7.3 POWERSTROKE OIL CHANGE AND CAPACITY SECRETS

Your 7.3 diesel engine lives or dies depending on oil. So getting the 7.3 Powerstroke oil change 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 owners neglect this all-too-important task. But with very few tools and way less money than the dealership will charge, you can lengthen the life of your 7.3 engine to that "hundreds of thousands of miles" everyone talks about.

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change and Capacity Image

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Capacity

7.3 Powerstroke oil capacity is 15 quarts

13 quarts in the crank case/oil pan area and almost 2 quarts in your 7.3's oil filter.

1999 7.3 Powerstroke Oil Capacity - 15 Quarts

2000 7. 3 Powerstroke Oil Capacity - 15 Quarts

2001 7.3 Powerstroke Oil Capacity - 15 Quarts

2002 7.3 Powerstroke Oil Capacity - 15 Quarts

2003 7.3 Powerstroke's Oil Capacity is ... you guessed it 15 Quarts

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.

Best Oil for 7.3 Powerstroke

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:

  1. Is the correct weight and viscosity
  2. Fits your budget and is it readily available
  3. And you change it consistently on a regular schedule

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Type

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.

7.3 Powerstroke Synthetic Oil for Cold Weather

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.

Shell Rotella T6 5W40 7.3 Oil
amazon-buy-button Shell Rotella T6 5W40 7.3 Oil

If you want to dig into the dark depths of oil weight and viscosity check out this article. 

My Favorite Ford F250 Oil type

But for me, and 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. It's my "best" 7.3 Powerstroke engine oil, because where I live 50 degrees F is "cold".

shell-rotella-synthetic-15W40
amazon-buy-button Shell Rotella T5 15W40 7.3 oil

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Interval

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.

  • It's easy to remember
  • Doesn't break the bank
  • And has kept my 2002 7.3 Powerstroke on the road for 210,000 plus miles.

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Filter Options

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...

However, and again if you listen to the opinions on any Ford truck forum, it seems like any one of them's a preferable alternative to the 7.3 Powerstroke Fram oil filter.

Ford 7.3 Oil Filter Options

Motorcraft 7.3 Oil Filter

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Motorcraft Oil Filter

It's hard to go wrong with a Motorcraft 7.3 Powerstroke oil filter.

amazon-buy-button for 7.3 Oil Motorcraft Oil Filter

Mobil 1 7.3 Oil Filter

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Mobil 1 Oil Filter

A lot of 7.3 owners swear by this Mobil 1 oil filter for their 7.3 Powerstroke.

amazon-buy-button for 7.3 Mobil 1 Oil Filter

K&N 7.3 Oil Filter

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change  K&N Oil Filter

I'm might switch to K&N's 7.3 oil filter if only for the socket nut install/removal.

amazon-buy-button for 7.3 K&N Oil Filter

Personally, I've used the above Motorcraft 7.3 oil filters from Amazon and never looked back.

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Cost

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:

Oil Change Costs:

  • Oil Filter - Roughly $10-20 depending on which brand you go with
  • Oil Crush Gasket/Washer - $2-5 maybe less if you buy in bulk
  • Oil - 15 Quarts at about $20/GAL, so $80

So, all in all, a 7.3 oil change costs around $100 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 bucks for an hour's labor, I'm under my truck, draining oil!

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Filter Part Number

Here are the Ford 7.3 diesel oil filter part numbers for the above filters.

  1. MOTORCRAFT (Ford) 7.3 Oil Filter Part Number - FL1995

  2. MOBIL 1, 7.3 Oil Filter Part Number - M1-601

  3. K&N 7.3 Oil Filter Part Number - HP-6001

On to oil change tools and parts ...

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Filter Wrench

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.

7.3 Oil Filter Wrench
amazon-buy-button for oil filter wrench

The 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 gip on the heavy oil-filled filter and dropping it into my oil drain pan with a big splash of oil.

7.3 Oil Drain Pan - High Capacity

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.

7.3 L Oil Change Large Drain Pan
amazon-buy-button 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.

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Drain Plug

7.3 Oil Drain Plug Size

The standard 7.3 Powerstoke oil drain plug size is - 14mm x 1.25 and takes a 19mm socket size or in Imperial a 1/2-20" that takes a 3/4" socket head.

7.3 Oil Drain Plug Part Number

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...)

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Drain Plug Fumoto F111N
amazon-buy-button Fumoto F111n Drain Plug

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.

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.

7.3 Oil Drain Plug Torque Value

This one subject took me forever to find the "right" answer. The shop manual says that drain plug torque value is 54 lb/in, 6 Nm. But that's only around 4.5 lb/ft of torque. And if you're planning to skip the Fumoto and just re-install your 7.3 oil drain plug, this is important.

Because 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. But 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!

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Drain Plug Washer/Gasket

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 get 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)

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Dipstick Replacement

I don't know how, but it does happen. So if you bend or misplace your 7.3 oil dipstick, you can either buy an aftermarket 7.3 oil dipstick on Amazon or an "OEM" replacement oil dipstick on eBay.

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.

7.3 Oil Dipstick Part Number

(1999-2003) - F81Z-6750-DA

7.3 Oil Filler Cap Replacement

7.3 Oil Filler Cap Part Number

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)

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Procedure

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.

