The 7 Most Common 7.3 Powerstroke Engine Problems - Ford Diesel V8 (2023)

The 7.3 Powerstroke is commonly referred to as the “Legendary 7.3”. Outside of being the largest diesel engine ever put into high-production, consumer-grade trucks, it is also widely considered the 2nd most reliable diesel ever produced. It is no doubt the most reliable Powerstroke ever produced, coming in behind the 5.9L Cummins produced from 2003-2006.

Produced from 1994-2003, this monstrous 7.3L diesel went through two variations before being phased out in mid-2003 due to emissions regulations and more favorable gas mileage. 1999 models received a big power uprades, primarily with the addition of a wastegated turbo and an intercooler, increasing power output from 210hp and 425tq to 275hp and 525tq.

Known to be one of the most over-built diesel motors ever, there is no wonder Ford ended up producing nearly 2.5 million 7.3 Powerstroke’s by the time it was retired.

  • Camshaft Position Sensor Failure
  • Leaking Fuel Filter Housing
  • Turbocharger Up-Pipe Leaks
  • Bent Push Rods / Valve Springs
  • Exhaust Back-Pressure Valve Failure (EBPV)
  • Under Valve Cover Harness (UVCH)
  • Injection Pressure Regulator (IPR) Failure

While I had to go with 7 problems to signify the 7.3, you’ll find that the majority of these problems are super easy and inexpensive to fix. With the exception of bent push rods (which isn’t really that common) most of these parts are sensors and valves that can be easily fixed.

If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our 7.3 Powerstroke Common Problems video below or on YouTube:

7.3 Powerstroke Reliability

When you hear the classic “yeah my buddy has a diesel with 500k+ miles on it at his ranch”, if it’s not a 5.9 Cummins, it’s a 7.3 Powerstroke. The engine block and internals on these engines were extremely over-built and over-engineered for the trucks power output, making it one of the most reliable and trustworthy diesels ever produced.

The 7.3 Powerstroke has a B50 Life of 350,000 miles, meaning 50% of engines last beyond 350k miles before failing. While I did list a lot of problems above with the 7.3, these problems are primarily minor and inexpensive to fix. Catastrophic engine failure is virtually unheard of, but every engine does have it’s weak spots. For the 7.3, it tends to be with wiring/electrical related components like sensors and things of that nature.

Outside of the list mentioned, you should expect some maintenance as these trucks get older and pass the 200k mark. It wouldn’t be uncommon to need to replace the turbocharger (surprisingly easy and cheap), a water pump, maybe the fuel pump, etc. and other components that are high-stress or pressurized.

7.3 Front-End Suspension

This is an engine problem post, not a suspension post. But I wanted to mention that the front-end on these F250/F350 Super Duty’s requires a bit more maintenance compared to other trucks. Likely has something to do with how massive and heavy the engine is, creating a bit of extra wear and tear. Bushings, ball joints, tie rods, and all those other fun small but important suspension components do wear out. Including the steering gear box, which you can read about here.

1. Camshaft Position Sensor (CPS) Failure

The CPS sensor sits on the bottom half of the engine block, slightly above the crankshaft damper and controls both the camshaft position and speed and relays this information to the Powerstroke’s computer or PCM. The engine’s computer uses the camshaft positioning data from the sensor to adjust fueling to deliver adequate fuel levels at the right time to control engine timing.

The CPS on the 7.3 is widely known to be the most common or most frequent failure point on these engines. The PCM uses the CPS signal to then signal the injector driver module to tell it how much fuel to deliver to which cylinder. When the sensor fails, the PCM doesn’t get a signal and therefore won’t send a signal to the IDM to tell it to deliver fuel. The end result is your 7.3 not getting the fuel that it needs to start the engine or continue running.

While has gone through a number of design revisions over the years, it still remains a common failure point. Owners have had the most success with the most recently released dark grey and purple CPS sensor.At just $23, we recommend buying a 2nd one and keeping it in your glovebox in case your CPS fails while you are on the road or on a trip. Replacing the sensor is super easy so it doesn’t make sense to risk getting stranded and have to pay for a tow.

7.3 Powerstroke CPS Failure Symptoms

  • Engine cranks but won’t start
  • Rough acceleration and poor idling
  • Check engine light (code P0284 and more)
  • Engine stalls during idle or randomly while driving

Recommended Replacement Part:

2. 7.3 Powerstroke Leaking Fuel Filter Housing

The fuel filter housing, also commonly referred to as the fuel bowl, is prone to developing cracks and causing fuel leaks. While the pump itself is made of aluminum, the cap for it is made of plastic. The pressure of the fuel system combined with the heat from the engine bay can cause the cap to wear over time or develop cracks that can spew and leak fuel. Poor quality aftermarket fuel filter caps are most prone to cracking and leaking. While it is somewhat less common, we have seen cracks in the aluminum housing itself before, but it is rather rare.

