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Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - Rawze - 02-18-2016

Increasing Horse-Power -- What You Really, Really Need To Know...

- Lets face it, Almost everyone wants more power from their truck. When it comes to the ISX engine, there seems to be countless shops and dealers that are all to eager to take a few hundred bucks out of your wallet to 'Turn Up The Horse Power'. Sounds simple enough, right?,... WRONG!!!...

- As a truck owner, you really need to understand a little bit about how its done before running off to a shop. The reason for this is that believe it or not, there is a 70% chance you can end up with problems with your engine and/or your truck afterwards. I am not talking so much about wearing things out faster, but rather causing some problems like ...

* (on newer trucks) ... minor to major issues with your EGR, DPF / After-treatment system if it is still active and being used.

* Harmful to your turbo or other components if they get it wrong.

* Issues with the wrong air-flow tables for a different model and make truck that cause fuel mileage loss or other problems.

* Issues with injectors, fuel-air-mix, detonation problems, injection timing anomalies, and a lot of other minor to medium problems that lead to premature failures and/or engine inefficiencies.

* Inadvertently installing emergency vehicle programming. Emergency vehicle programming is extremely harmful and very harsh on highway engines actually. It is meant for vehicles that only make short, demanding trips with no regard for its harshness on the engine. I have seen many people with premature engine failures simply because they put in one of these programs not knowing that is what it was meant for, or trying to circumvent emissions issues.

* You may get a different HP rating, but end up with a program meant for an Auto-shift transmission or some other application that causes the torque curve to suffer. Or, you may have an Auto-shift tranny, and end up with a program that is not meant for it.

* Many times, you may just end up with a program that was means for a smaller Charge Air cooler, and your truck has a larger one, or the other way around. This easily causes response and engine efficiency/fuel mileage and/or excess soot problems.

-- It is also possible that you may end up with more horse-power capacity in your engine, but never really see it. This is because the new adjustments may throw the engine in a silent derate, or starving it of proper fuel quantities, holding it back from its full potential. Even worse, your fuel mileage ending up lower simply due to other incorrect settings for you make/model truck.

( All the things I just mentioned above can sometimes happen even within the same engine rating and same CPL program listed in Insite ).

To prevent ending up like so many I have met that had problems, you need to know a few things before running off to a shop or dealer. Most all of them really are clueless about the details of the different programs available for these engines, so it is left up to to you, the truck owner, to educate yourself enough not to end up with problems.

How its Done...

- To understand how they do it, one must understand a little more about the engine and its programming. The engine itself has a vast amount of adjustment range. This means that it is usually possible to increase or decrease the horsepower by quite a little bit without too many ill-effects. There are however limitations based on what hardware you actually have in your engine. To do it right, someone needs to know what hardware you actually have AND what make/model vehicle. The "engine" part can be determined easily enough by looking at your engine cover data-plate. Here is a picture of one...


- The CPL number, or Critical Parts List, is the number that is used to identify the actual hardware inside the engine itself. Things like the injectors, cam, etc. This number is also what the most shops use to determine what power settings, or so called 'Calibrations' that can be put into the engine.

There is actually no 'Horse Power' adjustments that can be made for ISX engines on the fly using the Insite/dealer software. HP is basically set in stone from within a varying list of different files, referred to as Cals (Calibrations). These Cals contain a sea of parameters, upwards of roughly 7,800+ for the CM871 engine, and 12,000+ settings for CM2250's. The problem lies in that the CPL information is ONLY FOR THE INSIDES OF THE ENGINE ITSELF and not the rest of the vehicle. It is only half the picture at best, looking at those files and their descriptions. Little or no information is provided for what make and model truck, transmission, CAC unit, turbocharger, or other external components that greatly effect the engines operation is listed.

The intake, exhaust, and other components in different model trucks effects how the engine runs and therefore there are sometimes very different programs for the same exact engine hardware. Because of this, there will sometimes be several different cals with the same cpl listing that are actually NOT compatible for the vehicle. Because of this, you can easily get some problems like mentioned above.

Calibration files are distributed by cummins every 6 months to its certified shops so that the latest version of a particular engine's calibration can be kept up to date. They are not really intended for people to be blindly browsing through them and dumping different HP files into someones truck arbitrarily, but this is in fact what they do when they offer to turn up your truck. Their actual intention is to update your computer with the latest version of already existing software, and nothing more.

What happens is that a shop will look through the list and see several files that match your cpl. Some with lower hp, and some with higher-hp ratings. They see little to no reason why they would not work, so they think to themselves,...Why not just install the cal with higher horse-power that looks the same?,...I can charge the customer a few hundred extra bucks for 10 minutes worth of work, then brag about making their engine stronger.

The Problem...

