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Believe it or not, even the “bullet-proof” 7.3 Powerstroke has problems.
The Navistar T444E engines withstood a lot over the two decades since their initial release, and although they’re still reliable, you should expect issues to arise.
Let's dive deeper, breakdown the most common problems, and help you prepare better for once they do occur.
7.3 Powerstroke Problems By Year
Since the 7.3 Powerstroke first hit the scene in '94, Ford aimed to upgrade the engine, which didn't always work out. Certain model year 7.3 Powerstrokes have unique problems that you need to be aware of. In the section below, we'll cover those common problems found in F250 through F550 models from 1994 to 2003.
1997 7.3 Powerstroke Problems
Besides the common 7.3 Powerstroke issues we listed below, the '97 models can suffer from transmission problems. The E4OD serves its purpose as a transmission, but it can quickly become unreliable, and the repairs can get costly. Regular maintenance and transmission upgrades are crucial, especially if you plan on modifying the truck in any way.
Some people consider the ‘97 model year 7.3 Powerstroke to be the most dependable because Ford started running up the horsepower numbers on newer models. - More power equals less reliability.
2000 7.3 Powerstroke Problems
7.3 Powerstrokes are generally regarded as indestructible, but the 2000 model year trucks are considered the best of the lot; forged rods, trouble-free DAC3 program, solid horsepower and torque numbers.
The most common weak link is the automatic transmission. The automatic transmission on the '00 models isn't as reliable as the manual transmission, and if you own a '00 7.3 Powerstroke with an automatic, you should keep an eye on it for repairs.
The 2000 models will run trouble-free for many miles with regular maintenance. However, these trucks are 20+ years old, so you need to be aware of the common 7.3 Powerstroke problems we listed below.
2001 7.3 Powerstroke Problems
The 2001 model year 7.3 Powerstroke doesn’t have specific make year problems. A few owners have experienced turbo failure, while others have had no trouble at all. With regular maintenance, your 2001 7.3 Powerstroke should run smoothly. Besides the list below with common 7.3 Powerstroke problems, you shouldn’t experience any major issues.
2002 7.3 Powerstroke Problems
2002 was one of the last production years for the 7.3 Powerstroke. By then, Ford fixed most of the issues, making the ‘02 model year one of the most reliable. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear that the ‘02 model year passed the 1 million miles milestone. However, do keep in mind that rust, as well as the common 7.3 Powerstroke issues listed below, can become a problem.
7.3 Powerstroke Problems & Common Fixes
Although the 7.3 Powerstroke engine is thought to be indestructible (with quite a few reaching the 1 million miles milestone), the rest of the truck can still suffer from the problems listed below. Being aware of these problems and their fixes will save you money and headaches, especially the 7.3 Powerstroke transmission problems.
7.3 Powerstroke Starting Problems
The Problem: The truck won’t start at all, or needs excessive cranking to start.
Recommended Fix: There isn’t a simple solution. The starting problem could be because of the battery, glow plugs, glow plug relay, or because of the fuel system.
Explanation: The battery might not be completely dead, and you might still notice that the lights are working. However, if your 7.3 Powerstroke suddenly won’t start, it’s best to have the battery tested. If your battery works, the next best step is to check if the glow plug relay is broken or not, also, check if the glow plugs are bad. In each case, the solution is simple; replace the dead battery, the broken relay, or the bad glow plugs.
If you’ve recently replaced certain parts of the fuel system, the fuel pressure could be the cause of the starting problem. In that case, check out the problems related to the fuel system below.
7.3 Powerstroke Injectors Problems
The Problem: You might be experiencing a hard start, low power, rough running, white smoke, or a louder (than usual) truck.
Recommended Fix: Replacing the injectors is the only solution. However, check the under valve cover gasket, as well as the wiring, and do the buzz test before replacing the injectors.
Explanation: The injectors usually get worn out between 175,000 miles to 225,000 miles. They can last a bit longer with regular maintenance. If you’re experiencing more than one of the symptoms and you’re right on the target mileage-wise, the recommended fix should do the trick. Driving with bad fuel injectors can cause major engine damage, especially to the cylinders and the pistons.
7.3 Powerstroke Wastegate Problems
The Problem: The symptoms of a wastegate failure could be loss of power, low PSI, or the turbo's failure to deliver the pressurized air to the engine due to the wastegate actuator being stuck.
Recommended Fix: Replacing the wastegate with a brand new unit is recommended. However, you can unstick the turbo wastegate yourself.
Explanation: The Garrett TP38 and GTP38 turbochargers found under the hood of the 7.3 Powerstrokes are known to be unreliable; especially if you've modded your "seven-three". Other than that, rust and carbon can build up, causing the wastegate actuator to become stuck. Driving your truck this way isn't recommended. Besides, your truck will have little to no power.
7.3 Powerstroke Transmission Problems
The Problem: The automatic transmission will slip gears, or it won’t engage at all.
Recommended Fix: The automatic transmissions on 7.3 Powerstrokes are very unreliable. The most common recommendation is an entire transmission replacement/swap.
Explanation: The E4OD and its successor 4R100 are extremely unreliable. Even without modifications, they will break down, and they will break down often.
