The 6.0L Powerstroke is regarded as having one of the most reliable yet lightweight engines. Well, at least it was marketed that way! Due to the fact that they were made such a long time ago - 2003 was the earliest, and 2007 was the latest - they are just not up to the same quality levels as trucks of today.
Nevertheless, they are still a popular truck option for collectors, enthusiasts, and even beginners looking for a cheap truck to start with. The thing is, the Powerstroke collection is widely known to have many faults.
Lucky for you, we know just how to fix them. After all, you don’t get to be this much of a truck enthusiast without knowing a thing or two about the common problems a truck like this can experience. In this article, we are going to be providing you with fixes to 9 of the most common 6.0L Powerstroke problems.
In a way, we will be teaching you how to ‘bulletproof’ them. This is a term often thrown around among truck enthusiasts when talking about Powerstrokes. Bulletproof Powerstrokes are trucks that have already had the necessary modifications and fixes made to them to ensure they are up to standard.
You can buy one online for thousands of dollars. Not everyone has that cash laying around though, and besides, it can be fun to take on a truck improvement project! This article will show you how to do just that.
PS. Also check out our other newly published article, How to Drive an RV in the Mountains!
Failure of Head Gaskets and Torque to Yield Head Studs
The first most common problem associated with the 6.0L Powerstroke that we want to talk about is that of the Failure of Head Gaskets and Torque To Yield Head Studs.
The Powerstroke comes with torque to yield head studs already which are designed to last a while provided they are kept under factory conditions - this means without modifications.
However, and this is a big however for you fellow modification fans out there - if you do want to have performance modifications on your head gasket then you will need to replace the torque to yield studs.
Even adding so much as a tuner can render the torque to yields worthless as the cylinder head pressure can rise beyond their capabilities. This can, in turn, lead to failure of the head gasket. To fix this, we suggest getting good quality aftermarket head studs if you are adding modifications, just like the ARP set.
Do not put the old ones back on as they will not do the job well.
Issues with the Degas Bottle
The Degas bottle fitted on the 6.0L Powerstroke is made from plastic. Worse still, it is plastic that has been fitted together, rather than one seamless piece. This means that the seals around it can crack and split easily. In turn, this can lead to leakage.
The Degas bottle houses the coolant, and the last thing you want is leakage of coolant all over the place. Even if you have yet to see this issue, we highly recommend investing in a better constructed Degas bottle.
If you have to have plastic please ensure it is sturdy and made from one piece so that there is no need to have seals. Another excellent option would be to choose a bottle that is made from solid aluminum, like this model by Mishimoto. You need to make sure you get a cap for it, too!
Fuel Injection Control Module (also known as FICM)
Another common problem with the 6.0L Powerstroke relates to the Fuel Injection Control Module. This is prone to failure. What the Fuel Injection Control Module does is supply the solenoids with enough volts (48, in fact) to control the oil flow to the fuel injector.
However, this can all go wrong if the FICM overheats or fails. This can happen because of the excessive heat and movement from the engine, resulting in a truck that refuses to start, or doesn’t start up smoothly.
The location of the FICM (right on the side valve cover of the truck’s engine) means this is more common than you may think. To fix this you should first take steps to determine that this is what is definitely happening, as the glow plugs being faulty can also cause similar issues.
Locating it is easy with a scan tool and looking at the PID data shown to you. When you have determined that this is definitely the cause you can go ahead and fix it. To do this we recommend removing the FICM and replacing it with an aftermarket version which will be far hardier against the heat. We recommend the Sinister Diesel model.
Problems with the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler
The exhaust gas recirculation (or EGR as we will refer to it from now on) cooler can also be a cause of issues in your 6.0L Powerstroke. The cool cools down the gases from your exhaust before recirculating it into the engine.
The purpose of it is to help reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions, but because it is one of the earliest forms of emissions reducer devices, it is very problematic. They can often get clogged and frequently suffer from issues such as the leaking of coolant. This, in turn, can seep into the exhaust and cause steam to pout out of the tailpipe.
This steam looks like white smoke. This can be caused by the high operating temperatures of the engine and can cause other issues as well, such as head gasket failures, as discussed earlier in the article. Issues with the EGR cooler are usually a byproduct of issues with the engine oil cooler. As the engine oil cooler becomes clogged, it can also impact the amount of coolant that can enter the EGR.
This can cause the temperatures to soar to a boiling point, with the coolant dissipating into steam and damaging the EGR and surrounding areas. Fixing this is relatively simple and involves the purchase of an aftermarket EGR cooler like this model by the brand Mishimoto. These often far outperform the ones from the manufacturer as they tend to have stronger constructions and will be more reliable against heat.
