6.0L Power Stroke FAQ

Common Questions About the 6.0L Power Stroke

The 6.0L Power Stroke is often described as a lemon, stemming from the rap sheet of service bulletins it accrued during its production. Whether "lemon" is a fair designation or not, it's hard to argue that the engine is not temperamental. One might even suggest that the problems were largely glorified. While the 6.0L Power Stroke can be problem prone, many of the common issues and reliability concerns surfaced as the result of neglected service, in addition to performance modifications and aftermarket equipment. Properly maintaining the 6.0L Power Stroke can greatly reduce the chances of problems surfacing, and understanding these problems and the general characteristics of the engine can help owners properly diagnose concerns before they begin to compound.

History of the 6.0L Power Stroke

Stricter Federal emissions regulations and performance limitations of the 7.3L Power Stroke and sister engine the T444E were major factors that ultimately forced their retirement. International Navistar made the decision that, all things considered, it was ideal to introduce a new, clean slate engine platform to maintain their competitiveness within the market. The smaller 6.0L Power Stroke, an adaptation of International's VT365 designed specifically for Ford Motor Company, was a step above the 7.3L in performance characteristics and fuel economy, while exceeding Federal emissions regulations. The 7.3L and 6.0L Power Stroke were both available for the 2003 model year, but the 7.3L was ultimately retired and only the 6.0L Power Stroke was offered for the 2004 MY.

Rumor has it that the 6.0L Power Stroke was rushed into production, as Ford was pressuring International Navistar to provide the new engines for their Super Duty pickups as soon as possible. Many early production engines were found to have kinks in the PCM software, causing problems with the injection systems. Many ambulances and emergency vehicles that received the Power Stroke proved to be unreliable at the call of duty, and many significant lawsuits were filed against FoMoCo as a result. It should be noted that Ford addressed these problems promptly and with little hassle to purchasers as not to disappoint their loyal customer base.

The 6.0L Power Stroke was not difficult to sale - throttle response and overall performance was leaps and bounds that of the 7.3L, and the ability to test drive both engine platforms for the 2003 model year made it easy for potential buyers to compare. New technology included a more efficient 2nd generation HEUI injection system, quick spooling variable geometry turbocharger (VGT), and the crisp shift schedule of the new TorqShift 5 speed automatic transmission. And while the 7.3L produced respective fuel economy, owners were reporting significantly higher figures for the smaller 6.0L.

When it was introduced for the 2003 model year, Ford technicians knew very little with regard to diagnostics for the advanced 6.0L Power Stroke. Anyone who has attempted to work on a 6 liter understands the complex nature of the engine's operating systems in addition to a work environment that is anything but spacious. As a result, early engines typically took several trips to the dealership for a single problem. Understandably so, owners often became frustrated with a lack of answers from Ford service centers as technicians (seemingly randomly) threw parts into an engine under warranty hoping to alleviate a problem or halt a re-occurring check engine light (triggered DTC). As a result, the 6.0L Power Stroke acquired a bad reputation early on.

However, this did little to halt sales of Power Stroke equipped Super Duty pickups. Though it took some time, Ford and International were able to work most of the issues out of the 6.0L Power Stroke, but not before displeasing a large percentage of customers whom experienced reoccurring problems, both under warranty and at the owner's expense. As a result, many 6.0L Power Strokes were returned to Ford under local lemon laws. Part of the lemon law clause states that automakers are only allowed to attempt to repair a problem a certain number of times before it is considered a lemon (the number of attempts varies by state). Ill informed technicians had difficulty diagnosing and repairing the 6.0L during the early years, and as a result many of the trucks were classified as lemons. Lawsuits between Ford Motor Company and Navistar (International) followed over who would pay for the 6.0L warranty claims, ultimately forcing them to part ways in the future.

When taking into account sales volume, compared to competitor's sales of 3/4 and 1 ton pickups during the 2003 to 2007 model years, in addition to the unfortunate diagnostic failures, it is often construed that the 6.0L Power Stroke's reputation if largely glorified.

6.0L Power Stroke FAQ

Is the 6.0L Power Stroke a lemon?

Lemon laws vary by state. We feel as though, in general, it is unfair to coin the 6.0L Power Stroke a "lemon". Lemon laws typically come into effect when an engine experiences a problem that a technician is unable to repair after multiple attempts. Therefore, the aptitude of the technician performing the repair is as significant as the problem itself, with respect the applicability of lemon laws. Therefore, this statement is largely open to opinion. Did a notable amount of 6.0L Power Strokes experience problems? Yes. Are there a notable amount of 6.0L Power Strokes that did not experience significant problems? Yes.

Should I avoid the 6.0L Power Stroke?

If you want a diesel that can run flawlessly without proper maintenance at the recommended intervals, then the 6.0L is probably not for you. The 6.0L Power Stroke is very sensitive to neglect, and owners who extend the service intervals of their engine are the most likely to experience problems. If you are prepared to stay current on the engines maintenance, there is no reason to avoid the 6.0L Power Stroke. If you are in the market to "hot rod" your diesel, the 6.0L can be adequately equipped to handle significant performance levels, but only after investing in supporting modifications to address concerns.

Why was the 6.0L Power Stroke phased out of production?

The 6.0L Power Stroke was replaced with the 6.4L primarily due to more stringent emissions regulations. The 6.4L was able to meet stricter emissions for several reasons, including:

• Diesel particulate filter to capture particulate matter.
• High pressure common rail injection for increased combustion efficiency and cleanliness.
• Upgraded and adequately sized EGR system, not prone to failure like 6.0L EGR components.

What are the Advantages of the 6.0L Power Stroke?

• Impressive fuel economy. 16-18 mpg combined and 19-20 mpg average highway fuel mileage are not uncommon.
• VGT provides quick turbo spool times for off-idle performance and response.
• Torque output is steady over a broad power range, ideal for towing and hauling.

What are the Disadvantages of the 6.0L Power Stroke?

• Sensitive to neglect, temperamental emissions control system. Injection system is sensitive to water contamination and poor fuel quality.
• EGR cooler/valve clogging due to soot build up can occur and cause reliability problems.
• TTY head bolts are not adequate for performance applications with high cylinder pressures (head studs can remedy this).
• Tight under-hood clearance makes the 6.0L all but fun to work on.

Where is the serial number located on the 6.0L Power Stroke?

The serial number is located on the left rear corner of the crank case. It will start with the numbers "6.0". The last 7 digits represent the sequential build number of the engine.