Outside of a cracked cap, the o-rings are a common cause of a leaking fuel filter housing as well. The chemicals in diesel fuel are though to not play well with the coating that Ford uses on the o-rings and oil seals. The chemicals can create gaps around the o-rings that fuel can then slip past. The o-rings on the drain valve are known to crack in colder weather, causing leaks.

A third potential cause is tightening the fuel cap too tightly which distorts the o-ring and causes a slow drip from the cap.

Leaking Fuel Filter Symptoms

  • Fuel dripping under the vehicle
  • Slow cranking
  • Engine stalls during idle
  • Fuse can blow causing no start

Helpful 7.3 Fuel Leak Video:

Fuel Bowl Rebuild Guide:

3. Turbocharger Up-Pipe Leaks

The turbo up-pipes are a part of the 7.3’s exhaust system, connecting from the exhaust manifold to the turbocharger. The factory pipes have what are called crush donut gaskets to connect the pipe to the manifold and turbo. As exhaust gasses continually flow through, the piping expands and contracts. Over time, this expansion and contraction leads to the crush gaskets deteriorating and beginning to leak.

Symptoms of Leaking 7.3 Up-Pipes

  • Decreased performance
  • Loss of acceleration
  • Increase exhaust gas temps
  • Decreased fuel engine
  • Diesel particulate/soot on the back of the engine, firewall, and tranny

Due to the likelihood of the OEM up-pipes leaking, most folks will opt for upgraded up-pipes once their OEM set fails. Upgraded piping will have stronger gaskets, preventing leaking. Additionally, upgrading this part can help increase the exhaust sound and deep tones of the exhaust system. This upgrade kit from XDP is a great option for those looking to replace their pipes without adding too much additional exhaust noise at a great price point.

4. Bent Push Rods / Valve Springs – 7.3 Powerstroke

While two separate problems, bent push rods and failed valve springs tend to go hand in hand. Valve springs are responsible for making sure the valvetrain open and closes smoothly and making sure the lifter remains in contact with the camshaft. The springs themselves do not have a high seat pressure which can cause valve float at high RPM’s. Essentially, when the spring pressure is too low, at high RPM’s it can “float” or cause the valves to not fully seal.

You will likely hear some noises from the engine, get a low compression test in a cylinder, or cause some more serious engine damage. If the spring breaks rather than simply floating, it can send the valve into the cylinder which will damage the piston, cylinder head, and other internal engine components.

Push rods commonly fail due to a weak cylinder, which can be caused by valve spring issues. Additionally, stuck lifters, poor engine timing, and rocker arms that are too tight can also cause this issue. Engines running above stock horsepower will put extra stress on the push rods and valve springs which can cause them to bend. If you are running aggressive power and increased fueling, it is recommended to upgrade to performance springs and rods capable of handling the additional power.

5. Exhaust Back-Pressure Valve (EBPV) Failure

The EBPV is a Y-shaped valve that is mounted to the outlet of the turbocharger. The back pressure valve is controlled by an actuator which also sits attached to the turbo. The function of the exhaust back-pressure valve is to decrease the amount of time the engine takes to get to normal operating temperature. A third part of the system is an EBPV solenoid or regulator which controls the flow of oil to the actuator.

When the engine is cold, the actuator will cause the valve to close, which creates backpressure as if the engine were under load. The backpressure creates a buildup of hot exhaust air within the engine which effectively warms the engine up faster. In cold weather, the actuator is known to force the valve to open and stick-open. Additionally, the system commonly leaks oil which requires a rebuild of the entire EBPV system. Due to the commonality of oil leaks and actuator failure, and the expense associated with repairing the two, deleting the EBPV is a common option.

Benefits of 7.3 Powerstroke EBPV Delete

  • Increased performance and turbocharger efficiency
  • Lower exhaust gas temps
  • Repairing a failed EBPV requires removal of the turbocharger and is expensive

Negatives of an EBPV Delete

  • Prolongs engine warm-up time which increases fuel dilution, especially in extremely cold climates
  • Increased emissions which will lead to you failing an emissions test

EBPV Rebuild Process:
EBPV Delete Kit:

6. 7.3 Under Valve Cover Harness (UVCH) Failure

Without getting into the technical weeds, the UVCH is a critical component of the 7.3 Powerstroke’s fuel injector system. For the injectors to fire, they need a bit more power than the batteries themselves can provide. Because of this, the engine is equipped with an Injector Driver Module or IDM. The IDM receives the signal or voltage from the ECM to fire the injectors, and then outputs a voltage high enough for the injectors. The UVCH is an electrical connector that transfers the voltage from the IDM to the injectors.

