I am going to try to address a question that I get asked constantly – “What is the best Powerstroke to buy”? This is an almost impossible question to answer. I don’t know you or what you are using your truck for. I don’t know if you are pulling a trailer or just want to ride around and look pretty. I don’t know what “best” means to you. However, in an effort to try to address this question, I am going to run through all the generations and explain the short comings, what makes them good, and what doesn’t make them good.
First of all, don’t ever buy from a dealership. If they don’t know the information, they are lying that they don’t. It is in their best interest to say less. You want to buy from an individual who has service records and someone you can look in the eye and say this guy is a straight shooter. For the most part, the people in the dealerships are getting trucks that are either traded in or from the auction. Why was the truck traded in? What is wrong with it? If it got repossessed, you know they didn’t do any maintenance on the thing. The deal might look good on paper and the financing might fit your terms, but the probability of a repair right after you buy the truck is very high. Also, don’t buy the extended the warranty unless it is from Ford Motor Company. Ford Motor Company will give you an extended warranty worth having. But the rest of it – forget about it.
The newer the truck, the more expensive it is. Not only in purchasing the vehicle, but also in repair and maintenance. In a 2008-2010 6.4L, if your fuel becomes contaminated and somehow it gets into the fuel injection system and kills the pump which usually then grenades and takes all the injectors with it, that repair bill is almost as much as it costs for a 6.0 truck. For what it costs to bulletproof a 6.0 truck, you can put a motor in a 7.3.
6.7 Liter (2010 – )
I am standing in front of a 2013 6.7L Lariat. It is beautiful, rides nice, looks nice, and smells nice. But it is a used truck and has turbo charger problems. If that turbo fails and you are not paying attention, it will take the motor. I’ve had to put several motors in these trucks due to turbo charger failure. There is nothing you can do as far as maintenance to try to make that turbo last longer. You can expect the turbo charger to fail anywhere between 100K and 150K miles. It is not an inexpensive turbo; my cost is almost $3,000. You have many different systems in these trucks that are very complicated with lots of moving parts. The more moving parts mean there is more room for failure. It is going to break and will have problems that are expensive to fix. I give this truck very high ratings for drivability and ease of use. It is quiet and smooth, but when it breaks you better have a deep pocket to fix it. That little funky extended warranty you bought from those guys down at the corner selling trucks isn’t going to cover it.
6.4 Liter (2008-2010)
My personal truck is a 2010 F250. I love this truck. It is wonderful truck but in all the years that I have been building engines (big block Chevy’s, small block Chevy’s, race engines, and all the diesel trucks), I have never seen an engine fail like these. This engine was designed by International to be a 150K mile throw away engine. It is not re-buildable, I usually can’t use the crank or block. It is a difficult vehicle to work with and extremely expensive. The front cover fails on these things. The DPF will clog and burn the motor up. If you’re buying a used one and there is any sort of tuning and it was run with too much timing, it probably has cracked pistons and they are unloading because they don’t want to spend the money to fix it.
Every time I get in this truck on a trip or pull a boat, I know this thing could die somewhere along the way. Is this thing going to make it there and back even though it is running perfectly good right now? I love the truck. It is beautiful, rides good, smooth, quiet, and probably one of the best vehicles I have ever owned in my life, but I know that it will get me at some point. This engine has some very serious shortcomings. If any sort of contamination gets in the fuel and it takes that high pressure oil pump, it will cost $5,000. I wish the parts were cheaper, but they are not. The turbo has a tendency to fail. I have taken good care of this truck and I still worry about it. At 100K miles, I had to do the front end, including the ball joints, tie rod end and steering box. It shouldn’t have to be that way.
Ford Motor Company made this truck to fail. International made this engine with a bunch of shortcuts. Don’t put your money into one of these. Auction sites have a section called mechanical salvage selling repossessed vehicles due to mechanical failure. These sites are full of these trucks. If your vehicle broke down, are you going to continue making payment on it? No. It is a known fact that these trucks are problematic and extremely expensive to fix. If you are looking at a used 6.4L, my advice is no.
