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Old 02-07-2010, 12:27 AM   #1
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Default 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I'm considering purchasing a used truck and one of the trucks I've been looking at is a 2001-2002 F250/350 7.3 Powerstroke 4 door with about 70k-80k. I don't need a diesel as I don't tow anything that my Wrangler can't handle power wise right now (utility trailer/Smokercraft Alaskan). It would be a daily driver with only about 20 miles a day round trip. I've had my Wrangler for 12 years now and it's just not big enough for hunting and camping with a family anymore. I only put about 7500-9000 miles a year on my vehicles. I want a truck for hauling gear in the bed and not a suv.

As I've never had a diesel rig before, what do I need to take into consideration before purchasing one of these trucks? I'm looking for cost of maintenance, transmission reliability, and common repairs with this motor/truck.

Thanks for the input.

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Old 02-07-2010, 01:05 AM   #2
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I say if you don't need it for the towing capacity, then don't get it. I'm a big fan of diesel and have 3 different diesels currently. Everything that goes into a diesel is more expensive and even the diesel itself is more expensive now days! The oil for diesel is more expensive than oil for gasoline engine, plus it takes a lot more than just one or two gallons. My father in law is on his third transmission and second engine on his 7.3 powerstroke. I'm on my second tranny.
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

If you don't need a diesel then honestly its not cost effective to buy one. However with that said I don't tow anything over 8k and wouldn't give mine up for anything. The 7.3L powerstroke is a great engine. It has a few known common parts failures but in comparison to some other diesels they aren't bad at all. The CPS(cam position sensor) is the most common. It is a very easy repair and the part is under $50 now. Water pumps have been known to fail a little premature but I have 150k on mine and havent had a problem. There are a few other common issues but no more than any other truck. If it has a automatic transmission that will be your weak link. If your not towing heavy loads and you service it frequently the tranny's have been known to live a long life. Towing heavy loads, not changing the fluid, or modifying the engine to make more power will shorten the life of the transmission considerably. But there are alot of things that can be done to the transmission to Beef them up and be able to hold up to severe use.

Servicing a diesel truck is gonna cost more than a gas engine plain and simple. A 7.3L using a oil filter thats twice the size of a normal V8 gas engine oil filter. 99-early 03 7.3L hold 15 quarts of oil also. So its not to hard to figure where the money goes.

The longevity of a diesel engine on average is much greater than a gas engine however. Though you said you don't put many miles on a vehicle the motor will last longer.

The 99-early03 superduty diesel pickups were not the most powerful diesel. The newer engines will run circles around them. But they still have plenty of power to tow anything you want, and will get you to your destination reliably instead on the side of the road. Stock horespower and torque numbers varied but most were 250hp with 525 lbft. More can be had with performance upgrades.

In my opinion the 99-early03 Superduty is the best diesel truck Ford has built to date. The only real downside being a weak tranny and less power than some. However If you look at the truck as a whole they were really built tough and reliable. I believe they have the strongest and longest lasting chassis your going to find on a pickup. Not trying to start a brand war cause they all have their pro's and con's. But chevy's IFS is a good comfortable ride but not nearly as strong as a solid axle and parts wear out faster. Dodge has had chassis issues for quite awhile. Their trucks in this year range had track bars and control arm bushings that are notorious for wearing out quickly. Long story short I think the Ford as the strongest chassis.


I was a Ford Technician for 5 years before working as a federal mechanic. I got to see what vehicles rolled in the shop day in and day out. Also worked on other makes and models in the shop. After seeing what has issues and what doesn't I drive a 01 F-350 7.3L. It has 150K on the ticker now and I havent touched the engine once except a starter solenoid. Only service work and modifications. I did rebuild the transmission once at 96k but when i did it I used high quality parts that should last a long time. The tranny also failed because of a heavy right foot and modifications. My truck rolls on 37" tires weighs 8100lbs and does the 1/4 in 14.36 so I dont drive it like a grandpa.

