The 2003-2007 Ford 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel Engine And Super Duty Truck: A Comprehensive Guide

If you're a fan of diesel pickups, then you're probably familiar with Ford's Super Duty line of trucks. One of the most popular engines that powered these trucks was the 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel engine. This 6-liter engine was introduced in 2003 and powered the Super Duty lineup through the 2007 model year. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at this engine and the trucks it powered by examining the advancements over previous engines, known problems and solutions, sales numbers, and more.
Advancements from Previous Engines
In many ways, the 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel engine was an improvement over its predecessor, the 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel engine. Some of the advancements included:
  • Increased horsepower and torque
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Quieter engine operation
  • Lower emissions

One of the biggest advancements for this engine was the introduction of a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT), which provided better boost response and improved low-end torque while increasing power output higher in the RPM range. The engine also featured a high-pressure oil system, which allowed for more efficient fuel injection and improved performance using a high-pressure oil pump (HPOP) when firing the fuel into the engine.
Known Issues and Fixes:
While the 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel engine was a step forward for Ford in terms of power, it wasn't without its issues. Here are some of the most common problems and their fixes:
EGR Cooler Failure:

The 6.0 Powerstroke uses an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve to reintroduce exhaust fumes back into the intake of the engine to decrease emissions. These gasses must first be cooled before they are reintroduced into the engine to remain efficient. The EGR cooler that they pass through uses engine coolant to reduce the temperature of these gases. Over time, the cooler suffers from sedimentary buildup and thermal expansion failure caused by lack of coolant flow through the heat exchanger. If the EGR cooler fails, this can cause coolant to leak into the engine and mix with the diesel fuel prior to combustion. The fix for this failure is to replace the EGR cooler with an upgraded version or aftermarket solution.

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Head Gasket Failure:

The 6.0 Powerstroke uses only 4 head bolts per cylinder compared to 6 head bolts per cylinder that were used in the 7.3 Powerstroke. The use of less head bolts per cylinder reduced the clamping force on the head gaskets leading to an increased failure rate around the combustion chamber for the 6.0 when compared to previous generations. If the head gaskets fail, this will cause coolant to mix with the engine oil. When this occurs the lubricity of the engine oil is severely decreased and can cause premature or catastrophic engine failure. The fix was to replace the head gaskets with multi-layer steel gaskets, the addition of O-rings around the combustion chambers when using aftermarket heads, and the installation of aftermarket head studs to allow for greater clamping force compared to factory hardware.

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Oil Cooler Failure:

Similarly to the EGR cooler, the 6.0 Powerstroke also suffered from oil cooler failures due to sedimentary buildup in the heat exchanger portion of the oil cooler when engine coolant passes through. If the oil cooler fails, this can cause the engine to overheat, EGR cooler to rupture, injector failure, turbo failure, HPOP failure, or blown head gaskets. The fix for this is to replace the oil cooler with a higher flowing aftermarket version or bypass the factory oil cooler altogether by installing an external oil cooler.

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Fuel Injector Failure:

The fuel injectors in a 6.0 Powerstroke require a steady stream of low pressure diesel fuel, high pressure oil via the HPOP, and high voltage to operate correctly. If the injectors are missing any of these three components, they are prone to premature failure. If the fuel injectors fail, this will cause hard starting, misfires, or excessive smoke from unburnt fuel. Lack of maintenance and extended mileage before oil changes also causes fuel injector stiction leading to premature injector failure. The fix for this issue is to replace the injectors with upgraded versions or install aftermarket injectors to increase fuel flow.

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Fuel Injection Control Module (FICM) Failure:

The fuel injection control module on a 6.0 Powerstroke is susceptible to failure due to issues with the vehicle's electrical system, heat, and vibration. Failing batteries or a low-outputting alternator will not give the FICM the correct voltage needed to fire the injectors properly potentially leading to damage to the control module and injectors. The FICM’s location in some vehicles is also a known issue as it is suspended above the driver side valve cover where it is exposed to excessive heat and engine vibration. This increased amount of heat exposure and vibration over the duty cycles of the engine can lead to weakened and broken solder joints inside the control module leading to failure. If a FICM fails it can cause hard starting, rough idle, loss of power, poor drivability, and excessive smoke from the tailpipe. The fix for this issue is to replace the FICM unit with an OEM or aftermarket control module.

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It's worth noting that many of these issues were addressed by Ford during the production of the engine, and later models had fewer problems.
Sales Numbers:
Despite its issues, the 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel engine was a popular choice for Super Duty truck buyers. Between 2003 and 2007, Ford produced approximately 500,000 trucks with this engine. The 2004 model year was the most popular, with around 150,000 trucks sold.
The 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel engine was a significant improvement over its predecessor, but it wasn't without its issues. However, with proper maintenance and upgrades, it can be a reliable and powerful engine. If you're in the market for a Super Duty truck with a 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel engine, be sure to do your research and look for one that has been well-maintained and had the necessary upgrades.

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