Ford 7.3 Diesel, what to look for?

KarstenP

Van of Mayhem
Sold my E250 van last year and the wife is begging since to get a new bug out vehicle.
So I have the chance to get my hands on a '94 E350 SRW mini-mod ex-Ambulance with a non-turbo 7.3 with less then 150k mls.
Being a 180hp 7.3, this should be the old IDI, right? Anything specific to look for? I know the E-series pretty good, but only the gas engines. The Ambulance is already gutted to bare bones in the rear, this makes it easier to insulate and add a roof window. Passenger side door, quarter panel and rear doors already have sliding windows.

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F350joe

Well-known member
Sold my E250 van last year and the wife is begging since to get a new bug out vehicle.
So I have the chance to get my hands on a '94 E350 SRW mini-mod ex-Ambulance with a non-turbo 7.3 with less then 150k mls.
Being a 180hp 7.3, this should be the old IDI, right? Anything specific to look for? I know the E-series pretty good, but only the gas engines. The Ambulance is already gutted to bare bones in the rear, this makes it easier to insulate and add a roof window. Passenger side door, quarter panel and rear doors already have sliding windows.

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That age and low miles I would be checking out all the seals for leaks after getting it nice and warm. Parts can be tough for those older 7.3s but not impossible.
 

KarstenP

Van of Mayhem
As for parts, looks like Rockauto and others still offer all kinds of parts and seals for those 7.3s
 

Mike W.

Well-known member
Pull the oil filler cap and see if you have grey smoke coming out..a little is normal. If it's in short bursts you have a blow by issue..Rings or valves..get it checked by a professional it's puffing smoke.
 

KarstenP

Van of Mayhem
Thanks so far! Good point on the oil pan. Only had one oil pan rusting to the point of no return and that was on my daughters Fiat.
 

eblau

Adventurer
Check the coolant and plan on flushing if the owner doesn't know the last time its been done. Takes about 8 gallons of the good stuff.

Check the radiator for leaks, they are rather pricey for a good one.

Plan on doing the fuel return lines and caps, glow plug relay and glowplugs. These can be a little scary to remove if they have never been done. Need to be soaked liberally with penetrating fluid if they are crusty.

Oil cooler will most likely need to be resealed/ replaced.

Plan on doing a thermostat, motorcraft only.

Waterpumps last a long time in these but aren't too bad to replace, long afternoon project at most.

Maintenance parts aren't expensive but the quantity of oil and coolant alone makes it so. I use a Powerstroke motorcaft filter and 10 quarts of Rotella 15w40 every 5k miles or so and like I said 8 gallons of coolant make you want to fix any cooling system repair ONCE.

Plan on replacing the mechanical fuel "lift" pump, cheap/ easy.

In my ownership I have had many many more problems with the brakes and powersteering system than I ever have with the engine. I will take my 7.3 IDI to the grave, the last and the best of the big mechanical diesels. I don't know any other engine that could be worked for 350,000 miles THEN have a turbo kit installed!! HA! Gotta love em!
 

turbodiesel

Active member
I've done a ton on my van as just preventative. Never had an issue getting the part I needed. Rockauto, Riff Raff Diesel, and Sinister Diesel have been my go to spots.
 

Fredricksen

Member
I have a 94 7.3 idi ambo.

Check the codes.. just to be sure.

Like eblau said.. the cooling system.. check the coolant color and ph before you flush it. (Napa has the test strips) to see what was in there.
7.3's had that cavitation issue, and needed a particular coolant.

Also.. when checking the transmission .. the solenoid connector can get crud in it, and the wires to the connectors can get loose/broken making the transmission do wonky things.
check the connection to the speed sensor (VSS) in the rear end while you're under there.
(in addition to the oil cooler.. check the trans cooler too. cheap to replace)
If you can drive it.. try it with the O/D button on the gear shift both on and off.. (make sure it is not flashing at any point)

As said, fuel returns lines are a must.. (dry rot, cracking, rubbing, aging o-rings..and pinholes.) air intrusion in the fuel system is a pain. A little work now can pay off big later.

Also.. check the battery cables and grounds. time and corrosion seem to go hand in hand

See how well the dog house seals up too..is the rubber gasket torn up? It makes a BIG difference in the noise inside the cab.

And clean out whatever may be in the vents in front of the windshield. : )
 

KarstenP

Van of Mayhem
I managed to inspect the Ambo today. Long story short, this particular one is NOT the one for me. While it may be a good starting point for someone with more time than I have on my hands, it's too much work involved for me. Off to the search for the next one. Thank you guys very much for the great information shared!
 

KarstenP

Van of Mayhem
Plans changed quickly.........
This one was too cheap to not buy it. 5.4, 8-seater passenger van with 120k mls for 2.500$. Pretty cheap for Germany. Still on US title, so some paperwork and safety inspections to be done. Picking her up next week.

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Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Plans changed quickly.........
This one was too cheap to not buy it. 5.4, 8-seater passenger van with 120k mls for 2.500$. Pretty cheap for Germany. Still on US title, so some paperwork and safety inspections to be done. Picking her up next week.

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Nothing wrong with that van. A Whizzy Wheel or a heat gun would help take those graphics off the sides of the van. For $2500 I’d buy it too.

In our case, we were specifically needing a type 3 for advertising. For $1k usd we bought our ‘97 with a 7.3... 5 years later it’s still going strong. I’d never had a van before... but love it in so many ways. At 17k hours, it’s been around the block a few times, but after hearing from a friend that he drove a tow truck that had been pinned at 99,999 hrs for many years, I’m not sweating it.
 
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