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Buyers Guide, Powerstroke

1994-1997 Ford 7.3L Powerstroke Buyers Guide

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History/General Info

Nicknamed OBS for “Old Body Style” the 1980-1997 Ford F-Series are well known for their simplicity, reliability, and of course their classic styling. One option that really raises the overall desirability and value is the 7.3L Powerstroke diesel engine. Introduced during the 1994 model year, the 7.3L Powerstroke is still one of the most sought-after Ford powerplants ever produced.

With Dodge and Cummins partnering up in 1989, it changed the entire landscape of the heavy-duty truck market and forced Ford and GM to play to catch-up. The 6.9L/7.3L diesel offerings by Ford were reliable engines but the power levels paled compared to the 6BT Cummins. Five years after Dodge sent shockwaves through the industry by putting a Cummins under the hood, Ford countered with the Powerstroke.

7.3L Powerstroke

Not to be confused with the earlier 7.3L International Harvester IDI, the new 7.3L Powerstroke varied greatly from its predecessor with the bore and stroke being the only thing they had in common. The Powerstroke was manufactured by Navistar International and based on their T444E engine. The acronym T444E stands for Turbocharged, 444 cubic inch displacement, Electronically Controlled. Although the Powerstroke was based on the T444E there were some slight variances specific to Ford applications, with the Powerstroke using a different PCM (powertrain control module) and turbocharger, as well as some other small differences. The T444E was the first engine to be marketed under the Ford Powerstroke name.

Some of the biggest highlights of the 7.3L Powerstroke turbodiesel were Direct Injection and the HEUI (hydraulic electric unit injector) injection system. HEUI uses highly pressurized engine oil to create fuel pressure directly in the injector body, as opposed to requiring a typical injection pump. The HEUI offered improved performance, lower emissions, and better fuel economy compared to the prior mechanical injection system.

Power levels in the 7.3L Powerstroke started out at 215 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque for the 1994.5-1995 model years and were bumped up to 225 hp and 450 lb-ft for 1996-1997. It is no coincidence that these numbers were slightly higher than the 6BT Cummins of the same era. The diesel power wars were heating up and we are still enjoying the benefits to this day as manufacturers continue to battle it out for the torque crown (all while making diesel engines cleaner and more efficient than ever before).

The 7.3L Powerstroke diesel was available in 3/4-ton (F-250) and 1-ton (F-350) models. Overall, the F-250 and F-350 shared a lot of commonalities. One of the biggest differences was F-250 models came equipped with a Dana 50 Front Axle and used Ford’s TTB (twin-traction beam) independent front suspension. The F-350 models on the other hand were equipped with the stouter Dana 60 solid front axle.

Cab and Bed Length options varied slightly by year and depending on the model type as well. If you are looking for a Crew Cab Short Bed, that was only available in a 1996-1997 F250. If you want a Crew Cab and a Dana 60 Front Axle you will have to go with an F-350 long bed or do an axle swap on an F-250 CCSB. Another F-250 exclusive setup was a Super Cab with 4WD.

What To Look For When Purchasing

As with any older pickup truck, rust issues can be common (especially depending on your region). Camshaft position sensor (CMP) failures can occur over time, but luckily it is a DIY repair and inexpensive to replace. The turbocharger up-pipes are another common problem, with the pipes beginning to develop leaks over time. Leaks cause the engine to lose boost and the Exhaust Gas Temperatures (EGT’s) to increase. The TTB Dana 50 front end (F-250) can be wear-prone and is typically not as desirable as the Dana 60 found in the F-350. These are just some of the common cosmetic and mechanical issues associated with these trucks.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Classic Styling
  • Respectable Fuel Economy
  • Forged Steel Connecting Rods
  • 400,000+ mile Longevity with Proper Maintenance

Cons

  • No Factory Intercooler
  • Camshaft Position Sensor (CMP) Failures
  • Prone to Typical Pickup Truck Rust Issues
  • Dana 50 Twin Traction Beam (TTB) on F-250 4WD Models
  • Weak Automatic Transmission

Review

The 7.3L Powerstrokes are known to easily last 400,000+ miles if they are well maintained, with plenty of trucks joining the exclusive million-mile club. Like most diesel engines they can be easily tuned/modified, producing a substantial increase in horsepower/torque. The E4OD automatic transmissions that backed these engines were adequate at best, fortunately there are many upgrades available for potential buyers that plan on upping the power levels.

Popular Aftermarket Upgrades

210 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque might have been impressive in 1994, but it pales to the power levels of a late-model diesel truck. Luckily the 7.3L Powerstroke really responds well to modifications and it can help close the gap quite considerably. Whether you are looking for upgraded performance or more power for towing, these are some popular upgrades.

1. Chip/Programmer

Easily add 50-140 HP to your 7.3L Powerstroke with a chip or programmer. They are a very easy installation and offer some of the best bang for your buck.

2. Air Intake System

Air Intake Systems are one of the most common and least expensive performance modifications available. Increasing airflow leads to quicker turbo spool-up, improved fuel mileage, and more power.

3. Exhaust

The benefits of increased exhaust-flow are reduced EGT’s (exhaust gas temperature), increased horsepower/torque, fuel mileage gains, and a deep throaty sound.

