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Revving Up: Best 6.4 Powerstroke Performance Upgrades You Need

We can’t deny that the 6.4 Powerstroke is a powerful engine. But some performance upgrades are highly necessary to provide high performance, increased life expectancy, and reliability for heavy-duty applications. For example, head studs and gaskets, bulletproof EGR and oil coolers, heavy-duty filtration systems, tuners, cold air intakes, and bulletproof radiators are some of the most important upgrades.

Not all Ford 6.4L Powerstroke performance upgrades will be the same impactful. They can also sum up to a good amount of money and cross your budget if you’re not careful. So, it’s necessary to know the performance impact and cost of each upgrade before you go for them.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the best performance and reliability upgrades for the 6.4 Powerstroke so that you can get the best build according to your need and budget.

Key Takeaways:

  • Performance upgrades for 6.4 Powerstroke increase hp and torque, improve fuel efficiency and increase engine reliability.
  • The following are some top priority upgrades for Ford Super Duty trucks with 6.4L Powerstroke diesel engine: head studs and gaskets, an EGR cooler, a heavy-duty filtration system, a tuner, a monitor, cold air intake, a radiator, etc.
  • Upgrades, like EGR delete kit and straight exhaust pipe, are illegal in various states and only applicable for off-road activities.

6.4 Powerstroke Upgrades (Performance & Reliability Focused Upgrades)

The best performance upgrades mean they’ll not only make your riding experience better but also bring you the best value for your money.

They’ll also take care of various 6.4L engine problems and make sure your engine is capable of handling the boosted performance. Let’s take a look at some of the performance focused upgrades first.

#1 – Performance Tuner or Programmer

Power programmer and performance tuner are the same things, which is an electronic device that can provide significant performance gains for the 6.4 Powerstroke.

This device has control over various essential engine components like the transmission and fuel system through the vehicle’s computer system. It is the simplest and fastest way to increase your vehicle’s horsepower and torque by improving throttle response and enhancing fuel economy.

You can get different types of tuners, like handheld, dash-mounted, or piggyback. There are also custom tuning devices available which will provide the best results. Some tuners and programmers also let you detect different issues by showing error codes.

Cost and Recommendation:

When choosing a tuner or programmer, it’s essential to select a reputable brand that is compatible with your vehicle. The cost of performance tuners for your 6.4 Powerstroke can be from $300 to $1500. Custom tuning devices are generally more costly.

Bully Dog, Edge, and K&N are some of the brands I’ll recommend for someone looking for a good tuner at an affordable price. Especially, Edge has a good number of reliable tuners within the $400 – $700 range.

But you can go for expensive options for better results and reliability. The EZ Lynk AutoAgent 2 is a fine option among the expensive ones.

#2 – Cold Air Intake

Upgrading to a high-performance cold air intake can improve airflow to the engine by providing air that is denser and cooler. This increases the horsepower and torque of the engine while also improving fuel economy.

Also, cool airflow improves combustion and reduces engine wear. Cold air intakes are relatively easy to install and are a cost-effective and reliable upgrade.

Cost and Recommendation:

Some prominent manufacturers of high-performance cold air intake are S&B, Banks, AFE Pro, etc. These are all reputed brands that provide reliable products. You’ll get cold air intake within the range of $300 – $400.

#3 – Exhaust System

Stock exhaust systems are highly limiting when it comes to boosting engine performance. Contrarily, an upgraded exhaust system can improve exhaust flow, which can increase horsepower and torque while also improving fuel economy.

Also, a high-performance exhaust system can also give your truck a more aggressive sound, which is a nice bonus for truck enthusiasts.

There are some federal restrictions involved when it comes to replacing exhaust systems of diesel engines. So, be knowledgeable about those regulations before proceeding with the upgrade.

Your best bet would be installing a DPF-back system, which won’t need removing tuning, and your warranty won’t be voided.

Cost and Recommendation:

Bank is a reliable brand for heavy-duty DPF-back systems. The Monster Exhaust with dual tips is a reliable 4″ DPF-back system for 6.4 Powerstroke. The system will cost around $700.

#4 – Aftermarket Up-pipes

A common issue with the 6.4 turbo system is the failure of up-pipes. Up-pipe failure causes the accumulation of an excessive amount of soot and residue inside the hood, transmission casing, or on firewall.

Cost and Recommendation:

Installing robust aftermarket up-pipes is almost a necessity for Ford Superduty 6.4 Powerstroke. It’s not only to boost performance but also to increase engine safety and reliability.

I’d recommend the Rudy Heavy Duty Diesel up-pipes set and 4″ MBRP kit of up-pipes. The Rudy one is cheaper, around $180 – 200, and good for all medium to heavy duty applications. For better reliability and power, you can choose the MBRP one, which will cost around $465.

#5 – EGR Cooler or EGR Delete Kit

The stock exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system of 6.4 Powerstroke is quite limiting in terms of engine performance. Also, the system gradually poses several problems, including reduced fuel efficiency, decreased power output, and clogged EGR coolers.

One solution is completely bypassing the EGR system by installing an EGR delete kit. While the solution works, it is illegal to remove your EGR kits in all the federal states of the USA.

It’s a solid option only if your vehicle is exclusively used in off-road activities like racing and trail riding. Fortunately, 6.4L doesn’t manifest issues like 6.7 EGR delete and DPF delete problems.

For a ubiquitous solution, it’s better to invest more and go for a heavy-duty aftermarket EGR cooler.

Cost and Recommendation:

EGR delete kit cost can vary from $50 to $200 almost. Among the cheaper options, I’ll recommend the Evil Energy EGR delete kit, which costs almost $60. When choosing a delete kit, the first priority is to ensure the utmost compatibility of the kit with your engine.

