Best Head Studs for 6-0 Powerstroke 2022 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Did you know that several aftermarket head studs have a higher clamping force than the OEM Ford studs that come with the engine? That’s right. Replacing your Powerstroke head studs is a must-have upgrade if reliability and rugged performance are high on your priority list. They keep the engine cylinder head gasket from lifting even with high combustion pressure.

We tested some of the best-selling accessories on the market to bring you our top picks for the best head studs for 6-0 Powerstroke Ford engines.

 Xotic Performance Head Stud KitARP Head Stud KitMTC Head Stud Kit
Best OverallBest All-Inclusive OptionBest Value Option

Fastener finish

Black oxideBlack oxideBlack oxide

Tensile strength

220,000 psi220,000 psi220,000 psi

Fits

Ford F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke enginesFord F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke enginesFord F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke engines

Head style

12-point12-point12-point
View on Amazon View on Amazon View on Amazon

How We Tested and Compared These Products

When comparing the top-rated head studs for 6.0L Ford Powerstroke engines, the first thing we were interested in was the brand. Manufacturers like Xotic, ARP, MTC, and Laformo have a proven track record of producing high-quality, long-lasting aftermarket engine components and accessories. DK engine parts and Hamilton Cams were also solid options. We steered clear of lesser-known brands since we could not vouch for their quality.

The next thing we looked at was their tensile strength. We immediately eliminated any head stud kit that did not have a minimum psi rating of 220,000. Studs with a lower rating would not be able to keep the cylinder heads from lifting, especially in high-pressure turbo systems.

The final thing we were interested in was their performance. We wanted head stud kits made of super-duty material built to stand the test of time. Bonus points if they had a black oxide finish to protect them from wear and tear.

Our Pick: Xotic Performance Head Stud Kit – Best Overall

Head Stud Replacement Kit

 

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Features:

  • Fastener finish: Black oxide
  • Tensile strength: 220,000 PSI
  • Fits: Ford F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke engines
  • Head style: 12-point

Xotic Performance is no stranger to the aftermarket engine parts and accessories for Ford Powerstroke engines. The company is one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality performance components engineered for rugged performance. Their 6.0L head stud replacement kit is a testament to the high manufacturing standards the company maintains.

The Xotic head studs have an impressive tensile strength rating of 220,000 psi, rendering them virtually indestructible. We’ve had them on our Ford F-250 for more than three years now, and they’re still going strong. The previous head gasket kit brand we were using was usually good for 3-6 months before we would periodically have to replace them.

The ends of the stud heads have a broached design which makes for easy installation and removal. They are designed to maintain a tight cylinder seal even when mounted on high pressure oil turbo systems.

Based on our tests, the clamping force they provided significantly exceeded what you get with conventional Ford OEM inner row head bolts. The kit also comes with hardened washers and nuts, all of which offer uniform load distribution to give you precise torque readings.

All in all, we were quite pleased with the performance of the Xotic head studs. If you have a 6.0L Ford Powerstroke engine, this kit would be your best bet for durability and reliability.

Pros
  • Direct fit replacement for a wide range of Ford models
  • The ultra-high tensile strength
  • Easy installation
  • The kit comes complete with all the mounting hardware and accessories
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Slightly pricey compared to other kits in its class
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  • ULTRA STRENGTH - XOTIC 7200 material properties allow for far greater...
  • EASY INSTALLATION - Broached stud ends install & make cylinder head...

 

Best Alternatives

ARP Head Stud Kit – Best All-Inclusive Option

Ford Powerstroke 6.0L Diesel ARP

 

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Features:

  • Fastener finish: Black oxide
  • Tensile strength: 220,000 PSI
  • Fits: Ford F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke engines
  • Head style: 12-point

The head stud kit from ARP is another favorite. One of the things we liked most about this particular set is that it came with an intake manifold installation kit and an 18mm exhaust gasket kit, in addition to the head studs. Now that’s something you don’t often come across.

We also liked how sturdy each ARP stud felt. These heavy-duty studs have a tensile strength of 220,000 psi and worked remarkably well to keep the cylinder heads in our 60L Power Stroke diesel engine from lifting when exposed to higher combustion pressures. This is thanks, in part, to the heat-treated, thread-rolled studs, specially designed to keep the cylinder head gasket set in place.

