Ford has released some incredible motors over the years – with some standing out amongst the competition, but which one of their diesel engines is the best?
Table of Contents
- What’s the best Ford diesel engine?
- The Best Ford Diesel Engines
- The Worst Ford Diesel Engines
- Key Takeaways
What’s the best Ford diesel engine?
The best Ford diesel engines are the 7.3 Powerstroke, 6.7 Powerstroke, and 3.0 Powerstroke. The 7.3 Powerstroke is the most reliable diesel engine – with an average lifespan of 250,000 to 300,000 miles. Whereas the 6.7 Powerstroke is the most powerful – with a 23,000lbs towing capacity.
After extensively researching automotive and mechanic forums, I have been able to gather enough information to determine which Ford diesel engines are the best. My research has indicated that there are multiple diesel engines from Ford that are worth considering, as some are better for power and performance – whereas others a better for reliability.
The Best Ford Diesel Engines
Ford’s diesel engines have left a mark on the auto industry and many vehicle owners will tell you that super-duty Ford trucks would not be the same without their motors. For decades, Ford has been releasing world-class pickups and diesel engines, but a select few have made it to the top of my list.
When I evaluate the performance capabilities of a super-duty truck, I consider its towing capacity, torque, and overall reliability. While there are a number of characteristics that can enhance these qualities, nothing determines the performance of a super-duty truck more than its diesel engine.
With that said, not every Ford diesel engine ticks each of these boxes equally. When I really look under the hood of these diesel trucks and put their capabilities to the test, I find that some are going to be more suitable for specific types of situations.
That is why you cannot properly determine which Ford diesel engine is best without considering these 3 motors:
- 7.3 Powerstroke V8
- 6.7 Powerstroke V8
- 3.0 Powerstroke V8
Depending on what you are looking for in a diesel engine, you may find that one of these 3 options is better for your driving needs. Let’s take a closer look at the best diesel engines from Ford in more detail.
7.3 Powerstroke V8 (Most Reliable)
The 7.3 Powerstroke is considered to be an iconic diesel engine from Ford and it has a cult following to this day. Production of the 7.3 Powerstroke began in the early 90s and Ford officially introduced this diesel engine into their super-duty trucks in 1994.
The motor received positive reviews from drivers and critics from the very beginning and it was one of the most powerful diesel engines of its time.
With that said, the early years of the 7.3 Powerstroke from 1994 to 1998 did have a few minor issues, but nothing serious that jeopardizes the reputation of the engine as a whole. These are the specs of the 7.3 Powerstroke:
- 500lb-ft torque
With this kind of power under the hood, a super-duty truck equipped with a 7.3 Powerstroke engine has a towing capacity of up to 15,000lbs.
While this Ford diesel engine is regarded as being one of the most powerful motors that the company has ever manufactured, one of the characteristics that truly make the 7.3 Powerstroke stand out is its longevity.
Many drivers who owned a 7.3 Powerstroke diesel engine were able to get as much as 300,000 to 500,000 miles out of it. However, there have been insane cases of some people getting upwards of 1.3 million miles out of their 7.3 Powerstroke motors, which is a remarkable lifespan for a diesel engine.
With these specs and performance capabilities in mind, the 7.3 Powerstroke is hands down the most reliable Ford diesel engine ever made.
Best 7.3 Powerstroke Years (1999 – 2000)
The 7.3 Power stroke has had a solid reputation since it was released, but there are undeniably some years that are better than others. During the first 4 years that the motor was out, it had a couple of kinks that were resolved by the end of the 90s.
That is why the best 7.3 Powerstroke years are from 1999 to 2000. These years had virtually no issues and were built with specs to support the power of the engine. The forged steel connecting rods combined with the enhanced turbo gives you the best of both power and reliability in one package.
Worst 7.3 Powerstroke Years (2001 – 2003)
After the year 2000, Ford dropped the ball on the 7.3 Powerstroke, which eventually led to the engine being discontinued. Unfortunately, the forged steel rods were replaced with powdered metal rods.
