Ford 6.4 Powerstroke engine, commonly known as the redemption engine of the previous Powerstroke platform, failed to maintain its initial burst of expectancy as issues continue to plague its entirety leading to an early exit.
But before its grave misconception for most Ford fans, it featured a lot of exciting and extraordinary kinds of stuff.
The engine has a factory compound turbo system. Along with that, the debut of the common rail direct injection system on the Powerstroke platform gave birth to the quick-firing piezo injectors. It is regrettable how the turn of events went.
The Ford 6.4 diesel launch faced emission regulations that were way more strict and restrictive, especially for diesel engines. It faced issues before its eventual success.
We will discuss how the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke engine design affects its reliability. But remains powerful and extremely capable of doing so. We will talk about its key features and how they impact low capacity and overall horsepower and torque numbers.
What are Ford 6.4 Powerstroke Engines?
Ford fans have been dealing with Ford 6.0 reliability issues for almost five years now and are hopeful that Ford will create an engine to redeem the fluke that the 6.0 once had; they were looking for the great savior for the Powerstroke platform.
At first, the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke rubbed the fans right, but after years and mileage accumulation, issues started to show and underscored its merits.
Sad to say that this engine became notoriously famous due to its shortcomings, putting way more pressure on the negative aspect than the positive ones. Let’s put a balance between these two and discuss both parties.
Presently, the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke is addressed as a throw-away engine, or worst: a ticking time bomb. With its reputation to last no longer than 150,000 miles, the engine put its hand behind the back and surrendered to the naysayers saying it wouldn’t accomplish anything.
Engine Specifications and Design:
- Production Run: 2008 – 2010
- Cylinder Head Material: Cast-iron with four M16 Head Bolts per cylinder
- Cylinder Block Material: Cast-iron
- Configuration: V8
- Bore: 98.2 mm
- Stroke: 105 mm
- Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 6.4 L (6369 cc)
- Compression Ratio: 17.5
- Weight: 1,130 lbs. (with oil)
- Maximum HP: 350 HP at 3,000 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 650 lb-ft at 2,250 RPM
Most problems occurred in the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke engine rooted from the engine design. Apart from that, emissions regulations became stricter as EPA emission regulations put the diesel engines to their limits.
It did not play in their favor, especially with the 6.4 Powerstroke engine.
Despite all of the issues that haunt the engine, the 6.4 L beast should not be viewed as a villain or an inferior engine. They display incredible performance capabilities and can be very powerful with a small amount of money and effort.
As we mentioned above, Ford 6.4 Powerstroke engine utilizes a cast-iron block for a solid foundation. Instead of using main bearing caps, the engine used a cast-iron bedplate to secure the crankshaft as well as the case.
On the same note, the cylinder heads use the same material, featuring four valves per cylinder.
Contrary to the Ford 6.0 Powerstroke, the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke used 16-mm TTY head bolts per cylinder to fasten the heads to the block. This helps prevent head gasket issues by providing enough clamping strength, making blown head gaskets on this engine happen less frequently than the previous 6.0 Powerstroke.
Cylinder Head Design
Ford 6.4 Powerstroke diesel engine uses an overhead valve design and a single cam. The connecting rods are made from powdered steel capable of sustaining severe high-pressure outputs.
These internals are proven to withstand large horsepowers at almost 1,000 HP before any failure occurs. However, we can’t say for other peripheral components, especially the pistons.
With that, the weakest link in the Ford 64 Powerstroke is the pistons. Over time, the pistons crack, resulting in an oil/fuel dilution. Good thing that there is a solution. Aftermarket pistons are available in the market that can withstand heat better and last longer than the factory units.
Yes, they solve your piston problems, but it requires a complete rebuild and teardown of the engine. So before you make any moves to your machine, make sure you correctly address some issues all at once.
The Ford Powerstroke engine does not feature an HEUI fuel injection system. Instead, the machine uses a common-rail injection system, unlike the 6.0 Powerstroke diesel engine.
This design improves fuel efficiency, emits harmful emissions, and reduces noise. That became possible because of the Siemens K16 VDO fuel injection pump. It is capable of 25,00 psi and benefits from a lift pump providing a steady supply of fuel.
However, given its impressive performance characteristics, this component lacks in the reliability department. It tends to self-destruct when exposed to poor fuel quality.
