Improving Towing And Reliability In A 6.4-Liter Power Stroke

For many Power Stroke owners, it can be a love-hate relationship. What I hear most often is they love the truck but hate the costly repairs, poor fuel economy, and troublesome emissions equipment. Granted there are design flaws that were carried over from the 6.0-liter, but a lot of the failures can be contributed to inadequate maintenance. All diesel engines need routine maintenance, but the 6.4-liter Power Stroke needs more and there are areas that can be improved.

This 2008 Ford F-450 recently changed hands and lucky for the new owner it’s flawless inside and out. After getting a clean bill of health the new owner decided to perform some upgrades to help improve the reliability of the engine and keep it happy when towing. Even though the engine is not lacking power in stock form he wanted more.

The Bullet Proof Diesel oil cooler mounts perfectly next to the charged air cooler.

The first area to upgrade was keeping the engine oil cool. Bullet Proof Diesel offers a secondary air to oil cooler which is mounted inside the grill, retains the stock engine oil cooler on top of the engine, and relocates the oil filter inside of the front bumper. Lower engine oil temps are a huge plus to extend the life of internal engine components.

The other benefit is keeping engine coolant and engine oil temps within the 15-degree limit in which they are not to exceed. After it was installed the engine was treated with new coolant and a quality synthetic engine oil.

If the oil cooler wasn’t silver you would never know it’s an aftermarket addition.

Adding power when towing was achieved by using an SCT X4 programmer. Standard tunes are not available for the F-450 and F-550 models so a custom tow tune was written by Innovative Diesel. Now that the turbos will be producing higher boost levels they are breathing easier through an S&B air intake system, and they sound better too. Together they improved drivability and get the truck up and moving with less effort.

Once the tow setting is chosen all that's left to do is fill the reservoir and monitor EGT's and boost pressure. The condition of the air filter is easily seen through the cover and easily accessed. The Snow injection nozzles and boost fitting are tied into the passenger side charged air pipe.

Since all of the emissions equipment must be retained by federal law, there were few options left that would lower exhaust gas temperatures. The next system to be installed was an MPG-Max water-methanol injection kit from Snow Performance.

The MPG-Max kit was used over the Tow-Max kit since its monitor will give the driver EGT and boost readings instead of boost only. Diesel engines can go through quite a bit of water-methanol when towing so the larger 10-gallon reservoir was chosen and mounted in the bed. After the installation was complete a road test was in order and proved to be good for about a 150 degree drop in

After the installation was complete a road test was in order and proved to be good for about a 150-degree drop in EGT’s when compared to the same run with the system turned off. Worrying about EGT’s when towing uphill is now a thing of the past. Another benefit to water injection is lower emissions which can help reduce regen frequency and removing carbon and soot buildup from the whole air induction system. This will help reduce component failure down the road.

The reservoir’s mounting tabs are positioned so that it’s installed in the right front or left rear of the bed. This truck had a fuel tank and fifth wheel plug blocking those locations.

To make sure all the bases were covered the last area to improve and commonly overlooked is the braking. A turbo brake from BD Diesel was easily installed and is very user-friendly. The kit is all electronic and uses vanes in the turbo to produce braking power. The switch is a single push button operation with three modes with one being the off position, the second activates the brake when releasing the accelerator pedal, and the third position will turn on the brake but also downshift the transmission when the brake pedal is applied. Keeping RPM’s high will provide more braking power. The brake worked very well even when it was used without a trailer in tow.

The goal with this F-450 was to improve power, keep everything cooler when towing, increase its stopping power, and make it more reliable at the same time. It was all accomplished with quality parts and has remained 100 percent emissions compliant. Hopefully, this Power Stroke will see lots of time on the road instead of time in the shop!

About the author

Gary Maschner

Gary has been working in a diesel shop since 2009 and he continually expands his knowledge of diesel repair and performance. His free time is filled with his boys’ ice hockey, camping and enjoying the Arizona back country in their RZR.
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