The 7.3l engine F-series trucks can be quite the value for a used truck buyer. With legendary reliability, ease of maintenance, decent fuel economy, and great resale value, there is a lot to love.
The 7.3L Powerstroke engine was offered in Ford three quarter ton trucks and up from 1994 until 2003, when the 6.0L Powerstroke took over as Ford's new diesel platform. The F-series trucks were offered from two door, two-wheel drive, short bed trucks, and up to four door, four-wheel drive long bed varieties. Since its introduction, the 7.3 has earned itself a spot among light duty trucks that few other engines have. These trucks remain popular today to diesel enthusiasts, and some are even still putting in time as work trucks. So what is it that makes these old oil burners desirable and popular even in modern times? Let's break down what makes it so great.
Easy to live with
The 7.3L Powerstroke is a very easy to maintain and live with engine. The same can be said for the F-250 truck, with the exception of the I-beam front end in two-wheel drive variants. The front suspension system in these trucks is quite robust, works well, and tends to last a while. The issue with it as a used truck that may have many miles has to do with working on it. I-beam front ends have a few more bushings and wear points than traditional straight axle suspensions. They also tend to be a little more difficult to align.
Oil changes on the big 444 cubic inch diesel are pretty straightforward. The oil filter holds around 2 quarts, so I recommend either being quite careful when removing it, or punching a drain into the bottom before taking it all the way off. Otherwise, it's just like any other typical vehicle of its time. Spin on oil filters, oil fill in the passenger side valve cover, and a drain plug in the underside of the oil pan. Fuel filter maintenance is incredibly simple on this engine as well. All that is required to get the old filter out is screwing a cap off of the fuel filter bowl. Most retailers sell new filters (such as Wix or even Motorcraft) with new plastic lids and o-rings. So once you have the old one out, just lube the new o-ring and replace it with the new one.
Full-size fuel economy
These trucks are heavy. The engine weighs nearly 1,000 pounds by itself. The '94-'99 body styles are boxy. These things shouldn't get great mileage. That's what is so great about the 7.3L. It churns out 505lb-ft of torque, and a not-so-impressive 250 rated HP. However, when it comes to economy, the numbers look a lot more attractive to a truck buyer. My calculations have my personal truck getting between 15 and 18 MPG in the city, and a best ever of 21 MPG on a long road trip. There are gasoline V8 engine cars that weigh half of this truck that don't get those numbers! Looking at what other owners get in the forums does seem to reinforce the numbers I see for real world expectations.
Perhaps the most outstanding thing about these trucks is the monetary value. A cursory search of used F-250 trucks with the 7.3L reveals many of these trucks still selling anywhere from $4,000 up to $20,000 for the newer bodied trucks with under 200k miles on them. It seems quite likely the value of these trucks is here to stay. Some of them are still listing for prices that they would've listed for when they were only a few years old! However, it does seem this trend is applying to diesel trucks in general. Examples of Duramax Chevy trucks seem to retain their value better than their gasonline powered brothers, and so on.
The truck for you?
If you're in the market for a used full size truck, I do recommend you at least consider the 7.3L Powerstroke trucks. They can be had for a reasonable amount, they are known for reliability, simple to work on, and will likely not lose much value over the years. For a full sized truck, very few examples of trucks in this price range will net you as good fuel economy. You also have the choice of the '99.5-2003 body style or the classic 1994-1999.5 body style. Is it the used truck for you?
7.3L Powerstroke Facts