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4 Reasons People Love Ford’s Power Stroke Diesel Engine

Ford truck pulling trailor on road

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Whether you’re currently in the market for a truck or already have one, you may be curious about Ford’s renowned Power Stroke diesel engine. After all, Ford’s F-Series surpassed 640,000 trucks in 2022, making it America’s best-selling truck for 46 consecutive years and America’s best-selling vehicle for 41 years.

To give you some idea of an optional engine under the hood in some of Ford’s most famous vehicles, BenchForce, a leading provider of engine harnesses and engine programming hardware, looks at the brief history of Power Stroke engines and then digs into four core reasons why people absolutely love them.

The Inception of the Power Stroke Engine

In 1982, Ford started making diesel engines in partnership with International Truck and Engine Corporation (ITEC), later renamed Navistar International. The first version they brought to market was a 6.9-liter indirect injection (IDI) engine. It pumped out a modest—albeit impressive for the time—170 horsepower and 315 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque.

In 1987, Ford replaced the 6.9L IDI engine with their 7.3L IDI engine, increasing the bore for additional horsepower, retooling the cylinder heads, and strengthening the engine block.

Six years later, Ford debuted the turbocharged 7.3L IDI engine but received less than stellar marks as the upgrade didn’t add significant power or torque. However, this engine would eventually inspire Ford to develop the 7.3L Power Stroke Diesel Engine.

Out of a long-established partnership between Ford and Navistar International came a new product: The Power Stroke 7.3L diesel engine. This groundbreaking turbo-diesel was a 444ci V8 direct-injection engine, equipped with a hydraulic electronic unit injection system (HECI) and built with a 4.11-inch bore, 4.18-inch stroke, cast-iron block and cylinder heads, and forged steel connecting rods.

Between performance and durability, the Power Stroke became Ford’s crown jewel. Even today, many automotive experts herald the 7.3-liter Power Stroke as one of the best diesel engines ever made.

With people eager to get one, production ran almost non-stop on 7.3L until 2003, when the company released the 6.0L Power Stroke. This engine sported variable geometry turbocharger technology, an exhaust gas recirculation system, and a new fuel injection system.

But Ford didn’t stop there. They eventually released the 6.4L Power Stroke, which toted twin turbochargers and high-pressure common-rail fuel injection, which allowed it to pump out 350 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque.

The legacy continues today, with Ford manufacturing the 6.7L Power Stroke, built with "Instant Start" glow plugs, a compacted graphite iron engine block, aluminum cylinder heads, and piston-cooling jets.

In many ways, Ford’s Powerstroke was a response to Dodge’s Cummins engine and eventually was the main competitor to General Motors’ Duramax V8. With more than four decades and counting, it’s clear people love the Power Stroke engine. Which begs the question: What is it that makes this engine so popular?

Ford Power STroke Diesel truck pulling tracker and trailor

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1. Power Stroke Diesel Engines Unlock New Levels of Control

Between their powerful engines, larger body size, and higher center of gravity, pickup trucks are traditionally more challenging to drive than cars. But the newest 6.7L comes equipped with engine-exhaust braking.

This feature allows for better control and reduced brake wear and tear. Engine-exhaust braking works by restricting the turbocharger’s exhaust flow which generates back pressure that slows down the truck. The car-like control and lower maintenance that comes with this feature are well-liked by Power Stroke owners.

2. Power Stroke Diesel Engines Have Unparalleled Power

Cummins and Duramax are incredible engines, but when it comes to power, the Power Stroke Diesel Engine takes the lead. From horsepower to torque, Ford trucks deliver best-in-class payload and towing capability specs.

  Cummins B-Series Duramax L5P 6.7L Power Stroke
Power 370-400 hp @ 2,800 rpm 445 hp @ 2,800 rpm 450 hp @ 2,800 rpm
Torque 850-1,000 lb-ft @ 1,600-1,700 rpm 910 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 1,050 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm

Ford Designed the Power Stroke with a focus on torque delivery. Whether you’re towing a heavy trailer, boat, or equipment, you can do it almost effortlessly. The Power Stroke engine's torque output, combined with its turbocharging, ensures optimized performance when hauling substantial loads, making it a preferred choice for those who demand a reliable and capable powerhouse.

Ford Super Duty
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3. Power Strokes Diesel Engines will Run “Forever”

Truck enthusiasts often say the Power Stroke Diesel Engine will run forever. And, we can see why they say that. Many of our clients have squeezed out over 300,000 miles with their 6.0L, 6.4L, 6.7L, and over 400,000 miles with a 7.3L. With regular maintenance, you’ll make it well beyond the 100,000-mile warranty that Ford offers.

4. Power Stroke Diesel Engines Have Incredible Acceleration

The robust performance of a Power Stroke doesn’t stop with its sheer power. The turbochargers in these engines are built for reduced turbo lag when accelerating from a complete stop and improve throttle response while in motion. The diesel particle filter also traps soot and particulate from the exhaust system, all but eliminating the black smoke that diesel engines are infamous for. With swift acceleration and effortless highway driving, Ford’s Power Stroke engine is a favorite of those who have a need for speed.

Need Even More Power?

Whether you're making changes to your F150 or about to swap engines, you want to ensure you have the best tools for the job. At BenchForce, we strive to add as many engine module bench harnesses as we can so that you can tune or reprogram your Power Stroke Diesel engine as easily as possible. Please browse our selection of Power Stroke-compatible harnesses by visiting our online store today.