Fixing Ford Turbo Troubles Early

The VGT or Variable Geometry Turbo on your Ford 6.0L is designed to produce more power, provide a better power curve and help to reduce fuel consumption, compared to a fixed-vane turbo. A VGT does this by incorporating a variable vane mechanism that adjusts exhaust gas flow into the engine as rpm changes. The Garrett-manufactured VGT on your 6.0 is a wonderful thing, when it works properly.

The trouble is, the moving parts of the VGT inside of a turbo are subjected to a very harsh environment and are prone to wear. You also have the issue of the exhaust causing rust and carbon build-up as well as wear on the moving parts.

When the turbo on your 6.0L begins to stick, you’ll feel some lag in turbo response. As this comes on gradually, you might not notice it right away. However, when things get really bad, your engine computer will send out a P0299 trouble code. This code is for an “underboost” condition; on your Ford 6.0L this likely means a sticking or worn VGT turbocharger.

1 A scanner that shows trouble code P0299 is usually telling you it’s time to remove your turbo and either recondition it, or worse, replace it.
2 The first thing to do is mark the turbo housing before splitting it. This ensures that the two halves go back together in the correct orientation, saving you lots of headaches.
3 With the turbo band clamp loosened, the two halves can be gently tapped with a soft rod to separate them.
4 Here you can see the working internals of the Garrett VGT used on your Ford 6.0L.
5 The unison ring will usually come off with the half that contains the exhaust wheel. Be sure to inspect the unison ring, the wheel and all other components.
6 The turbocharger vanes are removed and gently cleaned. The surface they ride on must also be cleaned.
7 Seen here is the turbo housing half. Clean the center section contact and mating surfaces of any corrosion, rust, etc. The best option is a small 1-inch 3M-type abrasive pad. Use the least aggressive pad that will get the gunk off and DO NOT use sandpaper. The goal is to remove the corrosion but not any of the metal surfaces.
8 Seen here are the two different types of center housing halves. They’re interchangeable and the big difference is the later version on the right has an undercut on the running surface to reduce drag from corrosion buildup.
9 Seen here is the center housing half. Again, clean the center section contact and mating surfaces of any corrosion, rust, etc.
10 Be sure to remove the VGT solenoid and clean it. Take care to not damage the O-rings. Replace it now if you have any concerns about age or condition.
11 The turbo vanes are reinstalled and the Unison ring is placed so the actuator slot is in line with the mark you made on disassembly.
12 The turbo is reassembled and the heat shield is reinstalled. You’re now ready to put your reconditioned unit back on the engine.
13 Here you see the reconditioned unison ring from Domestic Diesel. This ring has had the actuator slot recut. Wear on the actuator arm slot is often the cause of poor turbo vane deployment and an underperforming turbo. This is a non-rotating part, so balance is not an issue.
14 With the turbo reconditioned and back on the engine, you’re good to go.

We stopped in at Domestic Diesel in Chino, California, to see what it takes to do a simple refresh on a Ford 6.0L VGT. A refresh is simply cleaning some internals, checking the Unison ring for wear, and inspecting all the components.

Often this refresh will require a new unison ring, and Domestic Diesel has these available as reconditioned units, which are just a good as new, at about a 65-percent discount off of dealer MSRP.

This is just a refresh and not a complete rebuild. Replacing turbo bearings, shafts and turbo wheels are a deeper dive into the workings and repair than are often needed. A simple refresh will, in many cases, fix your sticking VGT. A refresh can bring you many more miles, without the need for a complete rebuild or a new turbo.
Follow along and see just how easy a quick turbo refresh can be. DW

Note: The VGT solenoid has been updated by Ford. If replacing your unit, be sure it’s the latest version.

Domestic Diesel

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