KNOW YOUR 6.0L
Diesel World|August 2021
THE KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EARLY AND LATE MODEL ’03-’07 POWER STROKES
MIKE MCGLOTHLIN

RUNNING ’03 & ’04 MODEL YEAR CHANGES

Most folks are aware that there were a boatload of subtle updates made between the ’03 and later versions of the 6.0L Power Stroke, but many don’t know that the pistons were different. Almost exclusively driven by emissions standards, ’04 model engines—beginning with serial number 6155637 in Indianapolis and serial number 0094580 at the Huntsville, Alabama plant—featured a crown with a smoother radius (right). This was done to increase the efficiency of the combustion event (namely to clean up particulate matter emissions). The piston’s skirt and ring lands were unchanged, as was its overall diameter. The beginning production date for’04 engines equipped with the updated pistons was September 29, 2003.

If you own a 6.0L Power Stroke, you have an engine that is at least 14 years old. And if you haven’t yet had to venture under the hood, you soon will. Contrary to what many outsiders believe, catastrophic engine failures are few and far between with the 6.0L. However, intermittent component failures are inevitable and can sideline you and your truck if you aren’t prepared, or aware of this engine’s common quirks. It’s equally important to mention that as these trucks age and become even more affordable to purchase on the used market, more and more owners perform their own repairs rather than take them to a dealership or an independent shop. It’s just the nature of the beast.

As a result of the piston changes that were integrated into the ’04 engines, shorter glow plugs were used. The glow plugs are exactly 1.2mm shorter than the versions employed in ’03 engines, so in order to avoid potentially catastrophic engine carnage through piston-to-glow plug contact make sure you don’t install longer, ’03 glow plugs in an ’04 or newer 6.0L. As for the glow plug module, beginning in ’04 its bracket was altered in order to accept the new positioning of the relocated ICP sensor (more on the ICP sensor in a bit).

The design of the aluminum intake manifold remained similar for ’04, but the rear cross plate, which was originally intended to equalize pressure on both sides of the manifold, was eliminated. The MAP port and the intake air temperature sensor remained located in the intake manifold, however.

When the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler was changed for the ’04 model year 6.0L Power Stroke, Ford advertised it as being longer rather than highlighting the fact that it was no longer round in shape. While the updated EGR cooler was in fact longer, its design was square and in time would prove more problematic—in terms of carbon buildup—than the ’03 engine’s EGR cooler had been. The intent of lengthening the EGR cooler was to give exhaust gases a longer run (i.e. an increased interval for cooling) before being introduced back into the intake stream.

In the following pages, we’ll spell out the primary differences between early and late engines, as well as the changes that were implemented beginning in ’05. Some of the distinctions are obvious (the 10-blade ’03 VGT vs. the quieter 13-blade turbo on ’04- ‘07s), while others (such as different cams, pistons, glow plugs, and water pumps) are more obscure. By knowing exactly which version of the 6.0L Power Stroke you’re dealing with, it’s our hope that the information contained here will remove all guesswork from your required repairs.

One major change between ’03 and ’04 model engines was the addition of the EGR throttle plate, or EGRTP. Located in the intake manifold, it was designed to reduce manifold pressure so that exhaust gases could flow more freely into the intake manifold. The EGRTP sensor is a potentiometer that provides an electric feedback signal to the powertrain control module (PCM).

In addition to the turbine wheel change, the way the turbocharger was mounted in the 6.0L’s lifter valley was also altered for 2004. A new turbo mounting bracket incorporated bolt spacers into the bracket itself, and allowed the required clamp load to be achieved for the turbo’s mounting bolts. Current part numbers for the ’03 turbocharger and the ’04-’05 unit are 725390-5006 and 743250-5024, respectively.

Although a lot of folks in the 6.0L Power Stroke realm enjoy the whistle of the ’03 engine’s variable geometry turbo, Ford didn’t feel the same. To quiet the Garrett GT3782VA down, a 13-blade turbine wheel was added for the ’04 model year. The ’03 model year turbocharger’s 10-blade design provided the pronounced whistle the 6.0L became immediately known for. Despite the change in blade count, the diameter of both the turbine wheel’s exducer and inducer remained the same.

​Midway through the ’03 model year, the 6.0L was treated to an oil supply line update for the turbocharger. Instead of utilizing a quickconnect fitting at the oil cooler, the new design featured a hold-down collar secured with a bolt. Ford made the update in order to eliminate the possibility of an oil leak, as well as increase long-term reliability of the hard-line.

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