6.0 Liter (2003-2007)
The 6.0s have a very bad reputation and the early ’03s really deserve it with poor high pressure pumps, bad injectors, and head gasket problems. But Ford Motor Company and International made upgrades to this engine over time that made the ‘05-‘07s really good trucks. They still have head gasket problems, but you can buy one of these trucks fairly cheap. One of the biggest upgrades to this truck is the coil over front suspension on the 4×4. This is the same set up they used on the 2010. I have a leveler on mine so it sits a little higher. But the front end of this truck is exactly the same as modern trucks. The biggest advantage to the ’05-’07s is there are no emissions controls and you don’t have the engine failures in these compared to the later models. Over the years, outside of overheating, I have never seen one of these come apart except when they are truly abused.
It has all the creature comforts that you want. This truck has been completely bullet proofed by Powerstroke Specialty. It has the Bigg Dogg heads, it has the studs, oil cooler, EGR cooler and the correct tuning in it. I can fix this truck using our bulletproof system and look a man in the eye and shake his hand and say this truck is right. We send the injectors out to have them checked, and clean the turbo and fuel system. This is the best value on the market as far as the money goes.
One of my mechanics bought this King Ranch truck with 160K miles. It had a bad engine in it. He got it for $7,500 and put the motor together and built a really nice truck. He doesn’t have $20,000 in this truck. Why should we spend all this money for these newer trucks when they are not as dependable and not going to last? A 6.0L, bulletproofed correctly, is a 500k mile truck.
This truck is knocking on 900K miles now and is a wonderful truck. It has been an absolute workhorse. It starts up and goes with no problem. But we had to go through several transmissions which is a shortcoming on these trucks. Also, they leak like hell. If you have ever had a 7.3 that had an oil cooler go bad, you get a huge puddle on a cold day. But, as far as bang for the buck goes, the 7.3 is almost impossible to beat if it has been taken care of. It is noisy, doesn’t have the creature comforts of the modern truck, and the 4×4 version of the 7.3 with the leaf springs is a rough riding sun of a gun. I am more apt to go with the later model truck (the ’05-’07) because of the ride quality and the truck looks a lot newer and nicer to me. The 7.3 is a dinosaur. It is old school technology. Does it work? Yes.
Then we have the old body style 7.3. Those are good trucks, but hard riding. They have a mechanical fuel pump that dramatically reduces the power, it doesn’t have an intercooler and has a tiny turbo. It is technology that is way back there. Sometimes it is very difficult to diagnose because the computer systems are so basic it doesn’t have the codes in it that make it easier to diagnose like the late model trucks. Is it good? Yes. But, I personally wouldn’t even recommend that you look at these. The later model 7.3 (’99-’03) is a far superior design.
Periodically we get trucks in here and folks will hope it is just a bulletproof and it ends up being a lot more. I get trucks like this all the time. This is a 140K mile truck that I can sell and send down the road with a customer and know that it will go another 300K miles if they just take care of it because it has been bulletproofed with Bigg Dogg heads, studs, coolers and it is pre-emission controls. That is why I like these trucks because once I have done my thing to them, it is one of the best trucks around and I know it isn’t going to be a problem and not an endless money pit like the 6.4 and the 6.7.
I don’t recommend buying a truck that has been lifted. They usually have been abused pretty hard and you can expect trouble with the motor and transmission. Most of the guys that have these beat on them pretty hard to show off. If they didn’t like to show off, they wouldn’t have lifted their truck. It really adds no value other than just to show off and look pretty.
If you have a $20,000 budget, the ’05-’07 6.0L is the best deal out there. It will ride good, look good, and have the resale value. I can make it dependable. If you buy a truck for $5,000 or $6,000 and then let me do my thing to it, you will be in it for less than $20,000 and have a truck that will go for another 5-10 years depending on how you take care of it. It has all the most modern suspension technology in it. It is a truck worth fixing.
The 6.7L has troubles that we haven’t even seen yet mostly because they are under warranty. Ford has kept it under wraps and we don’t know what goes on out there. The scuttlebutt out there is that they are seeing problems under warranty. If you are going to take your hard earned money and slide it across the table to somebody, you are going to want to do it with something that is going to treat you right. That is why I suggest buying an ’05-’07, either two wheel drive or four wheel dry, crew crab or whatever turns you on, get it CHEAP, and bring it to me and let me do my thing. Then you have a truck that can go another 300-400K miles with no trouble. 5 years from now you can look back and say that was one of the best financial decisions I have ever made. ~Bill Hewitt