You may have heard of a “Bulletproof 6.0 Powerstroke diesel kit”, "Bulletproof truck", or "Bulletproof Ford 6.0L Engine", but what is it? Unfortunately “Bulletproof” is ambiguous with no clear definition. In this blog, we’ll cover the bases, straighten out “Bulletproof”, and give our recommendations for a reliable 6.0L diesel.
Where “Bulletproof” originates
Bulletproof originates from Bulletproof Diesel, a parts and service shop in Mesa, Arizona. Bulletproof Diesel became famous making aftermarket EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) coolers for Powerstroke 6.0L Diesels. They’ve since added aftermarket oil coolers, fuel injection control modules (FICMs), water pumps, and other aftermarket parts.
But quickly Bulletproof Diesel lost control of their branding and “Bulletproof” generically referred to an upgraded 6.0 engine kit, often consisting of a built motor.
The 6.0L Backstory — What went wrong at Ford
2003-2007 Ford 6.0L diesel engines have a bad reputation. Many early customers suffered blown head gaskets and sought Ford’s help under warranty. Ford dealerships replaced the head gaskets only to have the engines melt down again. The “6.0Ls are junk” myth began.
When Ford engineers took a step back, they realized the head gaskets were simply the breaking point in a chain of failures that started back with the oil cooler. Ford built the factory oil cooler with very small channels. The smaller the channels, the more cooling capacity with a similarly high propensity to clog. As particulates built up from the sand-casted parts, coolant passages block in the oil cooler.
That blockage starves the EGR cooler. The EGR cooler chills hot exhaust gases, but when water doesn’t reach the cooler from clogged upstream channels, it quickly overheats. The overheating EGR breaks apart and dumps coolant into the intake.
For the final straw, the cylinder head pressure with the additional water is so high that the cylinder heads float and the head gasket is destroyed.
Why the confusion
“Bulletproof” took on a life of its own on internet forums. The internet forum intelligencia claims to have “Bulletproof” definitions, but they are all varied. (We stay away from using “Bulletproof” or “Bulletproofed” at all.)
Bulletproof Diesel’s latest definition is to replace 4 out of 5 of the following…
- Bulletproof Remote Oil Cooler
- Bulletproof EGR Cooler
- Bulletproof Water Pump
- Bulletproof FICM
- ARP Head Studs
But in our opinion, this feels more like marketing than solid advice. (So we can pick a $300 water pump over $3500 head studs and it’s “Bulletproof” just the same?)
We recommend the Bulletproof Diesel Stage 1 — new Ford oil cooler and Bulletproof EGR cooler.
We’ve owned and sold almost 1000 6.0 Ford diesels. From our years of experience, here’s our recommendation: Get the Bulletproof EGR cooler and Ford oil cooler. Here’s why.
Bulletproof Oil Cooler is a ton of money.
Bulletproof Diesel insists on their oil cooler. They say it lowers temperatures and prevents premature failures of the EGR cooler and injectors. And they’re right. But those benefits come in around $3000-$3500 installed!
The Ford oil cooler will plug and break. But they will give you a solid 50,000-80,000 miles, especially with proper fluid changes. A Ford oil cooler is ~$300 and labor at 10 hours is ~$800. Needless to say, you can do a lot of Ford oil cooler changes for one Bulletproof oil cooler. Odds are you won’t own the truck long enough to worry about the next cooler.
Head studs simply put more clamping force between the head and the block. For high boosted applications, this upgrade is required. But for factory settings, we’ve never seen bad Ford heads as a result of insufficient clamping force.
Bulletproof FICM can be problematic.
The factory Ford FICM uses poor solider on the board. Over time, resistors shake loose causing erratic engine behavior. The Bulletproof FICM is a quality piece, but the upgraded voltage requires a tuner to prevent over voltage engine codes. Unless you’re looking to upgrade the performance, we recommend a tech smart replacement board. They’re ~$150.
Bulletproof Water Pump is great when the stock one fails
You’ll typically find a failed water pump from the puddle of water under your truck. We like the Bulletproof water pump for a replacement, but we don’t proactively replace factory.
Our Bulletproof Stage 1: $2900 when purchasing a truck.
We recommend using our $2900 stage 1 Bulletproof install package at the time of purchase. Most shops charge $5500 for the same package, but we are interested in moving vehicles and offer it as an incentive to move vehicles. We are a Bulletproof Diesel authorized installer. (We aren’t on their website because we’re not an open to the public service shop, but you can call them to verify)
If you have any questions, please reach out on the chat to the right. One of our Bulletproof Diesel certified mechanics typically answer in minutes!
Looking for a Bulletproof 6.0L?
Our 6.0s either have Bulletproof parts, as shown in the options section, or you can add the stage one Bulletproof Powerstroke 6.0 kit for $2900 at purchase!