- The cummins Insite software under its 'Calibration Section', when you put one of these distributed dvd-rom's (called Incal Disks) will let you browse through all the hundreds of files made for a particular engine. It looks like a big spread-sheet full of data and files that you can load right into your engine on the fly. Browsing through it carefully reveals that there may be several, if not dozens of different horse-power files that could be compatible with your exact cpl/engine. Some guys even get brave and see that some CPL listings are only one or 2 digits off, and assume they could work too. It can be seriously tempting, like looking through a store window at different types of candy. After all, the bigger pieces must taste better right?>...

- Here is where the problems starts. A tech can look all day at those cal files and their descriptions, and some of them will be obvious they will not work. Some are listed with descriptions like 'Vocational' or 'School Bus'. Some have specific extra hardware listed like 'Face Coated DPF', or 'LineHaul', or have a specific companies names on them like 'Heartland', 'Conway', etc. There are also several different sets of numbers for external hardware that can be seen. Summing all this confusing information up, it would seem clear that someone could fairly easily find out which cal files are compatible with each other and/or your particular motor, but this can easily fool someone too. Sure, some of them are obvious, but sometimes there are files that have ALL the same descriptions, numbers, cpl, etc. that are NOT ACTUALLY COMPATIBLE!. Just because all the information is sometimes the same does not mean it will not cause long term problems with someones truck.

The Cover-up and the DPF Nightmare...

- The EGR Tune-up that I made videos for helps to reduce EGR and DPF problems by huge amounts. For many o/o's (owner operators), this can often stop those problems in their tracks. Sometimes though, all the tune-up work they do only seems to reduce it a bit but it never seems to go away. Sometimes it is because the engine is worn out and eating too much oil or other problems exist, like cracked charge air coolers, worn out turbo's, etc. This is common as an engine gets older, but sometimes it is also from the fact that they are actually running the wrong calibration in the truck. Many truck owners do not even know this sometimes. It is because they buy the truck used and the dealer has 'Turned the truck up' to make it easier to sell, or simply to get more money out of it. It is all too common and convenient for a truck seller or shop to 'Tweak it up' by dumping a different cal file in the ECM to cover up the fact that it might not feel 'Peppy Enough' to the buyer or for various other reasons. Some dealers and repair shops even resort to 'turning them up' without even telling the customer about it to cover up other problems they cannot solve sometimes. The result is a truck owner thinking to him/her self, 'Wow, I got more power now,... they must have fixed it right', but in reality, it may now be set up for some issues. I have seen several times where the higher horse-power cals will also make the engine have excess fueling, leading to excess soot. This results in oil filters plugging up pre-maturely and the engine loosing oil pressure due to clogged filters between oil change intervals. Of course a truck in dire need of an EGR tune-up will do this too, so the first order of business is to always ensure your truck has new sensors and clean EGR and intake piping as well.

It leads to the question,...

How Do I Know If My Calibration Is Correct?...

-- The correct Calibration (software) for your engine is actually stamped on the ECM, and is listed as an E/C code. On the CM871 enignes the AV number is the software that is supposed to be in your engine when it was built. -- It can be found here...


- The AV number, on a CM871 (other model engines use different prefixes like BN for example for the CM2250) is a number representing the exact software that matches YOUR ENTIRE TRUCK!, not just the engine itself. This is what was put in by cummins, when the engine was built, for that specific model truck and year. It contains the correct settings for the specific type of DPF, and all the other things that your particular truck was built to run on. It also has all the unique torque settings to match your clutch, transmission, drive-line, and rear end components. That number is the name of the 'Cal file' that originally belongs to your truck, and the only way to know for sure that you will not have DPF, regen, or other problems, is to ensure your ECM is running that same file, or its equivelent file (usually a very high number) for an Updated component like the Updated (newer) DPF's that are out now. -- Of course, if the ECM itself is not the origonal, then someone can always log onto 'Cummins Quickserv' and look up the correct file, using your Engine serial Number (ESN Number).

At the end of the day, if your having EGR and DPF problems, and/or repeating other issues with your After-treatment system, (sensors reading wrong, etc.), then at the very least,... Ensure without doubt, that you are running the original AV number that your truck was meant to have, at least until you solve all your problems, and it is running reliably again. I cannot count how many times I have helped truck owners fix, once in for all, their truck problems, by simply putting their truck software back to its original Calibration, many of which, never knew it had been altered.

- To check what AV number you have, you need cummins Insite. Just open the 'Features and Parameters' section, and look under 'Calibration Information' area at the ECM Code. It will have your AV number with a decimal point, and some more digits, for example an AV10223.06 would be an AV10223 Cal file. The ending number 0f .06 is simply the current 'Update', so the higher the number after the decimal point, the newer the file is. An ending number of .09, for example, would be a newer version of the correct file. My own truck has an AV10064 cal in it, and is made specifically for my prostar.

