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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, hello all. I have been reading posts on here for years to help prevent problems with my truck but this is my second post. I am going through several stages of grief right now, mostly shock and denial at this point particularly since my EOT and ECT deltas are relatively "normal" and have never been high. I think my EGR cooler may be busted and I'm looking for guidance on how to proceed. The trouble started about a week ago. I had a little white smoke out the tail pipe on startup twice last week but it has not repeated (detailed more below). I lost about 1" coolant level in the degas bottle after driving 250 miles. I was smelling coolant through the fresh air vent intermittently but only at a stop, never at speed. And I think I found coolant on the EGR valve last night (pictures below). Apologies for the long post but I'm trying to anticipate questions I've seen in prior threads over the years.

Vitals and Background: Original owner of an almost bone stock 2006 F250 CC Lariat 6.0L with only 65,000 miles. No tunes and never towed anything. Changed the oil about every 6k to 7,500 using Delo 15W-40. Only Motorcraft parts for filters (sourced from dieselfiltersonline). Motorcraft fuel filter sets every 15,000. Blue spring upgrade about 4k miles ago. Never any starting problems cold or hot. Has always run like a champ with one exception (turbo vanes freeze). I used a Scangauge II for the past few years and IPR and ICP look ok to me (like 582 to 604 ICP at idle with 22.6 to 24.2 IPR; and gets over 4,000 ICP pedal down--example: accelerating at 65mph yesterday I got 3695 ICP and 76.5 IPR (not full WOT).

Dealer did the first coolant flush with Gold. I installed a coolant filter at 55,500 (XDP with Donaldson filters). First filter wasn't very bad at all, very light. Second filter didn't seem to have much if anything. After educating myself on this forum, I got rid of the Ford Gold and its silicates. I did a complete flush with Restore and Restore+ at 60,000 and switched to the red Rotella ELC, with installation of a Fixur6 oil cooler backflushing device. At this flush, I replaced the upper and lower radiator hoses, the hose from degas to the intake, and swapped out the Y pipe hose to the base of the degas with a Mishimoto metal Y hose. New MC thermostat. I used Fumoto valves at the block drains for the flushing.

Turbo Problems. The turbo has been rebuilt or replaced by the dealer several times under warranty (I bought two Ford extended warranties). According to the most recent dealer, I babied the truck and did not drive it hard enough. CEL and underboost code P0229. Dealer "rebuilt" the turbo with a new unison ring and installed an updated oil feed line and return line (I can see a hard oil pipe in the front). That was 2.5 years and 14,000 miles ago. The diesel rep told me I need to flog the turbo and "drive it like I stole it" to keep the VGT vanes and unison rings from getting stuck with corrosion. I've been trying to go WOT up a hill or something almost every time it goes out to exercise it more.

ECT/EOT. Since I began using the Scangauge, my temps have looked "normal" to me according to what I've read. If I'm running on a relatively flat freeway at 65 to 70mph, my ECT is usually in the low 190's and my EOT is typically 8 degrees higher. If I do some hard accelerations uphill with the AC on, I might get a 10 to 11 degree delta with the highest temp ever of 215, and then as I level off the EOTs lower back to the former range. Once I get off the freeway, both temps come down with ECT dropping to 190 or 191 and EOT at 197 and dropping lower at a light. Driving on the freeway yesterday doing about 60mph on a flat, EOT 195 and ECT was 201 with outside air of 93 degrees and the AC on max. Before startup yesterday with truck sitting overnight, my ECT was 85 and EOT 87.5 (consistent with outside temps). My truck has always lived in SoCal and has never seen air temps below the mid 40's.

