Symptoms of a Failing VGT Solenoid on a 6.0 L Powerstroke

Symptoms of a Failing VGT Solenoid on a 6.0 L Powerstroke

Symptoms of a Failing VGT Solenoid on a 6.0 L Powerstroke

The VGT solenoid is responsible for controlling the turbo vanes’ position, which helps to regulate the turbocharger’s boost pressure.

But it can fail and suffer from a wide variety of performance-hampering symptoms.

Some of these are indeed serious, which is why you shouldn’t drive the car until you solve them completely. 

If you know your way around car diagnostics and inner mechanics, you can fix the problem yourself.

To do so, you will first need to diagnose the car (multimeter resistance readings, OBD II scans, visual inspections), and proceed to fix the problem by coating a new replacement solenoid in oil and installing it.

If you decide to take your car to a mechanic, you are likely going to pay between $100 and $500 depending on what needs doing, and that is without including a potential turbocharger replacement, which could run you up to $3,000.

In this article, we will explore the symptoms of a failing VGT solenoid on a 6.0 L Powerstroke diesel engine to help you diagnose and address the issue promptly. Read on and find out!

Symptoms of a Failing VGT Solenoid on a 6.0 L Powerstroke

Signs of a Bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT Solenoid

A faulty VGT solenoid can cause several problems with the engine’s performance and drivability. Some signs of a bad VGT solenoid include:

  • Turbo Lag
  • Poor Turbocharger Performance

When you stomp on the accelerator pedal and the truck isn’t overly keen on accelerating until it reaches a suspiciously high RPM range, you are experiencing turbocharger lag.

Turbo lag is one of the most annoying signs that something might be wrong with your VGT solenoid.

Likewise, if the turbocharger struggles with inconsistent power delivery and cut-offs, it could also point to some of these bad 6.0L Powerstroke VGT solenoid symptoms.

Signs of a Bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT Solenoid

What are the symptoms of a bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT solenoid?

  • Check Engine Light
  • Power Surging 
  • No Turbo Sound
  • Bad Performance/ Power Loss
  • Overboost
  • Poor Fuel Economy
  • Unusual Noises
  • Excessive Smoking 
  • Rough Idling

Check Engine Light

One famous mechanic once said that “all bad things start with a Check Engine Light (CEL)” and it seems like a CEL is an unmistakable sign that your engine needs some tender love and care.

As such, if you come across a CEL, you shouldn’t ignore the chances of it pointing toward a VGT solenoid failure, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms from this list.

Check Engine Light

Power Surging

A failing VGT solenoid can cause the vanes inside the turbocharger to stick or operate improperly, which can lead to uneven turbo boost pressure and engine surging.

However, engine surging can also be caused by other issues, such as a clogged fuel filter, a malfunctioning EGR valve, or a failing fuel pump.

To determine if a faulty VGT solenoid is causing engine surging, it’s best to have the engine diagnosed and to look for at least two or three other symptoms listed in this article.

No Turbo Sound

The VGT solenoid is tasked with controlling the inner veins inside the turbocharger, which control the flow of exhaust gasses entering the turbine wheel.

Therefore, if the VGT solenoid is failing or has failed completely, it can cause the vanes to remain in a fixed position, which can result in a lack of turbo sound and a lack of turbo performance.

This problem is very easy to notice because it is followed by poor performance as well. So, when it comes time to diagnose what might be wrong with your turbo, make sure to look for these two symptoms.

Bad Performance/ Power Loss

A bad VGT (Variable Geometry Turbocharger) solenoid can cause a noticeable decrease in engine power and performance.

The problem here is that are aforementioned vanes can get stuck in a singular position and thus your turbine won’t be able to deliver enough boost or any boost at all.

Common signs of power loss caused by a bad 6.0L Powerstroke engine VGT solenoid include:

  • Slow Acceleration
  • Difficulty Towing
  • Difficulty Going Up a Hill
  • Reduced Top Speed
  • Hesitation
Bad Performance/ Power Loss


If the inner turbocharger vanes get stuck, they will either provide too much boost, or too little. If they provide too much boost at all times, it means that your Powerstroke engine is suffering from overboost.

Overboost can cause a significant increase in boost pressure, which can lead to excessive stress on engine components such as pistons, connecting rods, and cylinder walls. 

This increased stress can cause engine damage, including blown head gaskets, damaged valves, or even engine failure.

Therefore, if you come across this symptom, it would be a really good idea not to drive the car.

Poor Fuel Economy

If the turbocharger pressure isn’t at its optimum level of efficiency, it is going to lead to subpar fuel economy. 

This symptom is almost always going to be followed by reduced gas mileage, reduced power, and the good old CEL. 

However, poor fuel economy can be caused by a myriad of other problems, so be sure to look for multiple other symptoms on this list.

Poor Fuel Economy

Unusual Noises

If you hear any loud whistling noises, siren noises, grinding noises, rattling noises, or hissing noises, your VGT actuator could be the problem because the inner turbocharger vanes are fixed to a single position.

