Detroit Diesel Series 60 Common Problems and Failures

Heavy Duty Detroit Diesel 60 Series | Highway & Heavy Parts

Do you have a Series 60 engine from Detroit? For the most part, it probably runs great for you. This electronically controlled engine has a favorable history, shared between all three versions, and despite having been out of production for years now, it remains a popular choice for many operators.

Even though this engine has been relied on by many for years, it still has its share of issues, like any other would. Below we explore some of the common issues and complaints surrounding the Detroit Series 60 engines and their possible causes. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the problems you could experience, but they are good things to watch out for if you find that your engine isn't working the way it used to.


Diving Into the Problems

We've briefly discussed some of these problems in our Series 60 spotlight, but we'll dive into them a bit more fully here. It Still Runs also mentions a few of these issues.

Cold Starts

Cold starts, aptly named for starting your engine in cold temperatures, have given Series 60 engines trouble. They can lose their prime and not start properly. Using a starting fluid should help combat this issue, and you shouldn't have any other problems from it once the engine is running. Changing the SRS (Synchronous Reference Sensor) and TRS (Timing Reference Sensor) could also help with this issue. These two sensors should be replaced at the same time to maintain proper operation.

Defective Wrist Pin

This particular issue affects Series 60 engines built before 2002. For some reason, there was a defect in some of the wrist pins that led to the separating of the piston pin and crown. This separation allowed the connecting rod to disconnect as well, and one of the loose components would then damage the engine block, often by creating a hole through it. This issue did not affect all pre-2002 Series 60 engines, but it was a problem that occurred and could cause catastrophic engine failure.

Cooling System

As with most engines, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your cooling system. Overheating is the cause of many major issues with diesel engines, so maintaining this system can help with many preventable issues.

Throttle Problems

This problem is also not the most common, and affects mainly those with certain kinds of aftermarket engine brakes installed. These brakes could require different programming than what is standard on the Series 60, and the disconnect could cause a loss of throttle. If this is not the issue and you're still experiencing throttle issues, you'll probably want to take a look at your TPS (throttle position sensor). This sensor works with the electronic control system in drive-by-wire applications like the Series 60 engines, allowing for the electronic control to occur. If there's an issue with your throttle, that's a good place to start.

Bearing Issues

Bearing problems, particularly spun bearings, are typically caused on older Series 60 by low oil pressure at idle. A spun bearing occurs when there is a lack of lubrication causing overheating. The bearing can eventually seize, creating even more problems. The low oil pressure at idle is a frequently complained about issue with those particular engines, so if you have one, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your lower bearings to ensure they're getting the proper lubrication.

EGR Problems

In order to lower NOx emissions, later Series 60 engines come equipped with an EGR. This system is often complained about as the cause of engine issues. This is particularly true of the EGR cooler. If you're having a problem with your EGR cooler, you might notice an exhaust leak, especially white exhaust. This can indicate a coolant leak. If there is such a leak, you might also notice lower coolant levels in your engine, but things otherwise appear normal. This can lead to an overheated engine.

Operators often find that they experience issues with their EGR system on their 14L Series 60 in particular.

Fuel Economy

Another common complaint, especially with the 14L, is poor fuel economy. As the engine got bigger and was designed for more horsepower, fuel usage seemed to increase as well. Some argue that this lowering of fuel economy is not due to engine design, but to poor operating practices. If you're experiencing poor fuel economy, make sure you're not running your engine at a high RPM consistently.


Some of these issues are more common than others, but they're all good things to keep an eye out for if you're running a Series 60. As with all engines, a little preventive maintenance can go a long way.


Is A 60 Series Detroit Diesel A Good Engine?

This engine is very popular and well-renowned in the diesel community. Detroit Diesel's Series 60 ranked second best diesel engine ever in the "Best Diesel Engine Ever” list compiled by Diesel Power Magazine. It has been the most popular heavy-duty diesel engine in North America since 1992. That's saying something!

We can help you find the parts your need for your Series 60 diesel engine. Call 844-304-7688 to speak with one of our certified techs, or you can always request a quote online.


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