Start of the Problems. Now starts the painful part. Have not been driving much during quarantine but tried to take it out on the freeway once a week regardless. Three weeks ago I was on a super long uphill grade (about 15 miles) and noticed my temps were higher than usual, 211ECT/215EOT doing 75-80 with AC on. Immediately dropped back down once I got off the freeway so I wasn't too concerned but those are the highest temps I've seen on the truck. About 10 days ago I was on a short drive on local roads and headed uphill at 30mph. I gave it gas and it was obvious the turbo went "blah" even when floored--it lagged horribly instead of boosting. Sluggish as hell until higher rpms, then it took off. I kept driving it and it repeated several more times. My gauge showed a pending P0229 code. I decided to do some runs at WOT up some local road hills. Short bursts like 8 seconds. The turbo started responding again. I took it out onto the freeway and did some more runs (60 to 80mph). Since then, the turbo has kicked in like a champ and I have zero hesitation problems. VGT and Boost now rise and fall like I think they are supposed to. No more pending P0229 code. The max boost I could get (unladen) was 24psi.

Puff of Smoke. Fast forward to last Friday. I drove 45 miles on the freeway and it ran great. Parked the truck for about 75 minutes then started it up. I noticed some wispy white smoke from the tailpipe as I was standing there. It was very light (not a huge plume), it dissipated quickly and it stopped entirely in about a minute. Short drive around the block with some idling at a drivethrough and parked it again for about 3 hours. Started it up and no smoke. However, about 1/2 mile down the road I stopped at a light and noticed whispy white smoke blowing past the car on my right. She confirmed it was from my tailpipe. I pulled over and it continued to lightly smoke for a couple minutes then it went away again. Could not smell anything in the smoke.

Engine oil was black and at the max line. No frothiness under the oil fill cap. Zero puking out the degas bottle. Zero observable coolant leaks anywhere. Nothing under the truck or under the hood. Coolant in the degas bottle is clear red with no debris observed.

I drove it another 35 miles to a friend's house who is an experience mechanic. There was zero smoke and zero other symptoms at this time. Started it several times after letting it sit for an hour then two. No problems. He thought with no repeat smoke and no other symptoms it must be condensation. I had my doubts.

I have driven the truck several more times over several more days but there has been no repeat of the smoke from the tail pipe.

Coolant Smell. At around the day that I saw the first puff of smoke, I noticed a coolant smell coming from the fresh air vent. It is only present intermittently and only when I am stopped or barely moving. Yesterday, I could not detect a coolant smell on my test drive under multiple scenarios.

Rat Nest. Undoubtedly a coincidence, but I found a rat nest on top my battery before the day of the first smoke. It removed some insulation and piled it on top a battery. At first I thought that the coolant smell might mean the rat had chewed a hose but I could not find a single drop of coolant anywhere in the engine bay. All hose connections appeared dry with no red residue. No drips on the frame rail nor the driveway that I could see.

Coolant Loss and EGR Valve. After driving about 200 miles in the above trips, I noticed yesterday that the coolant was down in the degas bottle about 1" from where I topped it off just a few days prior. I pulled the EGR valve and it looked like it had a black oily paste all over it. It was not a completely dry powder but a paste. I cleaned it with carb cleaner, oiled the orings, and reinstalled it. I then drove 10 miles, parked at a store, then drove 10 miles back. Let it sit for an hour and pulled the EGR valve again. My heart sank. It looks to me that there is red paste smeared on the newly cleaned EGR valve. Please see the picture. There was no "puddle" of coolant in the intake under the EGR valve but there was what looked like a quarter-sized damp spot. I stuck a paper towel in with a tool to tamp it and it made a reddish brown stain on the paper towel (pictures below).

Does this sound like the EGR cooler is broken? I cannot believe it because my temps and deltas have never been that high. The only thing I did was flog the turbo with some WOT runs fully warmed up and with an empty truck. The only odd thing I did was my mechanic friend told me to create more load by applying some brake while I accelerated--I did that once on the freeway at 50mph and it did cause enough load to really spool up the boost. I also heard a sound like a pop/whoosh while I was doing that run.

If it is the EGR cooler, I have not seen anything better regarded than the BPD so would that be the way to go? The BPD H core? I also see that many places say to replace the oil cooler while everything is off. That's a shame because my temps did not appear that bad to me but I understand everything is off so don't be foolish trying to save $500. Ugh.

