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05 Best 12V Cummins Performance Upgrades: Buying Guide, FAQ [2021]

Cummins is known to be one of the most powerful engines. From the oldest models to the 12v and the 24v models as well, all can deliver high hp levels and reliable performance.

12v Cummins are powerful on their own. You can go with them without thinking of any upgrades. However, if you are a car enthusiast, you may want to consider some of these 12v Cummins performance upgrades.

Also, there are some drawbacks to the 12v Cummins old models. If you own one of the cars with these shortcomings, you need to consider a replacement for these OE parts. Modifications are not massive, just small parts. Maybe ones you never thought of, can change a lot.

You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to experience the engine upgrade you want. You can spend as little as $10 or $20 and boost the performance of your vehicle. If you are wondering how that can be possible, check below our recommendations for the best five 12v Cummins performance upgrades.

Contents

Which is the best 12v Cummins performance upgrade?

E-cowlboy adjustable boost elbow controller is the best upgrade on our list for obvious reasons. You get more hp and a higher turbo boost at the least price. Moreover, this small upgrade is just a few minutes- installation. It requires no other additional parts to deliver optimal performance.

Why E-cowlboy adjustable boost elbow controller is considered the best?

E-cowlboy adjustable boost elbow controller is far better than the original part for the adjustability it provides. This guarantees the engine doesn’t fail from the very high turbo modes. At the same time, you are not restricted by the limited turbo boost allowed without this adjustment. Thus, you are the one who controls the turbo you need using this product.

Comparison Table of The Best 12V Cummins Performance Upgrades

IMAGEBRANDDETAILS
01. E-cowlboy
02. KDP
03. BLACKHORSE-RACING
04. Karbay P7100
05. Bds

 

The 05 Best 12V Cummins Performance Upgrades Reviews

01. E-cowlboy Adjustable Boost Elbow Controller For Dodge Cummins: Best turbo controller

 

 

Product Features

  • Compatible with specific Cummins vehicles
  • Copper material
  • Adjustable turbo boost control
  • Suitable for manual transmission turbo

Product Specifications

  • Brand: E-cowlboy
  • Model: HG – 3540
  • Weight: ‎634 ounces
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches

Product Description and Performance

You don’t need to get a very expensive 12v Cummins performance package to start seeing a turbo boost. With this tiny part, you will pick up huge power once you install it.

The adjustable boost elbow controller is a replacement for a part you already have in the wastegate. What it does is that whenever you make a turbo boost, the elbow passes the air to the canister till it reaches a certain pressure. This canister pushes a rod to trigger a valve in the exhaust to open up and stop the turbo boost.

While you can just block the wastegate to prevent this airflow and gain much power, this is not the safest solution. With an adjustable boost elbow, you can control how much air should flow to the canister which gives more convenience.

“With these kinds of extremely inexpensive 12v Cummins performance parts, expect a noticeable higher Hp. In addition, you guarantee superior quality and anti-corrosion features. So, if you need the best turbo for 12v Cummins, invest in a boost elbow controller. Fine-tune it and you will see the difference.”

We consider this part the best 12 valve Cummins turbo upgrade because it is the cheapest HP you can get for your vehicle. With a little adjustment, you will get an increased boost by maybe around 20 – 30 psi.

Pros

  • Inexpensive performance upgrade
  • Easy adjustability
  • Durable parts
  • Corrosion-resistance

Cons

  • Not for automatic transmission turbo
  • The screw is a bit loose

Recommendation

Since it is an adjustable 12 valve turbo upgrade, you need to see different boost levels. So, adjust the elbow to lower levels first to see if you gain anything. Then, you can go higher until you are satisfied with your turbo.

