The Seven Most Common 7.3 Powerstroke Engine Issues. The 7.3 Powerstroke is also known as the “Legendary 7.3”. Aside from having the largest diesel engine ever installed in a high-production, consumer-grade vehicle, it is largely regarded as the second most reliable diesel ever made. It is without a doubt the most dependable Powerstroke ever made, trailing just the 5.9L Cummins produced from 2003 to 2006.
This massive 7.3L diesel was produced from 1994 to 2003 and went through two variants before being phased out in mid-2003 owing to emissions rules and better gas mileage. Power output was increased from 210hp and 425tq to 275hp and 525tq with the installation of a wastegate turbo and an intercooler in 1999 models.
It’s no surprise that Ford produced approximately 2.5 million 7.3 Powerstrokes by the time it was decommissioned, as it was known to be one of the most over-built diesel engines ever.
The 7 Most Common 7.3 Powerstroke Engine Issues
- Failure of the Camshaft Position Sensor
- Fuel Filter Housing Leak
- Leaks in the Turbocharger Up-Pipe
- Valve Springs/Bent Push Rods
- Failure of the Exhaust Back-Pressure Valve (EBPV)
- UVCH (Under Valve Cover Harness)
- Failure of the Injection Pressure Regulator (IPR)
While I had to use 7 problems to represent the 7.3, you’ll notice that the bulk of these issues are quite simple and inexpensive to fix. With the exception of bent push rods, which are uncommon. Having said that, the majority of these elements are sensors and valves that can be easily repaired.
If you’d rather see a video, check out our 7.3 Powerstroke Common Problems video below or on YouTube:
7.3 Reliability of the Powerstroke
When you hear the classic “Yeah, my buddy has a diesel with 500k+ miles on it at his ranch,” that’s a 7.3 Powerstroke, not a 5.9 Cummins. These engines’ engine blocks and internals were very overbuilt and over-engineered for the truck’s power output, making it one of the most reliable and trustworthy diesels ever created.
The 7.3 Powerstroke has a B50 Life of 350,000 miles, which means that 50% of engines will last longer than 350k miles before failing. While I did identify a number of issues with the 7.3 above, the majority of them are small and inexpensive to fix. Catastrophic engine failure is almost unheard of, yet every engine has weak points. It’s usually with wiring/electrical-related components like sensors and the like for the 7.3.
Aside from the items noted above, expect some maintenance as these trucks age and pass the 200k mark. It’s not uncommon to need to replace the turbocharger (which is surprisingly simple and inexpensive), a water pump, possibly the fuel pump, and other high-stress or pressurized components.
7.3 Suspension Up Front
This is a post about engine problems, not suspension problems. However, I wanted to point out that the front end of these F250/F350 Super Dutys requires slightly more maintenance than comparable trucks. It’s most likely due to the engine’s size and weight, which causes some extra wear and tear. Bushings, ball joints, tie rods, and all the other fun but necessary suspension components wear down. This includes the steering gearbox, which you can learn more about here.
1. Failure of the Camshaft Position Sensor (CPS)
The CPS sensor is located on the bottom side of the engine block, just above the crankshaft damper, and controls both camshaft position and speed, relaying this information to the Powerstroke’s computer, or PCM. The camshaft location data from the sensor is used by the engine’s computer to regulate fueling to deliver enough fuel levels at the right moment to control engine timing.
The CPS on the 7.3 is widely recognized as the most common or frequent site of failure on these engines. The PCM then sends the CPS signal to the injector driver module, telling it how much fuel to give to which cylinder. When the sensor fails, the PCM receives no indication and hence does not transmit a signal to the IDM instructing it to deliver fuel. As a result, your 7.3 does not receive the fuel it requires to start or continue running.
Despite a number of design improvements over the years, it remains a common failure point. The most popular CPS sensor among owners is the recently released dark grey and purple CPS sensor. We recommend purchasing a second one for $23 and keeping it in your glovebox in case your CPS fails while you are on the road or on a trip. Because replacing the sensor is so simple, it makes no sense to risk becoming stranded and having to pay for a tow.
7.3 Symptoms of Powerstroke CPS Failure
- The engine cranks but does not start.
- Poor acceleration and idling
- Check engine light (P0284 and other codes)
- The engine stalls when idle or at random while driving.
- Amazon is a good site to get a replacement part.
2. 7.3 Powerstroke Fuel Filter Housing Leak
The gasoline filter housing, often known as the fuel bowl, is prone to cracking and producing fuel leaks. The pump itself is composed of aluminum, however the cover is made of plastic. The pressure in the gasoline system, along with the heat from the engine bay, can cause the cap to wear out or develop cracks, allowing petrol to spew and leak. Aftermarket gasoline filter caps of poor quality are the most prone to cracking and leaking. While it is less common, we have observed cracks in the aluminum housing itself previously, but they are uncommon.
Aside from a fractured cap, o-rings are another common cause of a leaking fuel filter housing. The compounds in diesel fuel are considered to interact negatively with the coating used by Ford on o-rings and oil seals. The chemicals can cause breaches around the o-rings, allowing fuel to get through. The drain valve’s O-rings are prone to crack in colder weather, resulting in leaks.
Another possible reason is overtightening the gasoline cap, which bends the o-ring and generates a gradual drip from the cap.
Symptoms of a Leaking Fuel Filter
- Fuel leaking beneath the vehicle
- Slowly turning
- During idle, the engine stalls.
- A fuse can blow, resulting in no start.