And we all know that Ford 6.4 Powerstroke uses low-sodium fuel. When that happens, it sends shavings swimming through the fuel system, destroying the injectors.
Another thing we mentioned earlier is piezoelectric injectors. These are newcomers to the diesel engine. These injectors provide more power and cleaner emissions. They can deliver up to five injections per combustion cycle, employing first and last events for greater emissions and noise reduction while maximizing capacity.
These piezoelectric injectors also improve cold starting.
We know how powerful the engine can be, and it is no secret, the elephant in the room. The machine features one of the most anticipated factory turbochargers setups of any diesel engine, even to this day.
This turbocharger utilizes a twin sequential turbocharger or compound turbocharger setup capable of producing 40 psi boost pressure on a purely stock system. However, it does increase the power output of the engine, but the reliability suffers.
Borg-warner provided the turbochargers for the 6.4 Powerstroke engine. In this kind of system, a 65-mm fixed geometry turbocharger is paired with a 52-mm variable geometry turbocharger resulting in faster spool time and better performance.
This setup entices individuals who want to build and upgrade their trucks. By just tuning, surpassing the 500 HP mark is easy for the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke.
Engine Tuning, Reliability Upgrades, Modifications, and Issues
Here, we will talk about some upgrades not to make the engine more powerful. The machine is already a madman with its raw power, even in stock form. The issue is about its reliability.
So here are some aftermarket items that can help you improve reliability.
Most of the super-duty trucks equipped with 6.4 Powerstroke engines will likely experience leaking radiators. It’s only a matter of when that will happen. This happens due to a poor-quality factory radiator that uses plastic end caps.
These ends are usually culprits of the initial problem causing overheating or coolant loss.
A leaking radiator is visible and shows signs just by looking at it; most of the time, it is coolant loss.
What that happens, it is better for you to upgrade to a new radiator. Many owners opted to upgrade before they experienced this issue, so they don’t have to worry about it in the longer run.
2. Coolant Filtration Systems
One of the most crucial upgrades for the 6.4 Powerstroke engine is the coolant filtration system. This is also the engine’s cheapest (but not subpar) upgrade, making this upgrade reachable within arms reach.
The reason for this update is because the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke uses coolant not only for engine cooling but also to cool exhaust gases reintroduced into the engine by the exhaust gas recirculation system.
This significantly reduces the emission output of any diesel engine. Sadly, the 6.4 engine, like the older 6.0 Powerstroke, suffers from the same coolant breakdown that causes a clogged EGR Cooler.
Down the road, in upgrading your 6.4 Powerstroke engine, you should also address the factory up-pipes. These components frequently crack at the expansion joints, affecting boost pressure and creating issues under the hood.
When that happens, the firewall and the back of the engine are covered with soot. These aftermarket up-pipes offer a longer life span and improve performance.
They do this by increasing the flow and restrictions, resulting in faster spool times and better throttle response.
4. Lift pump systems
The introduced common-rail fuel injection system in the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke engine is sensitive to poor fuel quality. Factory water and fuel separators might fail, allowing corrosive elements to enter the fuel system.
This can cause the injection to destroy itself, sending metal shards to the injectors.
When performance rating is increased by tuning, the factory fuel lift pump might not be enough. The answer for that is to purchase an aftermarket lift pump.
Aftermarket fuel lift pump systems significantly improve fuel filtration than factory ones.
This gives the engine smoother fuel for a better burn resulting in better engine performance and fuel economy. It also provides a constant fuel supply for the injection pump.
5. Exhaust Gas Recirculation Cooler
We cannot stress this enough since EGR cooler failure is what gives the engine a bad rep. However, EGR failures allow engine coolant to flow back into the number 8 cylinder while the engine is off, causing the cylinder to hydro-lock and possibly bend the piston connecting rods and other damages to the machine when it is subsequently started.
The Ford 6.4 Powerstroke is not short of spectacular performance-wise; it is a highly-respected engine in that department. It uses a new twin turbocharger design providing more power and anticipation for the machine. The power output is also impressive by the numbers, offering 350 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque.
This performance helps the 6.4 Powerstroke equipped truck to produce a max tow capacity of 24,600 lbs. when properly equipped.
However, its haul was cut short due to the rising number of issues found on this engine. It could have been a sunny day for the 6.4 Powerstroke, but Ford improved this machine for their next release.