Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

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.

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