I usually stay in the travel trailer part of this forum, however this is one subject I believe needs to be addressed with all Ford owners with the 6.0 Power Stroke Diesel engine.
As all of us 6.0 owners know, the engine isn't exactly the most reliable in the world. Poor engineering of certain components is certainly to blame. For example, the oil cooler is prone to clogging and failure, which leads to EGR cooler failure. The EGR itself can get coked up and fail as well. The Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) system is abysmal and spits oil back into the turbo, causing oil coat the silicone boots and dribble down the Charge Air Cooler (CAC) tube, to the Intercooler. The Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) can get coked up from the CCV, causing the vanes of the turbo to stick, which can cause underboost, overboost or turbo failure. The coolant bottle (better known as the Degas bottle) spews coolant out from the cap and all over the engine compartment. Heads warp and fail. Wiring harnesses tend to chafe, causing all sorts of gremlins to appear, i.e.: no start conditions, surging, sudden shut-off, etc...
One of the best ways to begin alleviating these failures is to look at the source of the problem. Since I'm no engineer, but a certified rotary wing aircraft mechnic, I like to look at things in what I call the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), so please don't think I'm talking down to you...it's just how I understand things. Let's start with the cooling system.
The cooling system is filled at the Degas (should actually be De-gas...sounds too much like a French painter) bottle, and fills the radiator. The coolant flows from the radiator into the engine, through the oil cooler, up to the EGR cooler, around the engine and back into radiator to be cooled, and the cycle starts all over again. Easy, right? Well, here is where Ford and Navistar (aka International Harvester) cut corners, in my opinion.
When Navistar cast the engine blocks, casting sand was left in the engines. This casting sand proceeds to find its way around the cooling system, clogging the first thing it encounters, which is the oil cooler. This is what leads the oil cooler to overheat and fail. The heat melts the solder, and leaks into the oiling system. This first failure leads to a secondary failure, the EGR cooler.
Since the oil cooler is clogged with casting sand, not enough coolant is getting to the EGR cooler. The heat from the exhaust, which is delivered via the up-pipe from the exhaust manifold, is anywhere from 750* to as high as 1300*, depending on what the truck is doing, i.e.: regular driving, towing, hot-rodding, etc... The exhaust heat melts the solder in the cooling fins inside the EGR cooler, causing what coolant there is to leak out into the intake system, causing the engine to hydrolock. Keep in mind that the oil cooler does not have to be clogged, for the EGR cooler to fail. The exhaust heat can still cause the solder in the cooler to melt. One failure will lead to another, but it doesn't necessarily have to fail in order for the other to fail (I hope that made sense!).
In the first years of the 6.0, many owners experienced these problems and promptly took their vehicles in to their Ford dealers under warranty. What we saw was a lot of 6.0s getting their heads replaced. The theory was that the Torque To Yield (TTY) bolts, which hold the heads to the engine block, were failing under extreme use (towing, or programming). Ford replaced many heads, as a result, but it is now believed that the culprit was actually the cooling system, not the TTY bolts. This isn't to say that TTY bolts are the cat's meow...they're not, but we'll talk about that later.
So, what do we do to remedy our cooling system problem? The first thing I would do is flush my cooling system completely. Refer to TSB 08-23-1 for a step-by-step process on how to do this. The instructions are simple and very effective.
After your cooling system is thoroughly cleaned and still empty (do not refill with coolant yet!), install a coolant filtration system. I bought mine from www.dieselsite.com
and total cost was around $170, which is cheap insurance vs paying for a new oil cooler, EGR cooler, engine, you get the idea. If a dummy like me can install the coolant filtration system, anyone can. It took me about an hour to get everything installed and was very straightforward.
Once you have the cooling filtration system installed, you can now refill your cooling system. Do NOT, I say again, do NOT fill it back up with Motorcraft Gold Coolant (aka VC-7). Instead, refill the system with Fleetrite Extended Life Coolant (ECL). This is what International Harvester uses in their VT-365 engines (aka 6.0 PSD for Ford owners). This coolant is cherry red in color and is good for 300,000 miles for passenger vehicles and 600,000 for Over The Road (OTR) truckers. Once your cooling filtration system is installed, make sure you change the filter after 500 miles of use, then change again at 1000 miles of use, then change again after six months of use and then just change yearly after that. The filtration system will get all of the casting sand out of the engine left by Navistar.
