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2003-2007 Ford Powerstroke Review





Everywhere on the internet there are mixed reviews about the 6.0 liter Powerstroke engine.  Most of the bad reviews are biased and some don't tell the entire story.  I have owned a few of these trucks.  While they do have some issues, for a small investment, they can be made very reliable.  I will address the pros and cons as well as how to remedy some of the problems in this article.


Overall these are tough trucks and they are built solid and come with a variety of options like any other truck out there.  The crew cab versions of these Super Duty trucks seems to have more leg room than the Chevy/GMC trucks. 


I've owned both XLT and Lariat Super Dutys with the last one being a 2007 Lariat which was loaded with options like heated leather seats, wood grain trim, 20" factory premium wheels, etc.  The seats in this truck were seriously the most comfortable automobile seats I have ever sat in.  I could drive this truck across country and never get sore sitting in it.  I drove from Wisconsin to Colorado, Florida, New York and many other places in that truck.  Never once did I have a sore ass or cramped legs.  In addition to the comfortable seats, the interior was cosmetically appealing and everything seemed to be in the right place.  The integrated factory trailer brake controller in the dash on 2005 and newer models is a nice feature also.  One thing I noticed with the heated seats on this particular truck is, when you shut the truck off with them on, they would turn back on when you start the truck again.  That is a nice feature that I don't see often in other vehicles. 


Interior storage is plentiful if you opt for a truck with center console.  Most models are available with two storage pockets in each front door and also a storage pocket in each rear door on extended cab and crew cab models.  Most front bench seat equipped models have a fold down console with cup holders and a generous storage compartment.  Models with front bucket seats and a floor mounted center console have a huge amount of storage inside. The center console does not reach all the way to the dash like other vehicles do which would offer a bit more storage but instead allows switching seats with ease instead of exiting the vehicle or climbing over things.  The center of the dashboard has an opening storage compartment which is a decent size and will hold some CDs, gloves, etc. but the tab that holds the door shut is weak and breaks rather easily.  Above that is the integrated trailer brake controller (if equipped as well as a small storage pocket to the left of the controller.  There is also a pop out cup holder in the center of the dash that holds 2 cups and some models also have an ashtray between the 2 cup holders.  What I found disappointing about the cup holders is most trucks have the 2 that pop out of the dash and 2 more in the center console but none in the back seat.  There is a decent amount of storage under the rear seat and some models have fold out metal platforms which provide a flat floor surface for hauling items inside with the rear seat folded up. 


The ride quality is a little rough but that is to be expected with any pick up truck, especially when you get in to the 3/4 ton and bigger trucks.  The 5-speed 5R110W Torqshift automatic transmission seemed to be very reliable and shifted nice and crisp.  Like other heavy duty pick up trucks, the turning radius is wide so pulling into tight parking stalls takes a little effort, especially with a crew cab and/or long box.  When you own one of these trucks you learn to adjust to this so it is not a big deal for most.  It is not brand specific either.  If you have a 3/4 or 1 ton 4 wheel drive truck, the turning radius is going to be wide.  I think the Chevy and GMC trucks have a little tighter turning radius due to the independent front suspension but even those trucks don't just slide into a parking stall.


The 6.0L definitely has more power than the 7.3L and seems to get into the power range quicker likely due to the quicker spooling of the variable geometry turbo.  I was not real impressed with the fuel economy which typically was about 16-17 mpg on the highway.  I actually thought first 6.0 Powerstroke I owned was a fluke because it only pulled down just over 16 mpg highway which was much less than the 24 mpg highway that my previous 200,000 mile 2007 Duramax was getting.  Unfortunately, after a couple more 6.0 Powerstroke trucks, the poor fuel economy was verified.  Realistically for most people, fuel economy is not a deal breaker in a heavy duty pick up truck.  Most people are not buying them for fuel economy.  For me, I was just disappointed with the fuel economy because I take long trips and thought for sure that a little 6 liter would get better mileage than that.


There are some problem areas with the 6.0 liter Powerstroke.

The most common is the EGR cooler and the engine oil cooler.  Some less common issues are high pressure oil pump (HPOP) STC fitting leak,  HPOP failure, injector oil feed tube cracks and leaks, oil stand pipe leaks, ICP sensor, IPR sensor, head gaskets, head bolts, turbo vane sticking, chaffing of the injector wiring harness on 03-05 models and FICM failures.  Maintenance is a big deal on these engines because of the injection system.  The 6.0 liter uses a Hydraulically actuated Electronically controlled Unit Injector system (HEUI) which uses high pressurized engine oil to  pressurize the injector and inject fuel into the engine.  This is basically the same system used on the 7.3 Powerstroke with the exception of max pressure on the 6.0 being 26,000 psi and max pressure on the 7.3 being 21,000 psi.  Because the engine oil is also used to fire the fuel injectors, regular oil changes and quality engine oil are necessary for clean, healthy oil.



