Keep it. The reputation this engine has is from ill informed owners ignoring known issues that are easy to fix. The thing about this engine is that the small things can snowball out of control if you ignore the warning signs.
For example, the real reason why most of all the head gaskets that gave this engine the bad reputation failed was because of the lack of maintenance on a fluid that nearly everyone ignores. Coolant.
The Ford Gold coolant requires very careful and frequent monitoring. It needs to be checked at a minimum of every 6 months/600 engine hours/15,000 miles, whichever occurs first. It also needs to be completely flushed and replaced every 45,000 miles...and this is per FORD themselves. Here is the Ford TSB for coolant maintenance: CLICK HERE
Now, you are asking yourself, how the heck could poor maintenance on coolant cause the head gaskets to fail...right? Simple....once you understand this engine.
Heat in the engine will slowly deplete the nitrite level in the coolant. Once the coolant nitrite level falls, the coolant can no longer deal with the high heat that the egr system throws at it. The coolant breaks down and creates a gunk. Also, as the nitrite level falls (and the corrosion protection falls with it) rust scale will form within the cooling system.
Now you have gunk and rust particles floating in the cooling system...that wouldn't be such a big deal except that the oil cooler in this engine has coolant and oil going through it in very small passages. Guess where all that gunk/rust scale builds up? You got it. The oil cooler.
If you have the proper gauge set on your truck and know what to look for, you can stop the landslide that ends in head gasket failure right here. Most owners don't add the necessary gauges. The telltale sign is seeing the oil temps exceeding the coolant temps by 15°F or more cruising down a flat section of highway, unloaded, at around 65MPH for a few minutes. Easy test, right? On with the rest of the story.....
That clogging of the coolant passages will allow the oil to heat up faster and the clog will slow down the coolant flow. The coolant that exits the oil cooler is directly fed right to the egr cooler. Keep in mind that the exhaust gases of your truck can easily exceed 1000°F, and the egr coolers job is to cool those gases before they are reintroduced back into the engine. Not an easy job to accomplish with no restrictions. Slow down that coolant flow and that will cause the egr cooler to overheat, and eventually fail.
When the egr cooler fails, coolant leaks out of the egr cooler. This coolant will flow up to the egr valve and sit there waiting for the egr valve to open, and when it does, your engine gulps down a shot of coolant. Get enough coolant going in this direction and the cylinder pressures will rise beyond what the stock head bolts were designed to withstand.
The head bolts stretch due to the higher pressures and the head gaskets fail. Most of the time the telltale sign of the egr cooler leaking is the expulsion of steam out through the tailpipe.
Coolant leaking out of the egr cooler can also wreak havoc on the turbo. The exhaust connection for the egr cooler is just previous to the turbo in the "up-pipe" on the passenger side of the engine. The coolant from the egr cooler failure flows out into the exhaust and is forced through the turbo along with the exhaust flow (when the egr valve is closed). That is the side of the turbo that contains the vanes that control the boost. In this instance you are mixing coolant, soot and heat. That will create a muck that will interfere with the free movement of the vanes and create an "over boost" or an "under boost" condition. The presence of coolant in the turbo can also pit the surface on which the unison ring slides on (it moves the vanes in "unison", hence the name). Should the rust pitting be extensive enough, that would require the replacement of the turbo, at a minimum you will have to split the turbo and clean it at this point.
We aren't done yet... The coolant will still leak out of the egr failure when the truck is shut off. The coolant leaks downward since there is no exhaust flow to push it up into the turbo. Coolant will pool in the exhaust manifold on the passenger side. Once there is enough coolant in the manifold, it will then flow into whatever cylinder happens to have the exhaust valves open when the engine is shut off. The cylinder will then fill with coolant, and when you turn the key, the coolant has nowhere to go and the engine will hydrolock.
All of this is very preventable. One is to be anal retentive when it comes to maintaining your coolant. The second way is to add the right gauges and monitor the coolant temp and oil temps, and fixing the oil cooler BEFORE it takes out your egr cooler.
Now, when the oil cooler plugs up and needs to be replaced, you will have to think about whether or not you want to delete the egr cooler all together. I say that if your area does not have diesel emissions testing, will not have it for years to come and you are willing to take the small chance that some cop out there with a chip on his shoulder would check for it, delete it. I have. If you have emissions testing, or will have it in the future, or you want to keep it for one reason or another, buy the BEST egr cooler made. Bulletproof diesel EGR cooler.
to see the difference between the stock design and the bulletproof design.
Should you keep this truck? If you love that truck as much as I love mine, absolutely. Just get the gauges on there NOW. The edge cts is a fairly popular electronic gauge set. I have an old edge insight (which isn't even made anymore). The electronic style gauges end up being a little cheaper than adding all the gauges you will want/need.
There is also another way around that coolant issue. It requires an extensive two-chemical flush that would take you about 6-7 hours to accomplish, then changing the coolant type that you use. Many of the forum members here have done this flush and swapped out the FORD gold coolant in favor of an ELC style coolant. Not just any ELC coolant will do though. The ELC coolant must meet/exceed the CAT EC-1 rating. There are many ELC's that do this. Shell has a Rotella ELC that is supposed to be "the best of the best," International (manufacturer of the engine) also sells the "Fleetrite" brand, available at most of their Truck dealerships, and NAPA also sells a CAT EC-1 rated ELC coolant made by ZEREX.
Another modification that you should seriously consider is adding a coolant filtration system. CLICK HERE
to see the most popular system and the one I have on my truck.
Welcome to the ORG!
As an edit: I just noticed you have a bullydog.....that tuner is pretty harsh on your transmission...just saying.....