Your 7.3 diesel engine lives or dies depending on oil. So getting the 7.3 Powerstroke oil change and capacity right is one of the most important things you can do for your Ford diesel engine.
Sadly, and I'm as guilty as the next guy, many of us 7.3 diesel owners neglect this all-too-important service.
But with very few tools and way less money than the dealership will charge, you can lengthen the life of your 7.3 Powerstroke engine to that legendary "hundreds of thousands of miles".
13 quarts of oil in the crank case/oil pan area and almost 2 quarts in your 7.3's oil filter.
About 1 quart of that 15 quarts of oil volume drains down from the oil galleys along the heads during a 7.3 diesel oil change. And don't forget the roughly 1 quart that's prevented from draining out of the High Pressure Oil Pump reservoir.
So, answering the age-old question...
"How many gallons of oil does a 7.3 Powerstroke hold?" Well, 4 quarts to a gallon means you're going to need almost 4 gallons of oil to perform a full 7.3 Powerstroke oil change.
UPDATE: In researching another article on 7.3 Powerstroke specs, I realized that I failed to explain the nuance between oil change capacity and overall oil capacity.
The 7.3 Powerstroke actually holds 18 quarts of oil total—there are roughly 3 quarts of in the top-end. The oil rails and the HPOP reservoir, more on that below, hold an additional 3 quarts.
However, since most of us aren't draining the oil rails to get every last drop out, we'll stick with the 15 quarts number above.
At the risk of inviting a my-oil's-better-than-your-oil holy war, the absolute best oil for your 7.3 Powerstroke diesel's engine and the criteria I use for purchasing oil for my own trucks:
Read this article if you want to dig into the dark depths of oil weight and viscosity.
However, as far as 7.3 Powerstroke oil weight and viscosity goes, 15W40 is the gold standard for the 7.3 diesel engine, not to mention what the "book" calls for.
But there's a growing faction of cold weather 7.3 owners who consider Rotella T6 5W40 the best synthetic motor oil as well as the best oil for their diesel engines in extremely cold weather.
Yet as I mentioned above, and for my 2002 Ford F250 Crew Cab with a 7.3, good old Shell Rotella Synthetic T5 15W40 diesel engine oil satisfies my 3 criteria above.
T5 15W40 Rotella is my "best" 7.3 Powerstroke engine oil, because where I live 50 degrees F is "cold".
My brother happens to be a Honda master mechanic and he still swears up and down that the 3,000 mile oil change is why we've pushed some of our commuter cars to over 300,000 miles.
Now, a 7.3 diesel Powerstroke is certainly no Honda—it holds roughly 4 times the amount of oil. Further, your 7.3's HEUI oil delivery system is far more reliant on clean and high-performing oil than most passenger vehicles. But regardless, from the 3,000 mile oil change to the 10,000 mile synthetic 7.3 Powerstroke oil change interval, opinions and oil change "experts" abound.
There are even several threads strongly suggesting that you save some of your dirty oil and send it into a lab to be tested. To each his own, but I don't have time for all that.
I've changed my 207k mile 2002 7.3 Powerstroke's oil at a 1,000 mile interval when I was baselining the maintenance. And when I drained it I could see that it was in need a of a good oil change. I've also pushed it out to past a 7,500 mile oil change interval and drained the blackest nastiest stuff I've ever seen in a vehicle.
And once I changed all that old oil, my 7.3 growled down the highway like a new truck.
After all of that, I've settled into a personal rule-of-thumb. I semi-religiously—hey, I'm human and I got other "stuff" to do—follow a 5,000 mile 7.3 Powerstroke oil change interval.
There are literally dozens of 7.3 oil filter choices out there. And if you get sucked into a Ford truck forum discussion on which one's the best oil filter for your own 7.3 Powerstroke ... you might just have a "stroke" before the opinions run out.
And if you want to really dig down into the nitty gritty of the how and what an oil filter does, you can torture yourself with this oil filter information.
But all things considered, I'm not going to address the so-called "best" oil filter for 7.3 Powerstroke, because any one of the filters I list here will get the job done ... well. And as I said earlier, frequency and consistency when changing your 7.3 Powerstroke diesel oil and oil filter are just as, if not more, important.
