How to Make a 6.4 Powerstroke Bulletproof

How to Make a 6.4 Powerstroke Bulletproof: Complete Guide

How to Make a 6.4 Powerstroke Bulletproof

Are you a Ford truck owner with a 6.4 Powerstroke engine? If so, you may be familiar with the engine’s reputation for reliability issues and expensive repairs. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your 6.4 Powerstroke “bulletproof” and ensure that it runs smoothly for years to come. 

The main things you need to do is replace the oil cooler, the EGR cooler, the water pump, the head studs, and the fuel injection control module (FICM). 

But be wary as these mods are very complex to do, so it’s better to take your car to an experienced mechanic.

However, you do need to be aware that mods and labor will easily run you up to $15,000, or even more if you really go to town with the upgrades.

In this article, we will provide a complete guide on how to make a 6.4 Powerstroke bulletproof, including tips on upgrading these components and which mods complement them the best.

Whether you are a truck enthusiast or simply want to ensure that your vehicle is running at its best, read on to learn how to make your 6.4 Powerstroke engine as reliable and durable as possible.

How to Make a 6.4 Powerstroke Bulletproof

What does it mean to bulletproof a 6.4 Powerstroke?

Bulletproofing is a term used in the automotive industry that refers to a series of modifications made to the engine of a Ford 6.4 Powerstroke diesel truck.

The modifications are aimed at improving the engine’s durability and reliability to prevent common issues associated with the stock engine.

The term “bulletproofing” was first coined back in the late 2000s when a company called Bullet Proof Diesel saw an opportunity in solving most of the problems that typically plague the Powerstroke 6.0 and 6.4 engines.

It’s safe to say that the company managed to pull it off as it became somewhat of an enthusiast’s safe heaven, at least as far as Powerstroke F-series engines are concerned.

How to Make a 6.4 Powerstroke Bulletproof? 

The idea behind bulletproofing a 6.4 Powerstroke is doing at least four or five major upgrades to the engine’s most vulnerable systems. 

These include the EGR cooler, the oil cooler, the head studs, the fuel injection control module (FICM), and the water pump.

Many people believe that doing the EGR cooler and the oil cooler is the bare minimum as these two mods will offer you a much more dependable engine as even with timely maintenance, these two components are known to fail eventually.

The reality is that the factory-provided oil cooler gets filled with gunk and thus raises the temperature really high. 

This can also affect the EGR cooler and many other surrounding components.

We are now going to outline everything that needs to be done in order to properly bulletproof a 6.4 Powerstroke and make it one of the most reliable diesel engines out there, including:

  1. Tearing up the entire engine
  2. Inspecting it and identifying all the problem areas
  3. Replacing vulnerable components
  4. Reassembling the engine 

Tearing Up the Entire Engine

The first thing you need to do is to disconnect the battery and take a good look within the engine bay to identify where all the components are located.

This is also a good time to drain all the essential fluids such as the oil, the coolant, and the transmission oil.

Make sure to remove all the accessories from the engine, including the alternator, the turbocharger, and all of the other components that keep the engine tightly placed within the engine bay.

Go ahead and disconnect the engine from the transmission, clear off all the mounts, and take the entire engine out of the car.

Proceed by removing the cylinder heads, the pistons, the EGR cooler, the oil cooler, the head studs, the fuel injector control module, and the water pump. 

Tearing Up the Entire Engine

Inspecting the Engine and Identifying All the Problem Areas

Inspect the engine components to identify any areas that need to be addressed during the bulletproofing process, especially the essential five components listed above.

It is also a good idea to perform a service to the areas of the engine which aren’t typically easy to access as you don’t want to remove the engine of the car often.

Check the block of the engine, the heads, and all of the other vital components as all of these need to be in good shape. Otherwise, all of the mods won’t do you any good and can actually accelerate some of the problems instead.

If you want, you can also go ahead and upgrade other parts of the engine such as intercoolers, radiators, exhaust systems, performance brakes, and performance monitors. 

Inspecting the Engine and Identifying All the Problem Areas

Replace Vulnerable Components 

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty and decide which components you want to replace.

The first thing you need to replace is the oil and EGR cooler, which can be done by following this quick guide:

Begin by Removing the EGR Cooler

  • Step 1: The EGR cooler is located on the passenger side of the engine and is connected to the exhaust system. 
  • Step 2: Disconnect the hoses and bolts that hold the EGR cooler in place, and remove it from the engine.

Remove the Oil Cooler

  • Step 1: The oil cooler is located on the driver’s side of the engine. To access it, you will need to remove the upper intake manifold, fuel filter housing, and other components that obstruct access to the oil cooler. 
  • Step 2: Once these parts are removed, disconnect the hoses and bolts that hold the oil cooler in place and remove it from the engine.

Install the EGR Cooler and the Oil Cooler

  • Step 1: Once the old EGR cooler is removed, replace it with the new one. Connect the hoses and bolts that hold the EGR cooler in place, and tighten them to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Step 2: Place the new oil cooler into position and connect the hoses and bolts that hold it in place. Tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications.

The next components you ought to tackle are the head studs, which will also need to be replaced as a part of the essential bulletproofing method.

Replacing the head studs on a 6.4 Powerstroke engine is a complex and challenging process that should only be undertaken by experienced mechanics with a good knowledge of engine mechanics. 
So be realistic with your experience and your overall engine knowledge.