Ok long Rant over let the flaming begin Any other questions about a 7.3L superduty please feel free to ask.
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Old 02-07-2010, 03:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abiquadeer View Post
Ok long Rant over let the flaming begin

Damb Abi, I'd love to start an argument but can't; everything you said was true

Seriously though, like Vudo and Abi said, sounds like you don't "need" a Diesel.
But Cheapshot, this is America, and by the Grace of God, We can have what we want (usually).
I 1st got into Diesels out of curiosity (decades ago), and currently try not to own anything else. I won't list what I've owned (several brands), but every truck I sold was over 350k miles and still going. For me, the engineering makes more sense.

I won't re-iterate the pros/cons as what Vudo and Abi said were true.
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Old 02-07-2010, 03:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

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Originally Posted by Cheap Shot View Post
I only put about 7500-9000 miles a year on my vehicles. I want a truck for hauling gear in the bed and not a suv.
7500-9000 mpy?!?! Now that's just ludicrous!

At least with a Diesel you'd only be changing oil once/yr (on average, with analysis).

CS, it sounds like you've already made up your mind.

I believe the best gen's for any mfgr is from '98 to '03, after that, "they" started getting a little weird. All mfgr's have their little quirks.
GM undoubtedly had the best ride, although all their trucks looked like lowriders. Not to mention getting a rocky start by building their own Diesel.
Dodge took a GREAT engine, made it complicated and plagued it with wiring issues.
Ford had (and still may have) cavitation issues.
All 3 had tranny problems as mentioned (if you see a gooseneck or 5th wheel in the bed of an auto truck, think twice).
Whatever you do, shop CAREFULLY AND WISELY. I can tell by your questioning that you've already started research, but the trick is not rushing into anything, and for God's Sake, DON'T FALL IN LOVE WITH ANY SHEETMETAL. If you shop religiously, a great deal will come along. I bought my last '99 PSD (crewcab, 1t, 4x, 6speed) for $1500. Seriously. I traded a guy a concrete slab for a '93 Dodge/Cummins 3/4t 4x auto. Honest. Shop Western US, there's hella deals in Denver and sometimes in ID. Right now in PDX on CL there's a '99 PSD for $2500 with 700k and engine issues, but I'm seriously considering that truck. The possiblities are out there.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Quote:
It would be a daily driver with only about 20 miles a day round trip.
This right here could be the death of a diesel depending on how those 20 miles are driven. It'll take at least 5 miles for that 7.3 to get the engine temp up to optimum operating temp, longer if it's real cold out.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

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Originally Posted by huntercgr View Post
This right here could be the death of a diesel depending on how those 20 miles are driven. It'll take at least 5 miles for that 7.3 to get the engine temp up to optimum operating temp, longer if it's real cold out.
This is true especially in the winter. But plugging it in well help.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Other than the noise, I am happy with my 2001 7.3.
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

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Other than the noise, I am happy with my 2001 7.3.
There are a few things you an do to quiet it down. Most of the nice you hear is injector noise. The 7.3L likes synthetic oil due to the heui injectors. Feed it synthetic and the injectors will quiet down some especially in cold weather. Ash less two stroke oil in the fuel at a rate of one ounce per gallon will also help quiet the injectors down. If you dont like the idea of two stroke oil there are a plethora of other fuel additives that will help lubricate injectors and in turn quiet them down some. You can also install a regulated fuel return system that makes the engine run smoother and takes away noise. But thats a little more expensive and detailed and Ive blabbered on enough.
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:12 AM   #10
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

'93 F250, first one they made. 339,000 and still rolling with very few problems. Bought it used, pull my boaterhome with it and I love it. My first smoke wagon and I would get another.

