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"resident smarty pants"
5,498 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought I would re-post this since I have seen a few threads on the subject:

My personal preference is to go for a 2006 or 2007 year model (but really ANY year model low-mileage 6.0L might be worth looking at) - folks WILL DEFINITELY bargain with you. I think that buying a used 6.0L can turn out to be a good deal - if you are wise about the pre-purchase inspection! If you find a good price AND you have checked into the reputation of a local independent shop or dealership on repairing the 6.0L (or if you can do repairs and upgrades yourself) - then GO FOR IT! So much depends on having a competent and honest dealership, a trustworthy independent shop, or personal mechanic skills to troubleshoot and work on any POTENTIAL future problems.

IMO everyone should have an electronic scan tool BEFORE going to look at a used 6.0L. The cheapest way to go about this is to download either Torque Pro or ForScan Lite to your phone. I find the Torque Pro interface to be better, but ForScan is by far a better code reader. To use these apps, you will need an ELM327 OBDII adapter. I find that the BAFX adapter is very reliable. WiFi works well w/ i-phones and probably also works well w/ Androids (I haven't checked that). BlueTooth works well w/ Android phones. The app and the adapter will cost around $45 total. Very cheap investment for the value you get!!! A little more on this topic later in the thread!

If you are looking at used 6.0's here are a few considerations (along w/ the CARFAX reports).

Some 6.0L weak points (things to check):

Look for signs of coolant degas bottle overflow (dry white residue on and around the degas bottle or no level in degas bottle).

Lots of idling can cause EGR problems. The 2005 and up model years have engine hours as a possible display. I would look at the hours on the engine (if it has this monitored) and divide the miles by the hours (is it below 25? If so, may have had lots of idling).

Even without much extended idling EGR valves can plug quickly (if it is still stock). In fact, if it is still stock, I would negotiate to pull the EGR valve to inspect it (have them show it to you when it is out and then you need to look into the intake). Check for wetness (w/ rear end jacked up or the truck parked on a "decline") and for excess soot. Wetness could indicate an EGR cooler leak that is common w/ 04.5 and up model years (it could also be excess fuel and indicate injector and/or combustion problems). If the valve is gunked up, have them replace the valve. If the intake is real bad, you may push them to clean it as well.

Look underneath for oil leaks - some trucks have had a lot of them.

Try to find out about the routine maintenance:
· Filter change intervals on time? What kind of oil has been used? (needs to be CI 4 + or CJ 4 rated, and now CK is the rating). Synthetic or conventional oil? 15W40? 5W40? 10W30? IMO synthetic 5W40 or a quality 10W30 is best.
· OEM filters? Look at them and see what kind they are. Aftermarket filters can cause MAJOR problems. A tall oil filter cap is a tell tale sign that the owner didn't really know how to care for the truck properly. A tall cap and an OEM filter can result in low oil pressure and unfiltered oil. WIX filter/cap combination has been the main issue - usually when someone re-used the cap.
· Find proof of Transmission being flushed/changed - it is recommended every 30,000 miles.
· Any exhaust problems visible (i.e. lots of white or blue smoke)? White smoke may mean an EGR cooler leak if the smoke smells like coolant or a sign of injector issues if the smoke smells like fuel.

Check for any FLUID leaks (as stated previously - LOOK SPECIFICALLY FOR OIL LEAKS - 6.0L are prone to many of these from many possible places!!).

CEL (Check Engine Light) on? No two-ways-about-it -----> GET A CODE READER BEFORE THE PURCHASE and check for DTC's (I suggest ForScan Lite downloaded to a smartphone with the appropriate OBDII adapter - total cost is $40). You can have active DTC’s without a CEL.

The Electronic Shift on the Fly ESOF sometimes fails due to vacuum leaks. Be sure to check this out (several times in and out of 4WD and/or take front wheels off to inspect).