Remove the Cylinder Heads

  • Step 1: Remove the turbocharger and intake manifold, as well as any other components that may interfere with the removal of the cylinder head. Place the cylinder head slowly on a flat and secure workbench.
  • Step 2: Make sure to remove all the head bolts, rocker arm assemblies, pushrods, and other components from the head, and clean all of the mating surfaces with a gasket scrapper and a dedicated solvent.

Install the Head Studs

  • Step 1: Install the new head studs and torque them to the manufacturer’s specifications using a torque wrench and following the proper torque sequence for all of the studs individually.
  • Step 2: Reinstall the pushrods, rocker arm assemblies, and any other components that were removed during disassembly. Ensure that all parts are clean and properly lubricated before reinstallation.

Now it’s time to move on to our third component that needs replacing, the fuel injection control module (FICM).

Install the Head Studs

Locate the FICM and Remove it

  • Step 1: The FICM is typically mounted on the passenger side valve cover. Remove the electrical connector and bolts holding it in place. 
  • Step 2: Carefully lift the FICM out of its mount, taking care not to damage any of the components or connections in the process.

Install the New FICM

  • Step 1: Install the new FICM in the same location, ensuring that it is properly aligned and secured with the mounting bolts.
  • Step 2: Reconnect the electrical connector to the new FICM and make sure it is properly seated and does not move within its respective location.

To finish off the essential part of bulletproofing a 6.4 Powerstroke, you ought to replace the water pump as well. Just be sure to follow the guide below:

Remove the Old Water Pump

  • Step 1: Disconnect the coolant hoses from the water pump while making sure not to damage any of the connections and other nearby components.
  • Step 2: Remove the mounting bolts that secure the water pump to the engine block. Carefully lift the water pump out of its mount and, once again, try not to damage any of the components or connections in the process.

Clean the Surface and Install the New Water Pump

  • Step 1: Clean the mating surfaces of the water pump and engine block using a gasket scraper and a dedicated solvent. Ensure that all debris and gasket materials are removed from the surfaces before you proceed.
  • Step 2: Install the new water pump in the same location, properly align everything, and connect all of the coolant hoses to the new pump.

Reassemble the Engine

Now it’s time to repeat the tearing-up process backward which means following this guide carefully not to miss anything in the process. Also, depending on any additional mods you do, make sure to install those now.

Place the Engine Back Into the Engine Bay

  • Step 1: Use a dedicated lift to place the engine back into its respective mounts and reconnect it with the transmission.
  • Step 2: Reconnect all of the electrical components, cooling components, and all the other components back to the engine the same way you took them off (alternator, turbocharger, starter motor, injectors, sensors, hoses, exhaust,  etc)

Fill up all of the Fluids and Connect the Battery

  • Step 1: Be sure to fill up all of the fluids into the engine and the transmission (coolant, oil, transmission fluid, etc)
  • Step 2: Connect the battery back up and make sure to double-check all of the connections to make sure everything is properly fastened according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Fill up all of the Fluids and Connect the Battery

Ford 6.4 Bulletproof Upgrades

Here are some of the most popular Ford Powerstroke 6.4 upgrades to do while bulletproofing the engine:

Performance Monitors & Digital Gauges

This is a really good mod if you want to stay on top of everything that is going on with your engine. These will help you monitor essential metrics such as the inner engine temperatures, oil temps, transmission temps, etc.

Aftermarket Radiators

A really good mod to do is to upgrade your radiators so your engine has a higher max temperature ceiling, which will work well with your new coolers and your new water pump. 

This will also reduce the frequency of coolant drains, which is also a good bonus.

Engine Coolant Filtration Upgrades

Even if you upgrade the radiators, your coolers, and the water pump, they will still be vulnerable to various contaminants such as dirt, debris, sand, or even small metal shavings.

Therefore, going for higher-end, more capable cooling system filtration systems will further make your Powerstroke more capable of enduring high temps while also being more mechanically and structurally viable.

Cold Air Intake Mod

A new cold air intake is an essential mod for most Powerstroke units, which is why you should install one as well.

Your throttle response is going to be better, your turbo spool is going to improve, and your towing & hauling are going to feel more consistent if you upgrade to a cold air intake.

Cold Air Intake Mod


A good way to make your 6.4 more efficient and better performing is investing in a high-quality digital tune that can be easily added through your OBD-II port.

New Up-Pipes

A new set of up-pipes is predominantly going to make your Powerstroke more durable. 

However, these will also aid in long-term performance upgrades without worrying about cracking or damaging them.

Lift Pump

A lift pump is designed to enable you to adjust your fuel pressure and thus push your performance and throttle response substantially.

This will also make your engine more efficient, more capable of enduring stress, and much longer lasting.

Performance Intercoolers

As most of these mods will raise your engine’s overall running temperature, it is rather crucial to go for a performance intercooler to keep everything in check.

Performance Intercoolers

An intercooler is also going to make the air a lot denser, which will help your engine push higher horsepower and torque numbers.

Exhaust and Exhaust Brakes

An exhaust/exhaust brake mod is also welcomed as these will clear the throat of your Powerstorke and thus will make your engine more powerful throughout the RPM range.

You do need to pay attention to emissions regulations as many people also like removing all the emissions components at this stage, but most states prevent you from doing that.