A few years ago we installed an Edge Evolution diesel tuner in our truck to give it a little more power in the mountains and to increase our fuel economy a bit when not towing. This super easy DIY project turned out to be really worthwhile. We picked up 1-2 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency, and we got some extra horsepower and torque when climbing the Rockies and the Smokies with our trailer in tow.
The March/April issue of Escapees Magazine features our article about the Edge Evolution Diesel Tuner. We have also written extensively about our Edge Tuner on this website, and you can read our blog post about it here:
Engine tuners (or “programmers”) are electronic components that modify the input parameters for an engine’s on-board computer. An engine tuner makes it possible to operate the truck with settings that are optimized for specific driving conditions.
So, whereas the factory settings on a Dodge Cummins engine in a Ram 3500 truck make the engine run pretty well in all conditions (towing, not towing, highway driving, mountain driving, etc.), an engine tuner will operate the engine with settings that are optimized for just one of these situations at a time.
If you will be towing a heavy trailer in the Rockies, you can program the tuner specifically for that kind of driving. If the truck won’t be towing anything for a while, you can program the tuner to maximize fuel economy.
We have used just two of the modes on our Edge engine tuner, Level 1 (“Economy”) and Level 2 (“Towing”).
In both cases we have seen an improvement in miles per gallon. In the towing mode, we’ve also found the increased power is significant. On the freeway this means it is easier to get up the speed to pass a slower moving vehicle. In the mountains it means the truck can get up steep inclines more easily.
There is a mode on the Edge Tuner that puts the truck into “stock” mode, effectively changing all the engine’s input parameters back to their factory default settings. It is also easy to disconnect the tuner all together. So, installing an Edge engine tuner is a non-destructive upgrade. The tuner is there for you if you want to use it, but you can easily opt not to use it too.
When we bought our the simplest programmable model, our 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 single rear wheel long bed truck had 85,000 miles on it. We drove the truck 20,000 miles with the tuner installed, and we were very happy with the performance. This past December we upgraded to a 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually long bed truck, and we have just installed an Edge tuner on it as well.
We recently bumped into the Jeep Safari Week in Moab, Utah, and while we were wandering around the booths looking at all the cool gear for Jeeps, we suddenly saw the Edge Products trade show booth. We went over to chat with the team and tell them about our installation. We met Jared Venz, one of their marketing guys. How cool is that?!
When we got our first Edge tuner, we chose the simplest programmable model, because we weren’t sure if a tuner would be a worthwhile upgrade. This time around we got a more sophisticated model. With all the products laid out on their table in boxes in front of us, Jared helped us understand the overall product line. Here it is in a nutshell:
There are three types of Edge tuners:
Insight – The most basic model that simply displays the engine data that is coming from the engine computer’s outputs. It does not have the ability to change the engine’s parameters or program it in any way .
Evolution – This model can modify the input parameters to the engine’s computer and also displays key data like the Transmission Fluid Temperature and Engine Coolant Temperature. It also indicates when the truck has gone into a “Regen” to burn off the particulates that have built up in the engine’s particulate trap (part of the “Blue Tech” 2010 EPA requirements for diesel engines).
Knowing the truck is in a Regen is especially useful, because the coolant and fluid temperatures increase, and there is a slight loss of power, but there is no indicator on the truck dashboard to show when one is happening. We found it very helpful with our old Edge Tuner to know exactly when a Regen was going on.
The Edge Evolution tuner uses the truck engine’s input port to modify the engine’s input parameters. So, the installation is very easy. A single cable plugs into that input port (the OBD II port on Dodge Ram trucks). However, in order to change from one programming mode to another (for instance, from Level 1 (Economy) to Level 2 (Towing), the truck must be parked and you have to go through a series of steps that take a good 5 to 10 minutes.
Juice with Attitude – This top of the line model has an additional computer module (the “juice”) that makes it possible not only to adjust the input parameters on the truck’s on-board engine computer, but also allows you to change modes on the fly. So, rather than having to stop and reprogram the tuner to change from Level 1 to Level 2, you can hit a button and make the switch instantly. For instance, if you are towing and want to unhitch to go drive somewhere without the trailer, you can change modes simply by pressing a button.