Check for excessive wheel bearing wear (looseness), sway bar (end link looseness), or ball joint looseness. Ball joints and sway bar end links tend to go out in the 70k-90k range. Jack one side up at a time and see if each wheel moves top to bottom only, if so, it is the ball joints. If it moves in all directions then probably wheel bearings.

Check the coolant - if it has the Motorcraft Gold Coolant , it will have to be changed IMO. The Gold coolant tends to gel and form solids when "stressed" or overheated. This can plug up the oil cooler (looking at coolant and oil temperatures will be discussed later as a way to identify a clogged oil cooler) . Look in the "degas" bottle and inspect the fluid - it should be free from solids and there should be NO OIL visible (oil emulsified in water can show up as brown sludge). As previously stated, the degas bottle should not have white residue around the sides of it (possible overheating issues).

Any evidence of a tuner (aftermarket air filter, gauges, etc)? Tuners may or may not be bad. Some tuners are MURDER on the transmission. Some dealerships will cause you a lot of problems w/ them - even if you bought it that way used.

Aftermarket air systems could be a problem. Many of them (like K&N) do not filter as well and could cause issues. Up to 500 hp, the stock air system is best!

Try to find out if the original owner ever ran it empty on fuel or have plugged filters (fuel pressure below 45 psig can damage injectors)? A dealership or a good shop can simulate WOT conditions and test the fuel pressure (IMO it should be 50 psig or above).

Then the common stuff I'm sure you know:
· Look at and smell the fluids. Make sure fluids not burnt, not too thick or dirty. Make sure the oil level is not under-full OR over-full. If it is too high, it could be a sign of diesel in the oil.
· Check the tires - abnormal wear?
· How do the brakes look? Any pads need replacement? Are the rear brakes excessively worn?
· All electronics working? Especially the AC (repair can be expensive)?
· Dents? Air bag been replaced, etc.
· See if he has any repair or maintenance records.
· Take off the price for windshield dings, paint chipped, torn upholstery, etc.
· Does the truck look too clean? Does it look like the oil was just changed? May be hiding something.
· Any extras - tool boxes, bumpers, etc.?
· Drive it - does it hesitate, stutter, or surge? Does it blow white or black smoke? When driving, brake fairly hard - note any pulls, pops, clunks, rattles, etc. How does it accelerate? You should romp on it pretty good. Drive in reverse and then back and forth - listen for clunks.
· Remember, when checking the transmission fluid level, the fluid should be fully warmed up and the truck should be parked on a level surface with the engine running in "park".

Add or subtract value based on condition, high miles, and presence of extras.

IMO everyone should have an electronic scan tool BEFORE going to look at a used 6.0L. The cheapest way to go about this is to download either Torque Pro or ForScan Lite to your phone. I find the Torque Pro interface to be better, but ForScan is by far a better code reader. To use these apps, you will need an ELM327 OBDII adapter. I find that the BAFX adapter is very reliable. WiFi works well w/ i-phones and probably also works well w/ Androids (I haven't checked that). BlueTooth works well w/ Android phones. The app and the adapter will cost around $45 total. Very cheap investment for the value you get!!!

The ScanguageII is not a bad tool either. It is around $120, so it is a little more expensive. It is NOT a very good code reader.

The things to look at FIRST - scan for stored codes!!!

After that:
First look at all the temperature readings with your scan tool (do this before attempting to start). They should all be about the same and they should indicate that the engine is cold. That is how you want it when you first look at a 6.0L to buy.

After verifying that the temperature sensors are correct, look at the pressure sensors:
If you have an 03 or 04, you may have the flash that eliminates the PCM from using the EBP sensor and your scan tool may not pick it up. These pressure sensors shoul all read within about .5 psig of each other w/ the key on and engine off (KOEO).

Then you want to start the truck. It should be a strong AND EVEN crank, and a fairly quick start. You shouldn't see excessive smoke from the exhaust from the start.

