Ram 1500 3.0 EcoDiesel engine

The 5 Best Dodge Ram 3.0 EcoDiesel Performance Upgrades

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.

You don’t need a full size diesel like the 6.7 Cummins to make some serious power and torque. Just a few bolt-on performance upgrades can take the half-ton 3.0 EcoDiesel to above 300whp and 500wtq.

While the 3.0 EcoDiesel has a questionable reputation from a reliability perspective, its fuel economy and factory performance make it an intriguing choice. Toss a few performance mods on it and you’ve got a powerful diesel with great fuel economy. In this guide we’re going to talk about tuning, downpipes, exhaust upgrades, and colder thermostats as a few of the best performance upgrades to take the 3.0 EcoDiesel to 300-325whp.

If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our How to Build a 300WHP 3.0 EcoDiesel video below:

Engine Power Limits

Dodge made the engine block from compacted graphite iron (CGI), which is actually pretty solid. CGI blocks are becoming standard in many diesel engines now, and they are stronger than traditional iron blocks. Internally, the EcoDiesel has a forged steel crankshaft, cast iron connecting rods, and cast aluminum pistons. 

The weak point on these engines is the rods and pistons. Cast iron and aluminum are not ideal, but they will still withstand pretty good power. 350-400whp is the safe limit for the rods and pistons. Once you start going over 400whp the rods and pistons have a much higher chance of failing. 

Without a turbo-swap, the 3.0 EcoDiesel will struggle to make it past 325-350 horsepower. Due to the cost of upgrading the turbo and the limited power capacity beyond the factory turbo, we’re going to cover a list of mods that will put you within a safe power range.

Dodge 3.0 EcoDiesel Performance Upgrades

  • ECM Tuning
  • Colder Thermostat
  • Upgraded Downpipe
  • Upgraded Filter-back Exhaust
  • EGR and DPF Deletes (Race Only)

1) ECM Tuning

Hands down, flash tuning is the best mod you can do for the 3.0 EcoDiesel. With just tuning, you can add serious horsepower and torque with a plug-and-play device.

Per the dyno graph below, a tuner can add about 50whp and 80wtq without the need for any additional modifications. A proper tuning setup will run you around $1,000 but is going to offer the biggest power gains and help support the other modifications on our list.

2) Colder 190-degree Thermostat

Next up for our 3.0 EcoDiesel performance upgrades is a colder thermostat. Thermostats are relatively cheap, pretty easy to install, and offer significant benefits for those who do extensive towing and/or live in very hot climates (Arizona, Texas, etc.).

The 3.0 EcoDiesel is intentionally ran at hotter temperatures, with a hotter thermostat. This is because it reduces emissions and improves fuel economy. However, hotter temperatures are also harmful for performance.  

The purpose of upgrading to a colder thermostat is to keep the engine temperature down so that performance stays up. Thermostats do not increase the amount of horsepower or torque an engine makes, but rather they allow engines to continue to operate at peak power for longer. Sticking with a 190-degree thermostat will allow the engine to run about 20-degrees colder than stock which is great for both performance and reliability.

3) Downpipe Upgrades

For the third of our 3.0 EcoDiesel performance upgrades, we’re looking at downpipes. Downpipes are one of the most common mods that are made to turbocharged engines, and they are very helpful on the EcoDiesel. The downpipe is the part of the exhaust that connects to the turbocharger and leads to the DPF pipe and mufflers. The downpipe harnesses the exhaust gasses exiting the turbo and routes them through the DPF pipe and out the tailpipe through the mufflers. 

The purpose of upgrading the downpipe is to reduce back pressure and flow restriction. By putting on a larger diameter downpipe, the back pressure differential is reduced, which allows for better airflow out of the engine. In addition, performance downpipes are also designed with less bends to also improve airflow. The OEM downpipe on the EcoDiesel is 3 inch, and we recommend a 4 inch performance downpipe. 

With tuning you can see up to 20whp and 25wtq power gains from a larger downpipe.

4) DPF-Back Exhaust System

After you upgrade the downpipe, it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and upgrade the rest of the exhaust past the DPF filter.  The DPF pipe connects to the downpipe, and lies in between it and the mufflers. Upgrading the exhaust past the DPF pipe won’t give you nearly the gains of a downpipe, but it will have some airflow increases. 

For most people who upgrade the exhaust, they are looking at both increasing aesthetic appeal and producing a better tone. There are both dual exit and single-side exit exhausts for the EcoDiesel, allowing you to customize your tailpipe exactly how you want. In addition, different mufflers and pipe styles will produce different tones, some deeper and more aggressive than others. 

5) EGR/DPF Deletes (Race Only)

Our final recommendation is only for those using their EcoDiesel off-road or for racing: EGR and DPF pipe deletes. Since these remove emissions equipment, they are not street-legal or emissions compliant. This means they cannot be run on street vehicles, and are only for off-road and racing use. 

The EcoDiesel exhaust works like this: First the downpipe connects to the turbo, then the diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) connects to the downpipe. Connecting to the DOC is the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel particulate filter (DPF), which are part of the same piece of piping. As part of the SCR system is the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which also helps with emissions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much horsepower can an EcoDiesel make?

From the factory the EcoDiesel produces 240-260 horsepower and 420-480 lb-ft of torque. With performance upgrades, you can add as much as 100 horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque through tuning and exhaust upgrades.

Can you tune a 3.0 EcoDiesel?

Yes, there are many tuning solutions out there for the EcoDiesel. You can increase horsepower and torque by 10-25% through just tuning alone.

What are the best 3.0 EcoDiesel performance Upgrades?

The best EcoDiesel performance upgrades are tuning, colder thermostat, upgraded downpipe, upgraded exhaust, and EGR/DPF deletes.

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