Personal Diesel Assistant

Sport Truck May 2006

by Mike Finnegan

Banks iQ Takes Diesel Tuning to the Next Level

When Banks Engineering unleashed its Big Hoss Bundle diesel performance packages for today’s diesel pickups, it turned the diesel tuning world upside down with a systematic approach to safely improving performance. Not content to merely feed more fuel to a diesel engine, Banks developed a matched set of components that not only increased power output but did so without pushing the engine into the danger zone in terms of increased exhaust gas temperature.

The Big Hoss Bundle includes not only parts that deliver more fuel and air to the engine but also parts that will keep the engine running for years to come. The aluminum Techni-Cooler charge-air cooler is a welcomed upgrade over the stock, plastic intercooler that is prone to failure. The polished stainless steel 4-inch Monster exhaust system not only outflows the factory part but will outlast the stock, aluminized tubing, especially in parts of the country that see more snow than sunshine during winter. When you combine these parts with Banks Speedloader and Six Gun tuner, you have yourself a no-hassle package that is dialed-in and ready to deliver an incredible amount of power. Now that power comes with an unparalleled amount of control.

Banks iQ Dashboard PC is now available to not only take charge of the tasks that all PCs are known for, such as MP3 storage, internet browsing, and e-mail delivery, but the unit is also designed to control the company’s Six Gun tuning module. The Banks iQ offers exclusive features, such as fuel injector pulse width tuning, fuel pressure and timing control, and multi-level power output selection. This increase in tuneability also adds considerable power and torque to the Six Gun. It’s the ultimate visual tuning tool right inside the cab of your truck with a host of functions at the touch of a button. The Banks iQ comes standard with MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint programs as well. As nice as all that sounds, it’s the business end of this tool that got us excited.

We strapped the full-color PC and its docking station into an ’03 Ford F-350 sport truck that was equipped with the venerable 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine to find out how well the unit worked. We browsed the standard PC features for a few moments and then tore into the really cool stuff, such as the built-in performance monitors. The Banks iQ stores 0-60 mph and quarter-mile acceleration runs, as well as monitoring exhaust gas temperature and boost levels. The Banks iQ will also read, interpret, and clear on-board computer diagnostic codes, which means no more going to the Ford dealer to have a Check Engine light cleared. It will even tell you when something’s amiss with the engine, such as when the number 6 fuel injector isn’t firing correctly.

Out on the road, the Banks iQ’s full-color touch-screen made it easy to toggle between different power modes, depending on our driving style and load. The supplied docking station put the PC right below our line of sight, keeping it from being a distraction but ready when the opportunity arose to check the status of our diesel powerplant. Banks iQ even offered both on-screen and audible warnings to let us know when the coolant temperature and exhaust gas temperature levels came near the danger zone whenever we overworked our beast.

The Banks iQ is cool and all, but the incredible power gains made with the Big Hoss system coupled to the Banks iQ is really exciting. In just one day, our test truck went from an anemic weakling that couldn’t even break the rear tires loose for a burnout photo to a menacing super truck that has trouble maintaining traction when the go pedal is mashed to the floor and the turbo spools up. Dyno-testing revealed that our truck’s turbodiesel put out baseline performance numbers of 463.6 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm and 255.6 hp at 3,200 rpm. After the installation, our engine sprang to life at the level of tuning via the Banks iQ. At its most powerful setting, Level 7, the diesel cranked out 706.3 lb-ft of torque at 2,200 rpm and 372.4 hp at 3,600 rpm. The peak power output was pushed up just 200 rpm, but Banks was able to boost the torque production by more than 242 lb-ft. That’s tire-frying, throw-you-back-in-the-seat-from-a-stoplight power.

Personal Diesel Assistant
Bank’s intercooler not only outflows the factory Ford unit, which increases boost, but because it’s made of high-strength aluminum and not cheesy plastic, it’s not going to burst or crack. We’ve been the victim of several stock intercoolers giving up while off-road, hauling a load or just plain haulin’ ass, so this was a welcome addition to our truck.
Personal Diesel Assistant
The streamlined turbo air inlet piping and 3 1/2-inch-diameter high-ram intake work together to improve airflow into the engine, which helps make better use of the additional fuel introduced into the chambers.
Personal Diesel Assistant
The 4-inch-diameter Monster exhaust reduces backpressure by 98 percent, and unlike a gasoline engine, diesels actually thrive with less pressure in the tailpipe.

Personal Diesel Assistant

Personal Diesel Assistant
The system exits behind the rear wheel inside a 5-inch double-wall rolled exhaust tip.
Personal Diesel Assistant
The touch-screen menus make navigating the operating system quick and easy. A stylus is also included to make access even quicker.
Personal Diesel Assistant
And just like a standard PDA, this one has a good amount of memory left over for storing media like MP3s.
Personal Diesel Assistant
Want to know how quick your truck might be at the track? It’s as easy as touching the screen and then finding a deserted stretch of road and stomping on the go pedal.
Personal Diesel Assistant
The PowerPDA will constantly monitor boost pressure and exhaust gas temperature to ensure safe operation of the engine, and it will give both visual and audible warnings, should something run amiss.
Personal Diesel Assistant
The graphs can also be customized to your viewing pleasure.
Personal Diesel Assistant
Since the PowerPDA was designed to work seamlessly with the Six Gun Tuner, it will also detect transmission slippage and torque converter lockup.
Personal Diesel Assistant
If you ever see a Check Engine light appear on the dashboard again, don’t fret. You don’t have to make a costly trip to the dealer to find out what the problem is and get the code cleared from the OBD computer.
Personal Diesel Assistant
When you’re all done playing Star Wars with the PowerPDA, you can take advantage of what the Banks system of parts does best; give your truck the ability to produce massive four-wheel smokey burnouts.
Personal Diesel Assistant
Just like the PDAs we are used to working with, the PowerPDA contains all the tools of the internet, thanks to the built-in Bluetooth technology.
Personal Diesel Assistant
Banks placed the included stalk mount of the PowerPDA to the right of the steering wheel, in the middle of the dash where it was most readily accessed.

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