Jumping CPL Numbers for even more Horsepower !! ...

This is one of the biggest mistakes I have seen with mostly non-OEM, but even a few OEM shops out there. There are different types of injectors out there in these engines, and putting say, a 525 HP factory program in a smaller engine will definitely cause it to have the wrong injector offsets. This can lead to a lot of problems down the road, like higher than normal oil temps, improper final Firing Angles (known as Crank Angle), and excess cylinder pressures without really producing very much more power as the engine is running. Also, on the CM870 engines, there are multiple injector and valve cam static timing settings according to actual engine serial number. Putting a different program in may seem ok at first, but can cause some serious problems with the engine in the long term, shortening its lifespan. At the very least, the engine will not run as efficiently as it should, soot and carbon packing set in more easily, and more energy than normal ends up in the oil and radiator, making the engine easier to overheat, etc. The turbocharger will almost always suffer a shorter lifespan due to the the extra temps too.

- It is simply NOT a good idea whatsoever to put a different program into a CM870 PERIOD without first checking all the thousands of settings for their differences!. This is because of all the different static timing offsets per engine serial number, etc.

CM871 and newer engines are a bit more lenient to timing offsets, as they are all set the same (within each model any ways), but there is still the problem of different size injectors and other components. Some mechanics argue that since many different HP engines of the same model have the same internal hardware, the programs should be compatible, but this is just not true either. The problem comes from the fact that all the hardware of the truck itself, external to the engine, has a huge impact on how an engine runs. It is just as important to compensate for the size of the CAC unit, piping, length of exhaust, diameter, different size/types of DPF, etc. -- AND the fact that some engine compartments have better external air-flow than others, that makes things complicated real fast. There is a very good reason that there are more than 380 DIFFERENT factory programs running around for the CM871 engines alone,.. and this is why!. Many of these different compensations from truck to truck also fall within the same engine CPL rating, so really, there is no way to tell what you are doing by trying a different program unless you look at all the thousands of setting and see what has changed. This is why I cringe so badly what I hear someone come onto the forum here and complain about having issues with their engine, and later they state that they have 550 horsepower in a 485 engine. They have no idea that they are running a program that expects completely different injectors and exhaust piping, it now making a lot more internal efficiency loss at the cost of some cheaply, poorly made power.

Simply put,.. DON'T DO IT! until you have had the different program verified for correctness,.. and you know EXACTLY 100% what changes there are in it so that you know what can be expected.

The Only Correct way...

- There is only one way to ensure a higher horse-power calibration is going to be fully compatible, and that is by comparing ALL seven thousand plus parameters between your original calibration file, and the new one, ensuring the hardware settings like turbo, DPF, and EGR are the same. This sounds like a difficult task, but actually it is not. Unfortunately, Calterm is the only software that can do this, and it is NOT available to the shops and/or dealers. This means that they have to rely on their limited view from within Insite, and guess at the rest. Most shops don't even know what calterm is, and the few that do, are not likely to know enough about it to effectively do a compare. This leaves the typical truck owner out of options for increasing horse-power properly, if they do not want to risk having other problems. Because of this, I have decided to try and continue this thread, to try and help solve some of this, as I have gotten very good at comparing cal files to see if they are compatible. As I come across them, I will try and post what my findings are, so that hopefully, others will know what cal files can be installed into their truck without having to resort to 'Guessing' by the engine shops. Please be aware that this is for trucks that HAVE EGR and DPF, and want them to run Legally, staying within the EPA guidelines as much as possible. I will list them here, as I come across them, and get time to do a compare...

The List...

Here is the current list of known compatible AV#'s and their CPL/HP ratings for CM871 engines. As I get a chance to compare them, I will update this list...

Verified CM871 AV number Compatibility list by Rawze (Nov. 2014)

These are interchangeable with each other ...
-- AV10055.xx (385-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10214 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10057.xx (400-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10216 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10058.xx (400-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10217 for newer DPF Style. (6% better torque than AV10057, otherwise exactly the same).
-- AV10060.xx (425-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10219 for newer DPF Style. (5% less torque than AV10061 in the 1100 - 1400 rpm range only, otherwise exactly the same).
-- AV10061.xx (425-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10220 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10064.xx (435-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10223 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10065.xx (435-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10224 for newer DPF Style. Identical to AV10064 but has 5% more torque in the 1100 - 1500 RPM band.
-- AV10068.xx (450-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10227 for newer DPF Style. Weaker torque (1550) in the 1150 to 1500 rpm range. Less torque than AV10065 below 1700 RPM.
-- AV10069.xx (450-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10228 for newer DPF Style. Stronger torque (1650) in the 1150 to 1500 rpm range.