That being said, here are 3 solid Ford 7.3 oil filter options. Each one has pluses and minuses and you'll just have to choose which one's the best oil filter for your 7.3 diesel—your pocketbook, personal preferences, and prejudices taken into account, of course.
However, I'm sure that even this 7.3 Powerstroke Fram oil filter. (Amazon Link) will get the job done, especially if you're religious about changing your oil and filter.
Personally, I've used the Motorcraft 7.3 oil filters from Amazon below and never looked back. But I put 2 other popular oil filter options that DHD site visitors frequently buy as well.
To tell you the truth, just about any filter nowadays will get the job done as long as you are consistent in changing your oil.
Here are the Ford 7.3 diesel oil filter part numbers and links to Amazon for my top 3 favorite filters.
It's hard to go wrong with a Motorcraft 7.3 Powerstroke oil filter.
But a lot of 7.3 Powerstroke owners swear by this Mobil 1 extended performance oil filter.
I might switch to K&N's 7.3 oil filter for the socket nut install and removal.
Which brings us to the real 7.3 Powerstroke oil change price.
You're going to invest about 1 hour of time, maybe a little more if you're meticulous. And in addition:
So, all in all, a 7.3 oil change costs around $100 and a Saturday morning to do it yourself. But for comparison, I called 3 dealers and got quotes anywhere from $180-225 for a synthetic oil change. And at
$125, now $185, bucks for an hour's labor, I'm under my truck draining oil!
On to oil change tools and parts ...
I've used several of the most popular styles of oil filter wrench. Strapped ratchet, round metal strap, big socket style... I've finally settled on one oil filter wrench for all my vehicles, including my 7.3 diesel.
This wrench fits my small Honda filters and large 7.3 oil filters. And as long as you only tighten your oil filter like you're supposed to—hand tight plus a quarter turn with the oil filter wrench—you'll never have a problem.
Plus, with this oil filter wrench, I can grab onto the old filter as I'm unscrewing it and avoid the splashing and streaming oil down my arm. That's to say nothing about avoiding losing my grip on the heavy oil-filled filter and dropping it into my oil drain pan with a big splash of oil.
No matter how you look at it, 15 quarts of oil streaming out of a tiny hole in the bottom of your 7.3's oil pan will quickly fill an oil catch container that's too small.
Trust me, I've panicked, tying to get the oil drain plug back in, as the oil level crested my old, too small, drain pan.
Do yourself a favor and get a large capacity oil drain pan.
Not only that , but the spout on this one makes it much easier to pour your old 7.3 diesel oil into recycling containers.
The standard 7.3 Powerstoke oil drain plug size is - 14mm x 1.25 and takes a 19mm socket size or Imperial 1/2-20" that takes a 3/4" socket head.
OEM 7.3 Oil Plug Part Number - F6TZ-6730-AA
If you plan on changing your own oil frequently, I'd highly recommend getting a Fumoto oil drain plug - F-111N. (The "N" stands for the nipple on the end...)
The Fumoto Oil Drain Plug Installation Instructions are pretty straight forward.
Just screw this baby into your oil pan to replace your stock 7.3 oil drain plug. Then the next time you change your oil, draining it will be as simple as rotating the lever. And with the nipple on the end you can slip a clear hose over it and drain your oil right into a smaller container to be put out or taken to recycling. And you can control the flow if you need to switch containers.
The only down side to it is that it'll take a few minutes longer to drain your oil … but way less mess!
I know, I know—the first time I saw it I thought the same thing. "That's gonna get accidentally hit and all my oil will drain out." Nope, not a chance. The drain lever has to be lifted and rotated correctly to open up.
If you're worried about that drain nipple getting sheared off because you're a "wheeler", get this Fumoto F-111 on Amazon. It comes without the oil drain nipple.
This is a rather lengthy unboxing video, showing Fumoto drain plugs being installed on my 3 other vehicles.
And if you're planning to skip the Fumoto and just re-install your 7.3 oil drain plug, this is important. The last thing you want to do is over-tighten the drain plug and strip the threads on the oil pan. Because then you'll have to pull the engine to replace the oil pan.
