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What Makes Cummins Engines so Darn Good?

Maybe you're already a Cummins fan or exploring what kind of powerhouse you want in your next truck. Either way, these diesel engines have an excellent reputation for a reason. They're robust, reliable, and durable.

At BenchForce, we're passionate about all types of vehicles, but there is something special about a truck with a Cummins engine. Whether it's the confidence and freedom of knowing you can handle the heaviest of trailers or the satisfaction and assuredness that you can take on almost any job, these impressive pieces of machinery deserve praise.

If you’re interested in learning more about Cummins engines and what makes them so good, BenchForce is here to break it down for you. In this piece, we’ll talk about the history of Cummins engines, the perks of diesel, what trucks you can find them in, and where to go if you need some tools for tuning them up.

The History of Cummins Engines

The Cummins Engine Company was founded in Columbus, Indiana, in 1919 by J. Irwin Miller, William G Irwin, and Clessie Cummins. Clessie recognized the advantages of the compression ignition oil engine. He developed the first Cummins engine as a licensee of R.M. Hvid Company that owned the patents to the compression–ignition fuel delivery system in the United States.

Debut in a car at the Indianapolis 500

Photo Credit: Cummins Inc.

In conjunction with R.W. Hvid's brilliant design, Clessie was inspired by Rudolf Diesel's innovation, the diesel engine. But it wasn't until the Model U in 1928 that the Cummins Engine Company was able to shift from producing engines for industrial use to automotive use. In 1931, the diesel engine made its debut in a car at the Indianapolis 500, an annual, 500-mile automobile race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Even the truck that transported the car to the track was equipped with a Model U—a brilliant marketing move on Clessie's part.

Just one year later, they released the Model H for commercial trucking. This engine would continue to be a major player in the transportation industry for decades to come.

Model H

Photo Credit: Cummins Inc.

After nearly half a century of research and development, mergers and acquisitions, and increased funding from going public in 1964, Cummins developed the 5.9-liter B engine in 1984. This is the engine that would eventually power the Dodge Ram diesel.

To solidify its place as a top-tier consumer engine manufacturer, the Cummins Engine Company started a subsidiary, the Cummins Electronics Company. This company was entirely responsible for developing engine control units (ECUs), software, and other electronic tools.

With a superior engine and cutting-edge electronics in place, Dodge came to Cummins for a deal to install the 5.9L Turbo Diesel in their Ram pickup trucks. This move introduced a new set of consumers to the Cummins name and made them synonymous with rugged automotive power.

1987 Dodge Ram

Photo Credit: Cummins Inc.

Which Consumer Vehicles Sport a Cummins Engine?

You can find the Cummins 6.7L Turbo Diesel engine in the:

  • RAM 2500 Heavy-Duty pickup truck
  • RAM 3500 Heavy-Duty pickup trucks
  • RAM 3500 Chassis cab
  • RAM 4500 Chassis cab
  • RAM 5500 Chassis cab
  • Nissan Titan XD Diesel Truck

You can find these ECUs in some vehicles:

  • CM2350B CM2450B 6.7L with ROM Boot
  • CM845 CM846 CM848
  • CM2200

However, Cummins also sells automotive diesel engines (crate engines) by themselves. With a few custom parts, motorheads can complete an engine swap and add the power of these legendary powerhouses to their vehicles.

So, What Makes Cummins Engines Great?

From commercial truckers to auto enthusiasts, people widely regard Cummins engines as the best in the industry. Coming from a heavy-duty, commercial work background, The Cummins Engine Company developed these engines with power and reliability at top of mind.

Cummins engines deliver more torque than many other trucks on the market, which means more towing and hauling capacity. To construct these engines, Cummins builds the block and head out of iron and uses a steel timing gear, assuring long-term durability. With no modifications or after-market parts, drivers can expect to crank out 400,000 miles or more over the engine's lifespan.

Sidenote: There are several YouTube videos dedicated to Cummins engines cresting even the million-mile mark. Cummins actually created a “high-mileage club” in which they offer a badge to attach to your rig for every 100k miles you go.

The Perks of Diesel over Gasoline

While there are nearly double the amount of gasoline-powered vehicles than diesel, there are some significant benefits to the latter that should be acknowledged. First, while they're more expensive to repair, diesel engines require radically less maintenance, often making them cheaper in the long run. Over their gasoline counterparts, diesel engines also offer:

  • A longer life span
  • Better fuel efficiency
  • More torque at lower RPMs
  • Higher resale value

Interestingly, the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), a research division of the U.S. Department of Energy, reports that only 20% of the fuel in a gas engine moves the car. However, in diesel engines, up to 40% of the fuel is used!

Thinking of a Swap?

Whether you're making changes to your current vehicle with a Cummins engine or about to complete a swap, you want to ensure you have the right gear for the job.

Power Block

BenchForce created the PowerBlock IV to make a central hub for powering up an ECU on the bench. In conjunction with an add-on harness, PowerBlocks can handle virtually any bench programming. Simply connect your USB or serial laptop-to-vehicle programming interface to PowerBlock's OBD-II diagnostic connector, and choose from our selection of BenchForce ECU harnesses.

At BenchForce, we strive to add as many harnesses as possible. Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions for additional harnesses.