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Ford 7.3L Powerstroke Engine Profile

By October 30th, 2021No Comments

The Ford 7.3L Powerstroke engine was produced from 1994 to 2004. Over 2 million of the 7.3L Powerstroke engines were manufactured over the decade-long production life of the engine. Ford used the 7.3L Powerstroke to go head-to-head with GM and Chrysler heavy-duty engine models, including in van chassis short buses.

This Ford 7.3L Powerstroke diesel engine guide is a part of our Diesel Engine Guide series to help with buying a school bus for sale.

This article will dive further into the 7.3L Powerstroke engine including:

  • Engine Overview
  • Engine Specs
  • Towing Capacity
  • Life Expectancy
  • Maintenance Requirements
  • Typically paired transmissions
  • Common engine problems
  • Engine comparisons to the 6.0L Powerstroke and 5.9L Cummins

7.3L Powerstroke Engine Overview

Ford Motor Company and Navistar International partnered to produce a 7.3L V8 diesel turbocharged engine from 1994 to 2004 for Ford trucks. Navistar International manufactured more than two million units of the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine at its foundry operations in Indianapolis, Indiana, on behalf of Ford and its truck brands.

At the time, Ford was leading in a competitive truck sales race with GM and Chrysler in North America. The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine was best known for powering Ford Super Duty 250/350/450 diesel trucks, Ford Excursion sport utility vehicles, and E-series vans. 

The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine was a variant of the Navistar International T444E, which also powered Type C school buses and other large commercial vehicles. They share the same cast iron engine block but differ in the power control modules that offer various power ratings between the two engines. For example, the T444E diesel engine had up to 620 lb-ft torque for buses, while the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine reached 525 lb-ft torque for Ford trucks. The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine had higher horsepower than the T444E diesel engine. The two engines also differed in some sensors, turbocharger designs, and water pumps. 

Increased emissions standards arrived in the U.S. and other countries during the mid-1990s, and the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine helped Ford trucks comply with regulations. To maintain power with cleaner emissions, the diesel engine came equipped with a Hydraulic Electronic Unit Injector system (HEUI). Another 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine attribute came from an electric lift pump, which helped provide better fuel filtration for cleaner emissions.

As emissions regulation increased, Ford discontinued the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine in 2004 and replaced it with the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine, which was also produced by Navistar International. Despite the advanced technology, the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine was regarded as one of the most problematic engines in the Power Stroke engine brand line. In comparison, mechanics report the 7.3L diesel engine issues are relatively simple, inexpensive fixes.

7.3L Powerstroke Engine Specs

EngineYears in productionHorsepower rangesTorque ranges
7.3L Powerstroke diesel1994 to 2004Low: 210 hp @3000 RPM
Peak: 275 hp @ 2800 RPM
Low: 425 lb-ft @ 2000 RPM
Peak: 525 lb-ft @ 1600 RPM
7.3L Powerstroke Engine
Creative Commons

Typical Paired Transmissions

The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine was paired with a few different transmissions, depending on the model year. From 1994 to 1998, the engine was paired with a Ford E40D 4-speed automatic transmission and a ZF Friedrichshafen S5-47 5-speed manual transmission. From 1999 to 2004, the engine was powered with a Ford 4R110 4-speed automatic transmission and a ZF Friedrichshafen S6-650 6-speed manual transmission.

7.3L Powerstroke Engine Towing Capacity

Towing capacity for the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine depended on whether the cab configuration was a two-wheel or 4-wheel drive. Peak tow capacity for a 4-wheel drive was 12,500 pounds, and a 5th wheel tow capacity is 13,900 pounds.

7.3L Powerstroke Life Expectancy

The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine is known to outlast gasoline engines. Mechanics report the diesel engine could last at least 350,000 miles when properly maintained. A smaller number of 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engines reportedly have reached 500,000 miles with proper maintenance.