However, the installation is more complex, because the “juice” computer that is part of the tuner must be wired into the truck engine’s on-board computer via two wiring harnesses.
There are also two display options for each Edge tuner model:
The smaller and more simplistic display has a monitor screen that is 2.4 inches wide. The Edge tuner models that use this smaller screen have “CS2” in the model name.
The larger, more sophisticated and detailed display has a monitor screen that is 4.3 inches wide. The Edge tuner models that use this bigger screen have “CTS2” in the model name.
The final two digits in the model number distinguish between the various truck makes, models and years.
The Juice with Attitude model is available only in the large monitor screen size.
The basic model breakdown is:
- Insight (Data Display Only – no engine programming capability):
Insight CTS2 (large screen) vs. Insight CS2 (small screen)
- Evolution (Engine programming, easy install, manual mode switching):
Evolution CTS2 854xx (large screen) vs. Evolution CS 851xx (small screen)
- Juice with Attitude (engine programming with mode switching on the fly and more complex installation):
Juice with Attitude (large screen only)
Because each diesel truck manufacturer uses a different engine (Dodge has Cummins, GM products have Duramax and Ford has Ford built engines), the tuners come in different models for each truck engine. There is some variation between truck model years as well.
We’ve chosen the Edge Juice with Attitude engine tuner for our 2016 Ram 3500.
Our article, “What Puts You in the Driver’s Seat? Engine Tuners!” is the latest feature article of many that we have contributed to the Escapees RV Club member magazine since 2008. Escapees is a very varied RV and travel club that touches on all the possible concerns and interests that full-time and seasonal RVers have.
Back when the club was first started in 1978, there were no RV clubs that catered specifically to the needs of full-time and extended-travel RVers. Escapees began as a simple bi-monthly newsletter to bring full-time RVers together and to give them a place to share ideas and pass on information.
Today, the bi-monthly Escapees Magazine is one of the most informative and fun to read magazines in the RV industry.
We became Escapees members a few months after we started full-time RVing, and we feel that anyone interested in using their RV for extended periods of time should consider becoming a member too. Besides receiving the wonderful magazine for free, members receive discounts of up to 50% at participating RV parks.
In addition, Escapees RV Club offers a wide range of overnight parking options at its own various RV parks, from overnight accommodations to seasonal stays to long term leases to ownership, and they offer a list of boondocking locations via the Days End Directory subscription.
Escapees also hosts a very informative online forum, RVnetwork.com. The participants in this forum are often very experienced RVers, and although non-members can read the forum, only Escapees members can join in the conversation or ask questions. For new RVers, Escapees hosts Boot Camp events where folks learn All Things RV, and each year Escapees puts on a huge rally called Escapade where members from every corner of the country come to share experiences, socialize and learn from each other. Younger Escapees also gather at Xscaper Convergences.
This coming summer, from July 24-29, there will be an Escapade Rally and Xscapers Convergence in Essex Junction, Vermont. Just before that, from July 21-23, there will be an Escapees Boot Camp for New RVers.
To learn more about Escapees and perhaps join the club (we highly recommend it), you can click here:
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- Edge Evolution Diesel Engine Tuner – A Detailed Installation Guide and Review!
- Escapees RV Club – A multi-faceted club for full-time and extended-travel RVers
Related posts about our truck and trailer upgrades:
- Trailer Disc Brake Conversion – Upgrading our fifth wheel to electric over hydraulic disc brakes
- Buying a Truck for Heavy Duty Towing – What to look for in a truck that will tow a big, heavy trailer
- B&W Companion Hitch – A DIY installer’s guide to installing a new “puck” style fifth wheel hitch
- RV Solar Power Made Simple – RV solar power installations, both big and small
- Electrical System Upgrades – How we upgraded our trailer’s electrical systems and why
- RV Tips & Tricks – Helpful things we’ve learned along the way
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