When it comes to heavy-duty EGR cooler options, Bulletproof Diesel, AFE, and Dorman are some of the most reliable manufacturers.

You can get either the vertical or the horizontal option as necessary. A good and reliable aftermarket EGR cooler will cost around $400 to $600.

#6 – Radiator

One of the most common failures 6.4 Powerstroke diesel engines suffer from is a cracked radiator. Radiators suffer from constant stress and vibration, which causes the relatively weak plastic parts to deform and crack.

It’s better not to wait for your stock radiator to give in first, especially if you’re planning to do performance upgrades on other parts. Getting an aftermarket radiator capable of enduring more stress will boost your overall riding experience immensely.

Cost and Recommendation:

You can get heavy-duty and reliable aftermarket radiators from AFE, Mishimoto, and CSF. The cost can vary greatly on their endurance and heat handling capability.

An aftermarket radiator can be from $250 to more than $1000. The mid-ranged options cost around $600, and they’re good enough if you’re not involved in off-road activities that much. XDP X-TRA and Mishimoto R6375 are very reliable mid-range options.

For extreme off-road activities, Mishimoto MMRAD and AFE Bladerunner are reliable options. You can also get an additional upper support bar to increase rigidity and protection against stress.

As I said earlier, some upgrades would be focused on making sure your engine can endure the heavy stress that comes with boosted performance. Let’s take a look at them below.

#7 – Performance Gauges & Monitors

Gauges and monitors may seem unnecessary as they’re not directly boosting your engine and vehicle’s performance in any way. But they’re actually a crucial component that helps you check, maintain, and improve your engine’s performance constantly.

They provide real-time information and analytics on critical engine parameters such as oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant temperature, exhaust gas pressure and temperature, boost pressure, etc.

Besides providing valuable performance data, performance monitors also show DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes). With the help of DTCs, you can pinpoint and solve various issues before they turn into something detrimental.

Also, sometimes DTCs are not reliable enough to highlight an issue before it becomes serious. In such cases, accurate parameters that are displayed can come in handy.

For instance, a clogged oil cooler is not a readily apparent issue. But a high deviation between the coolant temperature and the oil temperature can be traced to it.

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Cost and Recommendation:

Look for monitors and gauges that are easy to install and offer accurate and reliable data. Edge, Bully Dog, and Bank Power are some reliable manufacturers of high-quality, easy-to-access monitors.

The cost of compatible monitors and gauges vary from $200 to $450 only.

#8 – Head Studs and Gaskets

The Ford 6.4 Liter Powerstroke is known for head gasket issues, and upgrading to high-strength head studs can help prevent blown head gaskets and other engine failures.

Head studs are stronger than stock head bolts, which can help prevent the heads from lifting under high boost levels. Upgrading to high-strength head studs is especially important if you aim to use your truck for heavy-duty applications like towing or racing.

Besides, if you’re going for different aftermarket performance upgrades, the head studs and gasket must be upgraded to keep up with the increased torque and horsepower.

Cost and Recommendation:

Head studs, bolts, and gaskets are mainly sold as a set to ensure compatibility. The best head stud kit option for a 6.4L Powerstroke, in my opinion, is the ARP-250-4203, which will cost you around $550 to $600.

Investing in a set of ARP head studs and bolts can’t go wrong, and this pro series set is a definitive upgrade for 6.4L Powerstroke. Compared to the stock set or any OEM set, ARP-250-4203 will provide increased clamping force to ensure your safety.

#9 – Fuel System

Your 6.4L stock lift pump can barely support the high horsepower and torque outputs, and even if it does, know that it’s giving away its life doing so. The fuel system upgrade is particularly important if you have installed a high-performance tuner or programmer.

Upgrading the fuel system with larger injectors, high-pressure fuel pump, and upgraded fuel lines can not only handle better torque output but also contributes to it by increasing fuel flow and maintaining better fuel economy.

Cost and Recommendation:

AirDog and FASS are two brands I’ll recommend for aftermarket lift pump options. The AirDog II-4G DF-165 or the FASS Titanium 165 are both solid choices for owners with high horsepower demand.

These two options can easily handle high horsepower of 500 – 700 range. Both of them lie in the price range of $750 to $800, where the AirDog one is slightly pricier than the FASS one.

Dynomite Diesel, DCP, and Diamond Advantage are all renowned manufacturers of fuel injectors. You can get the complete set of 8 injectors at around $2,500 – $3,500. Fuel injectors can be bought as a single piece too.

There are plenty of reliable OEM fuel rail options you can go for. A good pair of fuel rails will cost around $300.

Other than these, you can rely on AirDog and FASS for different fuel system-related needs, such as filters, water separators, etc.

FAQs

How much horsepower can I expect to gain with performance upgrades?

The amount of horsepower gain you can expect from performance upgrades will depend on the specific upgrades you choose. Generally, you can expect to gain anywhere from 50-150+ horsepower with the right upgrades.

Will performance upgrades void my vehicle’s warranty?

In most cases, yes, performance upgrades can void your vehicle’s warranty. So, it’s important to check your warranty documentation and consult with your dealer or mechanic before making any modifications to your vehicle.

Do performance upgrades require professional installation?

Even if you have good hardware knowledge and expertise, some modifications are better done by professionals. If you’re unsure about the installation process, don’t hesitate to consult with a trusted mechanic or performance specialist.

Conclusion

Although the Ford 6.4L Powerstroke is a powerhouse of an engine, it has a good number of reliability issues. 6.4 Powerstroke Performance upgrades are not only focused on boosting the torque and horsepower of the engine but also ensuring that the vehicle can sustain performance improvement.

Always make sure that the aftermarket products you plan to buy are fully compatible with your engine, vehicle, and other upgrades. Don’t hesitate to consult professional help whenever you’re confused.

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