7.3L Power Stroke Engine Maintenance Requirements

Engine longevity is possible through proper maintenance of regular oil changes, engine coolant flush, fuel filter replacements, and transmission fluid and filter replacements. However, the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine requires more maintenance than its T444E diesel engine sibling.

Engine variationsNormal conditions


7.3L Power Stroke diesel
Oil capacity: 15 quarts Engine oil & air filter: 5,000 miles/3 months Fuel filter: 15,000 miles/6 months Engine coolant: 50,000 miles/3 years, then 30,000 miles/2 years Transmission fluid & filter: 30,000 miles 

7.3L Powerstroke Engine Problems

The vast majority of 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine issues are relatively simple, inexpensive fixes. Due to their past mass production, engine repairs and rebuilds may be easier to achieve with an abundance of aftermarket parts and mechanic knowledge. Here are the most common engine issues reported by mechanics:

  • Camshaft position sensor (CPS) failure – The CPS sensor controls the camshaft position and speed, then relays the information to the engine’s computer (PCM) for fuel delivery adjustments. When the sensor fails, the PCM doesn’t get the signal to deliver fuel. The end result is engine no-starts or stalls. This issue is the most common failure point reported by mechanics.
  • Leaky fuel filter housing – The fuel housing (or the fuel bowl) can develop cracks and cause fuel leaks. The pressure and heat from the fuel system can wear out the cap and develop cracks for leaks.
  • Lift pump problems – A lift pump failure will prevent the engine from starting. Check the fuel bowl for fuel before and while cranking. If no fuel is in the fuel bowl, fill the bowl with clean fuel. If it starts, replace the pump.
  • Injector control pressure (ICP) sensor – A bad sensor causes the engine to cut in and out. If you detect oil in the ICP connector, the sensor may be bad or reaching a failure point. If oil has permeated the wires, it is recommended to replace the ICP sensor pigtail, as well.
  • Injector driver module (IDM) – When these modules go bad or suffer from water damage, the engine can stall or run rough. Check for damaged wiring, moisture, or water intrusion.

7.3L Powerstroke vs 6.0L Powerstroke

Ford 6.0L Power Stroke E350 School Bus

The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine came first in the partnership between Ford Motor Company and Navistar International to produce engines for Ford Super Duty trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles. From 1994 to 2004, Navistar International manufactured more than two million units of the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine. At the time, Ford F-Series trucks were outselling the competition by huge margins, and the engine was one of the most popular features on the Ford Super Duty trucks. 

The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine was a variant of the Navistar International T444E diesel engine, which also powered Type C school buses and other large commercial vehicles. They share the same cast iron engine block but differ in the power control modules that offer various power ratings between the two engines.

In 2004, the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine replaced the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine as Ford’s more advanced solution to meet a U.S. federal emissions regulation deadline. The 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine was a variant of the Navistar International VT365 diesel engine, and they share the same basic structure. The 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine had different emissions components and power-boosting components than its sibling. For example, the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine featured an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, fuel injection system with hydraulically actuated electronically controlled unit injectors (HEUI), four-valve cylinder heads, and a quick-spooling variable geometry turbocharger. 

Despite the advanced technology, the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine was regarded as one of the most problematic engines in the Power Stroke diesel engine brand line. Many of the issues with the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine stemmed from the emissions systems and/or lack of maintenance. Common problems included EGR clogging and cooling problems, oil cooler failures, high-pressure oil system failures, numerous electrical issues, and head bolt and head gasket failures. The engine issues escalated over the years and led to high warranty repairs, manufacturer buybacks, and civil lawsuits against Ford. Production of the Ford 6.0L Power Stroke engine ended in 2012.

In comparison, mechanics report the 7.3L diesel engine issues are relatively simple, inexpensive fixes.