When you are starting the truck, you want to watch the following sensors:
ICP pressure, psig
ICP volts
ICP desired, psig
IPR % duty cycle
FICM MPower, volts
FICM LPower, volts
Vehicle voltage

The ICP and IPR information can tell you if you have a strong high-pressure oil system. You want to see ICP get over 500 psig quickly (this will happen around .85 volts on the ICP sensor). You should see the IPR % duty cycle get around 25% or 30% before the start and then when it is idling, it should be 24% to 30% on a cold idle if everything is normal.

04.5 model years and up came with dummy plugs and standpipes that were somewhat leak prone. Over the years, updated parts were provided and they work well.
The 05 and up model years got a new HPOP. It has been very reliable, but the discharge fitting off of this pump was weak. An updated (one-piece) part has solved the problem.

The 03-04.5 HPOP's were weak - period. IMO the only HPOP to install in these model years is a Dieselsite HPOP.

The FICM information can tell you if the FICM power board and FICM supply voltage is good. A healthy "non-modified" FICM should read 47-48 volts at FICM MPower. The LPower is the logic voltage and it should read what the vehicle voltage is.

When cranking, you might drop into the low "10.something voltage", but it should quickly start climbing and should be 13.8 to 14.4 volts when the glow plugs turn off. That said, STRONG batteries can maintain 11 volts or above at crank. Be aware that the glow plug light is NOT indicative of the glow plug operation. The glow plugs will run longer than the light is on. How long depends on how cold it is outside. They can run up to two minutes in cold weather.

Run the truck through it's paces on the test drive, but no hard accelerations until it is fully warmed up. It will take a good 20 minutes to fully warm up.

After fully warmed up, make sure the truck has good acceleration and no hesitation's when accelerating. Look for excessive smoke on accelerations.

After the engine is fully warmed up, look for a healthy oil cooler. Monitor the following:
Make sure that the oil temperature is less than 15 degrees higher than the coolant temperature when driving at steady highway speeds. IMO it should be less than 10 degrees. Make sure that the transmission temperature is not excessive. It should be around 140-150 degrees. The coolant temperature may vary somewhat, but it should stay between 192 and 200 degrees when the engine is not being worked hard.

Monitor the following when driving. Note that the ICP pressure ACTUAL should be maintained pretty close to the ICP DESIRED:
ICP pressure, psig
ICP desired, psig

Check out the engine operation without the A/C, and then with the A/C. Keep an eye on coolant temperatures after turning the A/C on.

Check the heater out - make sure it works.
Check out the steering, Should not be sloppy and the steering wheel should be straight when going straight (and not "wander" when you let go of the steering wheel on a straight-away).
Pay attention to the suspension when hitting bumps.
Check out the braking and make sure the truck doesn't pull to one side when braking. You shouldn't hear any loud squeals either when braking.

After the test drive, shut down the truck. Then re-start the truck. It is important to test out the hot-starts on a 6.0L.
Look at the following on a hot-start:
ICP pressure, psia
ICP voltage
IPR % duty cycle.
The ICP should still quickly get over 500 psig and the engine should start. Starting should occur in less than 3 seconds of cranking IMO. IIRC Ford specification is higher than that. The IPR % duty cycle at idle when hot should be around 26-28 %.

EDIT - More detail on buying a used 6.0L

The reason it is VERY VERY important to get a cold engine to start is because some people might try to hide a cold start problem (which could be a FICM issue or injector issue) by warming it up before you get there.

Before you give it a test drive, open the hood and inspect the coolant system. Put your hand on the radiator, the upper radiator hose, and the side of the degas bottle - the coolant should be cold. Verify that the coolant level is between the min and the max levels as shown by the sticker on the degas bottle. Ford specified that the correct cold level for the coolant is at the minimum mark. You can even remove the degas bottle cap (do so carefully, but it isn't as dangerous as a radiator cap when the coolant is at a proper level in the degas bottle). If there is a lot of residual pressure relieved from the degas bottle when the cap is removed, this is a potential sign of head gasket issues.

