6.0L - Blown Head Gasket

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The notorious failure with the 6.0 engine is one that we see very often. Let me start by saying the 6.0 motor is actually a well-built motor. The bottom end is fairly stout, and we typically don’t see catastrophic failure in these trucks until the 350k+ mark. What we normally find in these engines Is worn rings (common on higher mileage trucks), some lifter failure, and bad bearings (typically caused from lack of maintenance aka not changing your oil regularly). As for head gaskets we typically see this issue arise from 3 different things.

 

o 1st: Bad Oil cooler. This is probably the most common cause for blown head gaskets in the 6.0 engine. The best way to describe a 6.0 oil cooler is thinking about it like a sandwich with only bread and meat stacked on top of each other multiple times. Think about the bread being hollow and allowing the oil to pass through it from one side to the other and the meat, also hollow, being the engine coolant. The engine coolant is cooler than the oil allowing it to cool the oil down during this process. Unfortunately like the walls of the EGR cooler, this metal is thin and begins to break down over time. When this happens, oil begins to push its way into the cooling system and starts to create a milkshake like liquid mixed of oil and water. The reason the oil is pushed into the coolant system is because the oil is running at a higher pressure than the coolant system. Although you might be able to run your truck like this for a little while, the coolant will become too thick to run through the radiator, water pump and engine. At this point the liquid isn’t able to do any cooling and your engine will overheat.

o 2nd: Failing EGR coolers play a big role in blown head gaskets on the 6.0. The best way to describe a 6.0 EGR cooler is this. Think about a bunch of metal straws running inside of a long rectangular (or circular) tube. These “straws” carry exhaust gasses from the passenger side up pipe up to the intake while coolant runs around them in the tube (on the outside of the straws) to cool the air down. Over time the straws metal becomes weak and start to crack. When this happens, small amounts of coolant being to leak into the straws and evaporates the coolant as its traveling to the intake. Over time the truck begins to run low on coolant and overheats, causing the blown head gasket. This is no different of a scenario than a Honda civic running without coolant. The system is designed to have enough coolant to cool the engine down after running though the radiator. If the system is intended to have 5 gallons of coolant and only has 2, the coolant doesn’t have enough time to run through the radiator and cool down before entering the engine thus causing it to over heat.

 

o 3rd: customers who think that because they have ARP studs their truck is indestructible. This is completely false. WE actually see more trucks in our shop with ARP head studs and blown head gaskets than stock head bolts. The common denominator here is that these trucks typically have after market tuners on them intended for race applications. In most cases we find that these customers are towing heavy loads on these tunes which over work the engine cooling system and increase cylinder pressure beyond the limits it was designed for.