The under valve cover harness, as it suggests, sits under the valve cover. Given the heat within the valve cover, and the constant shaking of the engine, the connector wires can either melt or rub against the valves and break. The issue is commonly isolated to certain cylinders as one cylinder’s UVCH connection can fail while the others remain intact. There is one wire on each side of the engine, and fortunately it’s a pretty inexpensive repair.

7.3 Powerstroke UVCH Failure Sypmtoms

  • Poor performance and rough engine running (usually limited to 1-2 cylinders)
  • Engine misfires
  • Usually no check engine light codes

UVCH Replacement Harness:

7. (IPR) Injector Pressure Regulator Failure – 7.3 Powerstroke

The IPR, or injector pressure regulator, sits on the high pressure oil pump (HPOP) and helps control oil pressure. The IPR works on conjuction with the PCM and the injection control pressure sensor (ICP) to regulate and control the amount of pressure the HPOP is building. In turn, this provides oil pressure to the fuel injectors, ensuring the engine gets the accurate amounts of fuel necessary to operate. Rather than a traditional high pressure fuel pump, the 7.3 Powerstroke’s HEUI injection system uses the HPOP to control the amount of fuel the injectors spray into the engine.

As your 7.3 engine ages, the IPR is known to fail for a multitude of reasons, including: the regulator getting stuck, seals failing, sensors going bad, the wires get damaged, etc. A failed IPR will result in the engine either getting too much or too little fuel which can lead to a multitude of problems.

7.3 Powerstroke Failed IPR Symptoms

  • Rough idling and poor engine function
  • Car stalls at idle
  • Engine cranks but won’t start
  • Surging acceleration, poor shifting, decreased performance

Because the IPR works in conjunction with the ICP and HPOP, its failure symptoms are virtually identical. IPR’s can be rebuilt for somewhere around $20, whereas a brand new IPR valve is going to run you somewhere near $200 for the part alone.

IPR Rebuild Kit:
’96-’03 OEM IPR Replacement:
’94-’95 OEM IPR Replacement:


What is the life expectancy of a 7.3 Power Stroke? ›

Robust, iron parts, conservative power and low engine speed are the key ingredients for any diesel engine lasting forever—and if a 7.3L has gone unmodified yet been well maintained its entire life, 400,000 to 500,000 miles is virtually guaranteed.

Is the Ford 7.3 V8 a good engine? ›

Ford 7.3L combustion engine is a simple pushrod V8 with a single camshaft. Even though the setup is fairly dated by current standards, it's proven to be highly reliable and durable.

What is the most miles ever put on a 7.3 Power Stroke? ›

A Million Plus Miles? Meet 80-year-old Mr. Freeland, the owner of a 2000 Ford F-350 DRW 7.3L Power Stroke Diesel with 1.3 million miles!

How do you tell if a 7.3 has a blown head gasket? ›

4 Signs You've Got a Blown Head Gasket
  1. Blue Exhaust smoke & White Material in Your Oil. If your car looks like a rocket ship with blue smoke streaming out of your exhaust, chances are this is a head gasket problem. ...
  2. White Exhaust Smoke. ...
  3. Overheating Engine. ...
  4. Poor Performance.
Aug 26, 2015

What year 7.3 Powerstroke is best? ›

The best years of the 7.3 Powerstroke were 1999 and 2000. They have some of the best features and performance of all the years. Whatever you do, you shouldn't get a Powerstroke if it's a 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, or 2004 model.

How many miles per gallon does a 7.3 L diesel get? ›

Driving the truck empty is a comfortable experience. Starting and stopping are smooth, and the ride is, as expected, a little rough. Over the 58.8-mile course I used 3.954 gallons of gas, which gave me a calculated 14.87 mpg. The computer read 14.9 mpg, which is exactly the same as our calculated number when rounded.

Is a 7.3 Powerstroke bulletproof? ›

The 7.3L Powerstroke is considered by many to be indestructible! Even as bulletproof as 7.3L can be, lack of proper maintenance and stupid mistakes can be the undoing of this of this endurance diesel engine platform.

How often should you change oil in a 7.3 Powerstroke? ›

Oil and Filter - Oil change service intervals should be completed as indicated by the instrument cluster message center or every 7,500 miles. Fuel Filter Change - Change every 3rd oil change or every 15000 miles(24,140 km) or as indicated by the message center which ever comes first.

