Hughes Engines Tech Center: On The Level With Basic Magnum Mods

While the Gen. III Hemi might have stolen its spotlight, a great many Magnum V8-powered Rams are still on the road, dutifully fulfilling decades-worth of daily driver duty. For the vast majority of second-generation Dodge Ram owners, their 5.2 or 5.9 Magnum could use a little pep talk after so many years of use and/or abuse. Hughes Engines is the Magnum authority and knows that not everyone needs a stroker small block. In fact, some basic “level 1” mods from their catalog can perk up these old V8s to the tune of some meaningful power:


  1. Upgrade the ignition coil, cap and wires. OEM ignition systems are borderline at best, and our tune-up kits have proven to be a worthwhile improvement. (P/N ACL TST11, ACL TST24 & HUG 22056)
  2. Use a 180° thermostat. The cooler thermostat helps reduce the intake air temp and helps increase power like the cold air system. Works best in high ambient temperatures.
  3. Air Filter. Hughes Engines does offer a larger air filter element to use with the K&N cold air intake systems on 5.2L/5.9L V8 engines that has shown to improve horsepower. This includes 1997-2001 Dodge Dakotas, the 1998-2001 Dodge Durango and 1994-2001 full-size Dodge Ram trucks. Note: Some minor trimming of the Gen II heat shield may be necessary on the Dakota and Durango applications.
  4. Exhaust systems. The stock exhaust and cat-back systems are not too bad. But, I want to mention some things to take a look at. The exhaust system might not need headers, yet! But some of the exhaust system downstream of the exhaust manifold can cause restriction. Look at the Y pipe. The outlet end should be larger than the two inlet pipes. Here, along with tailpipes, bigger is better. OEM Dodge catalytic converters (in good condition) are not a big restriction. They flow almost as much as an aftermarket cat.
  5. Lubricants. Change to synthetic engine, transmission and rear end lubricants.

At this level we do not suggest an ECU tuner change —a lot of money for little power increase. The above listed mods should help you pick up 10-15 HP on a 5.2 and 15-20 HP on a 5.9 at the rear wheels—what we call free HP In other words, they won’t cost you any mileage. Actually, you will find mileage increases if you keep your foot out of it. If you do not use a performance “chip”, the engine will still work well without having to use pump premium gas (which is required with chips) – good news for those of you that tow trailers.

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Kent Will

Kent grew up in the shop with his old man and his '70 Charger R/T. His first car was a 1969 Super Bee project when Kent was fourteen. That restoration experience lead to pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a career in manufacturing. Since then, the garage has expanded to include a '67 Satellite, a '72 Scamp, and a 2010 Mopar '10 Challenger.

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