This one subject took me forever to find the "right" answer. The shop manual says that the 7.3 oil drain plug torque value is 54 lb/in, 6 Nm. But that's only around 4.5 lb/ft of torque. And there's ample real world evidence and my own experience that says 4 lb/ft is a bit too loose.
So I usually tighten mine to 10-12 lb/ft and call it good. Even that feels loose, but I'd rather drip a drop or two of oil and have to snug it up than strip the pan and have a nightmare on my hands.
And that brings us to... Don't forget this!
The 7.3 oil drain plug washer is one of the most overlooked replacement parts in your diesel's regular maintenance requirements. Any car's maintenance for that matter.
Because when you've finally drained all of the oil from your oil pan only to realize that you forgot to buy one of those little copper crush washers... Argh!
If we're being honest, when we forget to buy that little oil drain plug washer most of us just reuse the old one and cross our fingers that it doesn't leak. Because if it does you'll have to drain the oil to put on a new one.
7.3 Oil Drain Plug Gasket Part Number - 3C3Z-6734-AA (eBay link to bulk washers)
Regardless, apparently neither of them are as thick or sturdy as the original 7.3 oil dipstick your truck came with.
If you're a stickler, it may be time to head to the junkyard and find an original dipstick replacement.
(1999-2003) - F81Z-6750-DA
If you've ever lost your oil filler cap or you buy a used truck with a loose and worn out one, you'll need to replace it.
F3AZ-6766-B (Amazon link)
This could get ugly—everyone has their "way" to change their 7.3 Powerstroke's oil... So I'm just going to dive right in. I'm assuming you're like me and don't have access to fancy lifts or tools or 25 gallon telescoping drain funnels that never spill a drop of oil.
I do all my maintenance in my driveway with my environmentally-conscious California neighbors watching and judging, so I take every precaution to be as "environmentally friendly" as possible.
Not all of us are graced with 30' long perfectly level driveways. I've changed my oil on a sloped driveway, but I wasn't happy about being underneath my truck when I did it.
There's nothing like oil seeping down into concrete to stain it beyond recovery. I lay down a tarp then my oil catch pan and then my oil drain pan. And I still splash a little oil.
You're gonna be on your back under a 10,000 pound vehicle. I don't know about you, but getting up and down when I'm in the middle of dripping oil is a PITA. Don't forget the blue shop towels for cleanup
You can get blue shop towels on Amazon or COSTCO sells them in bulk for cheap.
Position your 7.3 Powerstroke over your tarp, catch pan, and drain pan. Set the emergency brake and BLOCK OFF THE WHEELS WITH CHOCKS. Even if your truck's perfectly level. Trust me on this—a 10,000 pound vehicle, rolling over any part of you won't end well. I keep my phone handy just in case I get pinned. No joke.
**While you're at it, and I know I'm a safety geek, but I use safety glasses and latex gloves to protect myself from splashing oil or falling dirt and debris.
You can use a black Sharpie to write the date and mileage on your 7.3 oil filter if you want to, but I find my 5,000 mile oil change interval rule to be all the indication I need to remind me that I need to change my oil.
Any multiple of 5K on any of my vehicles and I'm changing oil that weekend.
But don't remove it yet. This is to let the oil flow faster out the drain plug. And I leave the cap on loose because I don't like to have my oil filler tube open to the outside in case anything falls into it.
Once you have your oil drain pan under the oil pan, use a 19mm socket to loosen and remove the oil drain plug. Careful not to drop it into the oil drain pan or you'll be fishing around in black oil, trying to find it.
This step is much easier if you have the above-mentioned Fumoto drain plug in place to control the oil flow.
I never have the patience to let it drain out to a stop—then reinstall the oil drain plug. Remember to put a new crush washer on the oil drain plug.
Here's where things get interesting. There's an entire driveway mechanic culture out there that's using a screwdriver and hammer to puncture a hole in the bottom of the old oil filter to drain it.
It's in order to save themselves from streaming oil down their forearms, trying to remove a full and slippery oil filter. I'm just going to tell you I don't do that and here's why:
Not only does it feel a little "kludgy" to me—pounding a screwdriver into a part attached to my truck—but I've tried the "hammer/screwdriver" method and had just as much oil run down the screwdriver and all over me. (The tip of the screwdriver got stuck in the metal filter and I couldn't get it out fast enough.)