Thank you for reading this and for any advice you can provide. I'm shocked that this happened even with all of the precautions and babying. I need this expense right now like a hole in my head. Jeff
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I'm going to reserve comment of any residue. The pics are good, I jut don't know. If you're finding that there is a powdery residue around the degas bottle, my guess is you're correct or head gaskets.

You can hook a gauge to monitor pressure. Quickly going to 16 PSI means heads, slowly means EGR. Its not a 100% diagnosis, so perhaps points to is better.
 

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The hole where the EGR valve sits and also the valve, should be powdery black soot covered -- yours in the picture is not
this is usually a sign of a leaking cooler, the steam will clean the soot from the surfaces

There is a lot of thermal expansion stress inside the cooler from the exhaust gasses passing thru the core on one side and coolant on the other
Failure can show from a seep to a full blown leak -- air can be pushed by the turbo into the coolant, then when at idle the coolant is pushed into the cooler, and into the engine
pressure testing can show a sharp pressure rise, mimicking head gaskets, but really the cooler is broken

Your coolant temps are a little low for a 6.0 -- the t-stat should not allow the temp to go below 195-200
the PCM via the sensors and fan, then control the upper temps
Replace the t-stat when you do the coolers

I would suggest replacing the oil cooler "while you are in there" just because of accessibility -- your temp differences are good -- preventative maintenance an all
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you're finding that there is a powdery residue around the degas bottle, my guess is you're correct or head gaskets.
Chris, no powdery residue near the degas bottle. No signs of any puking. No signs of any leaks. Engine bay looks super clean (save some dust) as does the underside of the hood. I even swapped my degas cap over to my old one to see if it was a dud and giving me the coolant smell. No change so far but I haven't driven much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The hole where the EGR valve sits and also the valve, should be powdery black soot covered -- yours in the picture is not
this is usually a sign of a leaking cooler, the steam will clean the soot from the surfaces
Hydro, it looks super clean because I took it out and cleaned it a couple hours earlier. The residue in the picture in post above is from driving 20 miles. It was shiny silver after I cleaned it with carb cleaner and a toothbrush. I wanted a clean baseline to see what would happen after driving it. Prior to that I had cleaned it 5,000 miles ago and replaced the gasket and orings with Ford parts. Here is what the EGR valve looked like when I took it out before cleaning yesterday:
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Read your post, thought you said 200 miles -- anyways

The key words here are - dry powdery
that looks like sticky wet

Was the residue on the towel from grease used to install the valve?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Your coolant temps are a little low for a 6.0 -- the t-stat should not allow the temp to go below 195-200
the PCM via the sensors and fan, then control the upper temps
Replace the t-stat when you do the coolers
Hydro, I replaced the thermostat 5,000 miles ago with an OEM one. The current temps have been consistent with what I got with the prior thermostat (original to the truck), maybe a degree higher since the coolant swap. In the past few weeks they've been higher as noted above but I figured it was the outside air temps being hotter and going 75-80mph with the AC on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Read your post, thought you said 200 miles -- anyways

The key words here are - dry powdery
that looks like sticky wet

Was the residue on the towel from grease used to install the valve?
Sorry for the confusion. I drove about 200 miles the prior day when the smoking happened. It was after that that I was about an inch short of coolant in the degas bottle. I was concerned, so a few days later is when I wanted to test for coolant at the EGR valve. That's when I cleaned it and afterwards drove about 20 miles.

I agree that the EGR valve looked like a damp paste and not powdery before I cleaned it. It made me concerned but this is new territory for me and I was not sure. I figured by cleaning it and taking it for a drive that I might be able to see coolant. My heart dropped when I saw what looks like red paste on the valve after the 20 mile drive. I have red ELC coolant.

I used a little motor oil on my finger to lube the orings before I installed the EGR valve. What I tamped onto the paper towel cannot be from that because I did not use enough to drip down there. In the photo of the EGR "hole" you can make out the small damp spot before I tamped it with the towel.
 

