I wish I had a nickel for every time I have been asked this question. The answer is it depends. Anyone who has been around the diesel pickup market for more than ten minutes has probably heard 6.0 Powerstroke horror stories. They are real. People have really spent a lot of money trying to fix this engines with dismal results. There has been an entire aftermarket segment that has sprung up to “fix” these trucks. So let’s see what the real deal is.
The 6.0 Powerstroke Has Overly Complicated Systems
One of the biggest problems with these engines is the overly complicated way that every system is set up on these trucks. The injection system is a high pressure oil controlled system that most people cannot wrap their head around. Engine oil is pressurized up to 4,000 psi to controlled injection pressure at the fuel injector nozzle. So instead of just having to figure out the fuel side of things when you have a problem, you also have another system that controls it that is plagued with issues. Next the turbocharger is also controlled by oil pressure to move the turbo veins. So you are asking a lot out of the engine oil. What do we all notice about diesel engine oil? It’s gets really black and dirty from diesel combustion. Sounds like problems just waiting to happen. Next let’s throw in a terrible EGR system that not only dirties the oil more, but also is prone to blown egr coolers. You have all the ingredients for a real shit sandwich.
Misdiagnosing Problems and Throwing Parts at It
The next problem these trucks have are the people who are working on them. If you do not have a good scan tool and more importantly understand how to use it, you are wasting your time trying to fix these trucks. It is practically impossible to diagnose most 6.0 Powerstroke problems without one. Understandably owners get frustrated when they either try to fix it themselves by changing parts hoping and praying or worse yet letting a repair shop do it with expensive bills. Many of the trucks we have brought into the shop that have been problems that the owner or another shop couldn’t figure out are usually the simplest things that were overlooked because proper step by step diagnoses weren’t followed and the proper equipment wasn’t used. Unless you completely understand how the systems work, it will be extremely hard to repair these without much excess cost.
Lots of Horsepower and Poor Maintenance
One of the other trends we have seen with these engines is that with only adding a simple hand held programmer these engines will produce an extra 140 horsepower easily. We see lots of owners put a programmer on a 6.0 Powerstroke and then run the day lights out of it without any sort of egt monitoring. Unfortunately if you drive your truck like a race car it’s going to wear out like a race car. Unfortunately these trucks have a very poor head bolt design from the factory. Too much cylinder pressure from extreme tunes along with hard use lead to blown head gaskets quickly. Head gaskets can be an issue on these truck in completely stock form.
Seeing as the engine oil is used for so many different things in the 6.0 Powerstroke, keeping the oil and filters changed is crucial. If the oil is allowed to become extremely dirty and broken down by overdue changes, we see all sorts of related issues. The sticking from dirty oil build up in the injectors and turbo is a huge issue. Proper maintenance schedules are more important in this engine than any of the other diesel out there.
So Should You Buy One?
If maintained properly and repaired by a knowledgeable mechanic they are pretty good trucks. They have good power, get fair mileage, and will last a couple hundred thousand miles without too much issue. I have had several that I have worked hard and they have held up great. But if you are buying one, check to see if the head studs have been installed. If they haven’t you may want to figure on spending $3,000 - $4,000 at some point in the future to have them replaced. Also the injectors usually start showing issues around 150,000 miles. If you are buying a higher mileage 6.0 Powerstroke and the injectors haven’t been changed you may be looking at replacing a least a few and perhaps the whole set at some point.
The 6.0 Powerstroke trucks are plentiful and becoming extremely reasonable on pricing in the past few years. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one if you think the truck has been reasonably cared for by the previous owner. Just understand that you may be spending a couple of thousand dollars in the future to repair some of the inherent issues that come from the factory. If you factor that to the buying price they are usually still a pretty good deal.
If you ever have an issue with a Ford 6.0 Powerstroke diesel truck and are having trouble getting it figured out, please feel free to give us a call. We are more than glad to help anyone out that we can. You can also read this tech article we have explaining a little more in depth some of the problems and how to fix them by clicking here.