The legendary 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel engine, when properly maintained can provide years of trouble free service. However there are several common problems that can develop over time. Generally speaking these can all be resolved relatively easily. Listed below are 9 common problems of the 7.3 Powerstroke engine. We then dive into each of the common problems with some symptoms and fixes.
9 Most Common 7.3L Powerstroke Problems
- Injection Pressure Regulator Valve (IPR)
- Injector Driver Module (IDM)
- Cam Position Sensor (CMP)
- UVCH Connectors
- Fuel Filter Clogging
- Lift Pump
- Injector Control Pressure (ICP) Sensor
- Fuel Heater
If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our 7.3 Powerstroke Common Problems video below:
These faults and failures aren’t in any specific order. Below we dive into each of these problems and discuss symptoms and fixes. It’s also important to note – the Ford 7.3L Powerstroke diesel engine earns high remarks for reliability. They are great engines, however problems can and do occur. Fortunately, most issues are relatively simple, cheap fixes.
1) Injection Pressure Regulator Valve (IPR)
The Injection Pressure Regulator (IPR) Valve, located in the valley on the High Pressure Oil Pump (HPOP). These can stick, seals get damaged, have the sensor go bad or the wires get damaged. Locate the IPR Valve, check for loose or damaged wires, check that the tin nut on the back of the IPR sensor is tight. When reinstalling the IPR unit torque the IPR to 35ft/lbs and do not use sealer on the IPR threads, as there is an orifice in the threaded area which the sealer could plug.
Rebuild IPR Valve from $14 or replacement part number F81Z-9C968-AB. Cost $140-$300 for new.
2) Driver Module (IDM) Problems
Injector Driver Module (IDM) – located on drivers side fender. These can go bad or get damaged from water and will cause a no start or rough running and cut outs in revving/rpm. Check for damaged wiring, moisture or water intrusion.
Be sure to check your specific IDM part number as it is engine specific. For 99-2003 F-Series Pickups and E-Series Cargo van, IDM 120, includes part number: XC3F-12B599-AA. Replacement cost $50-$350 for used-new.
Check out this guide to learn more about 7.3 PowerStroke IDM issues.
3) Cam Position Sensor (CMP)
A faulty 7.3L Powerstroke CMP can cause the engine to cut out and eventually die. This may make it not start until it sits or is reset on the batteries. There is an easy way to make sure yours is good. On the Old Body Style (OBS), check if your tachometer moves while cranking. If it does your cam position sensor is good. If not then you should replace it. Cam position sensors may be the most common problem on these engines
Cost $24-$70. Don’t buy the generic sensors from any parts store, get an OEM Cam Position Sensor, part number F7TZ-12K073-B, because some aftermarket CMPs can be defective out of the box. Keep a spare in your glove box.
4) UVCH Connectors
Under Valve Cover Harness (UVCH) Connectors are another common fault on the 7.3 Powerstroke. When these come loose or get shorted they can cause rough running conditions to the point where the truck sounds like it has 17* timing and it lopes bad and will often die and sputter. Since these are under the valve cover it’s a good idea to replace the valve cover gaskets.
An easy way to fix this or check for it, there are four connectors on your block / heads that are under the valve covers unplug them and check for cut wires, loose or burnt connectors, if they are burnt or damaged, replace them. It’s a simple fix. The entire valve cover gasket kit with connectors, part number F81Z-6584-AA, can be replaced for $100 or less.
5) Fuel Filter Clogging
Clogged fuel filter. A restricted fuel filter will often cause long cranking or a semi-loss of power, if the injectors can’t get the fuel they need. Replace fuel filter. Part number F81Z-9N184-AA. Replacement cost $9-$30.
6) Lift Pump Problems
Lift pump failure, this will definitely cause a no start. One way to rule this out is to check the fuel bowl for fuel before and while cranking. If no fuel is in the fuel bowl, fill the bowl up with clean fuel and if it starts replace the pump. Part number F81Z-9C407-AC. Replacement Cost $125-$320
Overheating is a general issue these engines run into. This could be related to the radiator, thermostat, water pump, cooling fan or bad coolant. Signs of overheating should be easy to pick up on. It’s important to stop driving the truck until the overheating problems are resolved. Look for the basics like any visible coolant leaks.
The main issues are often the thermostat or water pump, part number F81Z-8501-FA. $120-$250 for one of those. Both are fairly easy to replace.
8) ICP Sensor Failure
Injector control pressure (ICP) sensor. Causes the engine to run, but cut in and out and really roughly throttle. Check for oil in the ICP connector, if present, ICP is bad or on the way out. You can verify better running by unplugging the ICP sensor, temporarily, to see if the issue goes away. Cost $65-$167. Part number F6TZ-9F838-A. If oil has permeated the wires, It is recommend to replace the ICP sensor pigtail as well.
Learn more about 7.3 PowerStroke ICP problems, replacement, and diagnostics.
9) Fuel Heater Problems
Fuel heater. – The fuel heater can short out and blow maxi fuse #22, disabling the PCM. Disconnect the fuel heater, replace fuse, re-try start. Replacement cost about $3 for the fuse. Always carry spare fuses, including maxi fuses, in the glove box. They’re cheap and easy to replace which is why it’s worth it to always carry a box around with you.
How Reliable is the Ford 7.3 Powerstroke?
Overall, the 7.3 Powerstroke is a reliable engine. It has its fair share of common issues, however they’re pretty minor problems in the grand scheme.
The engine has a B50 life of roughly 350,000 miles, meaning about 50% of these engines last longer than 350,000 miles. That’s pretty respectable even among diesel engines that are known to outlast gasoline engines.
They aren’t perfect by any means, but no engine is. 7.3 Powerstroke’s definitely earn above average remarks for reliability. Maintain the engine well and it will reward you with a great overall experience.
Ford’s 7.3L Powerstroke is known as a legendary engine for good reason. We believe it’s one of the best diesel truck engines around. However, the engine is prone to its fair share of problems and failures. The above list of 9 problems certainly isn’t exhaustive as other things can go wrong. This is especially true considering 7.3’s still on the road today are 15+ years old.
Fortunately, the vast majority of issues are pretty simple, cheap fixes. It’s a good idea to carry some spare parts around in the glove box. This may help you from becoming stranded.