Diesel Power - - Contents - Words and Pho­tos by BRUCE W. SMITH

WEL­COME TO TOP TECH QUES­TIONS. One of our fa­vorite forms of reader com­mu­ni­ca­tion is tech ques­tions. Our Top Tech sec­tion is a place where you ask what’s on your mind, and we an­swer.

Send us an email at dieselpow­ertech@mo­ and ask away!


QUES­TION: I or­dered an ’18 Ford F-350 with a 6.7L Power Stroke diesel en­gine. It’s a huge step up from the road-weary ’03 Su­per Duty (with the 7.3L pow­er­plant) it’s re­plac­ing. The new truck will be used to tow one of two 20-foot Big Tex equip­ment trail­ers, or a 40-foot XLR Nitro goose­neck toy hauler. All three trail­ers weigh be­tween 15,000 and 17,000 pounds when loaded. I plan to put a 6-inch lift and 37-inch tires un­der my new truck. What is the best sus­pen­sion setup for this type of use? Jeremy Stiles

via email AN­SWER: The dif­fer­ence 15 years makes in diesel pickup tech­nol­ogy re­lated to tow­ing ca­pac­ity, han­dling, com­fort, and safety is mind-bog­gling. The ’18 Su­per Duty is proof of this for sure. If your new truck is or­dered with 3.55 gears, Ford’s max­i­mum tow rat­ing for both con­ven­tional tow­ing us­ing the fac­tory bumper hitch and tow­ing with a weight-dis­tribut­ing hitch is 15,000 pounds ac­cord­ing to the 2018 RV& Trailer Tow­ing Guide found at fleet. The max­i­mum goose­neck ca­pac­ity for the same pickup is 20,000 pounds. So the new rig is per­fectly ca­pa­ble of safely tow­ing your fifth-wheel setup as it comes equipped from the dealer, along with the equip­ment trail­ers—as long as the lat­ter are kept un­der 15,000 pounds loaded trailer weight. Tow heav­ier and you risk se­ri­ous li­a­bil­ity con­cerns for both your­self and your com­pany in the event an ac­ci­dent oc­curs while tow­ing more than the max­i­mum stated in the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer’s tow­ing guide. Which brings us to this: Lift­ing a ve­hi­cle re­duces (or negates) the tow rat­ings. When you mod­ify the stock sus­pen­sion and/or tires and wheels, de­spite how awe­some it looks, there are hid­den draw­backs re­lated to tow­ing. The higher stance and taller tires raise the cen­ter of grav­ity while re­duc­ing brak­ing and en­gine per­for­mance be­cause of the change in ef­fec­tive over­all gear­ing and ad­di­tion of un­sprung weight. Of more con­cern from a safety per­spec­tive are the ill ef­fects a lift im­poses on the truck be­cause of the trailer. An af­ter­mar­ket sus­pen­sion re­acts dif­fer­ently than the stock setup. So ask the sus­pen­sion man­u­fac­turer some very direct ques­tions re­lated to how its lift kit af­fects


QUES­TION: I have a ’16 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado with a 6.6L Du­ra­max LML en­gine and do a lot of lo­cal, city, non-high­way driv­ing for work, which also in­cludes more than av­er­age idling time. Is there a way to man­u­ally get the diesel par­tic­u­late filter to re­gen­er­ate with­out tak­ing the truck to a deal­er­ship ser­vice de­part­ment or wast­ing the time find­ing a place to drive 55 mph for 30 min­utes? I would like to do the regen while the truck is parked. Andy Leach