3. Leaks in the Turbocharger Up-Pipe
The turbo up-pipes are part of the exhaust system on the 7.3, connecting the exhaust manifold to the turbocharger. To connect the factory pipes to the manifold and turbo, crush donut gaskets are used. The piping expands and contracts as exhaust gases pass through it. This expansion and contraction causes the crush gaskets to deteriorate and leak over time.
Leaking Symptoms 7.3 Up-Pipes
- Performance decline
- Acceleration loss
- Increase the temperature of the exhaust gases.
- Engine fuel consumption has been reduced.
- Diesel particulate/soot on the engine’s backside, firewall, and tranny
Because OEM up-pipes are prone to leaking, most people will choose for improved up-pipes when their OEM set fails. Stronger gaskets on upgraded pipework will avoid leaks. Furthermore, changing this component can help improve the exhaust sound and deep tones of the exhaust system. This XDP upgrade kit is a wonderful alternative for individuals wishing to replace their pipes without adding too much extra exhaust noise at a low cost.
4. 7.3 Powerstroke – Bent Push Rods / Valve Springs
While these are two distinct issues, bent push rods and failing valve springs frequently coexist. Valve springs are in charge of ensuring that the valvetrain opens and shuts smoothly and that the lifter remains in contact with the camshaft. The springs do not have a high seat pressure, which can result in valve float at high RPMs. When the spring pressure is too low, the valves can “float” or fail to properly seal at high RPMs.
You will most likely hear engine noises, receive a low compression test in a cylinder, or cause more significant engine damage. If the spring snaps rather than simply floating, the valve can be pushed into the cylinder, damaging the piston, cylinder head, and other internal engine components.
Pushrods frequently fail as a result of a weak cylinder, which can be caused by valve spring problems. This problem can also be caused by stuck lifters, improper engine timing, and overly tight rocker arms. Engines that produce more horsepower than standard place additional strain on the push rods and valve springs, causing them to bend. Upgrade to performance springs and rods capable of handling the extra power if you’re running aggressive power and greater fuelling.
Failure of the Exhaust Back-Pressure Valve (EBPV)
The EBPV is a Y-shaped valve that is attached to the turbocharger outflow. The back pressure valve is operated by an actuator that is also connected to the turbo. The exhaust back-pressure valve’s job is to shorten the time it takes the engine to reach normal operating temperature. An EBPV solenoid or regulator, which controls the flow of oil to the actuator, is a third component of the system.
When the engine is cold, the actuator closes the valve, causing back pressure as if the engine were under load. Back pressure causes a buildup of hot exhaust air within the engine, essentially warming it up faster. The actuator is known to force the valve open and stick open in cold temperatures. Furthermore, the system frequently leaks oil, necessitating a rebuild of the complete EBPV system. Because of the frequency of oil leaks and actuator failure, as well as the cost of repairing both, removing the EBPV is a popular alternative.
Advantages of 7.3 Powerstroke EBPV Removal
- improved turbocharger efficiency and performance
- Reduce the temperature of the exhaust gases.
- Repairing a failed EBPV necessitates the removal of the turbocharger, which is costly.
- Consequences of an EBPV Delete
- Increases gasoline dilution by extending engine warm-up time, especially in severely cold weather.
6. 7.3 Failure of the Under Valve Cover Harness (UVCH)
Without going too scientific, the UVCH is an important part of the 7.3 Powerstroke’s fuel injector system. The injectors require more power than the batteries can deliver in order to fire. As a result, the engine is outfitted with an Injector Driver Module, or IDM. The IDM gets the signal or voltage to fire the injectors from the ECM and then outputs a voltage high enough to ignite the injectors. The UVCH is an electrical connector that connects the IDM to the injectors.
The under-valve cover harness, as the name implies, is located beneath the valve cover. Because of the heat beneath the valve cover and the engine’s continual shaking, the connecting wires can either melt or rub against the valves and break. The problem is frequently limited to a single cylinder since one cylinder’s UVCH connection can break while the rest remain intact. There is one wire on each side of the engine, and fortunately, the repair is rather affordable.
7.3 Symptoms of Powerstroke UVCH Failure
- Poor engine performance and poor operation (typically restricted to 1-2 cylinders)
- Misfires in the engine
- There are usually no check engine light codes.
7. Failure of the Injector Pressure Regulator (IPR) – 7.3 Powerstroke
The IPR, or injector pressure regulator, is located on the high-pressure oil pump (HPOP) and aids in oil pressure regulation. The IPR regulates and controls the amount of pressure that the HPOP builds in collaboration with the PCM and the injection control pressure sensor (ICP). As a result, oil pressure is applied to the fuel injectors, ensuring that the engine receives the precise amount of gasoline required to operate. Rather than a standard high-pressure fuel pump, the 7.3 Powerstroke’s HEUI injection system controls the amount of fuel sprayed into the engine via the HPOP.
As your 7.3 engine ages, the IPR is known to fail for a variety of reasons, including the regulator becoming jammed, seals failing, sensors failing, wiring becoming corroded, and so on. A malfunctioning IPR causes the engine to get either too much or too little fuel, which can cause a slew of issues.
7.3 Symptoms of a Powerstroke Failed IPR
- Rough idling and poor engine performance
- The car stalls at idling.
- The engine cranks but does not start.
Surging acceleration, sluggish shifting, and poor performance
Because the IPR interacts with the ICP and HPOP, its failure signs are nearly comparable. IPR valves may be rebuilt for roughly $20, however a brand new IPR valve will cost you close to $200 for the part alone.