IMHO putting an International Harvestor motor in a Ford truck was a better idea.
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Welp its a ford so ya would be screwed there.lol. If your a jeep buy why dont ya make the small jump over to dodge and keep it simple less moving parts and more power makes sense to me.
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:29 PM   #12
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I drive an '02 F250 Super and never had a problem with it. Great tractor for towing larger boats. I don't commute with it much, though, due to mileage and tight steering radius requirements (downtown parking lots). I have considered trading it in but haven't found a superior rig. Plus, I only have 65,000 miles on it in 8 years of driving, so it's barely broken in. Good luck with your search.
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:54 PM   #13
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

The driving conditions you have described are not what those truck are meant for at all. If I were you I would look into either an F-150 or a Tundra if you need a truck. Like was said before, the cam position sensor is a common problem with those. But they are cheap and a lot of guys just keep a spare with them in case it fails. Another problem is the under valve cover harness which is also another fairly cheap and easy fix. Then there are also front end problems with the Fords too. If you decide you really want a diesel, a low mile 7.3 like that would be a great choice.
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Old 02-07-2010, 02:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Thanks for all of the super first hand info. I heard before that driving short distances wasn't real healthy for a diesel and a few of you have also voiced that sentiment. Why is that? One of the things about the diesel that appeals to me is that I tend to resist change and get attached to my rigs. In 24 years of driving I've only had four cars and I still have two of them. The other two lasted about 200k miles. I'm looking to get rid of the Jeep and my BMW and just buy one truck that I'll have for the next 10-15 years. I want to spend under 20k, around 16-19k. I don't want a 1/2 ton as I'm planning on buying a trailer or camper in the future and don't want to limit myself. I've considered a Tundra because of Toyota reliability, but I'm not 100% sold yet. I never even thought of poor turning radius - I've never had to worry about that with my Wrangler.
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Old 02-07-2010, 04:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I have 2000 7.3 and it has spent many years commuting 2 miles one way to work. In the winter I used to plug in the block heater. I also used to send in an oil sample to blackstone labs. 123K miles and no major issues. Still on original tranny. Maintenance has been meticulous. Mine has a few mods for more power but it's not the power of todays new rigs but it's enough.

I'd go find a forum specific to this rig and spend some time reading so you know what your getting into. It has a few quirks but all of them can be taken care of yourself if you have a little mechanical ability.

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Old 02-07-2010, 08:18 PM   #16
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Had a 99 F350 crew and traded to 05 F250 crew,wish I had never done it!! 7.3 is or was the strongest and most reliable motor they put in the Sd's. Mine had over 100thou, when I traded it and NO problems at all!! Had larger tires no mods, and still pulled 5500+ lb boat and trailer anywhere and as fast as I wanted to go. 6ltr not the same. Set of head gaskets and a tubo later its running again. At 35000 miles. But thats my 2. Diesels are nice for power and towing but as stated before maintenance will be spendy. Filters are more and don't even think about skimping on those, oil 3 + GAL. Good luck , and there are some great deals out there to be found.
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:28 PM   #17
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96 psd for sale! bought with167k couple little things cam sensors....currently 300k runs like a champ....pull my fiberglass 28ft toyhauler 11,500 no problem...5000.00
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

We're on our second 7.3L Powerstroke....275K on our first before we sold it. 156K on the current and perfectly happy. My wife drives it as a commuter vehicle, and tows 5th wheel horse trailer all summer rodeoing....they are great pickups. My personal biggest complaint is that it takes a empty walmart parking lot to turn one around. Ford extended/4 door pickups have the worst turning radius in the history of automobiles...besides that they are great.
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:24 PM   #19
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I've got a 97 CC that I bought 4 years ago w/ 157k. It now has 181k. I'll 3rd the 3 acres to turn around. I've put an alternator, 2 batteries, new injector wires(#7 injector wire had a short), set of tires (it needed them anyway ), new front end. I tow my boat 19' aluminum, and sometimes a 27' gooseneck cargo trailer. Power to spare.
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:30 PM   #20
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I have a 2000 F350 diesel crew cab, short bed so I only need 39 acres to turn it around. Had the cam sensor problem but Ford paid for it, and the tow. I got it to pull my 5th wheel and bigger boat that weighs about 5500 on the trailer. The little boat is like nothing. I really like mine, has 80,500 on it so not much driving for an 11 year old truck. I did have a front wheel bearing go out last year in Newport, or I should say I noticed it in Newport and had it fixed while I was fishing. I walked from Schwabs to the marina, and back the next day after returning from some salmon catching. (no maintance on the bearings, they work, or break) Like the others have said, it wasn't made for a commuter rig, it was meant to work. It will "load up" if you don't put the pedal to the metal occassionaly.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:27 PM   #21
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

