Ford 6.4L Powerstroke Intake Upgrade Guide
Cold air intakes are among the most commonly recommended first mods for many reasons. Mainly drivers are seeking a boost in performance and increased induction sounds. Yet, how does the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke diesel engine react to an upgraded intake? Throughout this article, we will examine the 6-liter diesel engines from Ford, specifically, the 6.4L. This engine had 350 hp at 2,000 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm stock. The 6.4 Powerstroke, introduced in 2008, may hold enough stock power for most truck drivers. However, an upgraded intake system can be one of the best bang for your buck mods increasing efficiency, performance, and power.
The Ford 6.4 Powerstroke is known more for its power than its durability or longevity. Reliability in the 6.4L is considered average to below average, especially compared to the workhouse Ford 7.3L diesel engine. This guide will analyze some of the benefits and gains of each recommended intake system and their effects on both reliability and power. First, we’ll have to take a deeper look into some of the best intakes on the market, their price, and their advertised performance data. Regardless, increased airflow is sure to add power to any engine, let alone this big diesel.
6.4 PowerStroke Intake Upgrade Benefits
Power gains are commonly associated with a new intake system. However, there are many benefits to your 6.4L from an upgraded intake, including:
- 5 – 15 horsepower increase
- 10 – 20 lb-ft of torque increase
- Faster throttle response and turbo spool
- 15 – 30% increased airflow
- Cleaner engine bay
- More aggressive induction sound
As per usual, most of the benefits listed above also rely on additional supporting modifications and a good tune. Like most engines, power is greatly increased with additional mods. Unfortunately, these more significant gains are usually associated with a turbo upgrade or more severe and pricey modifications.
With the increase in power comes a better throttle response and a quicker turbo spool. This increase in airflow from a new intake allows for a more responsive and powerful engine. The Ford Powerstroke 6.4 engine should also see an increase in fuel economy due to the increased airflow as well. An improvement in performance and efficiency is something any driver can appreciate.
Installing a new cold air intake system can also make the engine bay cleaner and more organized. Many upgraded intakes are easier to install and remove when needed compared to the stock system. In addition, with a cleaner engine bay, drivers can expect easier repairs and maintenance due to better accessibility.
Many drivers love the increase in induction sounds that a cold air intake system provides. Notably, open intake systems versus closed or boxed systems can significantly affect the sound of an engine. On the other hand, closed intake systems are quieter and allow less airflow. Let’s look at the different intake designs offered for the 6.4 PS engine and discuss more of the differences and benefits associated with each type.
6.4 Powerstroke Cold Air Intake vs Others
It’s important to note that we have referred to the 6.4 Powerstroke intake upgrades as cold air intakes throughout this article. This is a potential misnomer due to the different types of intakes on the market. For example, cold air intakes are designed to generate better airflow by reaching cooler air within the engine bay. Cooler air can then be pulled in by the engine, increasing engine power. Compared to a short ram intake, that aims to reduce friction rather than reroute the intake filter to a cooler area in the engine bay. Less friction produces more airflow for the intake. We will label each type of intake we recommend clearly, and explain the benefits further throughout this article.
Closed vs Open Intake Systems
In the case of the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke, air enters the filter and routes through a turbocharger. The air compression in the turbocharger generates extreme heat. The hot air then travels through the intercooler lowering the temperature. Therefore, the air temperature that enters the intake has little impact on the engine’s power and performance. This is important to help drivers choose between a closed or open intake.
Two main sub-categories of intake systems are available for the Ford 6.4 Powerstroke (closed air intake versus open-air systems). Open-air systems mean the filter is exposed to the engine bay. When the filter is enclosed or within a boxed structure, it is labeled closed air. There are also alternative options on the aftermarket that may be classified as “semi-closed.” These semi-enclosed options may be partially exposed, converted to an open intake, or have a heat shield affixed to their structure.
We believe that open-air intake systems are the best recommendation for the 6.4 Powerstroke engine. Open-air systems simply promote maximum airflow through the filter. The aim is to reduce heat for the turbo and allow the car to cycle ample air. An open system may pull hotter air from the engine bay, yet as mentioned above, the intercooler serves its purpose to lower the temperature.
Yet, closed intake systems exist on the market for good reasons. A closed system is the better option for drivers seeking a more subtle sound from their upgraded intake. A closed intake can significantly reduce the overall noise added from your modification. If your neighbors hate you, or you can’t wake the baby when you start the car, then a closed air intake might be the best option.
Best 6.4 PowerStroke Cold Air Intake Upgrades
Finally, let’s dive into some of the best intake mods that we recommend for your 6.4 Ford Powerstroke. Again, we prefer an open intake system over closed options. Yet, we also understand that closed intakes also have benefits that we will examine in the recommendations below in this guide.
