Tow Rig Mods, Part 3: Better Oiling, Lighting, and Monitoring

Our 2018 Duramax entered its third and final phase of modifications. These last three mods would give the truck owner the ability to enjoy better oiling and lighting, as well as monitor how the truck was doing.

Up to now, we’ve covered the tires, bumpers, and other awesome upgrades on the truck. These last few would bring everything full circle and make sure the Duramax could keep on running for the long haul.

Specifically, the parts we sourced were the Frantz bypass oil filter kit and EDT (PN FKDMX66 and PN HSSEDT16ZS), Edge CTS2 (PN 84130), and AnzoUSA fog lights (PN 881039).

Product Background

Talking with Kyle Fischer from Lubrication Specialties, we were able to learn more about the vision behind the Frantz oil filter kit. “We as a company offer unique products and systems that give our customers added value out of their diesels,” he said. “Whether construction, agriculture, drag racing, or towing, we aim to give users a longer-lasting truck, tractor, or other machine. The Frantz filter kit works perfectly for that purpose, and along with our Blue Diamond oil, it’s not unheard of to go over 100,000 miles on the same oil while using TBN Booster to lengthen the oil’s lifespan.”

Better filtration and longer gaps between service intervals – could such a filtration system really exist? We were a tad bit skeptical of these claims. We asked Fischer to break down the details a little more.

The Frantz filter kit is a worthwhile addition to a truck that will spend its time towing and getting from event to event.

“The Frantz filter achieves better filtration that OEM systems due to its unique filter design and installation process,” he said. “The standard OEM filter is still in place and still carries the load of filtering larger particles between 15 to 30 microns in size. But the Frantz filter is even more precise, catching particles as little as 1-2 microns wide.”

“Additionally, Frantz filters use depth filtration rather than OEM accordian-style media,” continued Fischer. “On OEM filters, the oil passes through a single thin layer of media. On the Frantz system, the oil passes through the entire depth of the filter – about five inches – which lets it trap more particles. In fact, we’ve found that a Frantz filter installed at the end of an oil change can restore the oil to new condition within 300 miles.”

Everyday Diesel Treatment (EDT) is a fuel additive that we can pour directly into the tank. It boosts performance and fuel mileage, as well as prevents corrosion to the engine’s internals.

As for the Everyday Diesel Treatment, this additive goes directly into the fuel tank. It’s a special formula that improves cetane for better combustion, as well as aiding lubricity in the engine and preventing corrosion to engine internals. One ounce of EDT treats 25 gallons of fuel, so we can continue to use EDT for a long time to come.

“EDT is great for tow vehicles,” said Fischer. “It protects the fuel system and can even boost the MPG, which is important when towing.”

The Edge CTS2 is a top-tier monitor, using a large color touchscreen to navigate through its multiple functions.

The Frantz system sounds fascinating, and will be something we keep an eye on in the months following this installation. As for the other products in this installation, we also have the Edge CTS2, which will help us monitor the truck’s vitals as it goes on towing runs. To help us get a better grasp on it, we spoke to Edge’s Jared Venz.

“The goal of the CTS2 was to provide customers a state-of-art monitoring,” he said. “Many parameters weren’t available in the past on the vehicle’s gauge cluster, such as EGTs. Having this knowledge is extremely important in towing or racing applications.”

The CTS2's color display also works as a hookup for a backup camera.

Towing is one of the more strenuous activities for a diesel truck, and the CTS2 is a good tool to have on hand, as Venz explained. “While towing, the vehicle is working harder,” he said. “In this situation, you could be adding more strain on the transmission or letting the engine run too hot. The CTS2 provides a clear readout on what those temperatures are and can set alerts if they hit a limit.”

Beyond this, the CTS2 also serves as an aid when simply hooking up to a trailer. “We have a port on the device that allows for a backup camera,” said Venz. “This will help drivers back up to trailers with little or no help.”

Last but not least, the AnzoUSA fog lights would take the place of the old OEM fog lights. These new ones sported a combination flood and spot pattern of light, making them more than sufficient to replace the factory lights. We spoke with AnzoUSA’s Stacie Almandarez for a little more detail.

“Our products go through strict testing for durability, impact strength, and resistance to debris and water,” she said. “This light is part of our ‘Rugged Series,’ so it’s given extra attention to sealing and insulation. It has an IP68 waterproof rating, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty for if something goes wrong.”

The AnzoUSA fog lights come in a 3x2 stack and have an output of 3,600 lumens. What's more, the lights are IP68 rated, making them essentially waterproof and dustproof.

Installation

We kicked off the installation by considering where to put our Frantz filter kit. The kit contained several items that had to find a home, including hoses, filter canister, and more; plus, it had to be accessible for cleaning and testing. Fischer gave us his opinion, saying, “The Frantz filter can really be mounted anywhere. Ideally, you’ll want to put it under the hood. Just make sure to have enough hose to run both lines, and enough space to attach the mounting bracket for the filter canister.”