The kit also comes with hardened parallel washers and 12-point nuts, which offer enhanced material strength, improved torque readings, and better overall load distribution. The Black Diamond head gasket, the exhaust gasket, and the master intake gasket sets are extremely heavy duty. The latter also comes with a set of turbo hardware and injector O-rings.

For the price, the ARP studs offer amazing value considering all the high-quality accessories that come with them. It is definitely worth checking out.

Pros
  • The ARP studs include an intake manifold installation kit and 18mm exhaust gasket sets
  • The high tensile strength keeps the cylinder heads from lifting
  • The head-treated, thread-rolled studs
  • It comes with parallel washers and 12-point nuts
  • Excellent value for the money
Cons
  • It would have been nice if the ARP studs came with gasket EGR valve covers as well
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  • ARP Studs
  • MAHLE Black Diamond Head Gaskets
  • Master Intake Gasket Set with Injector O-rings and Turbo Hardware

 

MTC Head Stud Kit – Best Value Option

Head Stud Kit for Ford Powerstroke Engines

 

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Features:

  • Fastener finish: Black oxide
  • Tensile strength: 220,000 PSI
  • Fits: Ford F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke engines
  • Head style: 12 point

If you know a thing or two about 60 Powerstroke engines for Ford, then you know that their aftermarket accessories and components aren’t exactly cheap. Finding affordable, high-quality products built to stand the test of time can be an uphill task, especially with all the different options on the market.

MTC is a well-known brand that gives you the best of both worlds. The company’s reputation for manufacturing high-quality components for Powerstroke engines at pocket-friendly prices is one of the reasons many Ford owners choose MTC accessories. Their range of head stud kits is no exception.

We were a little skeptical at first, given their price point. Our initial concerns were quickly put to rest. Their performance blew us away. These 12-point head studs are made of a high-grade alloy, and each kit comes with a set of 20. They have a tensile strength rating of 220,000 psi.

The threads on each of them are head-treated and thread-rolled to give them the highest possible fatigue strength. Their clamping strength was remarkably effective in keeping the cylinder heads from lifting, so we were quite happy about that. They retained the cylinder seal even in the high-pressure conditions within turbo systems. We also liked the black oxide finish that extends their longevity. You won’t be replacing them any time soon.

All in all, if you’re looking for an affordable set of studs that don’t compromise on quality, this kit from MTC would be your best bet.

Pros
  • Made of proprietary high-grade alloy
  • High tensile strength
  • Designed for high-pressure turbo systems
  • The black oxide finish extends their longevity
  • Affordable price point
Cons
  • The instruction manual could have done with a bit more detail
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  • Heavy Duty 20 Piece Head Stud Kit
  • This is one of the best kits available on the market today
  • Fits Ford 6.0L powerstroke engines

 

Laformo Head Stud Kit – Best for Turbo Systems

Cylinder Head Stud Kit Replacement

 

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Features:

  • Fastener finish: Black oxide
  • Tensile strength: 220,000 PSI
  • Fits: 2003-2007 Ford F-250, F-350, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke engines
  • Head style: 12-point

Last but certainly not least is the head stud kit from Laformo. If you’re on the hunt for a set of studs that are specially engineered to withstand the high-pressure conditions in turbo systems, you will like what Laformo brings to the table.

For starters, they have a psi rating of 220,000. This gives them ample clamping force to keep the cylinder heads in your Power Stroke in place without worrying about them lifting and replacing a blown head gasket. This can be attributed to the fact that the threads are heat-treated and rolled to give them the highest possible fatigue strength even when subjected to high pressure.

We liked the broached stud ends that made cylinder head installation and removal a breeze. The kit comes with 20 head studs, 20 hardened parallel washers, and 20 12-point nuts. These are all compatible with the Ford 60L Powerstroke engines in 2003-2007 Ford F-250, F-350, and Excursion models, as well as GM Duramax engines. They are a replacement part for OEM 250-4202.

While it did not come with an instruction manual, this wasn’t a deal-breaker. Installation shouldn’t be too hard if you know your way around a Powerstroke. That said, when in doubt, get a professional to do it for you.

All in all, we were quite happy with the diesel performance of the Laformo head stud kit. They are definitely worth checking out.

