Here we have a Ford 6.0L Power Stroke to help show that even though they may be known for their problems, they can be great workhorses with low initial investments and the right aftermarket products.
This 2005 XL regular cab long bed was purchased by a heavy truck turbocharger manufacturing company that needed a parts truck to haul substantial loads, mostly to local warehouses, sometimes on long highway trips. Purchased used for just $5200, the relatively “low” mileage truck has just over 120,000 miles on the odometer and appears to be in good mechanical condition with some previously installed aftermarket parts under the hood. These parts consist of an Absolute Performance Coolant Filtration and Delta oil-cooler kit and a performance EGR system; we assumed these were installed due to a failed factory EGR Cooler and/or Oil Cooler. The transmission shifts well even under heavy load, and the engine has no signs of rough running problems, regardless of oil temperature—hopefully it still has some miles left in it.
“Replacement OEM air filters are expensive and hard to replace, due to a poor clip system that often breaks, causing unfiltered air to enter the system. With Banks Ram Air system, that’s no longer a problem.”
Cosmetically, the truck looks rather boring and a little beat up, but none of that will stop it from performing its primary task: hauling and towing heavy parts around the Rocky Mountain region. This truck was chosen as a DW project vehicle due to its relatively stock condition, typical of what’s available on the used 6.0L market. But owners looking to improve performance and reliability on a budget will find that this truck has plenty room for performance and reliability upgrades. Follow along as we begin part I of how to turn an average 6/0L Power Stroke into a safe and reliable diesel hotrod.
RAM AIR INTAKE
The first place to start on the path to better efficiency and power is by improving airflow. The factory 6.0’s air box does a good job at filtration but at the high cost of overall airflow: the restrictive inlet before the filter kills flow, and the sharp bends and tight corners on the outlet side create turbulence, slowing air’s entry into the turbocharger.
On top of this poor design, the factory intake uses a paper-style filter that makes the engine work much harder than it should have to, limiting performance and mileage. The replacement filters are expensive and hard to insert due to a poor clip system that often breaks and causes unfiltered air to enter the system.
“The factory exhaust system has tight-crimped bends and a large, restrictive muffler, which slows exhaust flow and creates unneeded drive pressure, leading to hotter Exhaust Gas Temperatures.”
Banks engineers spent a lot of time developing the Ram Air system that will outflow the stock setup by over 38 percent. The large cotton gauze dome-shaped filter offers the best and easiest airflow passage to the turbo, while offering great filtration; the large radiuses on the inlet and outlet maximize flow, which helps improve turbo spool-up and throttle response. The kit can be installed in less than thirty minutes with basic hand tools by even the most novice mechanics and, in the long run, can save on maintenance costs: the new high-flow filter can be removed, cleaned and reinstalled with no need to replace!
Once the intake side of the engine is taken care of, the next step to a better running 6.0L engine is to upgrade the exhaust system to improve exhaust flow and eliminate back pressure within the engine. The factory exhaust system has tight-crimped bends and a large, restrictive muffler, which slows exhaust flow and creates unneeded drive pressure, leading to hotter exhaust gas temperatures. To overcome these design flaws, the 4” Banks Monster Exhaust uses high flow mandrel-bent stainless tubing: This reduces back pressure and helps broaden the engines usable torque curve, making towing heavy loads or accelerating past muscle cars on the freeway much easier.
Coming right out of the turbo is a 2-piece 3.5” turbine outlet pipe, which makes installation easy and offers ample room between the engine and firewall. From there, the system flows through the factory catalytic converter and then into the 4” streamlined system. The big 8.5” diameter Monster Muffler offers a patented high-temp ceramic packing and expansion chamber inside that allows for maximum flow without the annoying in-cab drone heard from other aftermarket flow through mufflers. Designed specifically for diesel applications, the ceramic packing won’t degrade over time like fiberglass would. On the tail end of the system, you’ll find a choice of 5” polished or high-temp black exhaust tips delivering that authoritive throaty sport truck sound.
SIX GUN TUNER WITH IQ
The Banks Power Six Gun tuner has been available for the 6.0L Power Stroke for nearly a decade now, but thanks to the continuing product development and improvement in technology, it continues to be one of the more popular tuning upgrades available. Ford has left the tuning side of things relatively mundane in the 6.0L: Banks engineers have been able to fine tune the calibration via the Six Gun tuner to offer select-on-the-fly tuning for easy access to an additional 115hp and over 200lb-ft of torque. The clean tune technology offers power increases you can feel from the seat, without the unwanted thick, black smoke. Tuned specifically for the more sportster type drivers, the Banks tuning software makes calculated adjustments to the pulse width, timing, boost and fuel pressures to give you that rush of strong acceleration without the worry of engine and drivetrain problems. Best of all, when that lead foot feeling wears off, the Level 2 Economy setting will offer solid mileage increases for both daily driving and highway cruising.
“Ford has left the tuning side of things relatively mundane in the 6.0L”
Pairing the Six Gun Tuner with the latest Banks iQ interface offers all the control and engine monitoring you’ll need via the 5” high-resolution touchscreen monitor. With hundreds of different display options, you can fine-tune the display to show you the data you really need to know to keep the 6.0L engine running strong. After installing the included pyrometer kit, watching the exhaust gas temperatures will keep the engine internals sage, while monitoring engine oil and coolant temperatures can extend the life of the head gaskets and give warning of any potential oil cooler or high pressure oil system problems. The iQ also offers diagnostics scanning and trouble code clearing ability, along with non-vehicle related programs like Microsoft Office and Excel—even a few games like Solitaire. The monitor can also be used to watch videos, listen to downloaded music,and even GPS navigation. The Banks iQ provides complete vehicle control like no other monitor on the market.
The intake, exhaust and tuning were all installed during the same upgrade session, so actual gains from each individual part can’t really be listed. As a package, however, the systems all appear to work well together: The high flowing Ram Air intake has definitely helped turbocharger response off idle and in the mid-range, making daily driving and accelerating around someone on the highway much easier. The exhaust fit so perfectly you’d think the OEM developed it, but the larger mandrel bent pipe helps keep EGTs down while giving the truck a healthy exhaust note—without the dreaded drone from the cab you’d expect from a bigger exhaust system like this. These two parts paired with the performance Banks tuning has more than enough pep to keep the truck ripping around town without conjuring worries of premature engine or transmission failure.
Once the initial fun from the extra power wore off, and the truck stayed in the dedicated Economy tune, fuel mileage has also seen a noticeable increase, jumping from an average commute of 16.9mpg to almost 18.2mpg—an 8.5 percent improvement. Since this is a company owned work truck used to haul product to local customers and warehouses, and diesel is still hovering around the $3 per gallon mark, any reduction in running costs helps the company’s bottom line and profitability.