February 15, 2022

Do You Need Head Studs?


Every car engine is put under some sort of stress regularly, especially heavy-duty diesel engines such as Powerstroke, Cummins, and Duramax. What’s preventing these engines from falling apart, blowing the head gasket, or having similar failures are head bolts or head studs. Head studs are highly praised by many performance-oriented diesel owners as well as those with bulletproofed trucks. So, let’s pop the hood, take off the cylinder head, and find out, why do you need aftermarket head studs?

What are Head Studs?

Head studs are a much better alternative to commonly used head bolts. They can withstand much more pressure than head bolts, which is why Powerstroke, Cummins, and Duramax diesel engine owners prefer them.

Head bolts are made out of various different steels and they’re heat-treated, allowing them to withstand as much as 160,000 psi. They’re more difficult to install than head studs, and they’re usually single-use only. The main problem with head bolts is that they have twisting force applied to them during the installation, which can result in inaccurate torque readings.

Head studs, and TrackTech® head studs in particular, are made out of the strongest alloy we could find on planet earth, and they’re able to withstand even 240,000 psi. Head studs are easier to install not only because of the engine block, head gasket, and cylinder head alignment but also because they apply only clamping force to the engine, properly sealing the head gasket and providing accurate torque readings. And if that wasn’t enough, you can reuse head studs 3-4 times before you have to change them out.

When Would You Need Head Studs?

Automakers’ calculations are very precise, and since they need to do their best to cut down on costs, they won’t always use the best possible parts. The stock head bolts can only handle stock power, and any major power boost such as a turbo kit can potentially blow up the engine. That’s why head bolts are often thought to be the best supporting mod for Powerstroke, Duramax, and Cummins diesel engines; they can handle the power.

Why Would You Need Head Studs for Performance?

You will absolutely need head studs if you’re planning on modifying your truck for performance in any way. Diesel engines, especially Powerstroke, Duramax, and Cummins engines, are under a lot of pressure just by their design. Certain parts of these engines already have a relatively difficult time supporting stock power, and that’s why you’ll need to replace them. As the combustion in a combustion chamber happens, the piston is pushed down by the expansion of gasses, but every other part affected by the force mustn’t budge. If you were to increase the power of the combustion, the weakest parts of the engine would start to break down, and the stock head bolts are usually one of the weakest links.

The clamping force of head studs, which is much greater than the clamping force of head bolts, means that the studs will be able to withstand more power by sealing the cylinder head, the head gasket, and the engine block together properly. Not only that, but head studs are made out of tougher materials, so they won’t crack or break easily.

Head studs are only hand screwed into the engine block and tightened at the top with a nut which results in stronger clamping force and more reliability because of the way pressure is spread throughout the shaft. The way head bolts are designed, they pull on the threads of the engine block and have twisting pressure applied to them which as you might’ve thought, isn’t the best.

Why Would You Need Head Studs for Bulletproofing?

Bulletproofing a truck is a process of replacing unreliable stock parts with their aftermarket counterparts and making the truck reliable as well as durable. The parts that need replacement usually differ between the models of Powerstroke, Duramax, and Diesel engines, and some models such as the 6.0L or the 6.4L Powerstroke need more work than others. However, there’s one modification that almost all bulletproof trucks have, and that’s head studs.

Some of these heavy-duty trucks have quite impressive horsepower and torque numbers from the factory. They come with either an inline-6 or a V8 turbocharged powerplant, and yet, these engines are held together by steel bolts. There have been countless failures related to this, and that’s why truck owners that want to bulletproof their diesel often replace the stock head bolts with aftermarket head studs.

The results are heavy-duty trucks that have been used and abused still running after 1 million miles.

The Best Head Studs

At TrackTech®, we pride ourselves on quality. We research, create, and test fasteners every day to create the strongest head studs for the Powerstroke, Cummins, and Duramax diesel engine families. Here are the best aftermarket head kits for your truck:

The Best Powerstroke Aftermarket Head Studs

7.3L Powerstroke 94′ – 03′ Head Studs Kit
6.0L Powerstroke 03′ – 10′ Head Studs Kit
6.4L Powerstroke 08′ – 10′ Head Studs Kit
6.7L Powerstroke 11′ – 18′ Head Studs Kit

The Best Cummins Aftermarket Head Studs

5.9L Cummins 12V 89′ – 98′ Head Studs Kit
6.7L Cummins 24V 98′ – 18′ Head Studs Kit

The Best Duramax Aftermarket Head Studs

Duramax 01′ – 16′ LLY LBZ LMM LML Head Studs Kit
Duramax 17′ – 20′ L5P Head Studs Kit

We understand how crowded repair shops’ parking lots can get, we also understand individuals who daily their trucks, and we don’t want you to wait weeks for parts. We ship our products immediately, so you can begin working on your truck as soon as possible

How to Install Head Studs?

Now that you have your head studs, and you’re ready to turn your engine into an unbreakable machine, it’s time to move on to the difficult part; the installation. If you’re planning on doing head stud installation yourself, you should understand how to remove the cylinder head from the engine block, so we’ll skip that part and get straight to the point.

Once your engine block is decked, or deck prepped, inspect the block one last time, making sure that it’s completely clean from any liquids or debris. Continue by using a correctly sized tap to clean up the threads of the bolt holes. To finish off cleaning up the holes, you can use a compressor to blow out any debris that might’ve not come out. During this entire process, remember that you can never be too careful.

Lubricate the side of the stud that screws into the engine, and spread the lubricant all around the threads. Only hand tighten the head studs one by one without using any tools. If you notice that a stud is higher than the rest it could mean that there’s still debris in the hole, so take it out and clean the hole.

Read About: 6 Benefits of Head Studs

Once you’ve installed the head studs, slide the head gasket onto the engine block. Prepare the cylinder head the same way you prepared the engine block. Slide the cylinder head onto the head gasket either by yourself or with a helping hand, and rock the cylinder head until it seats itself properly.

With the cylinder head properly installed, put the washers onto the studs and lubricate the washers as well as the fine threads. Hand tighten each nut onto the stud and prepare for the torquing sequence.

Read through the instructions for your engine and make sure that you understand everything before beginning the torquing sequence. Once you’re done, lubricate the upper row bolts, slide them into their holes, and follow the torquing instructions.

And that’s it, you have successfully installed head studs and made your engine bulletproof!

The Finish Line

Aftermarket head studs are perfect for Powerstroke, Cummins, and Duramax engine families. They’ll help you either make the engine bulletproof or support the power boosts you plan on adding. And even if you’re just in a position to replace the stock head bolts, the reliability and the durability that aftermarket head bolts offer are remarkable considering their price. Our head bolts are indeed some of the strongest on the planet, but we want everyone to be able to afford such quality, that’s why we’re price considerate, and that’s why we offer lower-level dealer discounts.

If you’d like to keep up with our work and follow us as we continue to improve our TrackTech Fasteners® through continuous research and testing, subscribe to our newsletter.


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