While you are looking at the coolant - check out the color of the coolant. A gold color coolant can potentially be the Ford OEM coolant. This coolant is not very robust and can not handle excessive temperatures, mixing w/ other coolants, or exposure to combustion gasses (if there is a head gasket leak or an EGR cooler leak). This coolant is responsible for the bulk of the problems with the oil cooler plugging up. Excessively plugged oil coolers can cause EGR cooler failures AND the oil cooler itself can rupture. When an oil cooler ruptures, it will put oil into the coolant. So verify there isn't ANY contamination of the coolant when you inspect the degas bottle. Make sure there are no white spots around the degas bottle or on the cap. This can be a sign of excessive pressure in the coolant system which can be caused by an EGR cooler leak or head gasket leaks. Some folks have found that the Gold coolant works OK if the engine is never overheated and if it hasn't been contaminated. Also, Ford specifies that it should be changed every 40k miles or it could start degrading (this can cause oil cooler plugging). Green coolant certainly isn't recommended either. It requires fairly frequent addition of chemicals to maintain its corrosion protection. The Gold or Green coolants should be flushed out as quickly as possible if you buy the truck. You want to put in an EC-1 rated ELC coolant. They are usually red.

Regarding the hot start test (which is also VERY important): The 2004.5 and up year models have a few more potential leak issues in the high pressure oil system than the earlier model years. These can cause hard no-starts. Often times, these initially show up when the engine (oil) is fully hot. The 05 and up model years introduced one more potential leak point in the high pressure oil system with the HPOP discharge "STC" (snap-to-connect) fitting. Fortunately the 05 and up HPOP is pretty darn reliable (and it is far from that for the 03, 04, and 04.5)!!

"resident smarty pants"
5,498 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Here is a thread that goes over some of the changes in the various model years. It may be useful in making your decision on what used vehicle to buy:

Differences between new 6.0 an old 6.0 - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums

Some things I like better about the late 2004 (and up) model years (production after 9/23/2003):

ICP sensor and location improved (early sensors have a high failure rate, the new sensor location is on the passenger side valve cover)
Better (higher capacity also) water pump
Higher capacity oil rails
Glow Plug Control module change and improved wiring harness
Improved Injectors (diamond-like coating)

Some things I like about 2005 (and up) model years and up:

Better high pressure oil pump.
Better front brakes (some may argue the point though) and coil springs
Several harness upgrades to reduce chaffing of wires
Some EGR valve improvements
more injector improvements

Some things I like about 2006 model years and up:
More EGR valve improvements
Commonization changes (in preparation for the 6.4L production). These include stronger injector hold-downs and some speculate there are WAY fewer issues with cracked heads in this area!
Larger turbo oil supply and drain tubes
A Revised Machined Recess turbocharger
Bracket installed on the high pressure oil pump discharge (STC fitting) for production models after August of 2006 (but even with the bracket, the one-piece fitting was the "final" solution).

Not sure of the date, but I believe it was sometime in 2007 for the 2008 E-series when the new "one piece" fitting was installed on the high pressure oil pump discharge (replaces the STC "snap to connect" fitting that has a high failure rate).

Each model year seems to have its specific weaknesses also. More discussion on that later.
Here is a pretty good starting list issues by year and a few more things to look for.
6.0L Ford Power Stroke Engine - Ford Diesel Trucks - Diesel Power Magazine

After you buy a used 6.0L, here is a good post to read.
Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums - View Single Post - Just bought 06 F350 FX4 6.0!! :D

"resident smarty pants"
5,498 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here are some things to consider after buying the used 6.0L:

After you buy a used 6.0L, I would IMMEDIATELY change the fuel filters, air filter, and then change the oil (and filter of course) to a quality oil. I prefer a 5W40 synthetic. As said many times before, use OEM filters (Racor, Motorcraft, or International for oil and fuel, Donaldson for the air). Just make sure the oil is properly diesel rated (CJ4 or CI4+).

I would also change the transfer case fluid and the differential(s) fluid.

I would ALSO replace the EGR valve with a new one, if you are still wanting to run one. Be sure to clean the MAP sensor hose and the EBP sensor tube in the process.

