Upgrading the intercooler and intercooler piping on the 6.7 Powerstroke can add some substantial power gains, up to around 40lb-ft of torque. Additionally, it will help lower EGTs and improve reliability making it one of the best performance upgrades for the 6.7 Powerstroke.
In this article, we are going to discuss the performance benefits of intercooler and intercooler piping upgrades based on our experience modifying and manufacturing performance parts for the 6.7 Powerstroke.
Intercooler Piping Upgrades
The factory intercooler piping is prone to failure on these engines. Intercooler pipes aren’t likely to provide any notable power gains, so reliability is the main benefit. Some claim that intercooler pipe kits will show 10-30 torque gains. However, based on our experience we don’t fully agree with the claims and haven’t seen much power or torque benefits.
Regardless, they are worthwhile upgrades for a reliability standpoint and will help improve airflow marginally.
Hot Side vs Cold Side Piping
The cold side piping is the weak point of the 6.7 intercooler pipe design. The factory cold side pipe is known to fail once you begin modding and tuning these engines. Heck, sometimes the pipe even fails on completely stock trucks. Cold side piping gets its name since it’s the piping after the intercooler once the air is already cooled.
On the other hand, the hot side intercooler pipe is located between the turbo and intercooler. This pipe carries the hot air to the intercooler once it leaves the turbocharger. Hot side pipes are much less problematic, so it’s not as common to upgrade.
That said, an upgraded pipe kit might make sense if you’re after looks since they do add a nice aesthetic to the engine bay. However, if you’re simply looking to improve reliability then it’s best to just upgrade the cold side pipe and save the money.
6.7 PowerStroke Intercooler Upgrades
Many turbo and supercharged engines use traditional air-to-air intercooler designs. However, the Ford 6.7 PowerStroke uses a more efficient air-to-water IC. This design is becoming more popular now days as the use of forced induction becomes increasingly popular too.
Upgrades for air-to-air intercoolers are very common. Simply increasing the surface area and core size can promote better cooling, lower intake air temperatures (IAT), and increase power. However, air-to-water intercoolers are a lot less common to upgrade.
The factory intercooler is very efficient, making it a bit less necessary of a modifications. However, there still are a number of benefits you get with a bigger intercooler, it’s just a question of whether or not it is worth the $1,000+ price tag to you.
Intercooler Upgrade Benefits
- 10-40wtq gains
- Possible power gains
- Faster turbo spool
- Less turbo pressure loss
- Lower IAT & EGT
Peak torque gains for an IC upgrade usually fall around 10-20wtq. However, you can pick up 30-40+ torque on the lower-end due to the quicker turbo spool from a higher flowing intercooler. Power gains are generally minimal but some 6.7 PowerStroke’s may see about 5-10whp peak power gains.
A more efficient IC core also helps reduce pressure loss. As charge air enters the intercooler it expands, which means you lose a little bit of boost pressure. Good intercooler upgrades should lose less pressure and you’ll see about 0.5 to 1.5psi higher boost.
Lastly, you may also notice slightly cooler IAT and EGT. Again, the factory intercooler is very effective so you might not see any notable temperature decreases.
Intercooler related mods are a common topic on the Ford 6.7 PowerStroke diesel engine. However, most intercooler discussions relate to intercooler pipe failure on the cold side rather than intercooler upgrades. The stock cold side intercooler pipe is prone to cracking and leaking. This is especially true when modding the diesel engine, but failures can even happen on stock trucks.
Upgrading to an aluminum or silicone intercooler pipe is a great mod to improve reliability. Rudy’s Diesel offers an inexpensive option if reliability is your primary reason for upgrading. Those who want a better looking pipe should consider Sinister Diesel. Otherwise, full intercooler piping kits like the MPD kit are expensive but look truly incredible and include tons of piping.
Ford opted for an air-to-water intercooler design on the 6.7L PowerStroke. These intercoolers are very efficient from the factory, which means upgrades likely aren’t worthwhile for most owners. However, if you’re looking to maximize performance and cooling then an IC can be a great upgrade. Mishimoto and No Limit Fab both offer some great options, but they’ll set you back $1,100+.