Problems with the EGR Valve
The EGR valve (as above, this is the abbreviation for exhaust gas recirculation) works to regulate the amount of gas that is able to recirculate around your engine. The cooler we discussed in the previous section cools it ready for recirculation, and the valve regulates the amount of gas for your engine so that it doesn’t get overloaded.
Like other parts of the EGR set-up, the valve can also get clogged easily. This can, in turn, lead to lots of issues such as sticking open and accumulating soot and other debris.
Luckily, the fix for this problem is relatively easy. We recommend ensuring that the valve is kept clean. If you feel that you need a whole new valve because it has been left in that condition for so long, then we recommend getting yourself a new one from a quality aftermarket retailer.
Double check the compatibility between your vehicle and the aftermarket ones, though, as many are not compatible anymore.
Issues with the Turbo Charger
The turbo charger in your 6.0L Powerstroke is a variable geometry turbo. What this does is increase power whilst lowering spool times. Bearing in mind that the Powerstroke was manufactured many years ago, it is fair to say that things have changed a little.
What was once thought to be good quality in terms of turbo charger is now not up to scratch. The variable geometry turbocharger is prone to build up which can cause the vanes of the turbo to stick open.
When this happens it can have a knock-on effect for your throttle response, and can also increase the spooling times (the very thing the turbo is meant to prevent!). Typically, in order to fix this, you should give it a thorough clean.
Doing this requires you to remove it first. Some people may find that running your engine hard and fast for a couple of minutes will get all the soot and build-up out, however, this is not reliable.
If you have an early version of the Powerstroke then you may find that your truck also suffers from issues relating to the oil drain tube. The oil can drain into the turbocharger, causing failures. However, if you have a newer Powerstroke model (2006 onwards) then you will not get this issue as the manufacturer fixed it.
Oil Cooler IssuesThe oil cooler you use can have a huge effect on the health of your 6.0L Powerstroke. The oil in these trucks needs to be cooled down a lot more than in other types of trucks. This led to the manufacturer (Ford) installing a liquid on a liquid oil cooler.
Whilst this is a good idea, in theory, it can quickly begin to fail over time, especially as dirt and sand start to clog up the part of the engine oil cooler. To check that this is the case for you then you should first compare your engine oil temperature and your oil coolant temperature.
The cooler should ensure that there is a maximum difference of 14 degrees when in use. Anything above this tells you that there is an issue. Fixing this is simple - simply replace the coolant with a very high-quality product from a trusted aftermarket manufacturer like this one by the brand called Pacific Performance Engineering, or even purchase the Ford itself which can still be bought at a number of retailers.
Monitoring this on your truck is very important in the future, and so we highly recommend that you purchase gauges and perhaps a digital monitor to keep track and identify problems in enough time.
Problems with the Hydraulically-actuated Electronically-controlled Unit Injectors (HEUI)
The HEUI can suffer issues related to static friction. This happens when there is a build up of carbon and sludge in the HEUI spool valves. This static friction can cause a number of issues for the vehicle overall, such as hard start ups and running rough, especially in cold weather.
The HEUI injectors should only be used with good quality ol and fuel. This is because they are sensitive and tend to get damaged when bad quality oil and fuel are used. To ensure this issue is fixed the best option is prevention.
Ensure you maintain it well, and if you need to you can use prolonging additives like Hot Shot Secret’s Stiction Eliminator (points to them for the cool play on words!) to make sure it stays running smoothly.
Failure of the High Pressure Oil Pump
The high pressure oil pump works to pressurize the oil ready for use by the injectors. This oil then gets compressed into fuel by the injectors. It is not uncommon to get a complete failure from the high pressure oil pump, as well as leaks around the seals.
Thankfully, this issue can be fixed by simply repairing the pump. That being said, you may find that it needs to be completely replaced, depending on the extent of your damage. Check the pump screen too, to ensure that it is all in working order. This will give you an indicator of whether replacement is needed.
As you can see, there is a possibility that you will have to make all of these nine improvements to your 6.0L Powerstroke in order to bring it up to the quality needed. However, this doesn’t need to be difficult. Turn it into a fun project and fix it up bit by bit.
The fixes we have given you for the common problems in this article are relatively easy to do yourself, although if you are unsure we always recommend seeking the advice of a professional first, especially if you are a beginner.
One thing is for sure, if you encounter any of the problems listed above on your Powerstroke, you can just refer back to this article and get it sorted in no time. We hope that this article has proved useful and that you are well on your way to having a truckin’ good time!