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6.7 PowerStroke Charge Pipe Failure & Upgrades

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Zach is one of the founders of 8020 Media and a lead writer for DieselIQ. He’s been in the automotive industry for over a decade and has published more than 400 articles for DieselIQ, TuningPro, BMWTuning, & more. His blend of automotive knowledge, writing & research skills, and passion make him an excellent resource for fellow diesel owners. His expertise goes beyond writing and includes a deep knowledge of Cummins and Powerstroke engines, as well as nearly 10 years of DIY experience. Zach is also experienced with tuning and has a wealth of technical knowledge that he brings to every article he writes.

As with all engines, the 6.7 PowerStroke is prone to its share of issues. The cold side charge pipe is among one of the common issues on the 6.7L diesel, especially when tuning and modding. An upgraded charge pipe not only improves reliability, but can also offer some power and performance benefits. In this guide, I discuss Ford 6.7 PowerStroke charge pipe failure, upgrades, and benefits.

6.7 PowerStroke Charge Pipe Upgrades

6.7 PowerStroke Charge Pipes

A charge pipe is a generic term for intake tubing that carries charge (boosted, pressurized) air. They may also be referred to as intercooler or boost pipes. In essence, these pipes are responsible for carrying highly pressurized air from the turbocharger to the intercooler and finally to the throttle body and intake manifold. The 6.7 PowerStroke uses two charge pipes – a hot side and cold side pipe.

Hot and Cold Side Piping

The hot side intercooler pipe carries the charge air from the turbocharger to the intercooler. It’s called the hot side pipe because the air it carries is, well, hot. As such, Ford opted to use a metal charge pipe on the hot side, which isn’t prone to issues.

On the other hand, the 6.7 PowerStroke cold side charge pipe carries air from the intercooler to the throttle body. At this point, the charge air has passed through and been cooled by the intercooler. Hence the cold side name. It’s a plastic pipe that’s prone to cracking, popping off, or “exploding” due to the stresses of highly pressurized air.

Charge Pipe Failure

Ultimately, the plastic design and bends in the cold side intercooler pipe are what lead to failure. The charge pipe is known to fail even at stock boost, especially under high stress, high boost conditions – like towing heavy loads.

However, failure becomes imminent once you begin tuning and modifying the 6.7L PowerStroke. Higher boost subjects the cold side charge pipe to even greater pressures and stress. It’s rare for the stock pipe to not fail after tuning the diesel engine.

When the 6.7 PowerStroke cold side intercooler pipe does fail, it’s likely to leave you stranded or limping your way back home very slowly. As shown in the picture below, the failures are often dramatic and leave the pipe completely disconnected or with a large hole. It’s not going to result in a small boost leak. You’ll likely lose boost completely and the throttle body will effectively become the new air intake.

That leaves the engine open to the elements, which isn’t good for extended periods. Additionally, trying to give it too much throttle could result in the turbo overspinning as it tries desperately to reach the boost target. Point is – be cautious with continued driving after a charge pipe failure.

6.7 PowerStroke Intercooler Pipe Failure

6.7 PowerStroke Charge Pipe Upgrade Benefits

  • Improved reliability
  • Better airflow
  • Potential for small power & torque gains
  • Looks

The number one reason to upgrade the 6.7 PowerStroke intercooler piping is to prevent failure. Again, the cold side piping is known to fail even on stock trucks. Once you add a tune and bolt-on mods it often becomes a matter of when it fails – not if. It’s a great upgrade for improved reliability and ensuring you’re not left stranded on the side of the road with a charge pipe failure.

Now, both hot-side and cold-side pipe upgrades are a larger diameter with smoother bends than the stock pipes. This will result in better airflow through the intercooler pipes. However, it doesn’t often result in significant power or torque gains. That said, heavily modified 6.7 PowerStroke diesels may see small ~5 horsepower and 15-30 lb-ft gains from charge pipe upgrades.

Charge pipe upgrade kits also look awesome, in our opinion. However, a full kit generally runs for about $1,000-1,500+. It’s a little pricey for minimal power and performance gains. Just upgrading the cold side charge pipe is much cheaper at about $250-400.

Is it a Worthwhile Upgrade?

Yes, we believe a 6.7 PowerStroke cold side intercooler pipe is a 100% worthwhile upgrade. This is especially true if you’re planning on tuning the truck or towing heavy loads. It’s good peace of mind to have a strong, quality aluminum charge pipe rather than the crappy plastic OEM pipe that can crack or explode at any point.

However, we would skip over the hot side upgrades or any full kits unless you’re really after looks or trying to squeeze out every ounce of power. The charge pipe upgrades don’t offer any significant power or torque gains on stock turbo trucks, and there are better performance mods to spend the money on.

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