Let’s Throw The Dice: Repairing Our 2009 6.4-Liter Power Stroke

In the second installment of our 6.4-liter Power Stroke gamble, Diesel Army digs deeper into the 2009 Ford that was purchased running rough and knocking. The original owner was hesitant to tear into the engine. Not knowing how involved the repair would be, she priced out the worst-case scenario: $15,000-$20,000 for a new engine and install. We took the gamble instead and picked the truck up for less than $10,000.

Although it had issues, we decided to throw the dice on the F-450.

Hoping for a quick repair, we took a chance on this Power Stroke. After digging in to diagnose, we realized the truck had a failed lifter and damage to the cam. The failing lifter was probably not noticeable at first.

As it ground itself down, the difference would have been discernible at idle but may have been masked by engine and road noise at power. By the time we found the damage and an out-of-place bridge between the valves, there was no ignoring the issue.

The underlying cause was a failed lifter.

Hoping for a quick repair, we took a chance on this Power Stroke. After digging in to diagnose, we realized the truck had a failed lifter and damage to the cam. The failing lifter was probably not noticeable at first.

As it ground itself down, the difference would have been discernible at idle but may have been masked by engine and road noise at power. By the time we found the damage and an out-of-place bridge between the valves, there was no ignoring the issue.

The Decision

Knowing the root cause of the knock, it is time to assess the repair options. This truck was purchased to be a tow rig with no plans for performance gains or additional power. With this in mind, we decide on a conservative approach to repair the damage and prevent additional failures.

We put a parts list together before pulling the cab. The parts list includes a full set of lifters, rocker arms and bridges, replacement camshaft, gasket kit, and new head bolts. We pick up supplies to change the oil and coolant as well. Sticking with our decision to keep this a tow rig, we opt for stock replacements. Our initial estimate is $2,000 to $3,000 in parts.

A take-out cam can be a budget-friendly option to get the truck back together.

To keep this a budget fix, we plan to tackle the repair ourselves. With many shop rates at $100 or more an hour, labor adds up quickly. While time-consuming, the fix can be done in a well-equipped home shop. We consider the options. We could pull the engine with the cab on, but it would mean jacking it up and removing the oil pan to just get it out of the truck.

There are not significant labor savings to pull the engine versus pulling the cab. Plus, we would need an engine stand that allowed access to the rear of the engine to pull the cam. With a 2-post lift and transmission jack, pulling the cab for access to the rear of the engine seems the easier route.

Pulling the cab increases access to the engine.

We start by preparing the truck to lift the cab by draining the antifreeze, disconnecting the batteries, and moving the coolant reservoir and battery trays out of the way. Next, the master cylinder gets unbolted and laid over on the engine, intercooler pipes disconnected, engine harness unplugged from the PCM, and the grounds disconnected. It takes some time to ensure everything is done properly, like ensuring the emergency brake cable slide joint is free. Finally, we heat up the cab bolts to prevent seizing.

Once the cab is up, we get to work removing the turbos, taking the valve covers off, and the injectors out. It is best to pull the injectors to avoid the risk of damaging them to clean the deck surface, just remember new o-rings and sealing washers for re-installing them.

We use a torch to heat up seized bolts.

Next, the rocker arms and pushrods come out. The high-pressure fuel pump cover is removed as well as the intake manifold.

The intake manifold is removed.

For this repair, the cylinder heads need to come off creating the perfect opportunity to check the heads if you are planning to build the engine. Once they are out of the way, the lifter trays and lifters are removed. The damaged lifter proved challenging, ultimately requiring magnets and some ingenuity to retrieve it.

In order to gain access to the rear of the engine, we remove the cross member and driveshafts to drop the transmission. This allows us to pull the rear cover on the engine, crankshaft adapter, and the camshaft.

With the transmission out of the way, we have clear access to the rear of the engine.

Before swapping the cam and reassembling everything, we grab assembly lube, blue thread-locking compound, our gasket kit, and a half-inch drive torque wrench. With some assembly grease, the cam slides into place and we are set to continue putting this engine back together.

A rear main seal installer tool makes this job easier.

We work our way back through the parts and slowly clean up the floor around the truck.

We addressed leaks and other issues before reassembling.

During reassembly, we double-check that everything has been reconnected.

Once the truck is back together, we start the process of bringing the cab back down. We set the cab down slowly to ensure nothing gets pinched or wedged out of place.

The Takeaway

While not a driveway fix, this repair can be at home. In the end, it took about 24 hours of work from diagnosing the truck to test driving after the repair. Our parts bill came in just under $3,000 even with a few additional fixes.

We give the truck one last check before the road test.

Plan on the truck being down for at least a weekend and call a buddy to stop over and check on you from time to time. Whether it is helping turn the engine over to access the cam bolts or helping guide the cab back down, an extra set of hands is welcome.

The 6.4-liter Power Stroke has plenty of potential as a comfortable daily driver, tow rig, or the base for a competitive powerhouse. Be prepared that many issues will require the cab or engine to be pulled and these trucks won’t disappoint. Even with parts and labor, this 6.4-liter still turned out to be a good deal. We could sell the truck tomorrow for a profit, but for now, we’re going to enjoy driving it.

About the author

Rebecca Farrow

Rebecca shares a competitive spirit and love of motorsports with her husband and two budding gearheads. When not at the track, in the woods, or on the lake, you will likely find them working on projects at home on their Tennessee Farm.
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