If you’re a fan of big trucks and powerful vehicles, then the Ford Powerstroke will certainly catch your attention. They’re big, loud, and diesel-powered, and most importantly, they are supercharged. This gives the truck the extra power it needs to haul around any load you can fit in its bed.
As with any specialty engine make, the Ford Powerstroke is not immune to potential issues. One of the problems that can crop up with these engines are failing or failed intercoolers (also called an aftercooler), which can severely damage the performance and functioning of the rest of your engine.
If you own a Ford Powerstroke, it’s important to know what to look for in the event that your intercooler does fail, as addressing the issue promptly is integral in keeping your engine in top-notch shape.
The Function of the Intercoolers
Intercoolers are components of your vehicle’s engine system, fitted between the engine itself and the turbocharger or supercharger, whichever you have installed. Its job is to lower the air temperature of the charger’s expulsions, thus the name: intercooler.
In short, your intercooler functions similarly to your radiator, in that your intercooler cools substances that circulate between parts of your engine. In this case, the substance is the air that flows from your turbocharger into your engine.
Intercoolers are used in turbocharged engines for two crucial reasons. First, compressed air from the turbocharger carries heat, which can then overheat parts of your engine or cause detonation in your cylinders and lower your boost. Second, compressed air becomes denser when cooled, which can hold and burn more oxygen, thereby increasing your engine’s power output.
Causes of a Failed or Damaged Intercooler
There are several potential causes of a failed intercooler, with each causing its own host of symptoms. Some of the most common reasons for a failing intercooler include:
- loose, damaged, or leaking hoses
- extraneous substances circulating from the turbocharger into the intercooler
- clogs due to deposits of debris or minerals
If you have an air-to-water intercooler, as is common in some models of diesel engines, as well as in the Subaru WRX STI, the only way to drop the efficiency beyond physical damage is to restrict the airflow. This typically occurs when a mud clog builds up over the radiator or cooling fins. Additionally, mineral deposits such as lime, calcium, or even rust can clog your lines, just like your radiator.
How to Spot a Damaged Intercooler
If you have a damaged intercooler, you may notice symptoms come on gradually or there may be a sudden drop in performance. Some of the most common symptoms of a damaged intercooler include:
- fuel inefficiency (often accompanied by clouds of black smoke emitted from the exhaust)
- lagging or delayed acceleration
- whining turbocharger
- defaulted “home mode” in the computer, accompanied by a sudden and drastic drop in power and restricted rpm
- overheated engines, which may lead to engine knocking
Depending on the cause of the failure, your turbocharger may try to compensate for the loss in power by working harder, resulting in an overworked turbocharger as well. This has the potential to overheat your engine by flooding your intercooler faster than your damaged intercooler can handle, thereby resulting in further damage to your engine.
How to Fix a Damaged Intercooler
If your vehicle is not running up to snuff and you suspect that you may have a damaged intercooler, it’s possible to replace certain components yourself. However, if you aren’t familiar with tinkering around in your vehicle’s engine, it’s better to leave that to the pros, as the only thing worse than a failed intercooler is a failed engine.
To that end, if you suspect engine failure of any kind, bring your baby into Diesel Pickup Pros today. We proudly serve the Floyd Knobs, Georgetown, Jefferson, and New Albany, IN areas, as well as Louisville, KY.
We here at Diesel Pickup Pros proudly focus our mechanical prowess on pickup diesel engines, from Cummins to Mercedes to Powerstroke and everything in between. We offer full maintenance and repairs on every diesel engine that drives through our door. Call us today to set up an appointment or to speak to one of our technicians.