So, will this eliminate cooling system problems? Well, it will go a long way, but in my opinion it will not eliminate it completely. The next step is to eliminate the EGR and the EGR cooler completely. If you're a law-abiding citizen, ignore what I just said, but keep in mind that you're trying to make this engine bulletproof.
I bought my EGR delete kit from www.rivercitydiesel.com
after doing my research. There are many companies out there who make this kit (gee, I wonder why?) but, in my opinion, River City Diesel's design is superior to the others, because it eliminates the possibility of leaks due to vibration. I had my local modification-friendly diesel shop do the installation, and it ran me $570 out the door. The kit includes a new stainless steel up-pipe, to ensure that there are no exhaust leaks, as well as a stainless steel cap for the hole where the EGR sits.
If you want to leave the EGR in place for asthetic reasons (and to make it look like you're legal), you can do that too, just make sure the EGR is unplugged. CAVEAT: Some year model 6.0s will display a Check Engine Light (CEL), after unplugging the EGR. A programmer like the SCT will shut that light off for good. It has been my experience that the 2004 6.0 models do NOT display a CEL, after unplugging the EGR.
Okay, since we're now outlaws, the next thing to do is to gut the catalytic converter. My local mod-friendly diesel shop charges $150 to do this. What they do is cut the converter from the exhaust system, gut the innards of the converter and weld the shell back on the exhaust system. But, Frederic, what does this do, you might ask? Well, it will increase your MPGs, is what it will do. Figures vary, but my mod-friendly diesel mechanic has seen 6.0s get 3MPGs more. I know, the green peace-loving hippies are calling me all sorts of names right now, but I have personally seen a 6.0 truck with these modifications done burn cleaner, than a gasoline engine with all of its emission controls on and intact, on an emissions sniffing machine. I don't buy into the fact that, if the government tells me to do it, it's for my benefit. It's for the money folks! But I digress....
Another area to look at is those pesky TTY bolts, which hold the heads on the engine. For peace of mind, I would replace these with head studs. ARP and A1 make a great product, though A1 H-11 head studs are rated for a higher PSI strength than ARP. Price for head studs varies, but you can look at spending around $500 for a set. Installation cost will vary as well...I've seen prices as low as $1700 and as high as $3000...shop around. Is this a necessity? Well, that all depends on your driving habits. If you tow everyday, or if you have a programmer on your engine, I would say that, yes, it is definitely a necessity. If you do everyday normal driving, then probably not.
What we need to understand about the 6.0 is that, while it is almost identical to its International Harvester VT-365 brother, Ford had Navistar push the programming limits of the engine to its breaking point, in order to win the peeing contest of Horsepower (HP) and Torque (TQ) against Duramax (Chevrolet) and Cummins (Dodge).
The 2004 6.0 puts out 325 HP and 565 lb/ft TQ, compared to the VT-365, which put out 300 HP and (don't quote me on this) I believe 500 lb/ft TQ. That might not sound like a lot, but when you're dealing with precision engines, it's a world of difference.
Ford won the HP/TQ peeing contest, but only for a few months in '04, until Cummins up'd the ante with its 5.9 610 engine (325 HP/610 lb/ft TQ). So we now get to reap the sorrow of those short-term bragging rights.
If you do have problems with your turbo lagging or surging, and you're out of warranty, then follow TSB 07-21-4 and you might save yourself one helluva repair bill.
The last thing I'm going to say about this engine (because my fingers are starting to hurt and my mind is starting to think about brunch) is that I would NEVER EVER put a power programmer on it, for the simple reasons I stated in the above paragraphs, unless you really want a $15,000 boat anchor on your hands.
What I have written is not intended to diagnose any problems you might have with your engine. It is also the understanding of the persons reading this post that deleting your EGR and your catalytic converter is against the law and will void any warranty you might have. If you live in an area that doesn't have emissions, then I wouldn't worry too much about it.
I hope this long-winded post helps someone out there frustrated with their 6.0 engine.