7 Best First Mods for Your Diesel Truck

Some say that diesel trucks were made to be modified. According to the latest report from Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), pickups make up the largest share of specialty-equipment spending, accounting for approximately 30% of the market, with $14.3 billion in sales in 2020.

There are so many ways to modify your truck, but these parts and accessories can be expensive. They can also change the way your vehicle handles on the road. You need to make sure every modification works to your advantage, or you might end up with a truck that’s unsafe or virtually unsellable. Having a decked-out truck may sound like a dream come true, but some modifications aren’t always practical.

diesel truck mods
Source: M Selcuk Oner/ shutterstock.com

Best Diesel Truck Mods

If you’re thinking about modifying your diesel truck or buying new diesel parts, put these accessories at the top of your list to make the most of your vehicle without going too far in the wrong direction.

1. 2-Inch Lift Kit or Leveling Kit

Most truck drivers gravitate toward off-road accessories and upgrades. However, you may not need to modify your truck to explore the wilderness. Many factory trucks are designed to accommodate off-road conditions.

If you want to want to get serious about off-roading, it’s best to start with a modest lift kit or leveling kit. A lift kit will raise the suspension of your vehicle while a leveling kit evens out the front and back wheels for a more level stance. Both kits can come in handy in the wilderness. They improve ground clearance while making room for larger tires. The kit should come with reinforced coil springs and steering components to improve handling.

However, the kit will also change the center of balance. You’ll need to take turns slow and give yourself more stopping distance. Avoid lifting the suspension more than two inches to minimize these effects.

2. All-Terrain or All-Weather Tires

Once you’ve lifted the suspension, you will have more room for larger tires with thick tread patterns for moving through the mud and snow. This will give your truck a larger stance, so you sit higher off the ground. But swapping out your tires means adding new wheels, stock rings and pinion gears. They also weigh more than regular tires. This reduces fuel efficiency and puts additional pressure on the engine. Large tires also tend to be noisy when traveling at high speeds.

Go with all-terrain or all-weather tires to strike the right balance between on- and off-road performance. Massive tires may look cool, but they won’t do your car much good on the road.

3. Step Bar

Small accessories can go a long way. If you don’t feel like drastically changing the stance of your vehicle, consider adding a step bar instead. This simple addition makes it easy to get in and out of your truck. Your companions will appreciate having a place to rest their feet when climbing in and out of the truck. It will come in handy if you lift your truck or add larger tires. You won’t have to take as large of a step. Use the bar to wipe off your feet before you get into the driver’s seat to avoid making a mess.

4. Cold Air Intake

The flashiest upgrades and mods tend to get the most attention, but less noticeable parts likely benefit you the most in the long haul. Consider replacing your truck’s factory air intake system with a cold air intake. The system draws fresh cold air in from the outdoors to reduce the temperature in the combustion chamber. Excess heat will wear down your engine over time. High temperatures also contribute to NOx emissions that pollute the environment. Installing a cold air intake will improve efficiency, reduce wear and tear and increase engine power.

5. EGR Coolers

While we’re on the subject of cooling, consider replacing or upgrading your truck’s EGR coolers to further improve engine performance. Ford Powerstroke engines use exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems to reduce the temperature of the exhaust gas before it re-enters the combustion chamber. This reduces NOx emissions while preventing wear and tear.

The EGR coolers on the 6.0 Powerstroke have been known to cause problems over time. Heavy towing and larger tires will only make the problem worse. Inspect your vehicle’s cooling system regularly when lifting or modifying your truck to keep the exhaust from overheating.

6. VGT Actuators

Turbocharged engines have become all the rage in the diesel industry, but overusing your turbo can get you into trouble. Many trucks now come with variable geometry turbos (VGTs). They use a sliding sleeve to adjust the flow of the exhaust based on driving conditions. Variable turbos are more efficient than fixed turbos; however, the VGT actuator is known to fail on the 6.0 Powerstroke. This can lead to a sudden loss of power and poor fuel efficiency. Replace your 6.0 VGT actuators as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

7. Roof Rack

You can never have too much storage space. A roof rack is an easy way to make more space without adding unnecessary weight to your vehicle. Consider storing items up top instead of attaching a trailer to your truck so you don’t have tow around all that extra gear. This will improve your fuel efficiency without putting too much pressure on your engine.

Some diesel truck mods are worth the money, and some are just for show. Use this information to upgrade your truck the right way.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.