The Ford 6.0 Powerstroke is one of those "as long as" engines. What's an "as long as" engine? It's one you have to make excuses for. There are at least four sentences that could begin with "the 6.0 Powerstroke is a great engine as long as (insert flaw and solution here)." We won't go through the full "as long as" list here. Instead, we'll address one item. Here goes: the 6.0 Powerstroke is a great engine as long as you replace the turbo with an ATS Aurora turbo.
Ford's 6.0 Powerstroke comes from the factory with a variable geometry turbo, or VGT turbo. The concept is a good one: the exhaust impeller's vanes can be turned to different angles on the fly to maximize turbo response and minimize turbo lag. This is a great concept, and it makes the 6.0 quicker off the line than the 7.3 Powerstroke it replaced. The bummer is that the VGT turbo is famous for its vanes sticking in one position. When the vanes stick, the turbo's performance evaporates. Enter ATS and its Aurora turbo for the 6.0.
ATS Diesel Performance offers a complete kit to replace the stock VGT turbo with a non-VGT model. This simplification means the turbo vanes will be fixed in one position and can never stick. It also means that the potential benefits of the VGT system aren't there, either. Those who still want a VGT turbo can still turn to ATS for their product needs, as ATS also offers its own VGT turbo.
We headed to Diesel Tech in San Jacinto, California, to watch an ATS turbo being installed on Diesel Tech owner Loren Taylor's '03 Super Duty, which is factory-saddled with the 6.0 Power Stroke. We had every confidence that the ATS turbo would be reliable, so our big question was whether or not the non-VGT ATS turbo would perform as well as a functional factory VGT turbo.
We're not going to give up the results just yet. You'll have to find them in the photo captions. We'll just say that as long as you've got ATS and Diesel Tech on your side, your 6.0 can live up to its potential.
Here's a slice of reality:
The complete kit retails for about double the cost of a stock replacement turbocharger. We've replaced the turbocharger three times on our cursed '03 STD Super Duty. When you add up parts and labor to replace the stock turbo three times it doesn't take a genius to see that we'd be way ahead if we'd gone with an ATS 3000 kit in the first place. Reality has been known to bite.