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I'm looking for some ways to add some more power and improve the mileage of my truck. This truck has about 87000 miles on it. I'm looking to get anywhere from 170-210HP out of it. So far I'm planning on putting magnum heads on it, removing the catalytic converter, replacing the exhaust pipes with 2.5" pipes and a Flowmaster, upgrading the timing chain, putting a k&n air filter in, put NGK iridium spark plugs in, some better spark plug wires, and changing the rear axle ratio. The Flowmaster I currently have in my garage. I'm thinking about putting a cam and lifters in as well. I want to know, is there anything else I can do? Is the exhaust diameter that I'm going to use too wide or can I go wider? I'm not planning on towing anything but I might from time to time, no more than 6000ibs so what should I change my axle ratio to, should I even bother with it? Could a new cam damage my engine and if so is there any can that I can put in that won't? Also I don't want to decrease the life of my engine with these upgrades.lastly I'd like to not spend much more than 500 dallors but if I have to I'm willing to go above that.
 

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I'm looking for some ways to add some more power and improve the mileage of my truck. This truck has about 87000 miles on it. I'm looking to get anywhere from 170-210HP out of it. So far I'm planning on putting magnum heads on it, removing the catalytic converter, replacing the exhaust pipes with 2.5" pipes and a Flowmaster, upgrading the timing chain, putting a k&n air filter in, put NGK iridium spark plugs in, some better spark plug wires, and changing the rear axle ratio. The Flowmaster I currently have in my garage. I'm thinking about putting a cam and lifters in as well. I want to know, is there anything else I can do? Is the exhaust diameter that I'm going to use too wide or can I go wider? I'm not planning on towing anything but I might from time to time, no more than 6000ibs so what should I change my axle ratio to, should I even bother with it? Could a new cam damage my engine and if so is there any can that I can put in that won't? Also I don't want to decrease the life of my engine with these upgrades.lastly I'd like to not spend much more than 500 dallors but if I have to I'm willing to go above that.
It is possible to get more than 170hp out of your 3.9, but if you're pushing for closer to the 210hp figure you gave, you'd be better off swapping out the V6 for a V8.

You won't be able to do much with a budget of $500 unless you can get a few free parts and some free help building that engine.

Anything you can do to help the engine breathe is going to increase your horsepower potential. Magnum heads and a more aggressive cam and lifters will certainly help it breathe, but you can take it further by adding headers and install a true dual exhaust with a crossover tube. I haven't researched it, but it might be possible to use a 5.2 or 5.9 liter throttle body. I would avoid the K&N filter. Theses things do not work as advertised. You do not get extra power by using them and they do not filter nearly as good. A good quality paper filter with lots of surface area will work fine. The exhaust diameter will be fine too, especially if you go with dual exhaust. Other things you can do. Swap out the pulleys for under-drive pulleys. This will help free up some power. Get rid of the engine fan, swap in an electric fan in it's place.

Don't know if I'd want to haul 6000lbs with a Dakota. That's pushing the capacity of your truck, a bit. If you're looking to make more horsepower out of your V6 for pulling 6000lbs. You're really better off with a V8. The V6 will only make more horsepower in the higher rpm range. The V8 will have more torque, and thats really what you need for pulling. A lower ratio axle will certainly help but you'll lose some fuel economy when you're not using the truck to haul with. Then theres the transmission, you really need a tranny cooler for that kind of load. And I'd be really concerned about the brakes. The brakes on a Dakota aren't very big. The trailer brakes must be in absolute tip-top shape and even then you may find that the brakes on the Dakota get pretty warm

Ed
 
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