Before the arrival of the 6.7 Cummins diesel engine, Ram, or Dodge Ram as it was called earlier, used to offer its top-level trucks with a 5.9-liter inline-six turbocharged diesel engine. Despite its age now, it’s a revered engine and loved by Ram users. In our latest guide, we take a look at how you can make the most of this motor with the help of the best tuner for 5.9 Cummins (or if you prefer, the best programmer for 5.9 Cummins.)
(Editor’s Note: If you want to learn what the difference is between tuners and programmers, read our Ultimate Guide to Tuners, Programmers, and Chips.)
- Our Recommendations
- Smart Choice: Smarty S-06 PoD
- For All the Monitoring Needs: Edge Products Insight CS2 Monitor
- Touch to Drive: Smarty Touch for 5.9 Cummins
- The Best Duo: Edge Products CTS2 Diesel Evolution Programmer
- Simple but effective: Superchips Flashpaq F5
- What is the best tuner for 5.9 Cummins?
Smart Choice: Smarty S-06 PoD
- Innovative engineering, extensive field testing
- Exceptional quality control
- Provides longer Brake life and performance
If you have one of the later Dodge Ram pickups (5.9 Cummins — the model year 2003-2007), the Smarty PoD has a lot of performance gains for your truck — you can add up to 215 hp even on stock trucks. (And for a 5.9L Common Rail Cummins it can boost you up to 210 hp.) And with Power on Demand, you can choose the power level while on the move.
Speed limiter and non-traceable
Another major feature that helps the Smarty tuner for 5.9 Cummins stand out is that it’s not traceable once the settings are turned back to stock. It also has a speed limiter (you can set the maximum speed anywhere between 25 and 250 mph limit), ABS tire-height adjuster (for use with larger/after-market tires), and an ability to read and clear engine codes, among other things.
Additional features that you can enjoy on the Smarty tuner for 5.9 Cummins include manual high idle, plug-and-play ability (no tools required, just connect the Smarty to your truck’s OBD-II and you’re good to go), and what Smarty claims is the fastest ECM update speed in the industry.
What do we think of it?
The Smarty S-06 also offers automatic recovery of the ECM in case the update is interrupted. This, like the other features mentioned above, makes the Smarty tuner for 5.9 Cummins worth your time, effort, and money.
- Power gains
- Neat features
- Not CARB-exempt
For All the Monitoring Needs: Edge Products Insight CS2 Monitor
- 5" full-color, high-resolution, swipe screen
- Multiple gauge screen layouts
- Available for 1996 and vehicles equipped with an OBDII (diagnostic) port
- Custom color mixer for gauge arcs, needles, and backgrounds
- EGT Pyrometer Probe sold separately
It’s true that since you most likely know your truck inside out, you’ll notice every small change. But to keep a close eye on your truck’s improvements, or to be able to activate audio/visual warnings in case of trouble, you’ll need to get a good monitor. And the Edge Products Insight CS2 monitor is a popular choice in the market with favorable reviews from owners.
Compatible with vehicles with an OBD-II port, which your 5.9 Cummins Ram 2500/3500 has, the monitor boasts a high-resolution 5-inch screen, a lot of customization options, the ability to be updated via the Internet, and most importantly, the ease of a touch screen.
The Edge Insight CS2 Monitor for 5.9 Cummins can either be used as a standalone monitor to keep an eye on the truck’s performance or in conjunction with a tuner. It comes with an HDMI-style plug for power and accessories, and will also dim itself once the sun goes down, so it won’t be too bright on the eyes.
What do we think of it?
Depending on your taste, you can customize the background, gauge arcs, needles, and even the parameters that the monitor will display. It’s a great alternative to analog gauges — and is problem-free as well.
Keep in mind that the seller mentions that this is a discounted product, which comes only with a 30-day seller warranty. So check with them before making a purchase. Edge Products, on the other hand, offers a one-year warranty, which you can extend for a fee.
- Good display
- Not much apart from that
Touch to Drive: Smarty Touch for 5.9 Cummins
Compatible with 5.9 Cummins Dodge Ram 2500/3500 trucks (1998.5 to 2007 model year), the Smarty Touch brings together the tuning power of Smarty tuner for 5.9 Cummins and the functionality of a 4.3-inch touchscreen display that helps make the update operations easy and fast — fastest among rivals if you want to take Smarty/Mads’ word on it.
Ten power levels, feature-rich
It covers most features that owners expect from a decent tuner, so apart from offering 10 power levels, it can also detect and clear engine codes, can be updated from the internet and even store tunes on a microSD card. If you opt for the EGR probe, then that information can be displayed as well. The display comes with four dashboards with screen layouts that can be customized. There’s also an ability to impose a speed limiter, select the right tire heights (for ABS; use with aftermarket wheels) and adjust other parameters.
