It’s incredible, but people still talk about the 1994 Ford F-150 7.3 Powerstroke engine. You don’t have to search far online to find some car writer who has recently talked about their love of the vehicle. It was a game-changer then, and it’s only gotten better as the years have gone on, with newer models offering upgrades and fixing old problems.
The Powerstroke has had problems in the past, but they’ve done all they can to fix them, and as a result they’ve managed to perfect an already great engine. There’s nothing better for fuel economy, power and speed than a Powerstroke. And the 7.3 is one of their finest.
The 7.3 Powerstroke is the most reliable diesel engine on the market, known worldwide for its ability to last half a million miles if maintained well. And maintaining it well means choosing the correct oil that will ensure a smooth, lengthy life.
But with so many brands on the market, all claiming to have almost magical regenerative powers, it can be hard to select the right one. To make that selection go easier, here’s a a list of the best motor oils to use with a 7.3 Powerstroke engine.
List of the best oil for 7.3 powerstroke
Shell Rotella T
Diesel engines tend to work better with oils that have some thickness to them. It still needs to run through the engine, but some viscosity is necessary. Shell Rotella is well-liked among truck drivers, and particularly truckers with Powerstroke engines.
It’s also an oil that passes the low emission requirements, so you’ll be doing your part to help leave less of a carbon footprint.
It’s great for heavy lifting, can be started in hot and very cold climates without issue and gives much stronger wear protection than other oils. For trucks with Powerstrokes, accept no substitutes.
Diesel engines are loved by a particular segment of car owners, and while they do enjoy some of the sound that comes with it, it’s easy to spot something wrong. But with Shell Rotella, the only sounds you’ll hear are the ones you expect, and your engine will never run more smoothly.
It’s the best oil on the market for Powerstroke engines. Though there are some other options.
There’s been some debate in the engine community about which oil is better for Powerstrokes – Rotella or this other synthetic. Especially since Chevron announced that their Delo line was going to include ISOSYN Advanced Technology that would help better combat wear and control oxidation.
To be honest, it’s hard to pick between the two, as both are perfectly suited for a Powerstroke engine. Some drivers have even asked if they can mix the two if they’re in an emergency situation. And the answer is that yes, you can mix them without experiencing problems.
It’s somewhat disappointing, though, that Chevron doesn’t include a filter or a pump when you buy it. It’s so much more convenient than having to purchase them separately. Convenience counts in salesmanship, so while the product may be just as good as Rotella, you might opt for Shell’s oil just for the perks.
Shell Rotella T5 Synthetic Blend
If you’re looking for an oil that can help your engine save energy during some heavy duty lifting, this is probably the best oil to use. The T5 has a low ash additive that also cuts back on sulphur and phosphorus, so your engine will operate much more smoothly.
It’s extra protection also keeps your engine safe from dirt if you’re doing work that’s particularly gritty. It also stops acids from building up inside your engine and harming the metal pieces inside.
It has just the right amount of viscosity to it, capable of starting even in the coldest of winters. But the key to the T5 is in its longevity. Using it, you’ll find yourself going in for oil changes, or making them yourself, far less frequently.
This is, after all, advertised as a low maintenance oil, and it lives up to its ad. There’s no need for regular changes or tune-ups, so long as you keep the engine well-maintained.
Ford Genuine is a brilliant blend of materials combined to make your engine run absolutely seamlessly. Materials like high viscosity index that helps keep the engine stable during any season of weather and incredible, unmatched wear and tear protection.
The high-performance additives go to work the moment they start running through your engine, cleaning out oil, dirt and acid deposits that have built up. There’s nothing that stops an engine dead in its tracks than parts that have been eaten away or a pile of sludge plugging up a passageway.
The friction reducer is probably the most astonishing feature, providing the best protection from wear on the market.. If you’re doing hard labour with your truck, then this oil should cover all performance concerns.
Now that you know the oils available that will work best with your Powerstroke, let’s talk about the engine itself and some general questions that often come up.
Powerstroke Engine Buyer’s Guide
The Powerstroke first appeared in 1994, but every year since they’ve offered it in new models, and it’s always been a bestseller. Here’s an overview of what’s available.
Classic, dependable, strong, the 6.9 and 7.3s are not the engines with the most power, but they’re certainly excellent at the jobs they do. There’s little about them that’s inferior to stronger, more recent engines, but it should be noted that the 7.3 uses larger head bolts.
