What oil cooler should I run?

There has been a longstanding debate on what oil cooler is best to run on the Powerstroke 6.0 and 6.4 and for good reason.  We have experimented with many types of oil coolers that are available on the market and through our experience we have discovered a lot of answers to some of the most debated oil cooler questions, beliefs, and myths. These are our opinions and can not be taken for the fact of the matter but here is what we have found on our own testing.  All of our research is based on numerous hours of battleground testing and experience to keep our customers from having to do the same job multiple times to get it right.

There are basically 3 different types of oil coolers available, Internal liquid cooled, external liquid cooled, and external air cooled systems.  

The first type of cooler, the internal oil cooler, is a factory style cooler which is located under the turbo in the valley of the engine between the two cylinder heads.  Internal liquid to oil coolers are very effective both in cost and functionality and if they are properly installed will last a long time.  The biggest problem with a internal cooler is coolant contamination from either casting material or scaling of the coolant when its not changed properly or if it is the wrong type of coolant.  The result is increasingly higher EOT's over time until the cooler can no longer do its job properly.  Adding a coolant filter will help extend the life of these coolers but even without one it is not uncommon for a factory style cooler to last 200k miles or more.  Our Earthquake edition oil coolers feature slightly larger passages which result in a longer life because they do not clog as easily and for that reason they are backed by a 2 year unlimited mile warranty same as OEM.  See warranty paperwork for details. 

The second type of oil cooler is an externally mounted "air to oil" cooler which was made by a couple of different companies.  These coolers replace the internal oil cooler with a radiator like cooler that mounts outside of the engine and relies on outside ambient air to cool oil and then return it back to the motor.  The biggest advantage to this system that we experienced is when space for larger turbo set ups and compound turbo set ups is needed and space in the valley of the engine is limited.  They also eliminate the possibility of oil mixing into the coolant system as seen from time to time with a factory style cooler.  However, the biggest issue with these types of coolers is that if the truck is moving at low speeds especially while towing up hill on a hot day the temps can get dangerously high very fast.  Alternatively, in extreme cold they struggle to bring the oil to a safe operating temperature which requires a thermostat to be installed to regulate the oil temperatures when cooling is needed.  Additional plumbing fittings and connections are added an will increase the risk of more leaks.  There is an extra cost for parts and labor with that type of system.  There are also kits available without the thermostats but we do not recommend using the air cooler without a thermostat.  This can limit the vehicle ability to operate effectively in different climates.  Both of these things require modification to try to correct and are in our opinion very expensive.  That is the reason we believe that practically every modern auto manufacturer uses the liquid to liquid design to keep oil temperatures in check.  Another potential problem that we have seen is that since the cooler is now mounted outside of the engine bay it is more succeptable to damage because it no longer has the engine to protect it.  A large air cooler must be used to be efficient enough for such a heavy duty application.  These larger air coolers require a lot of space which can restrict air flow to the radiator and the AC condenser which can diminish the performance of these critical components.
Also, the labor is about 4-6 hours longer, costs more, and we have heard stories of the fittings leaking causing tear down and replacement.  We believe that this type of oil cooler is best for drag racing purposes only.

The third type of oil cooler is the external "liquid to liquid" cooler.  The one we tested is provided by IPR Research.  www.iprresearch.com.  This oil cooler we believe is byfar the best oil cooler available for Powerstroke diesels.  The oil cooler itself is the same design as the original liquid to liquid oil cooler that was in these trucks from the factory down the valley.  However, this cooler features 2 major advantages.  The first one is that since the cooler is located outside of the valley and next to the radiator they are easy and cheap to change if they ever were to fail (although we have never seen one do so).  The second advantage is that since these oil coolers are still cooled by coolant they are able to provide much more consistent EOT's.  They will bring the oil to temperature much quicker in cold weather and they help regulate the oil temps at all rev ranges and speeds much more effectively in our opinion.  Perhaps the biggest advantage of all is that all of the coolant that goes through this system runs through a reusable coolant filter before it meets the oil cooler which helps to prevent clogging.    IPR external oil cooler kits utilize the latest Ford 6.7 Powerstroke oil cooler which costs 50% less than a standard 6.0 oil cooler.  The latest 6.7 oil coolers offer more efficient cooling in a smaller package.

Please contact us today to discuss which option is right for you!

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Unique Motorsports

500 E. Hwy 121
Lewisville, Tx  75057