IMPROVING THE STRENGTH AND PERFORMANCE OF THE COLORADO AND CANYON DIESEL TRUCKS
Improving the Strength and Performance of the Colorado and Canyon Diesel Trucks
WLike their larger full-size siblings, the Silverado and Sierra, the Colorado and Canyon feature a smooth riding independent front suspension design that rides well, but has a serious weak point with small tie rods that are prone to flexing under power and bending in extreme cases off road or at the track. To beef up the tie rod issues, the team at Merchant Automotive in Zeeland, Michigan, developed a set of threaded stainless steel tie rod sleeves that replace the factory jam nuts with a machined stainless steel sleeve that will prevent the rod from bending or breaking in most situations. Since the sleeve must be loosened to properly align the truck the MA team chose to use stainless steel and includes anti-seize to prevent the sleeve from rusting into position on the rod as could happen with less expensive metals.
hen we first drove the 2.8L LWN Duramax powered Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup, we loved it. Without a doubt, it is a great little truck and anyone who doesn't need a full-size truck, but wants a truck, should seriously consider the Colorado, or its General Motors corporate sibling, the GMC Canyon. Of course, the trucks are nice, but they are not perfect. That's where the aftermarket comes in to make upgrades and improvements.
Installing the sleeves on your truck is a straightforward operation and can be accomplished by most Diyers with basic garage tools and a couple hours of time. Basically, the factory jam nut is replaced with the sleeve by removing the tie rod end and nut then installing the sleeve and putting it all back together. We followed along with diesel service technician Dennis Delo in the Merchant Automotive service bay to document the installation procedure while the truck was in the air on a two-post lift but you could certainly perform the installation in your garage or driveway using a floor jack and a set of jack stands for safety. Delo completed the installation in just over an hour including our photography slowdowns, so most DIY wrenchers can likely finish the installation in around an hour or two. Don’t forget to get your truck aligned after the installation to prevent any abnormal tire wear.
To address the power of the 2.8L LWN Duramax 4-cylinder engine the crew at Merchant Automotive turns to the tuning experts at Duramax Tuner in Marengo, Illinois, for their EFILIVE tuning and use the Socal Diesel DSP4 rotary switch to select from the four tunes on the fly. The team at Duramax Tuner developed their calibrations for the baby Duramax engine and the 6L50 transmission mated to it to widen the torque curve while improving both the horse- power and torque available to the driver across the board. The tunes work with the stock components on the truck including the emissions system so it still operates as quietly and cleanly as original, but with more pep in its step. The broader torque curve allows the tunes to shift the transmission and engage lock-up at a lower RPM without bogging down the 2.8L Duramax engine which ultimately delivers lower RPM and less fuel consumption.
The four power levels included with the tunes are Optimized Stock (+10 HP), Tow Tune (+32 HP and 30 lbs-ft), Sport Economy Tune (+45 HP and 60 lbs-ft) and Performance Tune (+52 HP and 80 lbs-ft). Using the rotary selector knob the driver can easily switch between tunes on the fly without having to reflash the truck to make changes. Duramax Tuner does not recommend prolonged use or towing in the Performance Tune, but it is fun to select the added grunt when needed. The truck seemed to still get great mileage but we honestly were not easy on the throttle and did not have enough time behind the wheel to log definitive fuel mileage improvements. We suspect that drivers will pick up 1-2 MPG if they can control their right foot and maintain similar driving habits, but of course power is addictive so it is highly possible that your mileage may vary!
The DSP4 switch uses an OBD interface cable that has a pass through allowing the OBD II diagnostic port to still be used without requiring
the switch to be unplugged from the truck. After Delo completed the tie rod sleeve installation he installed the DSP4 switch in the Colorado finishing in less than 30-minutes while we slowed him down with our photography. He choose to mount the switch below the dash near the center console where it would be out of the way yet easy to access to change power levels. He routed the cable along the bottom of the dash securing it with cable clamps and secured the slack with zip-ties. After the DSP4 switch was installed Bob Peterson from Duramax Tuner flashed their tune files into the truck using his laptop PC and an EFILIVE V2 interface.
With either installation, be sure to practice safe shop techniques and if you feel that the process is beyond your skill or comfort level have your local diesel performance specialist perform the installation for you. Just be sure to tell them that your friends at Ultimatedieselbuilder’s Guide sent you. No matter who does the installation we’re confident that you will be happy with the performance based on our seat time behind the wheel of the upgraded Duramax Colorado while we were in Michigan. The steering felt solid and secure and the power delivery was smooth with noticeably more grunt from the little 4-cylinder Duramax mill especially in the high power Duramax Tuner “Performance Tune” mode that delivers 52 extra horsepower and an additional 80 lbs-ft of torque to the rear wheels. UDBG
The diesel powered Chevrolet Colorado and its corporate sibling the GMC Canyon are great trucks, but thanks to shops like Merchant Automotive and Duramax Tuner the 2.8L Duramax diesel powered trucks can be made even better.