The EGR cooler and oil cooler run hand in hand and is a fairly simple and inexpensive fix.  The EGR cooler feeds the engine oil cooler and both of the factory coolers will fail.  In most cases the EGR cooler causes the failure of the oil cooler but sometimes there are other factors such as sand from casting the clogs the oil cooler.  Typically the oil cooler failure is from deposits from the engine coolant breaking down due to a bad EGR cooler.  The EGR cooler needs to be replaced which can be done with an EGR delete kit or an aftermarket performance EGR cooler.  The aftermarket performance coolers are built much better than the factory unit.  While you are replacing the EGR cooler, it is a good time to replace the engine oil cooler and take the turbo apart to clean it since it will be off at this time anyway.  The vanes inside the turbo can get sooty, rusty and/or sticky causing sluggish performance and fuel economy.  If you have a decent amount of mechanical ability, taking the turbo apart to clean up the vanes is a fairly simple and self explanatory job.  Its as simple as unbolting the halves of the turbo, taking the vanes out, cleaning each one, cleaning the surface area in the turbo where the vanes sit and then applying high temp anti-seize to the surface area where the vanes sit.  Another upgrade to do while you have it apart is the fuel pressure regulator spring upgrade kit from Ford  (part #3C3Z-9T517-AG).  The kit costs about $30 and is easy to install without taking anything apart.  It takes about 20 minutes to install by removing a few bolts on the front of the fuel filter/regulator housing.  The upgraded spring will add about 10-15 psi more fuel pressure which probably won't make a big difference in performance but will increase fuel injector life.



These days you don't see many issues with the high pressure oil system that fires the injectors because most likely the problems have been repaired by now.  The most common failure in the high pressure oil system is the STC fitting on the HPOP.  The factory fitting develops leaks which bleeds off pressure and then the injectors will not fire.  The updated fitting addresses the problem area on the original piece.  This was a common failure piece at one time but like I said, on most trucks out there it has been replaced already.  The stand pipes and oil feed tubes have been replaced in some trucks too but this was not as common of an issue as the STC fitting.  Many trucks have had the EGR and oil coolers replaced also but a lot of them were replaced with factory Ford parts at Ford dealerships which only fixes the problem temporarily and does not offer a long term solution like the aftermarket EGR options do. 



The ICP and IPR sensors are hit and miss.  I've had one IPR fail and the failure was the screen on the end.  The plastic retainer broke, punctured the screen and was lodged inside.  This caused an intermittent stalling condition due to the piece of plastic floating around inside the sensor.  The IPR is under the turbo on the driver side and requires a special socket.  The ICP on 2003-2004 trucks is located further back on the engine behind the IPR.  On 2005-2007 trucks the ICP is located in the front of the passenger side valve cover.  There is also a special tool for the ICP.


The injector wire harness chaffing and FICM failures are hit and miss problems too.  The injector harness issue is not a real common problem but will cause stalling and can be hard to diagnose.  The FICM (Fuel Injection Control Module) is an intermittent problem that can happen any time on any truck mainly due to heat and vibration.  If you run into a FICM failure, it is recommended that you replace it with an upgraded 58 volt aftermarket unit such as the unit that Bullet Proof Diesel offers.  Their 58 volt FICM is far superior to the stock 48 volt FICM in many ways.  The higher voltage minimizes injector misfires and slightly advances injector timing both of which will provide better starting, better throttle response, increased torque and horsepower and increased fuel economy.  Also, the Bullet Proof Diesel FICM has a billet aluminum case with more heat fins, military grade electrical components and an upgraded power supply circuit board which reduces or eliminates component overheating - the main reason FICM's fail in the first place.  If your FICM fails, spend the extra money on a heavy duty FICM like one from Bullet Proof Diesel.



The head gasket issues are a common subject of debate.  Some people swear that they all fail while others have never had a failure.  I am one of those that have never had a head gasket failure in a 6.0 Powerstroke but I never tested the limits of the towing capacity, never ran big tuners and never severely abused my trucks.  There is definitely a design flaw in these engines which is a combination of torque-to-yield head bolts that stretch and only four head bolts per cylinder with two of them shared with the next cylinder.  Under heavy load from heavy towing, aggressive tuning and/or abuse the head gaskets can fail.  Chances are you will never experience this problem if you drive the truck normal, don't pull a heavy load and don't use a tuner.  However, if you do experience a head gasket failure then it is highly recommended that you spend the money on ARP head studs instead of the factory torque-to-yield head bolts.  If the job is done correctly and ARP studs are used, you will likely never have a head gasket failure again - no matter how hard you abuse it.



In summary, these are good trucks as long as you look them over closely and are prepared to spend some money on maintenance and upgrades.  Don't be afraid of these trucks because of what you read on the internet.  The nice thing about the poor 6.0 Powerstroke reputation is the cost of these trucks is usually quite a bit less than comparable Duramax or Cummins trucks because of the known issues mentioned above.  Quite frankly, many people are afraid of these trucks which is nice for people like me that have mechanical ability and knowledge.  This allows able people to own a good truck at an under market value price.  With a little time and money a 6.0 truck can be an excellent and reliable truck. Quite possibly you might find a 6.0 Powerstroke that has all of the upgrades done already.  With the right options, these trucks are very comfortable and long distance friendly.







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