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If You park it front end downhill overnight and check the valve, if coolant is leaking from the EGR, it may pool and be seen if you pullthe valve.

If its leaking elsewhere, there will be a powdery residue you can trace backwards to the source. Radiator leaks, and pinhole leaks on the hoses re pretty common. Could even be by the Y conector under the degas bottle or the degas bottle itself. I had a leak on the metal intlet pipe on the EGR, physycally craceked. Vry rare. You can pressuruse the coolant system with a kit and the leak will be more apparrent. THere will be a powdery residue somewhere. THe coolant is going somewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If You park it front end downhill overnight and check the valve, if coolant is leaking from the EGR, it may pool and be seen if you pullthe valve.
I happened to have parked it facing downhill last night so thank you for that advice. I did pull the EGR valve again this morning after sitting all night like that. There was not a lot, and I would not call it a puddle, but there was small area of dampness at the bottom of the EGR valve hole (pic below). Definitely wet. I tamped a paper towel onto that spot with a screwdriver. As you can see in the picture, that liquid has a reddish brown look to it. It has to be the coolant, right? Would anything other than a leaking EGR cooler cause coolant to wind up in this spot overnight?

Should I proceed to order a new EGR cooler or are there any other possibilities I need to test for first given my symptoms? I've seen conflicting advice about whether a bubble test will differentiate between the cooler and a head gasket. I do not have anything to conduct a bubble test--anyone recommend a bottle and stopper that will do the trick? Amz? Do local autoparts stores typically have something suitable?

Lastly, how safe is it to drive the truck until I repair it? I currently am not seeing any smoke from the tailpipe. It seems to be running great and my temps aren't high. Is there a big risk of it getting worse quickly or do these things tend to progress slowly? For instance, if I drive a hundred miles roundtrip here or there.
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Other than a leaking EGR can show as wet black sludge, I'm witholding comment on the grease looking stuff. I can't say whether it is or not.

When I removed my Air Intake, the inside was covered in what looked like dry carbon from the EGR circulating through it for 12 years. A few months later, the shop that did the bulletproofing cleaned the air intake. That black carbon was not greasy. Also, in another vehicle I did heads on, the carbon in the intake was dry. Both those vehicles had EGRs.

There is a pressure test for the EGR, but it needs to be removed from the vehicle to test, so if you're taking it out to test it, so many hours goes to getting it out, might as well change the EGR. Also requires a special tool, basically two plates to block it so you can pressurize with air for leaks.
 

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Could just delete the cooler, if there is no emissions testing in your area
you would need a tuner to eliminate the light on the dash
my '06 has the LiveWire+
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Could just delete the cooler, if there is no emissions testing in your area
Unfortunately I am in Southern California so no such luck. Since 2010, CA requires diesel vehicles under 14K GVWR and 1998-later to get tested at a "smog check" station every two years. They supposedly check for deletions and check the OBDII system. They can also fail you for too much smoke out the tail pipe (visual observation). No pass means no registration. They also add a weight fee and they doubled the personal property tax component a few years ago. I pay about $380 a year to register my 15 year old truck. Have to put up with a lot of hassles for the privilege of wearing shorts and a tshirt in January.
 

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Cooler is not that bad of a job if you take time and wish to learn about your truck
dont need any special tools and some PB blaster or Free All works well on the bolts
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Well, I did the repairs over the weekend. Big thanks to everyone who helped and provided advice. Here is the After Action Report:

I wound up installing the Bullet Proof Diesel H-Core EGR cooler in place of the POS Ford cooler. Plumbed the old EGR cooler up to an air hose and dropped it in a tub of water. It leaked bubbles like a sieve. It was definitely bad. Thanks, Ford.

My friend took the intake to a self car wash with a can of Foamy Engine Brite. It came out much cleaner.

Per suggestions, I replaced my oil cooler with a Ford OEM kit as a preventive measure even though my deltas were pretty good. The screen under the oil cooler was broken in two places so it turned out to be a good idea. Used my friend's pneumatic brake bleeder to suck oil out the top of the oil cooler cover so there was no tsunami of oil when it was lifted. Sucked the rest out of the well beneath it once removed.