Why did Ford stop making the 7.3 Powerstroke? ›

The 7.3 L DI Power Stroke was in production until the first quarter of model year 2003, when it was replaced by the 6.0 L because of its inability to meet California noise regulations, not the commonly believed emissions standards.

What is so special about the 7.3 Powerstroke? ›

It's the 7.3L, the venerable O.G. of the Power Stroke nameplate and the first diesel power plant to reach 500 lb-ft of torque. It's also the engine that brought full electronic control and an extremely intricate (yet ultimately reliable) HEUI injection system to the diesel industry.

How much HP does a 7.3 V8 have? ›

Supercharged Ford 7.3-Liter Godzilla V8 Delivers 965 HP On The Dyno.

What years did the 7.3 have a turbo? ›

7.3L Powerstroke Specifications
Years It Was Used:1994.5-2003
TurboCharger:1994-1997 : Garrett TP38 Fixed Geometry 1999-2003 : Garrett GTP38 Wastegated
Valvetrain:OHV, 2 Valves per Cylinder, hydraulic lifters
Pistons:Cast Aluminum
Engine Oil Capacity:15 Quarts /w filter or 14.2 Liters
16 more rows
Jan 3, 2020

What is the horsepower of a 7.3 Powerstroke? ›

7.3L Horsepower/Torque

Power levels in the 7.3L Powerstroke started out at 215 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque for the 1994.5-1995 model years and were bumped up to 225 hp and 450 lb-ft for 1996-1997. It is no coincidence that these numbers were slightly higher than the 6BT Cummins of the same era.

How much can a 7.3 Powerstroke tow? ›

21,000 lbs. 21,200 lbs.

Is it better to fix a blown head gasket or replace engine? ›

If your head gasket leak has caused this problem you are almost always better off replacing the whole engine as a new head gasket will stop the leak but bearing damage has probably already been done.

What are the first signs of a blown head gasket? ›

5 Signs Your Head Gasket Is Blown: Capitol Subaru Auto Care...
  1. Engine Overheating.
  2. White Smoke From Tailpipe. ...
  3. Low Coolant Level. ...
  4. Rough Idle/Engine Knock. ...
  5. Contaminated Engine Oil. We know that oil and water don't mix, but if coolant gets into the oil in your engine, the resulting mixture loses its lubricating qualities. ...
Apr 23, 2020

What does a cracked head gasket sound like? ›

You may even hear a knocking sound emanating from the engine, or the sound of a misfire, depending on how the head gasket blew. The sound of a misfire could be related to an overheating engine, coolant leak, or lowered compression as a result of rough idling.

What is the best chip for a 7.3 Power Stroke? ›

The hydra chip is the most advanced plug in performance chip to date for the 7.3 Powerstroke. The 7.3 is shift on the fly capable unlike the newer trucks today.

What Power Stroke to avoid? ›

The 2003-2007 Ford Super Duty 6.0L may be the worst diesel truck of all time. The 6.0L Powerstroke is infamous. The engine is so bad that Ford and Powerstroke parent company Navistar were engaged in a serious legal battle.

Which Power Stroke is best? ›

And one diesel powerplant from Ford is seen by many to be one of the best, the 7.3-liter Power Stroke. This engine generates up to 275 horsepower and up to 525 pound-foot of torque. It also has a reputation for being nearly bulletproof. This is why Ford Super Duty trucks with the 7.3 are so sought-after.

Is the 7.3 Power Stroke the best engine ever? ›

With 2.5 million produced from 1994 to 2003, the International Navistar 7.3L Power Stroke V8 is widely regarded as one of the best diesel engines ever built. Even die-hard Cummins and Duramax enthusiasts acknowledge the 7.3's excellence.

What is the most reliable diesel truck? ›

10 Most Reliable Diesel Pickup Trucks You Can Buy Used
  • 8 2007 Chevrolet 3500HD.
  • 7 1993 Dodge W250.
  • 6 2018 Dodge Ram 3500.
  • 5 2020 Ford F-350 Super Duty.
  • 4 2017 Nissan Titan XD.
  • 3 2020 GMC Sierra 1500.
  • 2 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500.
  • 1 2018 Ford F-150.
Dec 15, 2022

Is a 7.3 A big block? ›

If there were a simple test as to where an engine lands, it's generally accepted that a big-block engine is one with a displacement greater than 400 cubic inches and with an overhead valve design (cam in the block). By this definition, the new Ford 7.3L Godzilla V-8 is in fact a big-block.