Rebuilding the engine will cost you anywhere between $2000 to $2500. Purchasing a new transmission might cost a bit more, but the new transmission won't break down very often. Depending on maintenance, as well as how often you tow heavy loads, the stock transmission should last 80,000 miles to 120,000 miles.
7.3 Powerstroke Fuel Pressure Regulator Problems
The Problem: A bad fuel pressure regulator will cause your truck to run rough, consume more fuel or start much harder.
Recommended Fix: Check the fuel pressure regulator spring, plunger, and bore for damages. Also, check and clean the FPR screen.
Explanation: The fuel pressure regulator is put in place to maintain the fuel pressure in the cylinder heads at 40 psi. A bad fuel pressure regulator won't maintain the pressure, and you will have a truck that runs poorly. Checking and replacing the necessary parts isn't costly, and you might even gain MGP, so it's highly advised.
7.3 Powerstroke High Pressure Oil Pump Problems
The Problem: A bad high pressure oil pump can leak oil, causing the engine to miss. Your truck will also lose power at high RPMs, and it can produce engine noise.
Recommended Fix: Replacing or repairing the HPOP will be a permanent fix.
Explanation: There are quite a few more issues with the same symptoms, so before you replace the HPOP, check the ICP sensor, IPR, the injectors, as well as the injector O-rings. The high pressure oil pump rarely fails, so testing these parts before replacing the pump is highly advised.
7.3 Powerstroke IPR Valve Problems
The Problem: The engine won’t start due to low IPR valve pressure. If the engine does start, your truck will run rough.
Recommended Fix: If you have a sliced O-ring, you can purchase a seal kit. Otherwise, you will need to replace the IPR valve.
Explanation: The IPR valve receives commands from the ECM and determines how much oil enters the high pressure oil pump (HPOP). The minimum pressure required to start the engine is 500psi. With lower pressure, the engine won't start. At full throttle, the pressure should be 3,100. Keep in mind that the IPR solenoid failure is common on 7.3 Powerstrokes.
7.3 Powerstroke Torque Converter Problems
The Problem: Noise at idle is the most common symptom. Your 7.3 Powerstroke will have a hard time shifting into first gear. The problem is masked at high speeds.
Recommended Fix: Rebuilding or replacing the transmission is a great short and long term solution. Replacing the torque converter is a decent short-term solution.
Explanation: The automatic transmissions on 7.3 Powerstrokes are unreliable. A few people have driven with a bad torque converter until the entire transmission gave up. Replacing or rebuilding the transmission is advised by most 7.3 Powerstroke owners.
7.3 Powerstroke Turbo Problems
The Problem: The turbocharger makes weird or loud noises, or it might not spool up at all.
Recommended Fix: Purchasing and replacing the stock turbocharger is recommended by most 7.3 Powerstroke owners.
Explanation: The soot buildup causes strong exhaust back pressure that can damage the turbocharger. The exhaust back pressure valve between the turbocharger and the exhaust is susceptible to soot buildup, which causes the valve to stay open. This allows the combustion from the cylinder to flow through to the turbocharger and cause major damage.
7.3 Powerstroke Fuel Filter Problems
The Problem: After changing the fuel filter, the truck won’t start due to low fuel pressure.
Recommended Fix: Cycling the key 4-5 times, allowing the fuel pump to engage and disengage, should do the trick unless there's a leak in the system.
Explanation: The fuel system on 7.3 Powerstroke trucks needs incredible pressure to function, and air leaks can cause the system to lose pressure. During the fuel filter replacement, you might not have sealed the O-ring correctly, tightened the lines, or tightened the filter cup.
Pro Tip: Lubricate the O-ring with oil before sealing it.
A well-maintained 7.3 Powerstroke will take you to the moon without ever breaking down. However, most “seven-threes” have been used and abused, and that’s why you need to be ready for the problems we mentioned here. Hopefully, we were able to help fix your 7.3 Powerstroke!
People Also Ask
We often get asked the same questions regarding the 7.3 Powerstroke. These trucks can get a bit complicated, and to save you some time, we answered the most common 7.3 Powerstroke questions. If you still have unanswered questions, feel free to contact our staff!
How Do I Know if My 7.3 ICP Sensor Is Bad?
The injection control pressure (ICP) sensor monitors the oil pressure and sends the readings to the PCM. The symptoms of a bad ICP sensor are rough idle, missing stokes, staling, or in the worst case, the 7.3 Powerstroke won't start at all. To be certain, locate the ICP sensor, lift the plastic clip on the wiring connector and remove the pigrail. If you find a plug receptacle, leads, or the connector covered in oil, it's time to replace the ICP sensor.
Why Does My 7.3 Idle Rough?
Rough idle could be a symptom of many problems. In many cases, there's a problem with the exhaust back pressure (EBP) sensor. However, it could also be an issue with the injectors. Scanning for codes will provide you with a better idea of what's causing your 7.3 to idle rough.
What Is the IPR on a 7.3 Powerstroke?
The injection pressure regulator (IPR) is a part of the 7.3 Powerstroke's HEUI injection system. The IPR valve controls the pressure supplied to the injectors from the high pressure oil pump. Once the injectors have enough pressure, the IPR valve returns the excess pump pressure.