4. Injectors

The average 7.3L injector needs rebuilding at around 125K miles, whether you are looking for stock replacement fuel injectors or want to add some extra power with a set of performance injectors.

5. Intercooler

An upgraded intercooler will give your engine a continual supply of cool, dense, oxygen-rich air which helps improve the combustion as well as engine efficiency.

6. Upgraded Turbocharger

How can we list popular turbo diesel upgrades and NOT include aftermarket turbochargers? There are plenty of benefits to upgrading besides an increase in power, such as faster spool-up and reduced EGT’s.

1994-1997 Ford 7.3L Powerstroke Specifications

Production Years:1994-1997
Common Names:Powerstroke
Configuration:V8
Displacement:444 cubic inches, 7.3 liters
Bore:4.11″ (104.4mm)
Stroke:4.18″ (106.2mm)
Cylinder Head:Cast Iron w/ 6 Head Bolts Per Cylinder
Engine Block:Cast Iron
Firing Order:1-2-7-3-4-5-6-8
Compression Ratio:17.5 : 1
Pistons:Cast Aluminum
Injection:Direct Injection with Hydraulic Electronic Unit Injection (HEUI) Injectors
Fuel Pump:Cam-Driven Mechanical Lift Pump
Turbocharger:1994 – 1997Garrett TP38 Fixed Geometry
Valvetrain:OHV, 2 Valves Per Cylinder, Hydraulic Lifter Camshaft
Weight:Approx. 920 lbs (Dry)
Oil Capacity:15 qts w/ Filter (14.2L)(Original Ford spec for 1994 was 12 quarts. The dipstick was changed in the 1995 to indicate a full crankcase at 14 quarts)
Horsepower:1994-1995210 Horsepower
1996215 Horsepower
1997225 Horsepower
Torque:1994-1995425 lb-ft of Torque
1996-1997450 lb-ft of Torque
Battery:Group Size 65
Transmissions:ZF S5-47 5-Speed Manual
E40D 4-Speed Automatic

Fluid Specifications & Capacities

Engine Oil:15W-40 Acceptable viscosity in ambient temps > 10° F
Preferred viscosity in ambient temps > 30° F
15.0 qts Capacity w/ Oil Filter (14.2L)
10W-30 Acceptable viscosity in ambient temps -10 to 90° F
Preferred viscosity in ambient temps -10 to 30° F
15.0 qts Capacity w/ Oil Filter (14.2L)
5W-30 Acceptable viscosity in ambient temps < 30° F15.0 qts Capacity w/ Oil Filter (14.2L)
0W-30Acceptable viscosity in ambient temps < 0° F15.0 qts Capacity w/ Oil Filter (14.2L)
Engine Coolant:50/50 Ethylene Glycol Coolant, Distilled Water29 Qts Capacity
(27.44L)
Automatic Transmission Fluid:E40D 4-Speed Mercon V ATF4X2 15.7 qts
4X4 16.2 qts
Manual Transmission Fluid:ZF S5-47 5-SpeedMercon V ATF3.4 qts
Transfer Case Fluid:BW1356Mercon V ATF2.0 qts
Front Differential Fluid:Dana 50 IFSSAE 80W-90 1.9 qts
Dana 60 FrontSAE 80W-90 2.9 qts
Rear Differential Fluid:Sterling 10.25″ RearSAE 75W-140 3.75 qts
Sterling 10.50″ RearSAE 75W-140 or SAE 90 Hypoid Gear Oil3.45 qts
Dana 80 RearSAE 75W-90 4.15 qts
Dana 135 RearSAE 80W-9012.25 qts (F-550 Super Duty Only)

Maintenance Schedule

Service ProcedureInterval
         Replace Engine Oil & Filter:5,000 miles/6 months under normal driving conditions
3,000 miles/3 months under severe driving conditions
Replace Fuel Filter:15,000 miles
                      Replace Air Filter:30,000 miles/30 months
                 Engine Cooling System:30,000 miles/36 months
Replace Automatic Transmission Fluid & Filter:30,000 miles
Replace Manual
Transmission Fluid:
60,000 miles
Replace Transfer Case Fluid:60,000 miles

7.3L Powerstroke Fuel Injector Codes

Application(s)Injector CodeTypeMax FlowrateNotes
1994 – 1996 (All)
1997 Non-CARB
AASingle Shot98 cc1997 Model year engines designed to meet California emissions standards (CARB certification) feature AB split shot injectors, NOT AA.
1997 CARB
All Early 1999
ABSplit Shot130 cc1997 Model year engines sold outside California featured AA single shot injectors, NOT AB.
International T444E
(high torque models)
ACSingle Shot160 ccAC injectors are similar to AB injectors, but are a single shot design with a higher flow-rate. They are found in International T444E engines, but were never used in Powerstroke models.
Late 1999 – 2003ADSplit Shot140 ccUsed in all 1999+ 7.3L Powerstroke and International T444E engines.
Late 1999 – 2003AE/AFSplit Shot140 ccBased on an AD injector, used in the number 8 cylinder from the factory. These are long lead injectors.