While I was that far in, I decided it would be a good time to replace the STC fitting in the HPOP. I swapped it for the upgraded one-piece-design part. Re-did all the gaskets and o-rings in the HPOP, also the o-rings and screen in the IPR valve (which was intact).

Since it was off, I reconditioned the exhaust side of the turbo--cleaned the vanes, unison ring, seating areas and reassembled with the MC antiseize.

I replaced the orings and gasket on the EGR valve even though I just did that 5,000 miles ago. Taking it in and out so many times had roughed up the bottom oring. The kit was cheap so I figured that I might as well do it.

I replaced the coolant with new Rotella ELC and distilled water (same as I had in there). I did not do a complete flush because I had just done that about 5,000 miles ago. BPD also recommended against flushing it again.

I had not realized before that Ford maintained a list of approved oils. I had been using Delo 400 which is not on the list. So this time I switched to Rotella T6 synthetic (15W-40, it never gets cold in Southern CA).

I followed instructions from someone's HPOP tutorial to crank for 10 seconds with the FICM relay removed, three times. After replacing the relay it almost fired twice. Third time was the charm and it has fired instantly like a champ ever since. IPR and ICP are very normal and look great.

It was a lot of work. It took all of Sunday with help from my friend part of the day, which really came in handy pulling the turbo and handing it off to someone. Then another three hours on Monday morning by myself. This was all new for me. I'd never done any of this stuff before.

The truck is running great with no leaks. I was super happy with myself that I have no leaks, I dropped no bolts anywhere, and I had no mystery bolts left over at the end. My only real hiccup was forgetting to reconnect the MAP sensor and its hose (gave me no indicated boost to the gauges). I just didn't see them disconnected. I phoned a friend who suggested MAP, plugged them in and everything was good to go.

Thanks again folks. Also a posthumous thanks to DieselTechRon for his great video. It helped a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
To satisfy my curiosity and for peace of mind, I decided to do a follow up test to see if there was any beginnings of a head gasket leak. Taking the info from another helpful thread, I used a length of heater hose, a tee, and a 0-30 PSI pressure gauge to build my test rig. Connected to the return line from the radiator to degas. I got the coolant up to the low 190's, futzed around a bit and then plumbed in the tester. By that time, the coolant temp was 175. I released the residual pressure from the cap in the degas bottle. I went for a drive and got the coolant temp into my normal range (low to mid 190's). The pressure gauge registered 4 PSI after warming up from 175 to low 190's. I jammed on it a bunch of times and got it up to 75MPH in a few runs. The pressure increased a few degrees at each WOT, like to 6 PSI, and then once I let off the pedal it would lower back to 4 PSI. I parked the truck for 35 minutes and it was still close to 4 PSI when I came back. Parked it at home for a few hours and once it cooled the pressure gauge dropped as it should.

I'm happy to know that my head gaskets are fine. Phew. It's running great. I hope the truck behaves itself now for a long time. Next up is doing the cold transmission fluid exchange and upgrading to the 6.4 transmission pan and filter.
 

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Next up is doing the cold transmission fluid exchange and upgrading to the 6.4 transmission pan and filter.
I've done the 6.4 transmission pan and filter. Not the cold swap for the fluid. Next change I will.

Now that the truck test good for heads, don't get tempted to premptively put in the head studs. Just learn to enjoy the truck and deal with things as they come up instead of premptively fixing something that was good and being broke when something goes bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Now that the truck tests good for heads, don't get tempted to preemptively put in the head studs.
Agreed 1000%. A month ago, a friend's who's been a mechanic for over 30 years said he didn't think anything was wrong with "one stud at a time". I said "NO WAY!!!!!" I read up on the pitfalls of doing it with these trucks and I want no part of that. My HG's are fine and I'm not running any tunes. If they go in the future, that's when I will stud it. They may never go bad. I only have 65,000 miles on it in 14.5 years.
 
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