The Complete Guide to 7.3 Powerstroke Years To Avoid and What To Buy

The 7.3 Powerstroke is a common engine in Ford trucks. These diesel engines are known for their reliability and durability. Even so, not all models are created equally.

Some would be better than others. We want to see which years had the best-performing engines and the worst. Knowing the years of engine problems, avoiding such models and the trouble of maintaining them is easier.

The choice of which 7.3 powerstroke engines to avoid varies from one person to another. However, most votes show you can avoid the 2001, 2002, and 2003 models.

They might have been more powerful than the previous generations but had many faults, including faulty ICP sensors, EBPV failure, and more. If you want the best performance 7.3 powerstroke, you can go for the 1999 model, which is reliable and durable.

So far, we can see that the Powerstroke models were reliable despite the few models that needed more attention. We also want to look at the tips for keeping the 7.3 Powerstroke running smoothly, any upgrades you can make, and much more.

Years To Avoid

Ever since Navistar International introduced the 7.3 Powerstroke engine, the aim has been to have durable and reliable diesel engines that work great. The production started in the early 90s up to 2003, when it was discontinued.

As much as the engines were good and hardy, those manufactured between 2001 and 2003 came with a lot of issues that potentially led to the end of the production of these engines.

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The most common issue with these model years was that the camshaft position sensor would fail. This means the engine does not get enough fuel to keep it running smoothly. Also, starting the vehicle becomes quite hard. That is how you may experience a hard start with the engine.

The other problem is that the fuel filter housing would leak after only a few years. This is because the engine had plastic caps on the filter. These caps would wear out easily from the heat and pressure of the fuel system. Also, the O-rings would degrade with time.

The users also experienced injection drive module failure on the driver’s side fender. The damage mostly happens if the module is exposed to water. Without this model, the car does not start or run smoothly.

Powerstroke engines also come with valve springs. These are vital for proper opening and closing of the valves. However, those in the Powerstroke engine valves would begin to bend the pushrods in case the engine was revved high all the time.

Such would also be because with aftermarket upgrades seek to get more power out of the engine.

The turbocharger pipes of the engine would slowly erode with time, leading to leaks. Anyone who has owned a turbocharged vehicle knows how bad a boost leak can be for the engine’s performance. Well, these are some things you can easily prevent with regular maintenance.

The exhaust back pressure valves would sometimes malfunction in these engines. The engine would run at optimal temperature if the valves were working correctly. Valves failing means the engine can easily overheat.

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This era of engines had other problems too, including malfunctioning injection pressure regulators. This meant the engine would not get efficient fuel flow, leading to poor vehicle running.

Why You Should Still Get 7.3 Powerstroke Models

Despite there being a few problems with the engine, there were years the company made improvements to the Powerstroke models that made sense.

From 1999 to 2003, these engines received major upgrades to stand out. These include;

  • Intercoolers began with the 1999 model. This helped with improving the engine’s performance and overall efficiency.
  • There was also increased power and torque. You could expect the trucks to have more towing capacity and generally better performance than previous engine models.
  • You could also opt for a 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. This meant you could get the best versatility depending on your driving preference.
  • These engines also had cleaner emissions. This was in response to the emissions regulations, which also meant better fuel efficiency.

The 2002 and 2003 models were also good in many ways. The introduction of the overdrive cancel switch meant you could lock out overdrive, especially when towing heavy loads. Still, the automatic transmission received major upgrades, making it more robust and reliable.

So, take the time to research different models to find the ones that would deliver the best performance per your needs.

Below is a video talking everything about 7.3 Powerstroke engines

YouTube video

How to Keep the 7.3 Powerstroke Running Smoothly

It is easy to keep the 7.3 powerstroke running smoothly. It is like any other engine type you have come across before. Below are ideas for keeping the 7.3 working as smoothly as possible.

  1. Regular oil changes are necessary. We recommend using high-quality diesel engine oil and changing it as the manufacturer recommends. With proper lubrication, it becomes easy to keep the engine running smoothly.
  2. Fuel filter replacementis also advisable. Having a clean fuel filter helps with the proper running of the injectors and overall engine performance.
  3. Air filtersmight be something that people tend to ignore. However, changing the air filter more often during your regular service intervals helps the engine have enough air to combust the fuel in its chambers.
  4. Take note of the coolant levels and conditions. Sometimes, the problems with the engine are because we need to take note of the coolant level. With proper cooling, it takes a short time before the engine overheats.
  5. Check the glow plugsto ensure they are working correctly. If they have a problem, it can be hard to start the engine. This is especially tough during cold weather.
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It is good to keep reading the owner’s manual to note any other maintenance tips the manufacturer recommends. If you can take care of your maintenance on time, then the 7.3 Powerstroke engine should last you a long time.


Can I still get parts and support for older 7.3 Powerstroke models?

Yes. Many auto-part shops will have the necessary parts and support to keep the 7.3 Powerstroke engine running smoothly. This applies to early and late models. However, the availability may vary depending on your location.

What is the best way of verifying the year and engine of a 7.3 Powerstroke?

We recommend using the vehicle’s VIN or vehicle identification number. The owner’s manual will also have this information. So, do not always rely on the seller’s word to get this type of information.

Which Powerstroke is the best?

This depends on the user, but many people vote for models pre-2001, which were less complicated but at the same time had more power and reliability. This meant there were fewer things to maintain while enjoying the reliability of such a model.


The 7.3 Powerstroke engines were some of the best options for getting a Ford truck. These engines were reliable, but just like any other brand, there were also bad apples too.

This is because some engines had issues with their components that would deteriorate faster than expected. Just make sure that you do proper maintenance to the engine to make sure that it keeps running smoothly for a long time.