One of the reasons you shouldn't drive a Diesel short lengths is called "cylinder washing".

It's where unburned fuel washes the cylinder in effect, and partially eliminates the protective oil barrier.

What it does is score the cylinder walls over time, leading to blow-by and decreased compression.

Diesel as a fuel needs compression and heat to combust, so when your engine isn't up to op temps, it can hurt.

Most newer trucks and heavy duty stuff (larger than 1ton) have fast idle solinoids, or other methods (EBPV's) to come up to op temp faster.

Another reason you shouldn't let your light duty truck idle for hours in the rest areas, but it sure is nice to fall asleep to the rumble
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:17 PM   #22
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I have a 04' 6.0 F350 and if I could give it back to have my old 95' 7.3 I would do it in a heartbeat. The new one is not nearly as loud as the older one was, but in my opinion, it dosen't have the power the older one did. I think they just produced power differently. The 7.3 was really strong on the bottom end but seemed to top out quicker. The 6.0 dosen't have the stump pulling torque right off the bottom but seems to build power in the upper rpm ranges. I think the 7.3 would be a great choice.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:28 PM   #23
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I have a 7.3 PSD crew cab 4x4, I drove it daily for two years, 56 mile round trip commute. Avg 17mpg.
The last 6 years I've been driving a 1993 Ford Escort(paid 800$) gets 35 mpg.

The truck is now used only when the camper, boat or jeep are behind it..
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:05 AM   #24
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

So cheapshot did you decide to buy one. Or are you holding off for awhile?
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:24 AM   #25
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I recently traded in a car on a 01 PSD Crew Cab/Long Bed work truck with 113,000 miles. I say work truck, as the only option I see on it is AC. I bought it to put a camper on it and be able to tow a boat.

I also have a 07 Chevy 1/2 ton. Chevy is a much "nicer" ride, but it sure is fun driving that Diesel, and the gas milage is pretty comparable.

Already had to replace the Starter, but the Ford did the CAM sensor for free when I took it in to get it all checked out. Also had to replace a bunch on minor stuff that the previous owners didn't maintain (door reflector, roof light, couple of switches, new tires etc). It has been pretty easy to work on, lots of room on such a big truck. It does seem to be a bit "looser" in the steering than my Chevy, but has plenty of power (Banks - 6 Pack helps). It's a lot of fun driving such a big truck, as long as you don't drive downtown! So far only put about 2000 miles on it, but looking forward to using this year with the used camper I bought. I'm hoping I can keep it for a LONG time.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:28 AM   #26
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

"So cheapshot did you decide to buy one. Or are you holding off for awhile?"


No, I haven't done anything yet. As I said, it takes me a while to come around to making a decision. I start to think that maybe I should just buy a gas 3/4 ton or even a 1/2 ton with fewer miles. Then I start thinking, "do I really need that big of a truck?". "Maybe I should just buy a Tundra." What I really want is a daily driver truck that will be able to transport four and at times five (kids + friend) comfortably, tow whatever I want, last the next 10-15 years and 150k miles, and not break the bank. That's not too unreasonable, is it?
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:50 PM   #27
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I'm rethinking my Dodge diesel What gasser is there that gets decent mpg in a fullsize rig...half or 3/4 ton though? That can still pull something the size you are looking for? I think I'm wanting something that does not exist. Maybe a gasser pu and a smaller mpg older commuter car?