7.3 Oil Change Steps

Step 1 - Find as level a spot as you can

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.

Step 2 - Protect the cement

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.

Step 3 - Position your tools and parts within easy grasp

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.

Step 4 - Safety First...

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.

Step 5 - Label and record mileage if you want to

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.

Step 6 - Loosen your oil filler cap

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.

Step 7 - Position your oil catch pan under the oil drain plug

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.

Step 8 - Let the oil drain to a trickle

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.

Step 9 - Remove the old oil filter

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 gets 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's attached to. 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, and 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.

Step 10 - Prepare the new oil filter

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...

Step 11 - Spin on the new filter with oil in 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.

Step 12 - Head up to the engine bay and fill the crankcase with oil.

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.

I use this Hopkins oil change funnel:

Oil Change Funnel
amazon-buy-button Oil Change Funnel

You're going to put in a little less than 13 Quarts of oil. That, combined with the almost 2 quarts you 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.

7.3 Powerstroke HPOP Oil Change

The 7.3 HPOP oil change is a hotly contended 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.

7.3 HPOP Oil Change - HPOP reservoir inspection plug port
  • Step 1 - Remove the HPOP reservoir inspection port with a 3/16" Allen wrench.
  • Step 2 - Use a suitable fluid transfer pump with a small enough hose to fit down the inspection port and to the bottom of the reservoir.
    Here's the fluid transfer pump I use from Amazon.
  • Step 3 - Pump the old oil out of the HPOP and dispose of it into your oil drain pan
  • Step 4 - Fill the HPOP reservoir up with fresh oil. This takes about a quart. Caution—don't just keep filling until it comes out the hole in the top because any excess DOES actually drain over the reservoir stop and back down into the crankcase, making it easy to overfill your oil change.
  • Step 5 - Probably the MOST important. Put that HPOP reservoir inspection plug port back in and tighten it. I wasn't able to find torque specs on the Reservoir Plug. So I'd snug it but not over-tighten it. (You want to avoid damaging the little o-ring on the plug) If you do happen to damage it, or you want to replace the HPOP reservoir inspection plug port, Riffraff Diesel sells an inexpensive replacement.

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change Videos

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...

7.3 Powerstroke Oil Change and Capacity Summary

So, there it is—one of the most important Powerstroke maintenances you can do to prolong your 7.3 diesel's engine life is also on of the simplest.

Done right, your diesel will thank you for it in 7.3 MPG and engine longevity.

Leave a Comment:

Mike Nutto says

Ok , so Ive just gotten one of these trucks. I have watched Bill Hewitts videos, I agree I think the HPOP oil needs to be changed. I have seen how people say it doesn’t need to be done, but as you point out it does mix with the oil. Now another question is the Arch oil challenge , does this really help improve a motor with high mileage ? When I say improve I mean run easier ? Any help is appreciated.

Reply
    Steve says

    Mike,

    Oh boy oh boy… Any discussion of Arch oil will conjure up the inevitable snake oil nay sayers. So, I’ll be brief and only tell you of my own experience.

    First purchased my truck with 207k on it. Drained every liquid fluid out of the oil system and started to work replacing it. Oil change, HPOP oil change… And then … yep I put half a quart of Archoil right down into my HPOP reservoir along with the other half good old Rotella 15W40.

    What was once a sluggish, and coughing rough-running truck got an immediate boost in “perceived” performance. I say that because I wasn’t really measuring anything. I was more like a Marine Corpsman just trying to triage and patch my truck up the best I could.

    As your 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel engine runs as system of interacting components, it’s hard to isolate one thing that boosts performance. However, oil is the common thread through the entire system and though I started replacing EBP tube and EBP sensor and ICP pigtail and every other sensor your can imagine, none of it would have made a difference without a good transfusion of fresh oil.

    This is the very Archoil I used on my truck. (Bought on Amazon)

    Enjoy your “new” 7.3

    Steve

    Reply
AX says

Nice write up. I found this page by doing a search for oil capacity. I thought I had already put in 15 quarts and couldn’t remember if it held 17 since I am still low on the dipstick – must have miscounted. I buy my oil in 5 gallon barrels so I have to use a pitcher measure the oil.

I found my answer quick enough, thank you, but read your page anyway since I had some time to kill. I’ve been changing my own oil for 40 years so I already knew most of this info. What I thought was interesting was the part numbers that you have included, very useful to someone that might need them. Great information to have.

I can tell you from experience that you had better change your oil in the 7.3 often. After learning what I have about these engine over the last 8-9 years keeping clean oil is the single most important thing that one can do to have trouble free service with these engines.

I first thought that since the capacity was so large you could stretch the oil changes – wrong. I try to change it at 3000 but absolutely no more than 5000. 5K was easier to keep up with until I started putting blue masking tape in the driver’s doorjam with the oil change mileage on it. Now I see it every time I get in or out of the truck.

AX

Reply
    Steve says

    AX,

    Couldn’t agree more–You’ve nailed most of my thoughts on this. And for the record, I try to create articles that include all the things I had to research in several places in order to do the entire job. 7.3 Torque specs, part numbers and details that I wish would’ve been in one spot. Glad to help you in any way I can. 5K is as far as I go on my 7.3. It loves clean fresh oil and I can tell the difference every time I change it!

    Steve

    Reply
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