March 13

Ford 6 Litre Diesels

Auto Repair, Ford


Mark: Good Morning. It’s Mark from Top Local Lead Rankings. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik owner of Vancouver’s Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver BC and they’ve just won for the fourteenth time, Best Auto Repair and Auto Service place in Vancouver; Pretty Amazing. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Good, very honoured to have won again, it’s awesome.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about the Ford 6 Litre Diesel which has a bit of a reputation, maybe a negative one, you know a lot of the coverage. What are your thoughts about this vehicle?

Bernie: Well, definitely there are a lot of negative comments and they’re probably well deserved; the problems with the Ford 6 Litre is legendary. If you own one of these vehicles or if you’ve just bought one you can expect there’s probably going to be a lot of repair bills coming down the line; if you’ve owned one for a while you’ve probably already experienced a few large repair bills.

Mark: So what sorts of things go wrong with these engines?

Bernie: Well, there’s a lot and it’s maybe easiest to start with what doesn’t go wrong with them, I mean the bottom ends of these engines are really solid, the pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, engine block, timing chains those are all really solid parts, you can count on those for a long, long time but what does go wrong; head gaskets blow, EGR coolers fail, engine oil coolers plug up, fuel injectors have problems, there’s a number of electrical sensors and things that will go bad, there’s just a lot of things. But there are also some solid things we can do to fix this engine, keep it reliable and keep it trouble free for a long time.

Mark: So is that what the term bullet proofing refers to?

Bernie: It does, excuse me for a second here. So, though there are many ways to do repairs in these engines and bulletproofing is a term that refers to the more permanent repairs solutions and it also refers to using parts from a company called Bulletproof Diesel. This company has looked at all the common faults and made some really excellent parts that really never fail and if you look at this picture here you can see that the bullet proof oil cooler, sorry the Bulletproof EGR cooler on the left side, that’s the original Ford cooler and on the right side that’s the Bulletproof cooler. Basically taken apart, welded solid tubes in there, it just lasts forever and it costs really a couple dollars more than a Ford cooler. Bulletproof, they’ve also gone so far as to create a remote engine oil cooler which it takes the oil cooler from the valley of the engine and you mount a cooler outside, externally so that it uses air to cool the engine and this eliminates a huge number of problems. Now bulletproofing also refers to some other items such as installing solar head studs and the thing with heads, originally the heads were held down with bolts but studs provide much superior clamping force on the heads virtually eliminating head gasket failures in the future. One common cause of head gasket failure is the turbochargers will over boost and you don’t, you’ll never really know it but what happens is it causes the heads to lift although it’s on a microscopic level but that’s enough to blow a gasket so with studs installed that will definitely not happen. You may wonder why does this engine have so many problems and I think it’s really down to the design, Ford had a really good engine with a 7.3 litre power stroke but over time that engine just wouldn’t meet modern emission standards so they designed this, Navistar, which built the engines for Ford, designed the 6 litre engine and they probably rushed it into production because there’s a lot of problems with it. One thing about the engine is it’s unique in that it uses the high pressure oil system to boost the fuel injection pressure so use electronic injection with high pressure oil, that’s got a lot of extra power under the engine but it’s created a whole number of problems and unfortunately the customers have paid dearly for that bad design but on a positive note it’s created a gold mine for the repair industry which again it’s not good for the customer. Problems with these engines you know I think we’re really noticed early on and Ford made a lot of modifications to the engines over the years that they built them but none of them made the engine super reliable without doing some of these Bulletproof repairs. So you know people ask, if you have a 6 litre how would I repair it to make it reliable; what would you go about doing. I would start the conversation with how do you want to take care of this truck, what do you want to do with the truck, what will you be using it for, hauling heavy loads or are you just going to be driving it around town and if the vehicle is working fine there really not any reason to do a lot with it. I get a lot of phone calls from people almost every week, they’ve looked on the internet, they’ve bought one of these trucks or looked at our videos and blogs, Oh my God what do I do and I say relax don’t worry about it; just see how it’s actually working first.

So there’s a few ways to repair them. The cheaper end if you are actually experiencing coolant leaks and head gaskets are blown you can just replace it with the original bolted head, that’s the cheaper end job, put all original parts and it will work fine but it will fail again at some point or you can do the bullet proofing job, costs a bit more money but you are ensured that you’re not going to get in there again and do any of those repairs probably ever or if you’re really going for the heavy duty truck put the bulletproof oil cooler in. It’s definitely a lot more expensive but again it eliminates a lot of issues from happening.
There’s a few other problems that happen on these truck to the injectors fail, those will go with or without head gasket problems. The other thing, the Thickem which is a fuel injection control module, is a common failure item as well, that’s an externally bolted on item so it’s not really a huge amount of work to do.
So cab off repairs, this is something that we often do to repair these engines and people say should I, why do you go through such great lengths to . . . .

Mark: Bernie we were looking at a picture with an arrow, what was that of?

Bernie: Oh yes, thank you, I got distracted. That picture with the arrow by the way was one of the common failure items on one of these engines called STC fitting and what that is, it’s basically a high pressure oil fitting, those items fail so we do the bullet proofing work we replace that piece. That fitting fails it will actually break the back of the engine block so one of those beautiful design ideas that can cost a fortune to fix but it’s something we fix with the bullet proofing process so, sorry didn’t explain that.
I assume were looking at the cab off right now?

Mark: yes

Bernie: Perfect, o.k. so with the cab off you can see with this cab lifted and it looks like a lot of work and it does take a little while to get it off, we can get right into the engine and do the work and it’s absolutely amazing way to go. If we’re doing a full job like head gaskets and top end work, you know, the top end oil coolers and that kind of thing, to lean over the cab is a back breaking job, it can certainly be done but the amount of time it takes once you lift off the cab off, it makes the work in the engine compartment really simple and really as a technician a pleasure to work on so this is why we do it, either way it’s a very big job so that kind of explains cab off.

Mark: So that’s a heck of a lot to bite off, I mean that’s a lot of pieces to unhook and then rehook up because you’re basically taken, you’re at assembly stage, like right in the factory kind of thing, so is that something, like do I even dare ask if you’d recommend one of these trucks to somebody?

Bernie: Well, you know what, they are nice trucks, it wouldn’t be my first choice personally, I mean working a lot of diesels we see Cummins with very few problems, we see Chevy Duramax, we hardly ever work on Duramax’s because they have so few problems but the Ford trucks are nice especially like the F350, a Harley-Davidson edition, it’s a beautiful truck and the engines can be made to be pretty reliable just if you buy one you will spend more money fixing it, there’s no doubt. If you’re really hell bent on a Ford, you know, just make sure you get one for a cheap price and do your research, see what’s been done, there’s a lot of these truck have been fixed up so probably a lot of used ones will have heads already done, bullet proofing done, you just need to check that out and if it hasn’t been well at some point it might fail. The last thought I’ll leave you with is, we do work on a number of these trucks where people have not actually had to head gaskets or had much other than maybe CGR coolers, or a couple injectors so they can last a long time without problems but you just never know, it’s a bit of a gamble. So that’s all I’ve got to say about 6 litres today.

Mark: There’s lots to say.

Bernie: There’s a lot to say, then there’s the 6.4 which is enough for another hangout.

Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with the owner of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik, he’s a master mechanic, been doing this for an awfully long time, expert in many, many types of vehicles including diesels. They’ve had enquiries from around the world about doing diesel repairs, in fact because of the excellent work that they do and you can reach them at or you can give them a call to book your next maintenance and service or repair at 604-327-7712. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Talk soon.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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