Powerstroke Help: Troubleshooting Your Ford Diesel Truck

Red pickup truck Ford Lobo

In 2004, when Ford released its new 6.0-liter Powerstroke to replace the previous 7.4-liter, diesel enthusiasts were dubious, but they were ultimately thrilled with the increased power and faster turbo response. The changes made to the engine design complied with new emissions standards.

Initially, the Powerstroke beat out all its competitors, in terms of hauling power, but the excitement was short-lived because Ford recalled malfunctioning engines due to sudden drops in power and starting problems.

Although, in the beginning, the 6.0-liter Powerstroke engines received a bad rap, newer model Ford trucks benefitted from redesigned engines and featured updated replacement parts giving better reliability on the road. There’s no denying the Ford Powerstroke diesel is a feat of supreme engineering, despite some of the early issues.

To help you get the best out of your Ford diesel truck, here is a troubleshooting guide to some common problems.

Head Gaskets

The 6.0-liter head gaskets are often blamed for some issues with the Ford Powerstroke. As opposed to the 7.4-liter, the design of the head gaskets on the 6.0-liter are considered less robust, with only four bolts to hold down each cylinder, and two of the bolts shared with the adjacent cylinder.

Problems often occur when there is too much cylinder pressure. Consequently, the heads immediately lift. This usually happens when performance-enhancing aftermarket parts have been fitted, causing the engine to overheat.

If you plan on modifying your truck, prevent head gasket failure by installing new head studs and head gaskets. Aftermarket studs provide better strength with a more even pressure distribution.

However, before you go replacing your costly head gaskets, consider that the problem may not be with the gaskets at all.

EGR Valves and EGR Cooler

The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valves and coolers are notoriously temperamental in the 6.0-liter and show many of the same symptoms as a blown gasket. Both systems were introduced as an eco-friendly solution to the diesel engine’s high emissions.

The valve system controls the exhaust gas that is reintroduced into the engine, diluting the concentration and reducing NO2 emissions. The cooler is essential for cooling the gases before they are reintroduced to the engine, which is especially crucial for operating the truck under heavy loads.

One issue with this system is a particulate build-up, causing the coolant to boil and the valves to stick. This results in a loss of power. If you notice white smoke emitting from your engine, this may be due to coolant leakage.

The key to reducing the soot build-up in the EGR system is proper maintenance. Clean out the valve at every oil change for optimum functionality. However, for the coolant system, if it is leaking, your best option is to replace it with an aftermarket Ford EGR Cooler.


HEUI Injectors

As opposed to standard injectors which use a high-pressure injection pump, a Ford Powerstroke HEUI injector relies on high-pressure oil to achieve enough pressure in the body of the injector. As a result, using poor-quality fuel and oil can leave residue, making injectors prone to sticking.

You can prevent sticky injectors by changing your oil regularly, only using premium fuel, and maintaining the high quality of the fuel by using additives. There are a number of exceptional additives for diesel engines on the market that are specially formulated to prevent sticking injectors.

High-Pressure Oil Pump

The HPOP is responsible for pressurizing the engine oil to greater than 3,000 psi, which is used to create pressure in the oil for the fuel injectors. Though the pump is considered an easily worn part that will eventually need to be replaced, Powerstroke owners are finding it often fails earlier than anticipated.

To determine whether your pump needs to be replaced, and to eliminate other possibilities, use an electrical diagnostic pressure gauge to measure the pressure at open throttle and idle. At open throttle with a load, the pressure should measure between 3,000 and 4,000 psi, while when idling the pressure needs to be around 600-700 psi.

Steel turbocharger


The Powerstroke engine is fitted with a variable geometry turbocharger which allows the turbocharger to control the volume in the turbine housing using a series of vanes. This design is highly effective, giving exceptional power to the engine. However, these special design features are also prone to clogging and sticking in the open position.

To fix the problem, one option is to take out the turbocharger and clean the vanes. The second and more fun option is to run the truck at full power for a short time to clear out any build-up.

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