02. KDP Repair Kit For 1989-1998 Cummins 12 Valve Engines 5.9BT: Best affordable option

 

 

Product Features

  • Fits 1989-1998 12v Cummins
  • 6061-T6 billet aluminum CNC
  • Stainless steel Screw
  • Reversible retainer

Product Specifications

  • Brand: E-cowlboy
  • Model: GY02
  • Weight: ‎58 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.7 x 0.5 inches

Product Description and Performance

Cummins diesel engines, although they generally work perfectly, have centeral issues that most car owners know. One of these major problems is the OEM dowel pin coming loose and falling to the timing gears. This problem because of being too common had the name “killer dowel pin”.

However, killer dowel pin (KDP) has different repair kits for different Cummins car models. Since the problem is very common, the solution is also very easy to find and apply.

“The Silver Killer Dowel Pin KDP Repair Kit is one of the best 12v Cummins upgrades as it permanently solves the KDP problem. This kit, made of aluminum and stainless steel, has everything needed to ensure a premium solution with the longest lifespan.”

The kit comes with a retainer and a head-cap screw. Installation is just a breeze with very little manual work but great results. Moreover, even if the bolts loosen, the kit will prevent the dowel pin from falling out. Simply because the retainer is already thick enough leaving no room for backing out as it will contact the timing cover.

Not to forget that the KDP repair kit features an anodized silver or black finish which adds to the longevity of the product. So, this product is all in all a bargain. You will just spend a few dollars to solve a problem that can cost you a hundred bucks. No need to purchase costly kits and different parts where all you need is just a small KDP repair kit.

Pros

  • Thick retainer
  • Anodized finish
  • High-quality parts
  • Easy installation
  • Anti-rust and corrosion

Cons

  • May need thread locker

Recommendation

All Cummins engines from 1989 to 2002 have this KDP problem. Even some 24-valve Cummins may have the same problem. Whereas you can find KDP repair kits fitting all models, this one fits 12v 1989 to 1998 Cummins the best.

03. BLACKHORSE-RACING Diesel Turbocharger: Best for fuel economy

 

 

Product Features

  • Compatible with specific turbo models
  • T3 wastegate
  • 4-inches diameter exhaust pipe
  • Combustion improvement

Product Specifications

  • Brand: BLACKHORSE-RACING
  • Model: ‎ER26508
  • Weight: ‎5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.53 x 12 x 10.75 inches

Product Description and Performance

Another 12v Cummins turbo upgrade for better performance and mileage as well. With this turbocharger, more air will flow to the engine cylinder. Thus, it means more fuel and high mechanical power for the vehicle.

BLACKHORSE-RACING Diesel Turbocharger is a cost-effective solution for those who want an upgraded riding experience that lasts for a long. Even more, aggressive car users will love this 12v Cummins turbo kit as it has the least complaints.

There are plenty of 12v Cummins turbo replacements in the market. However, this one is the best turbo upgrade for 12v Cummins as it is designed for towing and provides quicker spool-up. Moreover, it provides a better combustion process which is safer for the engine.

“By installing Blackhorse-racing turbocharger, expect up to 270hp performance. Along with the fuel efficiency and torque gains it provides, this is a reliable upgrade to your vehicle. With other 12v Cummins performance upgrades and this turbocharger, you can gain the boost you want without damaging any other parts.”

The product is compatible with Dodge RAM 2500/3500 5.9L for 1999 to 2002 models except for the 2001 model. It has an internal wastegate T3 turbine housing. This effective part prevents the engine from damage due to excessive speed.

Pros

  • No modifications needed
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Good quality for money
  • Significant Hp and engine power increase

Cons

  • Might need EGT gauge

Recommendation

You don’t need to do core changes to OEM parts to install this turbo upgrade. However, if you are not a professional in car mechanics, we recommend you get it installed at a mechanics’ to avoid any installation errors.

04. P7100 Injection Pump 3K/4K Governor Springs: Best for higher RPMs

 

 

Product Features

  • Fits 5.9L Cummins specific models
  • Iron material
  • Higher engine fueling capabilities
  • 3K & 4K springs and seats

Product Specifications

  • Brand: Karbay
  • Model: P7100
  • Weight: ‎99 Ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 4.8 x 0.4 inches

Product Description and Performance

With 12v Cummins injectors, you can expect oil leaking to the ground after a few times of use. Even with stock springs, you may experience a little valve float which downgrades the overall performance. However, with the P7100 injection pump springs from Karbay, this is impossible to happen. When you purchase this product, you are getting one of the most powerful 12v Cummins performance upgrades. If you are on a tight budget and need a quick upgrade, here you go.