-- AV10070.xx (450-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10229 for newer DPF Style. (Limited to 400-HP in the 1050-1400 RPM range only)
-- AV10071.xx (450-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10230 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10181.xx (475-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10234 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10183.xx (475-HP) (CPL 2732) - AV10236 for newer DPF Style. Same as AV10181.xx but with extra torque in the 1100-1400 RPM band.

These are NOT interchangeable with other CPL-2732 engines ...
-- AV10138.xx (450-HP) (CPL 2732)

- As shown in the list above, even though AV10138 (450-HP) , and AV10181 (475-HP) have the same exact CPL, they are NOT compatible at all. They have very different EGR and DPF settings and hardware. If someone put the higher HP cal into a truck that requires the AV 10138, they would effectively be causing the truck to have regen problems along with other issues.

These are interchangeable with each other ...
-- AV10044.xx (455-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10237 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10046.xx (485-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10239 for newer DPF Style. 10% less torque than AV10047 in the 1050 - 1600 RPM range.
-- AV10047.xx (485-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10240 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10048.xx (485-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10241 for newer DPF Style. (10% less torque than AV10047 in the 1050 - 1400 RPM range only)
-- AV10050.xx (500-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10242 for newer DPF Style.
-- AV10051.xx (500-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10243 for newer DPF Style. (higher torque than AV10050 in the 1100 - 1700 RPM band)
-- AV10165.xx (550-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10248 for newer DPF Style. (smart torque disabled)(higher torque than AV10166 in the 1100 - 1700 RPM band)
-- AV10166.xx (550-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10249 for newer DPF Style. (smart torque disabled)

And here is some I have compared for CM2250 engines...

These are interchangeable with each other ...
-- CL10048.xx (485-HP) (CPL 3491)
-- CL10103.xx (500-HP) (CPL 3491) - Allows regen during PTO operations.

These are interchangeable with each other ...
-- CL10132.xx (400-HP/1750) (CPL 3719)
-- CL10138.xx (450-HP/1750) (CPL 3719) - Smart torque enabled (torque is reduced to 1650 after a short period of time).
-- CL10162.xx (450-HP/1650) (CPL 3719) - Smart torque disabled. Comparing it to CL10138, torque is reduced in only the 1100-1400 rpm range. Coolant level derates are also enabled.

This list is far from complete, and is a work in progress, so if you don't see your AV number in there, don't assume there is nothing you can do.

-- If someone is looking at turning up their stock engine Horse Power, and wants to know what AV number(s) it will be compatible with, just post it here as a 'New Reply', and when I get time,... ( I am not going to become a slave to this),... I will look it up and update the list above. Hopefully this will help those who want to do such a thing, so that they don't end up with problems. Also, if you want me to compare two specific stock engine cals, just post a request here, and Like I said,... When I get time,... I will do so, and reply with the results. Over time, hopefully this list will grow, so that it can be used as a reference for others to follow...Rawze

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - Aleeex - 02-19-2016

Will there be any issues going from av10044 to av10051?

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - Marajin - 02-19-2016

(02-19-2016 )Aleeex Wrote:  Will there be any issues going from av10044 to av10051?

-- AV10044.xx (455-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10237 for newer DPF Style.

comapred to....

-- AV10051.xx (500-HP) (CPL 2733) - AV10243 for newer DPF Style. (higher torque than AV10050 in the 1100 - 1700 RPM band)

All that is different is torque and power. Nothing else.

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - Aleeex - 02-22-2016

Sweet. I'll try that until I go @m*m^2

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - BlueTurbo - 05-23-2016

Just reading this thread and checked my serial at https://quickserve.cummins.com and my engine has ECM code AV10069 and CPL2732. Checked the Insite and I see my ECM code is AV10228.10. Is this Ok?

As far as I know the ECM was replaced before I got the truck....

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - Rawze - 05-23-2016

(05-23-2016 )BlueTurbo Wrote:  Just reading this thread and checked my serial at https://quickserve.cummins.com and my engine has ECM code AV10069 and CPL2732. Checked the Insite and I see my ECM code is AV10228.10. Is this Ok?

As far as I know the ECM was replaced before I got the truck....

It is simply a newer file for the new style of DPF and is a direct replacement for AV10069.

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - BlueTurbo - 05-24-2016

Ok. Thank you.

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - RTRUCKING48 - 05-26-2016

I have AV10064 CPL2732

RE: Increasing HorsePower -- What You Need To Know - Vin - 05-26-2016

(05-26-2016 )RTRUCKING48 Wrote:  I have AV10064 CPL2732
What are you looking to do with it?