The 7.3 was offered turbocharged in both 1993 and 1994, though there has been some rumour that those engines were problematic. This is rumour, but it’s widely believed.
Both engines can be easily turbocharged at home, with the proper afterkits. While it’s not going to turn your car into something out of a Fast and the Furious film, it offers decent fuel economy and likely a very long life if well-maintained.
One of the most desired diesel engines on the market, the Powerstroke may share a similar name with the IDI, but don’t be fooled by cosmetics. The 7.3 Powerstroke takes what makes the IDI one of the most reliable engines in the world and adds superior power and performance.
Powerstrokes have been known to last upwards of 350,000 miles – with some even hitting a million before taking their final huff. The automatic transmission of the Powerstroke is part of what made them reliable and easy to use, and they can be easily upgraded by new buyers.
These engines can be tuned and torqued to your specifications, making them one of the easiest to adapt or upgrade. You should expect about the same fuel economy as with the IDIs, but it’ll be your last concern. You’ll be too impressed with the power you feel behind the wheel.
If you can try, please ignore the horrendous news reports about the 6.0. You’ve probably heard about blown head gaskets and other reliability issues that were widely reported upon the engine’s debut. But news of the 6.0’s fate was greatly exaggerated.
In fact, they were mostly bloated by scandal-hungry media. And even if they were true at one time, the engine has been given some serious upgrades to amend those issues. If you’re purchasing a used truck with a 6.0, just make sure it has been well-maintained, as one bit of the news was true: they’re exceptionally sensitive to poor maintenance.
Now that the rough edges have been smoothed, the 6.0 offers an exceptional performance. Ford supported the 6.0 with a 5 speed Torqshift transmission, one of the most reliable systems out there.
So while you may have some understandable concerns about the 6.0, ignore the media and see the evidence for yourself. When you visit the truck, take it for a test ride. You don’t want a vehicle that is just about to die anyway, and knowing the engine was well taken care of should assuage any concerns.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the 6.0 is not the lemon the media claimed.
One of the biggest strikes against the 6.4 is a lack of good fuel economy. This was a problem that spread across the entire industry at the time of the 6.4’s release, as Dodge and GM were having similar issues.
Aside from that, the 6.4 engines are every bit as reliable as any other Powerstroke. Though fuel economy is important, it may even be a dealbreaker, there are some performance elements of the 6.4 that still make it a worthy investment. The thing is, the other Powerstrokes have those as well, without being gas guzzlers.
The difference between the 6.7 and other Powerstrokes is where it’s made. Ford makes the 6.7’s directly, not International Navistar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as one of the major improvements over the other engines is that they don’t require four bolts per cylinder.
The biggest concern with the 6.7 is the turbocharger. Turbocharge failure was a major problem upon release. The engines had a fairly complex turbocharge system made out of ceramic. More recent models replaced the ceramic with the more dependable steel ball bearing, but there’s still some concern about reliability.
The turbocharger has long been the bane of the Powerstroke’s existence, though they’ve done what they can to fix the issue. Every time they offer a new model of the engine, there’s some attempt to address it. While it’s not a perfect system, they’ve fine-tuned the problem enough that it’s not a major concern.
Those are the Powerstroke engines on the market. Now that you know what oils accompany them best, you’re ready to make a sound purchasing decision.
How often should you change oil in a 7.3 Powerstroke?
Unless you experience problems or hear thumping noises that could be indicators of engine problems related to oil, you should change the oil regularly every 5,000 miles.
How much oil goes in a 7.3 Powerstroke?
The 7.3 Diesel Powerstroke holds up to 15 quarts of oil. This means you would need 4 gallons of oil for a complete oil change.
What happens if you put too much oil in a 7.3 Powerstroke?
Oil is meant to be in thin layers running along the pistons and other moving parts to keep the engine moving at high speeds without any problems. If you overfill your engine, you may think you’re adding more protection, but you’re actually setting your engine on overdrive, forcing it to work far harder than it needs to.
Over time, this will kill your engine a lot faster. If you think you’ve overfilled your engine, shut it down at once. If you are in a safe place, drain the engine. If you aren’t, have your car towed to one, but by no means drive yourself in the overfilled vehicle.
What kind of oil does a 1999 7.3 Powerstroke take?
Ford recommends Motorcraft since it’s a Ford engine. But any of the fine products recommended in the above article are perfect for this vehicle. Depending on what you’re using it for, the oils above will help your engine perform without any issues, and start no matter the climate.