The best thing about this kit is that it includes a set of 3K and 4K springs in addition to unique seats. You have the option to go for a safe 3k limit or boost it to 4K according to your driving style. With the 4K springs, it will give you the maximum benefits of fueling with the highest RPMs. However, don’t forget the valve springs to avoid leaks.

Whenever you install these and fuel your car, just go off-road and experience the performance. Moreover, the throttle response is better with these injection pump springs. The vehicle becomes more responsive and performance becomes better. You can raise your expectations as much as you want because Karbay injection pump springs are guaranteed.

“Combine this kit with other 12v Cummins performance upgrades and you will love road trips much more. With different parts installed together, you can get the most out of your Cummins engine.”

Pros

  • Better throttle response
  • More torque and power
  • Support high RPM levels
  • Sturdy construction

Cons

  • Spring tension

Recommendation

If you are not a mechanic or have some mechanical experience, don’t install them on your own. They might not function as you expect. Also, install the 4K springs when you plan to do more mods to support a high RPM level. Otherwise, the 3K springs will be perfect.

05. 3687930/4326870 Nitrogen Oxide Sensor NOx Sensor: Best for engine safety

 

 

Product Features

  • Fits 2013 – 2018 Cummins
  • Reduces pollution
  • Better performance
  • Designed for downstream

Product Specifications

  • Brand: Bds
  • Model: 3687930/5WK9 6740B
  • Weight: ‎8 Ounces
  • Dimensions: ‎6 x 5 x 2.75 inches

Product Description and Performance

For newer Cummins models, this device is worth buying for different reasons. First, as the name suggests, it detects nitrogen oxide levels. For those who don’t know, nitrogen oxide is a combustion product that is harmful to your vehicle and the environment as well. Thus, a good nitrogen oxide sensor will decrease the effect of this element.

Also, having this device working in your vehicle means better fuel economy and optimized exhaust. Goes without saying, fuel efficiency is a top priority for 12 valve Cummins power upgrades. So, you are not only saving the environment but also maintaining your car. Above all, the nitrogen oxide sensor is pretty easy to install. You can easily spot your old sensor on the exhaust.

“Your car will have a similar device there. However, if you are looking for the best, we recommend this one as the sensors are highly sensitive. This ensures quicker response, thus, better performance.”

Pros

  • High sensitivity
  • Easy installation process
  • Better fuel efficiency
  • Fast and stable response

Cons

  • OEM part is sturdier

Recommendation

Make sure you are buying the right product as it should resemble the OEM one. You can find the OEM number and compare it with the new one. Otherwise, you can contact the seller and tell him about your car model.

Buying Guide: 12V Cummins Performance Upgrades

Since we are talking about performance upgrades, you need to think of what needs upgrading. You don’t need to get all of these parts to notice 12v Cummins upgrades. Just one of them will deliver good power, however, some parts work the best together. So, to choose the best suitable products for you, here are some points you need to consider:

Usage

Different parts have different uses. Some replace OEM parts for better turbo. Whereas others increase the fuel economy. Before you purchase any of these items, you need to think of what you need. Moreover, some items have more than one use. So, you need to read carefully and do research to know what to expect from each product. Maybe you can also check others’ reviews for real experience.

Model

Not all the products fit all vehicles. Even though all of these products are meant to work for 12v Cummins, they won’t work on all models. So, you need to check if the item you are purchasing is compatible with your vehicle. Always refer to the product specifications to know the exact model you have to purchase. If you find it hard, contact the seller instead of ending up buying a useless product.