For certain 5.9 Cummins trucks, it also gets manual engine high-idle, a power-on-demand feature, and even cold-weather, three-cylinder high-idling. But if you decide to take out the device, the truck can be returned to the stock tune, and it won’t leave any trace. The Smarty Touch works with DPF in place but is not CARB-exempt.
What do we think about it?
For its list of features and customization ability, the Smarty Touch 5.9 Cummins programmer deserves a second look. It’s not the cheapest device out there, though.
- Lots of features
- Compatible with all 5.9 Cummins Ram 2500/3500 trucks
- Not CARB exempt
The Best Duo: Edge Products CTS2 Diesel Evolution Programmer
The ability to monitor and choose a tune from within the confines of your cabin makes devices like the Edge Products Diesel Evolution CTS2 a worthy purchase. Made for 5.9 Cummins Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks (model years 2003-2007), the Edge tuner for 5.9 Cummins has all the benefits of its high-quality displays in addition to a wider feature range, including a massive power and torque gain.
We’ll come to that in a bit, but first, let’s look at the basics. With the use of this 5.9 Cummins programmer, you can tune your truck according to how you like to use it: performance, mileage, towing, or daily driving. Speed- and rev-limiters can be controlled, speedometer errors can be corrected, and other finer parameters like shift points, shift firmness, fuel pressure, etc. can also be varied.
Big power upgrades
For those looking for impressive power gains, you’ll be happy to learn that the Evolution CTS2 programmer for 5.9 Cummins can offer a power hike of up to 180 hp and a torque increment of 440 lb-ft. This is, of course, depending on the model and year, but do keep in mind that added power on stock components can lead to a reduced life or failure if corresponding upgrades that enable the truck to handle more power aren’t made. Also, Edge Products mentions that the Evolution tuner is not for use for pollution-controlled vehicles, which means unless you’re planning to use it only off the road, this isn’t for you.
The screen itself is a high-resolution, 5-inch display that gets customizable layouts and gauges. It also comes with light sensitivity, easy-to-use interface, and HDMI-style plug for power and connection to other accessories.
What do we think of it?
An impressive gain in power complemented by a high-resolution screen. It can also save factory settings if you intend to go back to stock.
- Power gains
- High-res screen
- Not for public-road use
Simple but effective: Superchips Flashpaq F5
Handheld tuners have a simple objective: to offer a power increment/different tune without any extras like a big display. The Superchips Flashpaq does that and more. The 5.9 Cummins tuner is plug-n-play, doesn’t cost a lot, and boasts a strong feature set. It’s compatible with 5.9 Cummins Dodge Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 trucks made with model year 1998.5 to 2007.
Lots of features including DTC reading/clearing
The handheld tuner for 5.9 Cummins has a 2.8-inch screen, can be updated from the Internet via USB, and comes with a 2-year powertrain warranty. Things like shift points, shift firmness, speedometer correction, fuel-management control, etc. are handled by the Superchips programmer. With the help of Flashpaq F5, you can also read and clear DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes).
What do we think of it?
Since this is a generic device, the advertised power gains (Superchips doesn’t claim, but the Amazon seller does: 100 hp and 250 lb-ft) are bound to vary depending on the truck. Apart from that, some users have complained of compatibility issue so please check with the seller about that, along with its CARB and 50-state-legal status.
- No external monitor
- Compatibility/CARB status info not available
What is the best tuner for 5.9 Cummins?
The 5.9 Cummins might have been replaced (you can read more about the 6.7 Cummins upgrades by clicking here), but it’s still celebrated and revered by fans and owners. And while modification choices will soon reduce due to compatibility issues, choosing the best tuner for 5.9 Cummins / the best programmer for 5.9 Cummins is still possible.
Out of our list of the best 5.9 Cummins tuners, the Smarty S-06 stands out with its impressive power gains. The Smarty Touch, on the other hand, adds the functionality of an external screen to the tuner. Both products aren’t CARB exempt, which means you can’t buy or use the devices on your truck in California. The Edge Products Evolution includes an even better screen, a healthy power, and torque rating, and compatibility for later 5.9 Cummins trucks. The Superchips Flashpaq tries to trump others with a pocket-friendly price. And lastly the Edge Products CS2 monitor might not help you make your truck more powerful but with its help, you can monitor the truck’s performance, and even set audio/visual warnings.
Looking instead to find tuners for the larger litre counterpart of the 5.9 Cummins? Check out our page on the best tuner for 6.7 Cummins