These are not durable enough to support the power of the 7.3 Powerstroke. This combined with the failed PCMs and camshaft sensors resulted in the downfall of the engine. So, avoid buying the 7.3 Powerstroke from 2001 – 2003 at all costs – unless you enjoy taking routine trips to the mechanic.
6.7 Powerstroke V8 (Most Powerful)
Prior to the release of the 6.7 Powerstroke, pretty much all of Ford’s diesel engines were built by collaborating with other manufacturing companies. The 6.7 Powerstroke was the first diesel engine that Ford designed entirely in-house.
This is one of the most successful diesel engines that Ford has released. The 2nd and 3rd generations of the 6.7 Powerstroke raised the bar for all diesel engines, as power and performance were the key characteristics of this motor.
Ford launched the 6.7 Powerstroke back in 2011 and it has continued to use this engine to this day – with new variations of the diesel engine released annually. These are the specs of the 6.7 Powerstroke:
- 1,050lb-ft torque
With this much torque, the 6.7 Powerstroke has a towing capacity of nearly 23,000 lbs. If you are looking for a tough truck that can handle just about anything, the 6.7 Powerstroke will not let you down.
Best 6.7 Powerstroke Years (2015 – 2022)
When Ford released the 2015 6.7 Powerstroke, it was considered by many critics to be a near-perfect diesel engine. This year came with a lot of new updates and upgrades from the year prior and it was a total game-changer for 6.7 Powerstroke.
Ford has continued to pump out this engine for the 2nd and 3rd generation of the 6.7 Powerstroke – with production continuing through 2022.
Worst 6.7 Powerstroke (2011 – 2014)
Despite the later success of the 6.7 Powerstroke, the initial release of this engine was lackluster. There were a slew of issues with the first generation of the 6.7 Powerstroke that resulted in maintenance problems such as EGR cooler clogs, turbos breaking, injection pumps failing, and more.
My advice is to stay clear of the 6.7 Powerstroke from 2011 to 2014, as there are a lot of potential problems that could arise.
3.0 Powerstroke V6 (Best Value)
The 3.0 Powerstroke diesel engine is not the most reliable or powerful engine from Ford, but it is certainly the most well-rounded. Instead of having a V8 with a ton of horsepower and torque, this is an engine that will give you balanced performance, which is actually perfect for a lot of truck owners.
With that said, given that this is a 3.0 V6 engine, you can expect some qualities to shine such as the mpg rating. This engine has a solid 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is solid for a diesel engine. These are the specs of the 3.0 Powerstroke:
- 440lb-ft torque
Despite this engine having less hp and torque than the previous diesel motors, it still has a great towing capacity of 12,100lbs. This is a very impressive towing capacity for a vehicle classified as a ‘light-duty’ truck, as it can almost compete with the 7.3 Powerstroke.
With that said, unlike the 7.3 and 6.7, the 3.0 Powerstroke has not been in circulation long enough to determine which model years of the diesel engine are the best – given that Ford only began widely using them in their trucks in 2018.
So far, there have been very little complaints about the performance and reliability of the 3.0 Powerstroke making it a very well-rounded diesel engine with great value.
The Worst Ford Diesel Engines
As one of the leading truck manufacturers in the world, Ford has built a very solid reputation for its diesel engines. Many of the diesel motors that they have released are considered by critics and drivers as being iconic and world-class engines.
Based on the success of the 7.3, 6.7, and 3.0 Powerstroke engines, it’s safe to say that Ford has left its mark on the auto industry.
However, that does not imply that every Ford diesel engine is reliable and worthy of your hard-earned money. These are the worst Ford diesel engines that you should try to avoid:
- 6.4 Powerstroke
- 6.0 Powerstroke
While there are certainly worse diesel engines that you can buy, the 6.4 and 6.0 Powerstroke motors were known for having a number of different issues that would develop prematurely.
- The most reliable Ford diesel engine is the 7.3 Powerstroke – with an average lifespan of 250,000 to 300,000 miles.
- The most powerful Ford diesel engine is the 6.7 Powerstroke – with a towing capacity of 23,000lbs.
- The best value Ford diesel engine is the 3.0 Powerstroke – with a solid mile per gallon rating, towing capacity, and price range.