How reliable is the Ford 7.3 diesel? ›

The 7.3 Ford Power Stroke engine is legendary in diesel circles. It is one of the main reasons the 1999 to 2003 Ford Super Duty trucks are still so popular today. Its reliability is unsurpassed and was produced just before emissions regulations added to diesel engines' cost, complexity, and reliability.

How many gallons of oil does a 7.3 diesel take? ›

15.00 QTS. 38.00 GALS. Recommend: Use Diesel Extreme every 6,000 miles and Everyday Diesel Treatment with every fill up.

How much is an oil change for a 7.3 Powerstroke? ›

How Much Oil And Fluid Do I Need in my 7.3l Powerstroke?
Oil/FluidSpecsCapacity – Quarts
Engine OilAll Years15 Quarts
Auto Transmission FluidE40D 4×2 E40D 4×4 4R10015.9 quarts 16.4 quarts 17.1-17.7 quarts
Manual Transmission FluidZF S5 5-speed ZF S6 6-speed3.4 quarts 5.8 quarts
Transfer CaseBW15362.0 quarts
3 more rows
Jan 10, 2020

Is the 7.3 power stroke a good engine? ›

Yes, the Ford (International/Navistar) 7.3 IDI is a dependable and robust diesel engine. With few generational problems, the IDI engine family is known for its long-lasting reliability. Although it lacks power, the 7.3 IDI will run forever if taken care of.

What does a 7.3 Powerstroke get for fuel mileage? ›

Driving the truck empty is a comfortable experience. Starting and stopping are smooth, and the ride is, as expected, a little rough. Over the 58.8-mile course I used 3.954 gallons of gas, which gave me a calculated 14.87 mpg. The computer read 14.9 mpg, which is exactly the same as our calculated number when rounded.

What will keep a 7.3 from starting? ›

Injector Control Pressure Sensor

When an ICP is failing, the engine runs extremely rough as load is imposed (under throttle), and the condition can eventually contribute to a 7.3L's inability to start. Oil contamination in the wiring usually is the cause.

What year did the 7.3 get a turbo? ›

1993 saw the debut of the 7.3L with a turbocharger. The engine's internal parts were also upgraded to withstand the turbo boost pressure. Despite the turbo addition, this engine didn't get much of a power or torque boost.

How much can a 7.3 diesel tow? ›

2022 Ford F-250 Towing Guide Towing Capacity
Super Duty EngineMax. Conventional TowingMax. Fifth-Wheel/Gooseneck Towing
7.3L Gas V821,000 lbs.21,200 lbs.
6.7L Power Stroke V821,200 lbs.37,000 lbs.
6.2L Gas V816,700 lbs.16,700 lbs.

What is the horsepower of a 7.3 Power Stroke? ›

7.3L Horsepower/Torque

Power levels in the 7.3L Powerstroke started out at 215 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque for the 1994.5-1995 model years and were bumped up to 225 hp and 450 lb-ft for 1996-1997. It is no coincidence that these numbers were slightly higher than the 6BT Cummins of the same era.

How can I get better gas mileage in my 7.3 diesel? ›

8 Basic Steps to Increase the Fuel Economy and Mileage
  1. Maintenance. Although this may seem pretty obvious, it is extremely vital. ...
  2. Lubricate Generously. This is another step you do not want to skip. ...
  3. Check Your Boost. ...
  4. Enlarge Your Exhaust. ...
  5. Check Your Tire Pressure. ...
  6. Replace the Cold Air Intake. ...
  7. Turn Off the AC. ...
  8. Add a Tuner Chip.

Why buy a 7.3 Powerstroke? ›

When it comes to power and durability, the Powerstroke engine is in a class of its own. They're capable of towing incredible amounts of weight, dependably guiding you up steep inclines without any stress. Their durability and performance are one of many reasons these diesel engines are in high demand.

What is Ford's most reliable diesel engine? ›

And one diesel powerplant from Ford is seen by many to be one of the best, the 7.3-liter Power Stroke. This engine generates up to 275 horsepower and up to 525 pound-foot of torque. It also has a reputation for being nearly bulletproof. This is why Ford Super Duty trucks with the 7.3 are so sought-after.

How much oil does a 7.3 diesel take? ›

Some important stats for 7.3 fluid capacity include: Engine oil: 15 quarts.

Why is my 7.3 running rough? ›

There are many reasons why your 7.3 Powerstroke diesel engine might be idling rough or misfiring. Common symptoms can range from a worn-out injector to a bad sensor to stiction in your injectors.

Who made Ford 7.3 diesel engine? ›

As a result, in 1994, International Harvester (by now renamed Navistar International) began producing what it called the T444E engine. You might know it a little bit better by the name that Ford gave it: the 7.3-litre Power Stroke.


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