There are many options available when considering an upgraded intake system for your 6.4L diesel engine. Our list below obviously does not contain every option, yet we do our best to narrow down some of the best recommendations for your consideration. The upgrades that made our list will balance affordability, quality, and power gains.
1) S&B 6.4L Powerstroke 75-1505 Cold Air Intake
It is pretty well known that S&B has been a reputable manufacturer of air intake systems for years on the market. S&B filters can be found in a wide variety of upgraded engines aside from just big diesel engines. If you prioritize a reliable and high-quality product, you can’t go wrong with S&B intakes.
This closed option comes with a removable top portion to convert into an open-air intake, allowing for maximum airflow. This upgrade can potentially increase the airflow percentage up to 23.1% (as advertised by S&B). This simple design is reliable and effective in boosting your engine’s power. The clean aesthetics and accessibility are also a nice touch for the price tag.
It’s never a poor decision to go with a reliable and trusted name like S&B. However, it’s important to research a few options for your air intake upgrade, especially considering the market’s size. Like we said before, let’s try to prioritize an open-air intake option for optimal horsepower and torque improvement.
Buy it Here: S&B Cold Air Intake 6.4L Powerstroke
2) Sinister Diesel Ford 6.4L Powerstroke Intake
Our following recommendation comes from Sinister Diesel, a company also known for some reliable products with dynamic aesthetics. This option is open, allowing for maximum airflow to the intake and easy access. The cotton filter that comes with this Sinister Diesel kit allows for easy maintenance and washing.
It’s hard to overlook this option, especially when considering the overall design and performance regardless of its price. Coming in at $443, this system promises a worthy increase in sound, speed, and throttle response. Once installed, the blue hue from the sun glinting on your engine will make this upgrade feel like money well spent.
The price, however, can come across as steep for simple aluminum tubing and an air filter on an open-intake structure. This can be ironic considering that we generally see open systems priced more affordably on the market compared to closed options. Yet, it’s hard to deny that Sinister Diesel is offering a quality design with decent power gains and a gorgeous look.
Buy it Here: Sinister Diesel Cold Air Intake 6.4L Powerstroke
3) K&N 6.4 L Powerstroke Blackhawk Series Cold Air Intake
Our third recommendation is once again associated with a trusted manufacturer in the intake upgrade market. K&N has a massive spectrum of different air intakes on the market, with years of user reviews backing up their integrity. The Blackhawk series from K&N does not shy away from an above-average price tag like its subtle look might suggest. This option is currently available for a considerable $450. This intake option lets drivers rest assured, knowing they bought a high-quality and durable product.
Again, this option advertises improvement in power, throttle response, and better fuel economy. The black powder-coated aluminum tubing and flat black overall coloring add a humble yet aggressive look to any engine bay. This upgrade is definitely a quality option adding the fact that K&N advertises it can be installed within an hour and a half. (Readers should be cautious of exactly advertised installation times, as these can change greatly for many different reasons.)
You can’t go wrong with most K&N options on the market. The Blackhawk Series intake upgrade promises to deliver a louder and more dynamic engine sound along with the other power and performance benefits we listed. This option comes in as our most expensive recommendation at $450. However, drivers can bank on the fact that they are getting a quality mod from K&N.
Buy it Here: K&N Blackhawk Series Cold Air Intake 6.4L Powerstroke
Ford 6.4 Powerstroke Intake Upgrade Summary
A good amount of power comes along with the stock 6.4 Powerstroke, yet a cold air intake upgrade could take your engine to the next level. With that said, this hefty diesel engine responds somewhat well to modifications and tuning. So it’s hard not to consider an upgraded intake when it could be that missing piece to the puzzle of your diesel project.
We covered the different names and labels of intake systems and the benefits associated with open-air and closed-air intakes. We discussed our preference for open-air systems to promote maximum airflow for your engine. The extra heat entering the filter should not be an issue with a healthy intercooler. Open intakes are generally more affordable than closed options, yet closed intakes offer less of an increased sound. (However, high-quality open intakes evidently can be expensive as well.)
S&B, Sinister Diesel, and K&N all offer highly reliable and performance-oriented designs that come with considerable price tags. You can always take a chance on an Amazon.com wildcard option for only $56. No guarantees on the fitment or quality with our wildcard suggestion. Yet, Amazon’s return policy is guaranteed. We recommend readers remember the rule, “you get what you pay for.” Let us know in the comments below if you have any experience with Amazon’s lower-priced intakes or modifications. We don’t officially recommend or stand by these products, especially knowing many reputable manufacturers of air intake upgrades on the market.
Finally, let us know about your considerations for your Ford 6.4 Powerstroke intake upgrade in the comments below!