There are plenty of choices out there if you're looking for performance software to use on your Dodge Cummins. One that you should consider first is the Smarty, by MADS Electronics. MADS makes the Smarty for 1998.5 through 2009 Dodge diesel trucks. We tested the Smarty S-06 programmer on the 2007 Dodge LMBC project truck.
HOW IT WORKS:
The Smarty is a programming tool that connects to the truck's OBDII port, which is located under the edge of the left side knee bolster below the steering wheel. The Smarty communicates with the truck's ECM (Engine Control Module) to provide the holder of the programmer with the power to tune, adjust, and diagnose the truck. The Smarty gives you the ability to load different performance tunes, calibrate the speedometer, and read and diagnose trouble codes (fault codes). MADS Electronics claims that Smarty leaves no footprint after it has been removed from a truck. The dealer is not able to detect that any software has been installed or removed. The truck's "key on counter" remains untouched, so it won't void the vehicle warranty.
Regrettably, but understandably, the Smarty gets VIN locked to the truck you load software onto or calibrate. This means that when the programmer is used to load software on a truck, the programmer is locked so that it can only be used with that particular truck. It only makes sense that you get what you pay for-at tool and the software to tune your truck, not everyone's truck. However, the people at MADS Electronics are decent people, because even if your Smarty is VIN locked to your truck, it will still allow you to diagnose trouble codes on other trucks without having to remove the software from your truck. The Smarty can also be removed from a truck and its software can be loaded onto other trucks. The catch is that you can only tune one truck at a time. Oftentimes, stingy performance programmers are VIN locked to only the original vehicle they are synced with (Shame on you, Bonneville Motorwerks and Bavarian Autosport).
The real power that lies within the Smarty is called CaTCHER. That's what MADS calls their software. CaTCHER stands for Clutch and Traction Challenger. On a stock truck (air box, turbo, exhaust, injectors, etc, all stock), MADS claims horsepower gains from 30 to 170 above stock. They are also adamant that they have actually rounded down in their declared numbers. For example, say if the dyno showed a gain of 97 hp, they called it 90. What we like about the CaTCHER tunes is that it really feels like you gained 170 hp. This is probably because the CaTCHER software changes the way the Cummins reacts from 0 rpm and up. The accelerator becomes sensitive and touchy. Small movements with the toe, now make a big difference. The software changes fuel delivery, injection timing, rail pressure, and the engines' torque management (a torque restraint parameter set by the factory to keep the non-diesel-driving women and children from getting hurt). You feel much quicker acceleration and turbo spool.
SMARTY COMES WITH 10 PRESETS:
- 0) Half the power of stock software - useful when you've got bigger injectors and turbos that take longer to spool, which can make emissions tests more difficult to pass.
- 1) 30 hp increase with additional timing - for increased fuel economy.
- 2) 60 hp increase without additional timing - we like this for towing.
- 3) 60 hp increase with timing added - highest recommended level for a truck with a stock auto transmission.
- 4) 90 hp increase without timing.
- 5) 90 hp increase with timing - highest recommended level for trucks with stock clutch and manual transmission.
- 6) 130 hp increase without timing.
- 7) 130 hp increase with timing.
- 8) 170 hp increase without timing.
- 9) 170 hp increase with timing.
It takes a couple minutes to load one of the preset tunes on the truck while the truck is parked not running. Once a tune is on the truck, the S-06 Smarty has a feature called PoD (Power on Demand), that allows you to change the power level of the tune as the truck is being driven or parked. You plug the programmer into the OBDII port and type in the percentage of power you want from that tune at the time. Simply type any number between 0 (least) to 99 (most). We've found this feature to be especially useful when you want to quickly turn down the fuel to tow a trailer or let someone borrow the truck.
Our favorite thing about the Smarty has to be the new REVO tuning. REVO is short for REVOlution. We drove about 10,000 miles with different CaTCHER software levels (8 was our favorite) before we got around to trying out the REVO tuning options. We knew the truck made good power. It dyno tested at 595 hp and 1,320 lb ft of torque (uncorrected numbers) on a Mustang Dyno. Not bad for a set of dual Alcoa's with 37-inch tall, 16-ply all-steel tires.
At this point we thought that without twin CP3 injection pumps, we'd felt all the power we were going to feel. However, with REVO tuning, we were able to adjust torque management, injection timing, common rail pressure, and electronic wastegate settings to better fit way the LBMC is set up. We set torque management to "Level 4 - wild," injection timing for "Level 3 - aftermarket injectors," and rail pressure to "Level 4 - wild."
On the side of the road, we programmed the ECM with Smarty, started the truck, hit the throttle and couldn't believe the new power that Smarty had unlocked! The throttle woke up even more, the turbos spooled quicker than ever, and the 4 Goodyear traction tires on the rear end howled as they lost their grip on the asphalt. Our only problem is now the truck builds 60 psi boost pressure between quarter and half throttle and we have to get our foot off the pedal in fear of blowing the head gasket. We'll need to install some head studs.
Wagner & Associates