Add a coolant filter and (if you didn't follow the pre-purchase advice) install gauges (fuel pressure, oil and coolant temps, boost and EGT). Gauges are very important. The electronic systems are best and easiest IMO.

Eventually you may want to re-route the ccv vent to reduce oil in the CAC (Charge Air Cooler) tubes

I would flush the coolant after I got it. If it doesn't have it already or if you don't know what is in it, recharge the coolant (after flushing with distilled water) with an EC-1 rated ELC type coolant. Coolant health is as important as proper oil, proper filters, and good fuel and fuel pressure.

Instead of flushing your transmission, you can drain the tranny fluid and drop the pan, inspect the screen (it usually does not need replacement) and then re-fill. I would probably repeat this process 2 to 3 more times after driving 50 miles or so in between each "drain and refill" process. The driving time is just to fully mix the transmission fluid in preparation for the next drain and fill. REMEMBER - the 6.0L had an external tranny filter that should be changed every 30k miles also (probably even a good idea to do that a little more frequently). When you refill after dropping the pan, the refill is around 9 quarts. It is around 8 quarts if you just drain from the drain plug. ALWAYS check the fluid levels (using the proper method) after replacing the fluids.

If you want to flush the transmission, here is the ONLY procedure that works properly:

I would also consider VERY hard to pull the turbo and clean it.

The instructions for MANY of these jobs are in the Tech Folder.

NOW - get to know YOUR 6.0L (you can skip this part if you are familiar with the 6.0L engine, terminology, engine sensors, and location of components):

2003.25 coffee table book (6.0L bible):
2004 coffee table book (6.0L bible):
2005 coffee table book (6.0L bible):
2005 running changes - update

"resident smarty pants"
5,498 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thought I would add ths summary even though some of it is a repeat from an earlier post:

Any year model can be a good deal .............. or not.

I will be as thorough as possible, only because most people are gun shy over the 6.0L. To try to minimize the negative posts, it may help to just let you know of most of the significant issues, and that there are fixes to all of them.

I would venture to say that most owners enjoyed far more reliability than the forums will ever indicate. If the trucks were heavily modded, especially without doing reliability upgrades, then they are/were likely to have issues. Ths means that buyers of used trucks can inherit major issues in some cases.

You need to know the weaknesses of them. More importantly, you need to know how it was taken care of. As said previously, the simplest thing to do is to buy an electronic gauge system BEFORE buying a 6.0L - many owners simply do not know how to take care of them or what to watch for.

The Scangauge II was a very popular electronic gauge system. It isn't a bad tool at all, but the technology is a little "clunky" and it doesn't read codes very well. With the scangaugeII you can look at FICM voltage, ICP and IPR data, and oil vs coolant temp (do not buy one with an oil temp at greater than 15 degrees more than the coolant temp when accelerating or at 65 mph).

The Torque Pro (Android) is a better electronic gauge system with a very nice display setup. It reads codes better than the Scangauge, but not as well as ForScan.

All year models have these potential weaknesses:

- low fuel pressure (a cheap blue spring upgrade is usually all they is required unless the engine is tuned, then you may need an aftermarket pump, etc)

- weak FICM (the Fuel Injection Control Module is susceptible to failure from low system voltage, poor factory software or flash, heat and vibration. can inexpensively upgrade it for apprx $300 and make it reliable. Even so, you need to keep the batteries and alternators healthy)

- plugging oil coolers from gelling coolant (this is mostly due to poor coolant maintenance, running low on coolant level, or small leaks in the head gaskets. IMO the Ford Gold coolant is junk, but if you flush it every 50k miles and don't have any of the "afore mentioned issues", it very well could be fine. Switching to an ELC coolant will greatly reduce the possibility of gelling. A $120 coolant filter is an excellent idea)

- plugging oil coolers from casting sand, degradation of the block heater, coolant system contamination/degradation, etc (again, a $120 coolant filter is an excellent idea)

