It’s a nice landmark, but a Ford dealer told us at a recent delivery, “The 7.3 is a million mile engine if you take care of it, since you hit 400,000 you must be doing something right, enjoy the next 400,000!”
So what is it that we are doing right?
There’s no “one thing” that keeps our truck running so well, but a collection of things that we believe have led to such longevity.
- Driving habits: We drive our truck between 60-65 miles per hour under most conditions except for of course construction zones which can be as low as 40 mph in some areas. There isn’t a day on the road that goes by when we don’t get passed by a 75 mph “hotshot” rig blowing our doors off on the interstate. Running at that speed increases the operating temperature of the engine as well the internal pressure, both can significantly affect the longevity of the engine by stressing gaskets, injectors and other internal components. We simply believe the extra 10mph on average is not worth the reduced fuel economy and strain on the engine. Most “hotshot” rigs operate at the upper limits of the recommended towing capacities. High speed when operating at the upper limits of the truck's capacity is a risky combination that affects the longevity of the engine.
- Maintenance: An oil change is not cheap on the 7.3 because it takes 15 quarts of oil, but we change it every month with a new filter at each change. Again we were told by a Ford dealer that failing injectors are a sign of not changing the oil enough, and we haven’t had to replace an injector in over 200,000 miles.
Our truck gets a new fuel filter every other oil change or about 15,000 miles, which also helps the injectors. The quality of diesel fuel varies widely and fresh filters protect the engine and injectors from dirty fuel.
- Loading Carefully. We are running on the second transmission, but the original rear differential. We service the rear differential about every 50,000 miles, but more importantly we block the tires on the trailer, and engage the truck e-brake when loading. Driving a 3-5,000 pound vehicle on a truck and trailer that sits at about 13,500 pounds empty, can rock the truck and trailer back forth. This rocking motion if not limited or controlled can put a lot of undesirable forces on the transmission, the rear differential and the u-joints, causing damage over time. A full time truck will run 30-40 cars a month, that’s a minimum of 60-80 loading and unloading cycles a month not counting the dozens of time cars have to be shifted around on the trailer. That’s easily a total of 1,200 loading and unloading cycles a year, and 1,200 opportunities for the drive train to take a pretty good shot from the rocking motion.
A little TLC is proven to go a long way. We bought our F-350 for $9,000 in 2011 with about 155,000 on the clock, we've had to fix a few things, like power steering pumps, and the AC, but the last 200,000 miles have been trouble free. So slow down, change your oil, and block your tires.
Of course your results may vary, especially if you own a Chevy DuraMax…