the more popular tuning upgrades available. Ford has left the tuning side of things relatively mundane in the 6.0L: Banks engineers have been able to fine tune the calibration via the Six Gun tuner to offer select-on-the-fly tuning for easy access to an additional 115hp and over 200lb-ft of torque. The clean tune technology offers power increases you can feel from the seat, without the unwanted thick, black smoke. Tuned specifically for the more sportster type drivers, the Banks tuning software makes calculated adjustments to the pulse width, timing, boost and fuel pressures to give you that rush of strong acceleration without the worry of engine and drivetrain problems. Best of all, when that lead foot feeling wears off, the Level 2 Economy setting will offer solid mileage increases for both daily driving and highway cruising.

“Ford has left the tuning side of things relatively mundane in the 6.0L”

Pairing the Six Gun Tuner with the latest Banks iQ interface offers all the control and engine monitoring you’ll need via the 5” high-resolution touchscreen monitor. With hundreds of different display options, you can fine-tune the display to show you the data you really need to know to keep the 6.0L engine running strong. After installing the included pyrometer kit, watching the exhaust gas temperatures will keep the engine internals sage, while monitoring engine oil and coolant temperatures can extend the life of the head gaskets and give warning of any potential oil cooler or high pressure oil system problems. The iQ also offers diagnostics scanning and trouble code clearing ability, along with non-vehicle related programs like Microsoft Office and Excel—even a few games like Solitaire. The monitor can also be used to watch videos, listen to downloaded music,and even GPS navigation. The Banks iQ provides complete vehicle control like no other monitor on the market.

9 The Banks Six Gun tuner paired with their innovative iQ monitor serves two main purposes: improved engine performance and efficiency with the added security of being able to monitor engine vitals.

10 Unlike other tuners on the market that reprogram the factory ECM, the Six Gun Tuner will “piggyback” into the factory ECM connectors, allowing the Banks software to take the stock Ford tune files, modify the signal as needed, then forward that signal to the engine. By doing this, the Bank Six Gun offers on-the-fly tuning that allows drivers to switch from their choice of performance tunes while driving. No need to shutoff the engine and wait for a retune.

11 Along with piggybacking into the factory ECM, the Banks Six Gun system recieves data from the factory MAP sensor by plugging into the stock sensor to allow the Power Stroke engine to make a more usable power band based off the boost signal fed to the computers. This also helps keep the tuning clean by controlling smoke output based off low-boost fueling.

12 The Banks Network Hub is installed under the dash and will help send data sent from the OBD-II port, EGT probe, and Six Gun Tuner to the iQ monitor. You’ll also need to tap into a key-on fuse 12-volt power source, which will be located within the fuse panel under the dash.

13 Once up and running, end users have complete control over the display layout, including its appearance, color schemes, sensors to be displayed, etc. In the 6.0L Power Stroke, some of the most important values to watch would be the exhaust gas temp, engine coolant temp and engine oil temp.

14 The iQ has multiple one-of-a-kind gauge displays you can choose from depending on your own preferences: The white face analog gauges give that old-school look with the new-school technology. You can also select the background colors or watch a Fuel Mileage Calculator screen to help monitor mileage driven, price per gallon, estimated mileage and cost per mile.

15 Along with watching live data as you drive, the Banks iQ system will save max values for your most important vehicle sensors, so at any time, you can go back and see what your peak numbers have been. This data can become extremely valuable when diagnosing engine problems.

16 The Banks iQ can also be used to scan and clear diagnostic trouble codes found within your Power Stroke engine. In this particular test vehicle, a P0341 code informs us of a Cam Position Sensor error as well as a possible issue with the engine fan clutch assembly the owner was not yet aware of.


The intake, exhaust and tuning were all installed during the same upgrade session, so actual gains from each individual part can’t really be listed. As a package, however, the systems all appear to work well together: The high flowing Ram Air intake has definitely helped turbocharger response off idle and in the mid-range, making daily driving and accelerating around someone on the highway much easier. The exhaust fit so perfectly you’d think the OEM developed it, but the larger mandrel bent pipe helps keep EGTs down while giving the truck a healthy exhaust note—without the dreaded drone from the cab you’d expect from a bigger exhaust system like this. These two parts paired with the performance Banks tuning has more than enough pep to keep the truck ripping around town without conjuring worries of premature engine or transmission failure.

Once the initial fun from the extra power wore off, and the truck stayed in the dedicated Economy tune, fuel mileage has also seen a noticeable increase, jumping from an average commute of 16.9mpg to almost 18.2mpg—an 8.5 percent improvement. Since this is a company owned work truck used to haul product to local customers and warehouses, and diesel is still hovering around the $3 per gallon mark, any reduction in running costs helps the company’s bottom line and profitability.

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