- nagging oil leaks - small hanging drops from the bell housing are common (They are almost never a really problem per se - only a nuisance. Glow plugs, CKP, CMP, CAC boots, ICP sensors, and sometimes even bed plates are the issue. Easy to check for when purchasing a used truck)

- wiring harness chaffing (some year models are worse than others. 03 and 04 have the highest frequency of these issues, and 05 might have more than the 06 and 07 years. You can look over wiring harnesses pretty easily when looking at a used truck)

- CAC boots leaking oil due to the ccv ventilation system (the crankcase vapors vent back to the turbo inlet. This can get the intake system quite oily. Sometimes the Charge-Air_Cooler boots will fail due to the oil soaking. Upgrade the boots and/pr re-route the ccv vent. Probably $200 in cost at the most)

- head gaskets, or actually head bolts (International used torque-to-yield bolts. They do not handle stress, overheating, or overpressure very well. I would say that the majority of stock trucks that are well maintained do not have issues. However, if you let an oil cooler plug which leads to an EGR cooler rupture, then an intake will get filled with coolant and you will have failed head gaskets or worse. Significant overboost can also cause head gasket failures. Head studs coupled with good maintenance practices and you will be fine (stck head gaskets are very good parts - don't be afraid to use them). If the truck was stock, well maintained, and will remain that way, chances are you will be fine with regards to head gaskets).

- heavy idling can soot-up an EGR system (minimize idling or install the high idle mod - easy and cheap).

- some people say turbos and injectors are weak, but if you take care of them, I have found them to be very reliable.

- Ball joints for some last only 80k - 100k miles. Others get much more. Greasable aftermarket ball joints resolve any issues (if you have an issue with them). Mine went 90k and were fine when I changed them (didn't need to). The absolute BEST ball joints I have found are the DynaTrac ones.

- At 175 to 200k miles, you may start to see suspension and steering components wear out. My bump stops and cab mount bushings failed around 175k miles. They aren't fancy components, but they aren't cheap! Similarly tie-rod ends and drag links start to wear out and they aren't cheap!

2003 and early 04 (03 engines) weaknesses:
  • ICP sensor and connector are common issues. Not real expensive to fix, but it is hard to get to the ICP which is under the turbo for these engines. Change out the connector AND the sensor if it fails.
  • FICM (injectors) harnesses (Look the wiring over carefully, he fix is a new harness or repair/re-route the old one)
  • HPOP (These early HPOP's occasionally would lose a bb in a machined port on the HPOP discharge. Repair can get expensive due to the tear-down time)
  • cooling is usually fine, but the water pump is smaller than later model years
  • braking is usually fine, but the brakes are smaller than later model years

2003 and early 04 (03 engines) strengths:
  • high pressure oil piping systems have few issues
  • the early EGR coolers have very few failures. They are a shell-and-tube design and pretty stout

2004 was a transition year, just depends on the specific engine you have. In general though, the following upgrades were made in 2004:
  • late 04 is when the front cover changed and the larger water pump was installed
  • late 04 was when the higher capacity oil rails were installed, but this brought about the leak issues described below.
  • diamond-like coating was introduced on the injectors, but many 03 injectors have enjoyed 200k-250k miles of reliability

2005 - 2007 weaknesses:
  • high pressure oil leaks (STC fitting, dummy plugs in the oil rail, and standpipes. Ford has upgraded components that are proving to be very reliable)
  • revised EGR cooler, with plates/fins (relatively high failure rate on these coolers when the oil cooler begins to plug up. Keep the coolant clean and the oil cooler system unplugged and you will probably be fine. Install a BulletProofDiesel EGR cooler and forget about the possibilities)

2005 - 2007 strengths:
  • reliable HPOP
  • water pump (cooling)
  • brakes (some may argue this point)
  • coil suspension
  • at least for the 06 and 07 - fewer harness chaffing issues
  • a revised machined Recess turbocharger for 06 and 07
  • larger turbo oil supply and drain tubes for 06 and 07
  • injector improvements
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