RAM 1500 Performance Upgrades (More Horsepower for 5.7 HEMI)

Updated on Aug 10, 2023

Written by
 RealTruck Expert Team

There’s no doubting the performance and reliability of MOPAR’s flagship V8–the 5.7 HEMI. With a name that harkens back to the power-packed, industry-leading hemispherical-chambered V8s that dominated the drag strip in the 1970s, this new powerplant had big shoes to fill; luckily, the modern redesign quickly garnered attention after its release in 2003.

Stepping out with class-leading specifications, a throaty exhaust note, and decent efficiency, the HEMI quickly drove die-hard brand loyalists—both MOPAR and otherwise—behind the wheel of a new RAM pickup. It wasn’t long until enthusiasts noticed not only the impressive power fresh off of the lot, but also the engine’s tremendous potential with moderate bolt-on upgrades.

And now, two decades after the engine’s initial release, the 5.7 HEMI still shines as one of MOPAR’s crowning achievements—a powerful, reliable engine with loads of performance potential.

In this article, our experts discuss the top performance upgrades for your RAM 1500 pickup, from tuners and programmers to intakes and exhaust systems.

Performance Programmers and Monitors

Programmers and tuners are one of the most popular performance upgrades for the 5.7 HEMI-powered RAM platform due to their impressive power gains and minimally intrusive installations.

Most programmers can be installed in under thirty minutes with minimal effort, requiring nothing more than a quick plug into your vehicle’s ODB port and following along with a series of prompts. At most, installation may involve cable management and positioning a suction-cup mount onto your RAM’s windshield.

Once installed, programmers make multiple adjustments to your vehicle’s factory tune, such as increasing ignition timing, changing injector pulse, and boosting fuel rail pressure. These modifications significantly improve efficiency and, therefore, performance.

Most programmers offer additional benefits outside of performance, including DTC (diagnostic trouble code) reading, gauge monitoring, and the ability to select between different tunes to optimize your driving experience.

RealTruck offers several tuners for the 5.7 HEMI platform; here’s a list of our top sellers.

Throttle Body Spacers

Throttle body spacers are precision-manufactured plates—typically constructed from machined billet aluminum—that are installed between your RAM’s throttle body and upper intake manifold. These modifications improve performance in two primary ways:

Lengthening the intake manifold. Throttle body spacers add volume to the intake manifold; increasing the amount of air that’s inhaled by your RAM’s 5.7 HEMI. Of course, more air equals stronger combustion and more power.

Improving airflow into the intake manifold. Throttle body spacers act as a funnel of sorts, reorganizing and directing airflow into the engine. As a result, the air can enter the engine faster and more efficiently, thus improving performance and throttle response.

While not massive gains, most throttle body spacers net an additional 5-10 WHP.

RealTruck offers several throttle body spacers for the 5.7 HEMI platform; here’s a list of our top sellers.

Air Intakes

One of the most popular entries on the list is the venerable aftermarket air intake, often referred to as a “cold air intake.” This modification works on the premise that more air equals more power, utilizing oversized high-flow air filters situated inside large air boxes, smooth composite intake tubes, and a combination of heat shielding/air scoops to funnel as much cool, condensed air as possible.  

On your HEMI-powered RAM 1500, aftermarket air intakes net considerable horsepower and torque gains, generally in the mid-teens. They also dress up the engine bay! 

RealTruck offers several air intakes for the 5.7 HEMI platform; here’s a list of our top sellers.

Truck Exhaust Systems

While airflow into the engine is essential, that’s only half of the equation. After all, air can only move through the intake as fast as it can escape from the exhaust. For this reason, high-flow exhaust systems have become a common modification for RAM enthusiasts. 

Aftermarket exhaust systems typically utilize premium materials like T-304 stainless steel or aluminized steel, preventing excess corrosion. These systems also feature design enhancements to improve efficiencies, such as wider-diameter piping, high-flow mufflers and resonators, and minimal bends. 

As a bonus, most exhaust systems produce a rich, throaty tone from the exhaust, allowing your RAM’s HEMI V8 to sing at high RPMs. 

RealTruck offers several exhaust systems for the 5.7 HEMI platform; here’s a list of our top sellers.

Throttle Bodies

Throttle Bodies are another modification involving airflow into your RAM’s intake, replacing the small-bore factory throttle body with an oversized, performance-oriented unit. As with other similar modifications on this list, throttle bodies reduce airflow restriction into the engine through the intake manifold. The larger the throttle body, the more air enters the engine each time you blip the throttle, thus resulting in significantly better throttle response and overall power.  

RealTruck carries two premium throttle bodies for the HEMI-equipped RAM 1500 chassis:

Air Filters

Like air intake systems, high-flow replacement air filters can provide mild performance gains, though less significant than complete replacement intakes. These air filters utilize the same high-flow filter media as the conical filters found in premium air intake systems; however, they feature an OE-style form factor that’s installed directly into your RAM’s factory air box.

As a bonus, most premium air filters—dry synthetic or oiled cotton—are washable and reusable, saving you money on services. 

RealTruck offers a wide variety of air filters for the 5.7 HEMI platform, including factory-style replacement and conical; here’s a list of our top sellers.


While this is a bit of an unconventional entry onto the list, a premium battery affects your RAM’s performance–particularly reliability. The battery is a key component of your RAM’s charging system, storing the charge provided by the alternator. When it comes time to start your pickup, the battery energizes the starter, causing the engine to crank. 

With a weak battery, your RAM may have difficulty starting; the alternator is also prone to failure, as it has to work overtime to recharge the battery’s depleted cells. Installing a premium battery is solid insurance to boost the reliability of your RAM’s charging system.

RealTruck offers several replacement batteries for the 5.7 HEMI platform; here’s a list of our top sellers.

Cooling Systems

Your RAM’s cooling system is a crucial component of its powertrain, helping the engine maintain proper operating temperatures to prevent overheating and mechanical damage. While, most of the time, upgrading the cooling system won’t directly increase power, it’s beneficial in applications that are run hard, raced, or used to tow or haul regularly. 

Components like heavy-duty electric fans, multi-core radiators, and performance water pumps help to keep internal temperatures down, promoting efficient operation, no matter the conditions. 

RealTruck offers several cooling system upgrades for the 5.7 HEMI platform; here’s a list of our top sellers.

As always, for any performance needs for your 5.7 HEMI-powered RAM, check out our extensive inventory at RealTruck. We carry all the top brands and products, allowing you to get the most out of your ride.

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