Price

Price is an important factor when it comes to upgrading your vehicle. You can spend thousands to get the best performance upgrade. Yet, you might have a tight budget that doesn’t allow for a variety of products. So, you have to balance your needs with the budget. For example, a turbocharger can cost you higher than other products but it boosts fuel efficiency which saves money. Thus, balance it this way, if you have enough money, invest for the long-term.

Fitting together

You may get more than one product, even those not mentioned here, and find that they don’t fit together. Each part is perfect on its own and will give you the performance upgrades you dream of. However, when fitting them all together, they are just a mess.

So, before buying more and more products, ask an expert first if all of them will be good on your vehicle. Also, don’t forget to check your vehicle’s current status as it might not be able to withstand all these upgrades together.

Frequently Asked Questions: 12V Cummins Performance Upgrades

Are 12v Cummins performance upgrades worth buying?

Yes, they are worth it. Whatever performance upgrade you decided to purchase will surely give you a boost to your performance. However, you always need to put in mind the buying considerations we mentioned to ensure you are getting a functioning product.

On the other hand, if you are satisfied with the current performance of your vehicle, you may just consider replacing malfunctioning parts as KDP.

Are 12 valves or 24 valves Cummins better?

24v Cummins is newer of course but this doesn’t mean they are necessarily better. It depends on other things. 24v Cummins have higher hp without any upgrades but if you want a performance upgrade, you need to spend more.

On the other side, 12v hp has lower hp levels but upgrading is cheaper. You can add more hp to the engine by paying too little money for a simple modification.

Should I replace the dowel pin?

According to the 12v Cummins you have. Older models from 1989 to 1998 mostly need replacement as the OEM part is the problem. If you are buying a used model from those, ask the seller if he replaced it already or not.

Similarly, if the dowel pin is missing or fell apart, you should replace it.

How do I get higher hp from my Cummins?

There are several ways you can do so according to your Cummins model. For 12v Cummins, you can add some performance upgrades to experience higher hp. For example, a new turbocharger or an adjustable boost elbow controller. It depends on how much hp you need and also the current status of your car.

Alternatively, if you have a 24v Cummins, you need to consider other products made specifically for this engine. In general, 12v Cummins has cheaper performance upgrade products than 24v ones.

To what extent can I increase the hp of my 12v Cummins?

According to the product you installed. Some products can give you double the hp you have without any performance upgrades. You can get something like 600 hp with several installations that boost the capability of the engine.

However, if you don’t need a higher hp, you can go for a smaller change, maybe a 400 hp change with just a small modification.

What do 12v Cummins turbo upgrades do?

Turbo upgrades will boost the turbo of your vehicle in different ways according to the specific modification you go for. Either than that, turbo upgrades increase the hp. The extent or the limit of increase depends on the products you used for turbo upgrading.

Generally speaking, you can expect up to a 150 hp increase from turbo upgrade products. However, this might need more than one product installed at the same time to get this upgrade.

How to know if my NOx sensor fails?

NOx sensors have a certain lifespan. When they fail, the first sign you will notice is an error on the dashboard and high fuel consumption. If you ignored such signs, the engine might fail. So, we recommend you check them once you experience any of these signs.

The lifespan of NOx sensors ranges from 50 to 100 miles according to your use. So, even if you don’t think you have a problem with the sensors, you need to check them consistently.

How to know if my injector pump fails?

Sometimes you may find some oil leaks under your car, these might be indicators of an injection pump failure. However, this is not the only sign of failure, it just means there is a problem with the valves.

Other problems might cause the engine to stop at all. This means the injector pump probably needs replacing. Similarly, the engine might start but stops in a while. Whatever the case is, you need to check which exactly caused the problem to replace the right parts.

Conclusion: 12V Cummins Performance Upgrades

12v Cummins are reliable and efficient engines. With some additions, you can have this engine working for more years than you expect. All of the above performance upgrades are recommended if you have enough budget. They won’t cost you too much anyways. However, you can choose between them if you are not willing to spend that much.

When you think of 12v Cummins performance upgrades, don’t think of them as just more hp. They can increase the mileage and maintain the engine. This will eventually save you money in the long term.

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