Feature comparisonFord 7.3L Power StrokeFord 6.0L Power Stroke
Production years1994 to 2004 Ford Super Duty Trucks
1994 to 2004 Ford E-series vans
2000 to 2003 Ford Excursion SUV
2003 to 2007 Ford Super Duty Trucks
2003 to 2012 Ford E-series vans
2003 to 2005 Ford Excursion SUV
HorsepowerLow: 210 hp @3000 RPM
Peak: 275 hp @ 2800 RPM
Low: 325 HP @ 3300 RPM
High: 350 hp @ 2600 RPM
TorqueLow: 425 lb-ft @ 2000 RPM
Peak: 525 lb-ft @ 1600 RPM
Low: 560 lb-ft @ 2000 RPM
High: 570 lb-ft @ ,000 RPM  (2005 to 2007 models)

Ford 7.3L Powerstroke vs. Dodge RAM 5.9L Cummins 

Picking one over the other may come down to loyalty to the Dodge RAM/Cummins and Ford/Navistar International brands. 

From 1994 to 2004, Navistar International manufactured the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine on behalf of Ford and its truck brands. At the time, Ford was leading in a competitive truck sales race with GM and Chrysler in North America, and Navistar International went on to build more than two million units of the 7.3L Power Stroke engine. It was best known for powering Ford Super Duty 250/350/450 diesel trucks, Ford Excursion sport utility vehicles, and E-series vans including buses. The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine was a variant of the Navistar International T444E diesel engine, which also powered Type C school buses and other large commercial vehicles.

The 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine helped Ford trucks comply with emissions regulations, which became stricter over time. To maintain power with cleaner emissions, the diesel engine came equipped with a Hydraulic Electronic Unit Injector system (HEUI). Another 7.3L Power Stroke attribute came from an electric lift pump, which helped provide better fuel filtration for cleaner emissions.

The Cummins 5.9L (or B Series diesel engines) went into production in 1984, and one of its later model variants had strong brand associations with Dodge RAM pickup trucks. Despite its smaller size, Cummins turbocharged diesel engines could produce significant power with decent torque at low engine speeds. The first-generation diesel engine model, known as the 6BT or Cummins 12-valve 5.9L, became a popular alternative to the large gasoline V8 engines normally found in full-size pickup trucks. Cummins diesel engine series went through several design changes as the manufacturer complied with emissions reduction laws by U.S. Federal, state, and local governments. In 1998, Cummins replaced the 6BT with the 24-valve 5.9L ISB (Interact System B), which was designed for improved fuel economy and emissions.

Mechanics believe that a Cummins 5.9L diesel is well suited for Dodge RAM consumer trucks. With a life expectancy of 350,000 miles, the Cummins diesel engine can go a long way without catastrophic failure. While the Cummins 5.9L diesel engine has good overall reviews, mechanics have reported issues with components and power. Others believe the 24-valve model has more issues due to the additional equipment installed to meet higher emissions standards. Issues include exhaust manifold leaks, engine block cracks, and leaky fuel injectors.


When it comes to common engine issues, mechanics report the Ford 7.3L diesel engine has more simple, inexpensive fixes. Common issues with the Cummins 5.9L diesel engine are more severe, such as exhaust manifold leaks and engine block cracks.

Feature comparisonFord 7.3L Power StrokeDodge RAM Cummins 5.9L 
Production years1994 to 2004 Ford Super Duty Trucks
1994 to 2004 Ford E-series vans
2000 to 2003 Ford Excursion SUV
1989 to 1998 5.9L 12-valve
1998 to 2007 5.9L 24-valve ISB
HorsepowerLow: 210 hp @3000 RPM
Peak: 275 hp @ 2800 RPM 
5.9L 12-valve: 215 hp @ 2500 RPM
5.9L 24-valve ISB: 325 hp @ 2900 RPM
TorqueLow: 425 lb-ft @ 2000 RPM
Peak: 525 lb-ft @ 1600 RPM
5.9L 12-valve: 440 lb-ft @ 1600 RPM
5.9L 24-valve ISB: 600 lb-ft @ 1600 RPM

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