These noises are typically most noticeable under heavy load or under acceleration, but some can also be noticed while idling.

Excessive Smoking

Precise turbocharger operation is a necessity when it comes to acceptable emissions control in all engines — including the 6.0L Powerstroke.

Therefore, if you come across excessive smoke coming from the exhaust, it could very well be due to a VGT solenoid problem.

These problems can manifest in a few different ways. Here are the most common ones to look for:

  • Too Much Normal Smoke
  • Dark Smoke Coming from the Exhaust
  • Bluish Smoke

Rough Idling

Inconsistent engine vibrations, unstable idle speeds, and even engine stalling can point toward a VGT solenoid not able to properly circulate pressurized oil and thus failing to control the inner turbocharger vanes.

A good way to spot these problems is to simply look at the RPM gauge while stationary. If the needle can’t seem to stay in a specific place, it means that your 6.0L Powerstroke engine is idling roughly. 

Rough Idling

What to Do When You Detect a Bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT Solenoid

If you detect a bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT (Variable Geometry Turbocharger) solenoid, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your vehicle.

You should start by diagnosing and inspecting a few components and then moving toward fixing the problem.

Make sure to gather these tools first:

  • A Digital Multimeter
  • OBD Scanner
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • 8mm 12-point Socket

How to Diagnose a Bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT Solenoid

Test the VGT Solenoid With a Digital Multimeter

The first thing you need to do is get ahold of a digital multimeter and use it to test the resistance of the solenoid.

You should also look at engine temperatures which should be around 73F.

  • Step 1: Take off the solenoid connector to gain access to the male pins.
  • Step 2: Place both of the multimeter probes on these pins and check the reading.
The correct resistance reading you should look for is anywhere between 3.42 and 4.18 Ohms. Any more or less than that clearly indicates that your VGT solenoid is faulty.

Use a Diagnostic Tool and Look for VGT-Specific Codes

You can use a diagnostic tool to read the fault codes and retrieve live data related to the VGT solenoid, which should help you narrow down the problem.

Look for fault codes related to VGT solenoid performance, such as:

  • P132B
  • P132A
  • P0046 

You can also monitor the VGT solenoid’s duty cycle and actuation to see if it’s functioning correctly.

Visually Inspect the VGT Solenoid and the Turbocharger

Another good thing to do is simply look at the solenoid to see if there are any visible signs of wear and tear, or/and damage caused by corrosion.

If the VGT solenoid appears to be functioning correctly, you can check the turbocharger itself for any issues. 

Look for signs of damage or wear on the turbocharger’s vanes, and make sure that they are moving freely.

Inspect the Oil Delivery System

The proper performance of the VGT solenoid is highly dependent on a consistent supply of pressurized oil, which is what is moving the inner turbo vanes.

Inspect the oil system for any signs of contamination or clogging, such as debris or sludge. Make sure that the oil is flowing to the VGT solenoid and the turbocharger at the correct pressure.

How to Fix a Bad 6.0 L Powerstroke VGT Solenoid

Now it’s time to explore the two most popular methods of fixing a bad solenoid on a 6.0 Powerstroke engine and tell you which one to go for.

Cleaning the VGT Solenoid

The VGT solenoid is a complex electronic component that operates using a combination of electrical and hydraulic systems in perfect harmony.

While cleaning the solenoid may help remove any debris or contaminants that have built up on the exterior, the internal components that control the solenoid’s operation may still be faulty.

That being said, cleaning the VGT solenoid can be a good first step in diagnosing the problem, but it will rarely ever fix the problem.

If you suspect that the solenoid is not working correctly, you can remove it from the engine and clean it using a mild cleaning solution and a soft brush. 

Cleaning the VGT Solenoid

Make sure to inspect the solenoid for any signs of wear or damage while cleaning it. If you do manage to fix the problem via a simple clean, congratulations, you are in luck.

Replacing the VGT Solenoid

The best, and possibly the only way, to properly solve this problem is to go ahead and replace the VGT solenoid with a new one.

You can do so by simply following this guide:

  • Step 1: Park the car in a safe environment and disconnect the battery.
  • Step 2: Disconnect the VGT solenoid electrical connector.
  • Step 3: Remove the bracket that holds the solenoid in place via an 8mm 12-point socket. 
  • Step 4: Take off the solenoid while twisting it side-to-side to securely oust the O-Rings.

Be sure to place a clean rag underneath the solenoid to cover all the oil that is bound to spill once you take the solenoid out.

  • Step 5: Take the new solenoid, coat it, and soak all the valves, the solenoid, and the O-rings with 15W-40 motor oil.
  • Step 6: Reverse the first four steps to install the new solenoid.

You ought to purchase a new VGT solenoid from an authorized dealership or a trusted aftermarket supplier. 
Make sure to buy the right solenoid model that matches your Powerstroke engine’s specifications and don’t try to mix and match non-compatible components.