5.0 cummins performance parts intercooler

The 5 Best 5.0 Cummins Titan XD Performance Mods

Chandler Stark

Meet Chandler

Chandler is an automotive expert that joined the DieselIQ and 8020 Media teams in 2022. He’s been working on and modifying cars from a young age and has a passion for JDM builds. However, Chandler is also a big fan of American muscle & diesel trucks. He delivers endless automotive knowledge and hands-on experience, and is a seasoned writer who spends some of his free time writing for The Grunge.

Power output was decidedly modest for the 5.0 Cummins, at just 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque. Fortunately, engine tuning and some bolt-on performance mods can take this engine to the 425whp range for just a few thousand dollars. Pushing too much beyond these power levels get expensive and starts to sacrifice reliability, which is a weak point on these engines to start.

In this guide we’re going to discuss tuning, cold air intakes, intercoolers, turbo inlets, and exhaust upgrades as some of the best performance mods for the 5.0 Cummins powered Titan XD. These mods will put you within the safe limits of the engine, giving you solid power gains without sacrificing reliability.

Engine Power Limits

Cummins made the 5.0 block from compacted graphite iron (CGI) and the heads are aluminum alloy. The crankshaft is forged steel, and the pistons are made from aluminum, and the connecting rods are billet steel. 

As such, the CGI block is incredibly strong and will have no issue pushing well past 700 lb-ft of torque. The crankshaft is also very strong, leaving the connecting rods and pistons as the most vulnerable parts. The upper limit of these is closer to 500-600 lb-ft of torque before you will want to look at forged versions. 

Lift Pump Upgrades

While it won’t add any horsepower, upgrading the fueling system on the 5.0 Cummins is a very important supporting mod. One of the most common upgrades is the FASS Diesel Fuel System. This is a fuel pump that will outflow the stock pump and support up to 700 horsepower. It also removes air, water, and debris particles from the fuel, too. Once you add tuning, a lift pump becomes a highly recommended upgrade.

Titan XD 5.0 Cummins Performance Upgrades

  • Tuning
  • Cold Air Intake
  • Intercooler Upgrade
  • Turbo Inlet Upgrade
  • Larger Exhaust

If you want to check this out in video form, Jake created a video on our YouTube channel discussing all of the modifications in this article.

1) ECM Tuning

First on our list of top 5.0 Cummins performance parts is ECU tuning. For those of you who are familiar with our other mod guides, you’ll know that we frequently recommend tuning as one of the top performance parts for pretty much every engine. The 5.0 Cummins is no different, and tuning allows for some serious horsepower and torque gains. 

Tuning is a pretty easy install that allows for your truck to instantly gain huge amounts of horsepower and torque. By using an OBD II plug-in device, you can flash new software to your Titan that will make the engine output more power. Primarily, this is done by increasing boost pressure, advancing the camshaft and ignition timing, and upping the fuel pressure. 

With tuning on the 5.0 Cummins, you can expect gains of more than 100 wheel horsepower and torque without any other bolt-on mods. If you do you plan on adding more, like an intake or exhaust, you can add even more power through tuning. 

2) Cold Air Intake Upgrades

A performance intake will use larger and less restrictive piping combined with a larger air filter to increase the flow and volume of air passing through it. More air allows your turbocharger to work more efficiently, and can equate to more power.

In addition, the 5.0 Cummins uses a large intercooler post-turbo to cool the boost (which we’ll get into below). This makes the temperature decrease somewhat useless, as the air is going to be heated up in the turbo and then cooled down in the intercooler, anyways. 

S&B Titan XD Cold Air Intake

3) Intercooler Upgrades

Intercoolers are very important for turbo-diesel engines, as they can increase horsepower and prevent detonation. The purpose of the intercooler is to cool the boost or “charged air” after it has exited the turbocharger.

Air gains heat as it becomes compressed, so by the time non-intercooled air hits the engine it can sometimes be up to 200° in temperature. An intercooler helps reduce the amount of heat in the air, which also improves its oxygen content. The more oxygen in the air the more horsepower and torque the engine will ultimately make.

The OEM intercooler is an air-to-air intercooler, which means it uses ambient air for cooling. The stock intercooler is mounted just behind the radiator, which unfortunately cuts it off from airflow. As of now, there are no front-mount intercoolers that put it in front of the radiator, as there is just not enough room without also moving the radiator.

4) 3.5″ Turbo Inlet

For our next 5.0 Cummins performance parts upgrade, we suggest a turbo inlet. The turbo inlet is what connects the air intake to the turbocharger. The OEM inlet is made from plastic, and is not very durable. It also has the tendency to flex or bend under heavy boost pressure, which hurts airflow. 

The turbo-inlet is one of the most important parts of the air intake system. If you have an aftermarket intake, you’ll definitely want to consider a larger turbo inlet to take advantage of the extra air volume and flow. The gains are only around 5-10 horsepower, so they aren’t drastic. Still, if you have already upgraded the air intake, a turbo inlet is another relatively cheap way to ensure the highest cfm for flow. 

5) Exhaust System Upgrades

The exhaust on the Titan XD is incredibly restrictive, but most of this is due to the emissions systems. he Titan uses three different emissions systems. There is an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, a diesel particulate filter (DPF), and a selective catalyst reduction system (SCR) that uses diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).

The DPF and SCR/DEF systems are located in the exhaust, and they choke off flow by quite a bit. However, they are also necessary for emissions, which makes things a little bit more interesting for diesel trucks. For street driven trucks, the only option for upgrading the exhaust on the Titan XD is a DPF-back exhaust. These exhausts retain all of the factory emissions equipment, but they also don’t add a lot of horsepower.

The other option is a downpipe-back exhaust, also known as a race pipe. A race pipe replaces all of the emissions equipment from the downpipe-back, which removes a ton of restriction. It is however only available for non-street driven trucks, because it removes emissions equipment.


How much horsepower can the 5.0 Cummins handle?

The 5.0 Cummins can take 500-600 lb-ft of torque before the internals need to be replaced. The 5.0 Cummins block is much stronger and can probably take more than 800 lb-ft of torque reliably.

What are the best 5.0 Cummins Performance Parts and Upgrades?

The best 5.0 Cummins performance parts and upgrades are tuning, cold air intake, intercooler, exhaust, and turbo inlet. You can add more than 100 wheel-horsepower with these mods to your Titan XD.

What are the best Titan XD performance parts and mods?

The best 5.0 Cummins performance parts and upgrades are tuning, cold air intake, intercooler, exhaust, and turbo inlet. You can add more than 100 wheel-horsepower with these mods to your Titan XD.

How can I add horsepower to my 5.0 Cummins and Titan XD?

The best 5.0 Cummins performance parts and upgrades are tuning, cold air intake, intercooler, exhaust, and turbo inlet. You can add more than 100 wheel-horsepower with these mods to your Titan XD.

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