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Old 02-09-2010, 03:16 PM   #28
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I wont get into the brand debate. But will say Ive got an 05 Diesel with 32,000 on the clock. The miles I put on are about what you are talking about. I do tow a 30ft toy hauler and a 20ft boat. I will never get rid of the Greaseburner. They are second to no gasser in towing or MPG, or resale for that matter. They are more money to maintain. A buddy of mine has a 1st generation cummins with 435,000 on it. Religious maintenance. I bought a little honda civic for commuting. The powerstroke is a good, proven engine. I dont think you would regret it.
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Old 02-09-2010, 06:00 PM   #29
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

I used to drive ford F450's and an F550 with the 7.3. These were manual transmission 300 gallon wildland fire rigs with service body and all that. We ran them full of water.

The 7.3's were impressive in this application. Yes, lots of low end and they did top out, but I never had a lack of power no matter where I was driving or what I was climbing. Loaded (2400 pounds of water, plus tank, foam, hose, pump, equipment, service body, etc...) and they had plenty of power. We drove them a lot and worked them hard, and never had an engine problem.

Drove a F450 300 gallon with the 6.0. Didn't work very well. Hard to start out on a hill with that weight, although once you got rolling and the rpm up the power would kick in and away you'd go.

My vote is for the 7.3, specially if you ever plan to tow. If you get a Tundra or a F-150 you'll face limits in that regard.
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Old 02-09-2010, 06:03 PM   #30
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

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I say if you don't need it for the towing capacity, then don't get it. I'm a big fan of diesel and have 3 different diesels currently. Everything that goes into a diesel is more expensive and even the diesel itself is more expensive now days! The oil for diesel is more expensive than oil for gasoline engine, plus it takes a lot more than just one or two gallons. My father in law is on his third transmission and second engine on his 7.3 powerstroke. I'm on my second tranny.
Just curious. Where they chipped?

My , I think the 7.3L was the best diesel Ford ever put in a truck. I had a 94 with >200,000 miles and traded it for the worst engine Ford ever put in a truck. The 03 6.0L. No tranny problems yet but three EGR valves and a new Turbo. Thankfully all under warranty.
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Old 02-09-2010, 06:46 PM   #31
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

My '97 n 7.3 is current at 103K miles and is still on the stock original motor, and auto trans. I upgraded the trans cooler to a 22klb cooler which adds an additional quart of trans fluid. The truck is a crew cab longbed 4x4, and I haul a 4000lb truck camper, while towing a 5000lb enclosed trailer with ATV's. Although it isn't the most powerful year of diesel Ford put out, it gets the job done.

I purchased it with 56k miles on it back in 2003, and use it mostly as the camp/tow vehicle and only put 4000-7000 mile a year on it anymore. It's paid for, well insured and happy to go whenever it's fired up.
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:55 PM   #32
AV8R
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poindexter View Post
I drive an '02 F250 Super and never had a problem with it. Great tractor for towing larger boats. I don't commute with it much, though, due to mileage and tight steering radius requirements (downtown parking lots). I have considered trading it in but haven't found a superior rig. Plus, I only have 65,000 miles on it in 8 years of driving, so it's barely broken in. Good luck with your search.
Want to sell it?
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Old 10-27-2010, 09:51 PM   #33
Thunderfoot
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

In my mind there is only on con! The one that stole my 97 Supercab Powerstroke Friday the 15th. I posted a thread....Keep an eye out...

Best truck ever made in my mind over 22mpg in the woods and just nearly 19 empty on the freeway....I'm a grandpa...
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:14 PM   #34
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Default Re: 7.3 turbo powerstroke pros and cons

the 15th of feb, the last date of this thread. or Oct?
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