Power Stroke Problems
The 6.0L Ford Power Stroke engine suffers from one of the worst reputations in the diesel industry—a reputation that quite frankly we don’t think it deserves and one we’re looking to improve. One of the most common questions we’re asked about the ’03-’07 6.0L is: why didn’t Ford just stick with the 7.3L Power Stroke? In hindsight Ford may wish it had, but there are many reasons why the 6.0L Power Stroke came to be.
Keep in mind that the federal government set tougher diesel emissions standards for engines built after January 1, 2003. That meant Ford and International had to invest a substantial amount of money in a diesel engine—just to keep it smog-legal. It’s possible the companies could’ve added an exhaust gas recirculation system (EGR), a variable-geometry turbo, and a higher-pressure injection system to the 7.3L and been emissions compliant. But a clean-burning 7.3L engine still would’ve been at a horsepower disadvantage to the 300hp Duramax and 305hp Cummins engines of the era that both featured four valves per cylinder. The Duramax and Cummins engines also benefited from deep-skirt engine blocks and Bosch’s latest common-rail injection, which made them quieter than the 7.3L.
So Ford and International built an all-new engine that could do four things: meet the 2003 emissions standards, make more power than the competition, improve fuel economy (thanks to its smaller size), and reduce engine noise. International utilized variable geometry turbo technology, digital fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) in order to get the job done.
It should be stated outright that the 6.0L Power Stroke is nowhere near as bad as most people make it out to be. From a manufacturers’ standpoint, the 6.0L met all emissions standards and survived all the testing performed during its research and development stages. So basically, the 6.0L shouldn’t be problematic for the consumer—in stock form.
This brings us to the power adder aspect that many diesel owners usually dabble in at some point or another. Depending on the technician or mechanic you talk to, opinions on the 6.0L vary. When we spoke to the Power Stroke experts at Diesel Tech in San Jacinto, California, they told us most customers with ’03 to ’07 6.0L Super Dutys operating at stock power levels rarely experience major failures. This makes sense to us. After all, an engine operating within its factory-tested power range will obviously be more reliable, in theory, than one turning more rpm, fueling heavier, and creating more heat and higher cylinder pressures, right? Sure there were quirks, but what engine doesn’t have its own particular set of issues?
With the help of Diesel Tech and Elite Diesel Engineering, we’ve gone beyond the well-known 6.0L EGR and head bolt problems and compiled a list of the ’03 to ’07 Power Stroke’s major faults. We’ve even gone so far as to match each specific problem with the given model year(s) most affected by it and provided you with a reliable fix.
PhotosView Photo Gallery
A Few Things to Remember
- Any time the EGR cooler fails, replace the engine oil cooler as well.
- Test or change your coolant every 15,000 to 20,000 miles
- Biggest failure point of the 6.0L is not the head bolts or EGR cooler, it’s the oil cooler
- No other engine in the world pressurizes oil as high as the 6.0L does (4,000 psi, stock)