Pros
  • High psi rating
  • Easy cylinder head installation and removal
  • High clamping strength keeps the cylinder heads in place
  • Specially designed to withstand the high-pressure conditions in turbo systems
  • Backed by a 1-year warranty
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with an instruction manual
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How to Choose the Best Head Studs for 6-0 Powerstroke – Buying Guide

A blue Ford F-150 Raptor truck

 

With so many different brands of head studs on the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting task, especially if you have no clue what to look for when picking the best one. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best head studs for 6-0 Powerstroke high-performance engines.

Tensile Strength

This is denoted by the studs’ psi rating. It refers to the amount of pressure per square inch (psi) of the area they can withstand while keeping the cylinder heads clamped firmly in place.

You want to get a stud kit that’s rated 220,000 psi, although anything above 200,000 will work well even with high combustion pressure in the Powerstroke. Studs with a lower psi rating will not maintain a tight cylinder seal when mounted on high-pressure turbo systems, so keep that in mind when shopping for the best ones.

Fatigue Strength

This is one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to choosing the best head studs for 6-0 Powerstroke engines. You need to pick a set of studs with the highest possible fatigue strength even when subjected to the high-pressure conditions you find in performance engines.

Some of the buzzwords to keep an eye out for when picking head studs with optimal fatigue strength are: “Heat-treated” and “thread-rolled.” These indicate that they are specially engineered to keep the cylinder heads clamped firmly in place while remaining in pristine condition even after several years of use.

Head Stud and Head Gasket Kits

While it is possible to purchase a set of head studs on their own, you can buy kits that come with head studs and gasket bundles. The ARP head stud kit, for instance, comes with an intake manifold installation kit and 18mm exhaust gasket sets as well, making it one of the best all-inclusive options around. Other kits even come with engine oil cooler pipes for the EGR cooler and coolant filtration kits; if it includes oil cooler rail cups, even better.

Material

The material head studs are made out of has a direct bearing on their longevity. The best head studs for Powerstroke engines are made of durable alloys that contain a mixture of nickel, carbon, and other heavy-duty metals.

Keep an eye out for studs made of Chrome Moly 4130, which is a chromium and carbon alloy, or Chrome Moly 8740, which is a chromium, carbon, and nickel alloy. These are designed for rugged performance in high-pressure turbo systems and have a 220,000+ psi rating, unlike inferior quality head studs.

Compatibility

Not all head studs are created equal. If you’re looking for a head stud kit for your Ford 6.0L Powerstroke engine, you need to get one that is specifically designed for it. A 6.7L head stud kit, for instance, will not fit in a Sinister Diesel 6.0L engine.

They should come with hardened parallel washers and 12-point nuts that fit 2003-2007 Ford F-250 Super Duty, E-350 Super Duty & Club Wagon, E-450 Super Duty, F-550, and Excursion 6.0L Powerstroke engines. These would also be compatible with l5P Duramax engines. Ensure that you confirm the nut sizes that fit your engine beforehand so that you don’t end up purchasing the wrong ones and cause total head gasket failure.

FAQ

Is a head stud better than a head bolt?

It depends on the intended application. If you have a high-performance vehicle like a Ford that runs on a Powerstroke engine, you’re better off getting a set of head studs for it. On the other hand, if you have an average, everyday automobile, a set of head bolts would be more practical. Neither fastener is superior to the other. They just have different uses.

Can cylinder head studs be reused?

As a rule of thumb, you should never reuse head studs if the threads are badly damaged or galled. While it is not uncommon for people to chase damaged threads with a die to clean them up, this removes the metal material underneath, undermining the stud’s ability to torque down. You might as well be using lesser-quality studs at that point.

There are several high-quality and affordable head studs on the market that will give you more bang for your buck. The MRP kit, for instance, is an excellent, budget-friendly option to consider.

What is the best head stud for a 6.0L Powerstroke?

As far as performance goes, nothing beats Xotic head stud kits. They have an impressive 220000 psi tensile strength rating and broached design, making installation and removal quite easy. Their unique design allows them to maintain a tight cylinder seal that remains intact even in ultra-high pressure turbo systems. The clamping force they offer is significantly higher than what you get with conventional Ford OEM head bolts.

Conclusion

There you have it – the best head studs for 6-0 Powerstroke engines. While any of the four kits we’ve reviewed in this guide would be an excellent choice for your Ford engine, if we had to pick one, we recommend getting the Xotic kit. The performance of these studs is simply unmatched.