Judging by the amount of times it’s mentioned these days, you would be forgiven for thinking the Ford 7.3 Powerstroke was lining store shelves across the country. Most people would be surprised to hear that the 7.3 Powerstroke has been out of production for almost 15 years now.
But exactly what is a Ford Power Stroke engine, and why so much love for this old thing?
Best diesel engine ever?
Ford fans are pretty loyal, and if you asked one of them what the best engine ever put in a Ford was, you’ll surely get a few saying the 7.3 litre Power Stroke. There’s a good reason for this – the 7.3 Powerstroke was one of the most influential engines on the Ford scene and the heavy truck scene in the United States.
The 7.3L Powerstroke came out in 1994, and was the successor to Ford’s IDI engine. It was a joint project with Navistar International, who manufactured the engines, and they were used mainly in the Ford medium-duty truck lines. The main difference between the IDI and the Power Stroke was an electronic fuel system (the IDI was a classic mechanical fuel system). The Power Stroke used direct injection which had a huge impact on the strength of the engine.
It’s spec sheet had a 17.5:1 compression ratio, a dry weight of approximately 920 lb, and produced up to 250 hp (186 kW) and 505 lb⋅ft (685 N⋅m) of torque in auto transmission trucks (slightly higher in manual transmission).
Many people thought that an electronic fuel system would be too expensive or too fragile or unreliable, but the opposite proved true. The 7.3 Power Stroke took off and became one of Ford’s most loved engines ever. Even today, many people would consider it one of, if not the number one diesel engine ever made in America or the world. Almost 2 million 7.3L Powers Strokes were manufactured right here in America at Ford’s Indianapolis factories.
Check out our reviews for the best Power Stroke 7.3 tuners here.
Introducing the 6.0 Power Stroke
Around the 2003-2004 era, Ford decided to introduce a 6.0L Power Stroke model. While the 7.3L had some issues, it was actually California’s noise regulations that spurred the change.
Of course, many Ford lovers were upset by the change. The 7.3L Powerstroke was amazing! Why change it!
However, the 6.0L was more powerful and had more torque, and was like a modernized version of the 7.3L. GM also had it’s Duramax engine and the Dodge Ram was using the Cummins Turbo, which meant Ford needed to stay relevant and the 6.0L was part of the answer.
Unfortunately, the 6.0 Power Stroke also came with its own problems. Common issues were the oil cooler getting plugged with sediment due to its location, and the HPOP gears experiencing gear failure often. The head gaskets they used also lead to warping issues. Problems became so common that Ford was forced to pay class action lawsuits payment to some of their truck owners. Ford has paid out of $10 million related to its Power Stroke 6.0L engine.
The Slug: A Short Party For The 6.4L Power Stroke
The 6.4L Power Stroke was introduced in 2008. The 6.4L was built by Navistar and was different in that in used dual turbochargers and a DPF to reduce particulate emissions. It had 350hp and 650lb of torque and a good upgrade from the problem plagued 6.0L. While the engine was strong, it didn’t have great fuel economy which was disastrous for a diesel engine. It was eventually retired a couple years later.
Ford Takes Over: the 6.7L Power Stroke
Ford ditched Navistar for the next model, and went it alone in manufacturing their 6.7L Power Stroke. It was designed and built completely in house by Ford. As Ford was still competing with the Duramax from HM and the Cummins from Ram, the 6.7L became a beast of its own through continual improvements. With everything being done by Ford’s development team, output was originally 390 hp, but in 2015 improved to 440 hp and to 450 hp in 2018. The original model had 735 lb⋅ft of torque, but by 2017 they had managed to improve that to 925 lb⋅ft.
So, what is a Ford Power Stroke engine *today*?
As of 2020, the Powerstroke’s output was increased to 475 hp and 1050 lbft – most consider once again the best diesel engine in the market today. The 6.7L Power Stroke v8 turbo has a 36,000 psi fuel injection system, sturdy as concrete and is used in all its top end trucks, from the Super Duty F-450 to the King Ranch. It’s never been better. This makes the Power Stroke story almost as good as the engine itself – it’s taken some decades, but eventually Ford reclaimed their throne in the diesel game.
Check out our reviews for the best 6.7 Power Stroke tuners here.
The Ford Power Stroke is constantly being developed, but more importantly, we need to consider what’s happening worldwide in the automobile market. With Tesla and NIO surging in popularity every day, major car makers like Mercedes and the Japanese giants starting to develop electric cars, will there even be demand for diesel engines anymore?
Of course, we think the Power Stroke will always have a place in the American motor scene, but worldwide the diesel crowd is slowly shrinking as people move towards options they feel are more environmentally friendly. Perhaps the Power Stroke will experience a trough in demand, only to resurge again in a few decades time, like its original story? Only time will tell. As for now, we still love the Power Stroke and it remains one of our favourite engines so don’t worry – we’ll still be tinkering, testing, tweaking and driving our Power Stroke trucks for a few more years at least – and writing about them!