The Diesel Owner's How-To Guide

Published in the April 2013 Issue November 2013 Feature Ryan Harris

I love how-to stuff . like how to install lift pumps, how to change fuel filters and how to time a tree stand. But there are a few how-to ideas I'd like to see someone make a YouTube video about:

*How to get 24 miles per gallon out of your truck. I'd like someone to show me how to make my truck not want to pull into every gas station I pass. I've heard people claim over 20 mpg out of anything from a Gen 2 Cummins to a 2012 Power Stroke. I just don't know the secret to getting better than 14.5 mpg. Maybe it has to do with how you select the truck you purchase off the lot in the first place-there's a big difference between a truck built on a Tuesday in Detroit and a truck built on a Friday. All my trucks were apparently built on weekends.

*How to justify spending $1,100 on a part that's supposed to improve your fuel economy by 10 percent. Ten percent of 12 mpg is 1.2 miles more per gallon. You're going to have to drive an awful lot to make that one pay for itself. I have a hard time justifying it unless it adds 110hp.

*How to enter a dyno day without sitting in line for five hours. I spent a Saturday not long ago reading the ingredients of a pack of Dentyne and picking dust out of the seams in my steering wheel wrap with a toothpick while waiting for my number to come up. It's extremely fun to wrap out your truck engine in front of a crowd, but the thrill leaves you as soon as they unstrap your truck and kick you out of the bay.

*How to get a diagnostic trouble code to go one step further. If a $45,000 truck can tell you exactly what's wrong with it when the check engine light comes on, I think it should tell you exactly how to fix it, too, right down to a list of tools and what parts stores have stuff in stock.

*How to get a banjo bolt on an oil line to quit leaking. Almost every heavily modified truck I've come across has that trademark slow oil drip. If you point it out to the truck's owner, they almost always give you a "what, are you stupid or something?" look as though you obviously did not know that that's absolutely normal.

*How to get crap to stop rattling. I have a rattle under my truck that moves from whatever part I've just tightened to whatever part I would have the most difficult time reaching. Some days it's barely noticeable, other days I've stopped on the side of the road to see if anything fell off. Some days it's completely gone. Yet, whenever I take someone for a ride they immediately ask if something just fell off.

*How to be content with the way your truck currently is. I know someone who recently bought a new truck, swearing he would keep it "pretty much stock" because he didn't need it to be big and fast. I laughed, right there on the spot. Two months later, that truck had $15Kworth of bolt-on and performance mods. And he was telling everybody he knows it was only half done.

*How to become mechanically non-inept. While working on a truck at our local shop, I once spent 20 minutes getting a very stubborn and tricky part removed from the right front axle region. When the mechanic walked around to see what all the noise was about, he said "Why'd you take that off?"

*How to get every single ounce of horsepower out of the stuff you buy. If I added up the numbers from the magazine ads for every part I had on my Duramax, I should have had a 1,400hp supercoal machine. Instead, I waited in line for five hours at a dyno show to find out it barely cracked 550. Go figure. 

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