And if that doesn't deter you, pounding into the bottom of your oil filter with a hammer causes stress on the oil filter housing threads that the oil filter screws into. And I'll take a little oil down my forearm over replacing an oil filter housing any day.
But that's just me—do what works for you.
Oh, make sure to clean up the mating surface of the oil filter housing, removing any rubber that may have stuck to it. You want a nice clean smooth surface for the oil filter gasket to mate to.
I usually put my old filter into the oil drain pan and wipe up any mess on me, the oil drip pan, and my tarp before I prep the new filter.
At this point, I usually have to change out my latex gloves for a new pair. Heh heh heh...
Once I do and on a flat surface, I put the new filter, threads up, into the box it came in. This will steady it while you fill it about 3/4 to almost full of oil. And you do that so that when you first fire up your 7.3 Powerstroke after your fresh oil change, the bearings aren't spinning without any lubrication.
After that, rub a little fresh oil around the rubber gasket on the oil filter. This will help the oil filter seal to the oil filter housing surface without sticking to it from all the heat.
Here's a video of it...
Now, this is easier said than done, lying on your back with an oil filter full of oil, trying not to tip it and spill oil. Just go slow and steady.
Don't tighten it too much! The installation instructions say tighten the oil filter to contact plus 3/4 turn. Though my rule of thumb is hand tight plus 1/4 turn with the wrench and I've never had one come loose, leak, or be too tight.
Remove the loose oil filler cap and use a funnel with a neck small enough to fit down into the oil filler tube and big enough to hold a significant amount of oil—over a quart.
If you're going to put in a little less than 13 Quarts of oil, it makes sense—to me, anyway—to use a large capacity oil funnel. I've simply spilled too much oil on engines in my lifetime, trying to "carefully" pour quart jugs into the oil filler tube. And gallon jugs? Not happening.
Do yourself a favor and get this large capacity oil funnel and save yourself the frustration of needless spillage.
I use this Hopkins oil change funnel:
Using that funnel to put 13 quarts in the oil filler tube, combined with the almost 2 quarts you'll put in the oil filter should get you to almost done. I say "almost" because I—and you don't have to do this but it makes me feel better—but once I put the oil filler cap back on, I do this...
I hesitate to go any further, but sadly ... I must.
The 7.3 HPOP oil change is a hotly contested maintenance procedure. Forums and videos are full of people loving it and others hating and making fun of those of us who do it.
But here's the reality:
The 7.3 high pressure oil pump reservoir is designed to prevent up to a quart of oil from draining back down into the crankcase. And this is because in order for the injectors to fire they need to be actuated by oil pressure and that pressure's supplied by the 7.3 HPOP using? ... You guessed it—oil.
If you let that oil drain out, the batteries would have to crank the engine long enough for the low pressure oil pump to fill the HPOP with oil, thus allowing it to put pressure on and actuate/fire the injectors.
So I perform a Powerstroke HPOP oil change 7.3 enthusiasts on both sides of the subject should take into consideration that, yes indeed, the oil in the HPOP reservoir does mix freely with the rest of the engine oil once the 7.3 diesel engine is running.
However ... mixing the dirty 1 quart of oil in the HPOP back in with your freshly changed 14 quarts in the crankcase and oil filter kinda defeats the purpose. So I've always maintained that if you can change it out relatively simply, why wouldn't you?
I talk about the 7.3 HPOP oil change a little bit in my article on fixing common 7.3 oil leaks. But basically here's how it goes.
I couldn't find a really great 7.3 Powerstroke oil change video—guess I'm going to have to make my own. However, I do love Bill Hewitt of Powerstroke Help's 7.3 oil change video.
Partially because he's been servicing 7.3 Powerstroke's for a long time, but more because he's quite a character and has definite opinions on how things should be done.
Make sure you watch both videos. Enjoy...
And yes, in the next video, Bill performs a 7.3 HPOP oil change. No apologies...
So, there it is—one of the most important Powerstroke maintenance items you can perform to prolong your 7.3 diesel's engine life is also one of the simplest.
Done right, your diesel will thank you for it in 7.3 MPG and engine longevity.
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