What to Look for When Buying a Powerstroke
May 12, 2020

What to Look for When Buying a Powerstroke

Written By: ProSource Diesel

No other type of engine can match the power and durability of a Powerstroke engine. These diesel engines can tow or haul an incredible amount of weight up steep inclines with no problem and stand up to years of strenuous use and wear-and-tear without breaking down. That’s part of the reason these engines are in such high demand.

Whether you need a work truck or a vehicle for running daily errands like taking the kids to school, Powerstroke engines are in a class by themselves when it comes to performance and durability.

What To Look For

Whether you’re buying a Ford truck or any other vehicle with a new or used Powerstroke engine, there are several things to look for that indicate if the engine is in tiptop shape or will soon need servicing.

If you pay close attention to these things while you decide whether to purchase the vehicle or not, they can save you a lot of money and hassle while ensuring you have a great driving and ownership experience.

Ignoring these signs can prevent you from getting the best value possible for your investment and reduce how much fun you can have with your Powerstroke vehicle.

1. Smooth Engine Operation

When you test drive a diesel truck, listen to the type of noises it makes. Whether it’s a new or used diesel truck, there should be no loud noises when you start it. The louder the noises the engine makes, the sooner (and more expensive) the repairs that will likely be. Proper engine function is the key to the efficient performance of any vehicle. Don’t buy diesel vehicles with noisy engines or you will be paying to replace or repair it soon.

2. Prolonged Dark Emissions

The emissions from diesel-powered vehicles is darker than emissions from gasoline-powered ones. However, when test driving a vehicle with a diesel engine, pay close attention to the color and amount of smoke coming out of the tailpipe. If the engine is in good condition, only a small amount of dark smoke should be emitted when the engine starts, and it should quickly disappear. Diesel engines that spew out dark smoke for prolonged periods have too much particulate matter in them. That’s a serious issue that can hurt the engine’s efficiency, effectiveness and overall performance.

3. Mileage

The mileage on the odometer of a used diesel truck is a reliable measure of the amount of wear the engine has endured. Diesel engines are strong and durable enough to handle much more mileage than gasoline engines before needing repair. Excessively high mileage indicates vital engine parts may soon need to be repaired or replaced. Diesel vehicles with very low mileage can mean the diesel truck engine has lots of life left in it. However, older Powerstroke vehicles with unusually low mileage could mean an unscrupulous owner has rolled back the odometer.

4. Good Fuel Efficiency

Properly maintained newer diesel vehicles deliver excellent fuel efficiency. It can be as much as 20% to 40% better than gasoline-powered vehicles of the same type. For people who regularly drive long distances, this can save them lots of money. It can also make a great deal of difference in areas where high gas prices are the norm. Great fuel economy is one of the biggest benefits of a diesel engine. This can make it cost-effective to pay a little more per gallon for diesel fuel because you will get more miles per gallon.

5. Good Interior And Exterior Appearance

Look closely at how the interior and exterior of a diesel vehicle was maintained. That can give some insight as to how well the engine was maintained. Vehicle owners who are very protective of the interior and exterior of their vehicles are more likely to properly maintain the engine as well. If the exterior has lots of dents, holes and cracks, the vehicle may have been used excessively and not properly maintained. Signs of rust on the body or undercarriage and foul odors from the heating and air conditioning system could be a hint the vehicle has water damage.

6. Towing Capacity

Diesel trucks are known and loved for their excellent towing capacity. That’s because even at low speeds they can provide high torque. Even the heaviest loads feel lighter with a diesel engine under the hood making accelerating down the highway a breeze. If the seller talks about problems with the towing capacity of their diesel-powered vehicle, run, don’t walk away from them. That vehicle likely has serious, expensive problems with the engine.

7. Gas Stations with Diesel Fuel

Only about 55% of the gas stations in the United States have diesel pumps. This means a little more planning must go into fueling up when taking your new diesel truck and the trailer it pulls on a road trip. You have to calculate the miles it takes to complete your trip, how many times you will need to fill up and identify conveniently located gas stations that sell diesel fuel. Fortunately, there are apps that can pinpoint gas stations nationwide that sell diesel fuel and their current prices. 

8. Quiet Diesel Powered Engines

When buying a used or new Powerstroke powered truck, it’s important to know diesel-powered vehicles now come with engines a lot quieter than they were in the past. Diesel-powered engines were horribly noisy, loud and obnoxious and the sound was unmistakable. Improvements to engine technology in the past decade have led to the development of surprisingly quiet diesels. They are now only slightly louder than gasoline engines. Plus, there is now much better noise insulation technology that makes the cabin much quieter for the vehicle’s occupants.

9. Improved Exhaust Systems

Look for a new or used Powerstroke that meets the high U.S. emissions standards. These vehicles have improved engines as well as exhaust systems, plus they run on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel which is less damaging to the environment. The new Powerstroke on American roads today must meet the emissions standards that gasoline-powered vehicles are required to meet. These standards are more stringent than in many other countries, but the goal is to ensure they won’t do excessive damage to the environment as more of them hit American roadways.

10. Contaminated Oil, Fuel And Exhaust

When buying a used Powerstroke vehicle, check for oil, fuel and exhaust contamination.

If the oil smells like fuel or looks milky; if the coolant has an unusual smell; or if the exhaust pipe is black, it can mean the used Powerstroke vehicle has a bad oil cooler, a cracked head or a blown EGR cooler. Those can cause terrible performance and expensive repairs. You should have a trusted diesel mechanic do a thorough examination of it before you spend thousands of dollars to buy a damaged vehicle.

11. Rough Start and Shaking While Running

When buying a used Ford Powerstroke or any other brand diesel-powered truck, look for hard cold starts, lagging, rough running and shaking, hesitation or unusual noises while it warms up or when driving. That can signal issues with the injectors, FICM, glow plug or compression. Once the vehicle reaches optimal operating temperature, run it full throttle then check the cap of the coolant reservoir. If it’s wet and coolant is gushing out, there could be leaking head gaskets. Take off the oil fill cap. If there’s excessive blow from the fill neck, there could be a compression problem.

12. A Good Paper Trail

Detailed maintenance records matter. If the seller has a log or folder filled with receipts showing the vehicle was serviced regularly, the Ford Powerstroke you are looking at probably has been properly maintained. This reduces the chances key engine components have excessive wear, clogged valves, or metal shavings and sludge in the oil. That’s especially important whether you are considering buying a used Powerstroke, Duramax or Cummins truck.

In Conclusion

These twelve items should be on your checklist when inspecting a new or used Powerstroke truck. With careful examination, you can make your purchase knowing your truck will give you trouble-free performance for years to come.

If you find yourself in need of Powerstroke parts or performance upgrades you’ll find them here at ProSource Diesel. Some of our more popular upgrades include computer programmers (or tuners), exhaust system upgrades, performance air intakes and much more. When a Powerstroke engine needs replacement parts, you can trust the experts at ProSource Diesel for reliable and hard-to-find Powerstroke parts for your Ford diesel truck.

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