via email AN­SWER: Some pro­gram­mers in­clude a man­ual-re­gen­er­a­tion set­ting. For ex­am­ple, if you use an Edge Prod­ucts In­sight or Evo­lu­tion CTS 2, se­lect your truck’s tow rat­ings and over­all han­dling. Also, con­sider in­stalling helper air springs with a lift to help sta­bi­lize the rear sus­pen­sion, along with up­grad­ing to heav­ier front and rear sway bars (if any are avail­able) to off­set the higher cen­ter of grav­ity. Then, you’ll need to find a “Class V” ad­justable drop-shank hitch ca­pa­ble of han­dling the weight of the two equip­ment trail­ers. (Note: Us­ing a re­ducer to take the Ford 3-inch re­ceiver down to 2.5 inches also re­duces the pickup’s max­i­mum tow rat­ing). Keep in mind the tongue weight (TW) on trail­ers towed on the ball or pin­tle hitch needs to be be­tween 10 and 15 per­cent of the loaded trailer weight for op­ti­mum han­dling. We rec­om­mend check­ing out Curt, Reese, B&W, and Gen-Y Hitch of­fer­ings for your pro­posed ap­pli­ca­tion. You also need to make sure your fifth-wheel’s neck can be short­ened enough to clear the bed when a lift is in­stalled. In some sit­u­a­tions, it can’t, so a lifted truck may also re­quire do­ing an “over-un­der” spring con­ver­sion on the trailer to get the tan­dem to match up prop­erly. the “di­ag­nos­tics” mode, then scroll to the REGEN screen. Read and an­swer all the “Yes” or “No” ques­tions that ap­pear on the mon­i­tor and read the safety in­struc­tions and warn­ings closely: First, park the truck in a lo­ca­tion away from any­thing flammable. Re­gens cre­ate a ton of heat at the ex­haust pipe, so be­ing out­doors on gravel, as­phalt, or con­crete is a must. With the trans­mis­sion in Park, open the hood and be­gin man­ual re­gen­er­a­tion. When the regen cycle starts, the en­gine could be turn­ing 2,500 rpm un­til the DPF is cleaned out and the regen cycle is com­pleted. Regen cycle times (20 to 40 min­utes) de­pend on the amount of clog­ging in­side the DPF. If you are us­ing an older CTS 2, down­load the most cur­rent up­date, which should al­low man­ual re­gens for both GM and Ford. If you have a dif­fer­ent brand pro­gram­mer, dig out that owner’s man­ual and see if it has a sim­i­lar func­tion.


QUES­TION: How do I know if I should re­place the sec­ond set of bat­ter­ies on my ’06 Ford F-250? They’re al­most five years old, and it seems most diesel-truck bat­ter­ies die when they are be­tween four and five years old. I just don’t want these to die on me in the win­ter when I’m forg­ing my way across the snowy plains here in the up­per Mid­west. Steve Zim­mer­man

via email

AN­SWER: Bat­tery life is de­pen­dent on many fac­tors, rang­ing from the type of bat­tery to the way it’s main­tained, cli­mate it’s used in, and how it’s be­ing used. A well-main­tained set of high-qual­ity, deep-cycle, high–cold-crank­ing-amp (CCA) ab­sorbed-glass-mat (AGM), and gel­cell bat­ter­ies, like those of­fered by Op­tima and oth­ers, typ­i­cally last five years or more in nor­mal use sit­u­a­tions. If the bat­ter­ies are poorly main­tained or drained down a lot dur­ing winch­ing, powering a lot of ac­ces­sories, or used in very hot or cold cli­mates, their life can be greatly short­ened. That’s why it’s al­ways good to start check­ing their con­di­tion around their rated “half-life,” be­cause an un­der­per­form­ing set of bat­ter­ies can cause many is­sues with to­day’s diesel fuel in­jec­tion sys­tems, some­times tak­ing out fuel in­jec­tion mod­ules and trig­ger­ing di­ag­nos­tic­trou­ble codes. As we all know, cold weather is where bat­ter­ies get their biggest test, so any weak­ness will rear up when the tem­per­a­ture drops be­low freez­ing and the key is turned to crank over a cold diesel. Our sug­ges­tion: Drop by one of the chain auto parts stores and have the bat­ter­ies load-tested (ma­jor re­tail­ers usu­ally do this for free), and then get a sec­ond opin­ion. Bet­ter still, buy an in­ex­pen­sive, 500-amp car­bon-pile load tester and check your truck’s bat­ter­ies at home. Read and fol­low the in­struc­tions re­gard­less of the brand load tester you use! If you are try­ing to get ev­ery last cent’s worth from the bat­ter­ies in ques­tion, just run them un­til one dies, then re­place both. Al­ways re­place dual bat­ter­ies in matched pairs, or the weaker bat­tery will shorten the life of its mate. It’s also pru­dent the re­place­ment bat­ter­ies have at least the CCA of the orig­i­nal bat­ter­ies—and new bat­ter­ies with a higher CCA are even bet­ter.