We began by draining the oil. Black and gooey, it collected into a pan we placed below the drain plug. We decided to put the Frantz filter near the OEM filter location, as it would make maintenance straightforward. A good spot was on the driver’s side frame rail. We drilled holes and fastened the canister’s mount for the time being, and removed the old OEM oil filter. In its place, we installed the Frantz adapter and threaded in the bushing, as well as the hose fitting that went in the adapter’s perimeter.

The filter canister now had its mount sorted out. Over where the OEM filter mounted, we installed the Frantz adapter.

Next, we took the hose and made some cuts. One hose would run from the adapter to the filter, and the other would run from the filter to the oil cap in the engine bay. For that, we used a special oil cap provided by Frantz, which had a threaded stud for attaching a quick-disconnect fitting.

We made cuts to the hose line and installed it onto the filter and adapter fittings.

We took the filter canister out and made some markings on the canister. These indicated which way the elbow fittings on the canister’s lid should face. We then added some thread sealant on the fittings’ threads, and tightened them onto the canister lid.

We removed the adapter and attached the hose to its elbow fitting. Oetiker clamps were used to hold the line onto the fitting, and we followed this procedure for every other end of the hose lines. The adapter went back in place and was torqued down.

The OEM filter and Frantz filter are installed. Oil that comes through the OEM filter now travels to the Frantz filter, giving our oil much better filtration and catching much finer particles and contaminants. Thanks to this enhanced cleaning of the oil, the engine will run better and longer.

Back in the engine bay, we poured in Blue Diamond oil, provided by Lubrication Specialists. This 15W-40 oil was a full synthetic formula, and boasted the ability to ease starting, reduce friction, and preserve engine bolt-ons like the turbocharger and injectors.

Afterwards, we assembled the new oil cap provided by Frantz. It should be noted that the one we used was a prototype cap derived from a Super Duty design, but Frantz has since rolled out a production cap designed just for Duramax engines. We installed a 45-degree quick-disconnect fitting into the cap and attached it to the corresponding fitting on the return line. The system was now complete and ready to go.

After pouring in the new Blue Diamond full synthetic oil, we installed the special Frantz oil cap and connected it to the return line.

The next phase of our installation was our set of Anzo lights. These were meant for the front bumper. We began by removing the bumper from the truck, and located the brackets on either side. These would be perfect for mounting the lights to.

The lights’ mounts worked perfectly with the brackets. We decided to have the lights aim forward, and positioned the mounts accordingly. From there, we stripped back the wires on the lights and used a plug that connected to the fog light signal. This way, the driver could control the lights using the fog light switch inside the cabin.

The mount for the lights lined up perfectly with the brackets inside the bumper. We wired the lights so they would run off of the fog light switch in the truck.

We picked up the bumper and put it back into place, and connected the wiring. Inside the truck, we hit the fog light switch and found the lights were working brilliantly.

Instantly, we had light projecting straight ahead, bolstering the headlights. These Anzo lights would definitely come in handy during nighttime hauls.

Sweet! The lights are working as intended.

The CTS2 got an internet update through our laptop. It only took a few minutes.

Last but not least was the Edge CTS2. As an electronic device, the only tools we initially needed were the provided USB cable, a laptop, and an internet connection. We hooked the CTS2 up to the laptop and followed the instructions to get the software updated.

With that done, we went back to the truck. We peeled back the weather stripping on the A-pillar to run the OBD-II connector down to the port below the dashboard. Once connected, the CTS2 started up. We followed the steps to get the CTS2 and ECU on speaking terms, and before we knew it, we had a working monitor on the Duramax.

A few of the ways the CTS2 is useful – showing engine readouts, a fuel mileage coach, onboard diagnostics, and a maintenance schedule.

Using the CTS2 was a breeze. The large, color touchscreen responded quickly to input. We flicked through several menus just to see what capabilities the CTS2 had in store. Among them, we had a maintenance manager, performance test, diagnostics for DTCs, and even a fuel mileage coach to help us get the most out of every gallon. In addition, we could now get a quick read on vitals and make sure everything was running smoothly.

Equipped For Anything

This was it for our 2018 Duramax, at least for now. It’s come a long way since its rolling off of the factory line, and we’re pleased with the truck that’s here and now.

For this final phase of installation, we’ve boosted the truck’s capabilities on multiple fronts. The Frantz oil filter kit will give our truck better longevity, the EDT will refresh and revitalize the fuel going into the engine, Anzo lights will guide the way forward, and Edge will give us insight into how the drivetrain is doing at all times.

What a great way to cap off this truck project. We now have all of the essentials to succeed, on and off-road, and still get the towing we need done, too. Stay tuned for more great tech and truck projects, and don’t forget to visit Hot Shot’s Secret, AnzoUSA, and Edge Products online.

Article Sources

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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