QUES­TION: I had a South Bend Clutch SDD3250 twin-disc clutch put in my warmed-up ’12 Ram 2500. Three months later, it started mak­ing a lot more noise than it did when first in­stalled. I’m wor­ried. Is the clutch go­ing bad al­ready?

AN­SWER: All twin-disc clutches make noise. It’s typ­i­cally caused by a float­ing pres­sure plate re­sid­ing be­tween two clutch discs, which vi­brates when the clutch is pushed in. What might be hap­pen­ing is the two fin­ger­nail-sized polyurethane snub­bers on each of the plate’s four align­ment ears may be de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, caus­ing the plate to rat­tle. If that’s the case, at some point, de­pend­ing on how loud the rat­tling noise gets and your tol­er­ance level, the clutch will need to be re­moved and those snub­bers re­placed. Man­seil Wash­burn, head of South Bend’s diesel-clutch de­part­ment, says “Those [snub­bers] would have to come di­rectly from us, and we nor­mally don’t charge for them.” He adds that hard jolts on the clutch as­sem­bly (that oc­cur when spin­ning tires con­tact firmer ground, un­der fast shift­ing, or heat gen­er­ated from slip­ping the clutch too much) con­trib­ute to snub­bers fail­ing (or com­ing out), which is com­mon when back­ing trail­ers. When the snub­bers are re­placed (they eas­ily tap in with a small ball-peen ham­mer), also change the throw-out bear­ing. Driven prop­erly, a twin-disc clutch should last more than twice as long as a sin­gle-disc. While re­plac­ing them, take a few ex­tra min­utes to clean the bat­tery ca­ble ends, look for any signs of cor­ro­sion where the bat­tery ca­bles at­tach to the ter­mi­nal ends, and make sure the grounds are clean and tight. Af­ter the new bat­ter­ies are hooked up, coat the bat­tery con­nec­tions with a pro­tec­tive coat­ing, such as CRC’s or Per­ma­tex’s bat­tery ter­mi­nal pro­tec­tor/sealer, to slow down cor­ro­sion.

Big lift kits look awe­some and def­i­nitely set some trucks apart from oth­ers. How­ever, the down­side for tow­ing with a lifted rig is the mod­i­fi­ca­tion also changes its han­dling dy­nam­ics, re­quir­ing mul­ti­ple changes in trailer and hitch set­ups. It pays to re­search those is­sues prior to in­vest­ing in big sus­pen­sion/tire/wheel up­grades.

Bat­tery longevity is de­pen­dent on many fac­tors, in­clud­ing the type of bat­ter­ies in your diesel truck and how they are used and main­tained. High-end, high-CCA deep-cycle bat­ter­ies typ­i­cally last more than five years if treated well. Have the cells load-tested once a year start­ing at their war­ranted “half-life,” as a way of keep­ing tabs on their health.

Twin-disc clutches have a “floater” plate that fits into the clutch as­sem­bly. South Bend Clutch’s “cen­ter plate” uses spe­cial polyurethane snub­bers on each of its four align­ment ears to re­duce noise and vibration. When the snub­bers wear out or come apart, the clutch makes a lot of racket when the pedal is de­pressed.

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