Buying a Used Ford F350 and Getting Back to Basics

Text and Photos by Jacob White

When we picked up this one owner 2000 Ford F350 for our latest project build, the intentions were never to turn it into some SEMA worthy $100,000 build with massive horsepower goals. This one is strictly about getting back to the basics and helping readers better understand the inner workings of the 7.3L Power Stroke, what are its downfalls, what simple tweaks can bring one back from the dead and turn it into a solid daily driver with the ability to do some hard work on occasion. It’s getting nearly impossible to find these 1999-2003 Ford F350 7.3L Super Duty trucks with under 200k on the odometer and straight body panels all around. The Ford F350 Project My2k came about to prove, that with a little love and the right list of parts, even a worn-out truck can make a great truck again.

As we mentioned, we have no plans to shoot for the moon power-wise for this Ford F350 truck, but that doesn’t mean we’ll leave it completely stock either. For this big displacement diesel engine, some simple bolt-on parts can go a long way, no one has ever said they couldn’t use a little more torque for towing. But our angle here is that no parts will be installed that don’t serve an actual purpose to improve the truck’s overall drivability, durability, or comfortability. Starting on the reliability side of things, the first task at hand is an oil leak that’s ruining driveways and parking stalls all over the Northern Utah region on a daily basis.

Major Oil Leak

Anyone that has ever owned a Ford F350 7.3L Power Stroke and claims it’s never leaked a drop of oil is either lying or driving one without oil in it. These big old motors are solid, but they leak oil. Plain and simple. Whether it’s a turbo pedestal leaking, a high-pressure oil fitting, or more commonly the oil dipstick tube in the oil pan. In our case, it’s the latter, the factory dipstick tube adapter uses an O-ring on the inside of the pan to seal itself, which honestly just doesn’t work that well. Over the years, we’ve seen just about every fix in the book from just slathering a bunch of silicone around the outside praying it’ll seal to even removing the pan and welding in a fitting. Neither of which are easy or simple installations. The other often issue is owners or mechanics will just assume the outer nut isn’t tight enough and crank down on it to the point they warp the adapter and make the leak even worse.

Ford 7.3L leaking oil dipstick tube
The 7.3L Power Stroke has always been a solid engine platform, reliable and consistent. With that said, they aren’t without a few flaws. One of the more common issues is a leaking oil dipstick tube. The factory design is well known for causing a residual leak that you just can’t seem to seal, regardless of how much silicone you slather on there.
Strictly Diesel 1994 to 2003 Power Stroke 7.3L Oil Dipstick Adapter
To eliminate leaking dipstick problems, Strictly Diesel developed an all-new dipstick adapter design that uses a dual O-ring seal to prevent any future leaks from ever happening again. The billet machined piece is easy to install and can be done in just 30-minutes during your normal oil change.
7.3L factory adapter for oil dipstick
With the factory, dipstick pulled out of the way you can start with the removal of the factory adapter. Make note of the orientation of the dipstick, some are clocked straight up and down, some will tilt slightly forward. You’ll want to be sure to install the new piece in the same orientation.

The best aftermarket cure we’ve found for this issue is the billet dipstick adapter from Strictly Diesel of Phoenix, AZ. Their unique design uses a dual O-ring seal on the outside of the pan that’s proven to offer the ultimate sealing surface with an easy install to boot. The install is done with the oil pan still on the engine, with the engine still in the truck. This install is mess-free and can be done during a normal oil change with just a few extra steps. Once the engine oil is drained, you’ll remove the start for easier access to the adapter. Loosen up the factory external nut, use a pair of locking pliers to hold the adapter from falling while you remove the internal O-ring, then just let the factory adapter fall into the lower sump of the pan. The new adapter installs in a matter of minutes, bolt on the starter, fill the engine oil, and you’re off. That factory adapter will live out its life swimming in engine oil at the bottom of the pan, far away from any engine internals. Strictly Diesel has been selling this Ford F350 adapter kit for over 10-years with hundreds of success stories. It’s the end-all, cure-all for dipstick leaks.

7.3L Oil dipstick adapter kit back plate
Before the nut comes off completely, you’ll want to grab the internal piece with some locking pliers so you can use a small pick tool to remove the original O-ring seal so it doesn’t fall down into the engine pan where it would risk restricting the oil pickup tube.
Strictly Diesel Oil Dipstick Adapter installed
Obviously, before installing the new adapter the outside of the oil pan was cleaned as best, we could to remove any oil residue and silicone that had been used in a previous failed attempt to seal the factory fitting. The new adapter fits perfectly and clamps tightly against the pan for a leak-free and mess-free install.

Broken Airbox

Moving on to the next order of business is tending to a broken airbox lid we noticed after purchasing the truck. At some point in its 20-year-old career, the tabs that hold the factory intake lid onto the box had broken off and some self-tapping screws had been used to resolve this problem. While it may have been a cheap and easy repair at the time, there are definite signs it didn’t work quite right, and this lid has been allowing unfiltered air to enter the engine for who knows how long. Lucky for us, after further inspection, the turbo compressor wheel appears to be in decent shape, and we have hopes that the intake runners and pistons haven’t been too abused by debris and dust particles entering the engine.

7.3L Power Stroke Engine
At over twenty years old, some of these factory parts have done quite well and survived, but to get the most out of that 7.3L Power Stroke, we’re going to start making some worthwhile upgrades including a new intake, some fuel system modifications, and even a bigger turbo.
Ford Power Stroke factory Air Box 7.3L
After close inspection, you can see two small self-tapper screws that were installed at some point to help keep the factory airbox lid closed. While the front of the box was still sealed okay, unfortunately, the rear tabs were broken as well and never repaired. This means the lid wasn’t tight to the box and for years this intake has been letting dirt and debris enter the system post filter.


7.3L Power Stroke Edge Products High Flow Air Box
The first big upgrade for this truck comes with a high flow intake from Edge Products. Their plastic, injection-molded air box offers a sealed system that will keep inlet temperatures down while increasing airflow through a massive reusable filter element.
Edge Products Jammer Air Filter Ford Power Stroke
With the new Jammer filter sitting next to our factory panel filter, you can see the major difference in their design. The Jammer filter offers better flow while actually improving filtration over a simple paper-style filter. The 360-degree filter has more surface area and can also be cleaned when needed, so no more buying filters.

At this point, our next upgrade will be for both durability and performance. The Edge Products Jammer intake system is a simple bolt-in replacement airbox that offers both a sealed plastic box (keeping air inlet temps down) and a high-flowing re-usable filter element. Anytime we can improve airflow into the engine, we can expect to improve overall engine efficiency and reduce exhaust gas temperatures. The Ford F350 Jammer kit is a complete replacement box, so we won’t have to worry about reusing any part of our broken factory unit. The Jammer has a molded inlet tube that will draw air from the grille and an opening at the inner fender area to draw cool air from there as well. The massive, oiled filter will allow more air to pass through it while keeping even the smallest particles out of the intake tract. With the addition of their optional pre-filter, you can also help keep the main filter cleaner by keeping large debris from jamming up the pleats and restricting flow. The filters are reusable with a simple clean and rinse from a garden hose as well. The other advantage Jammer has over some of the other intakes for this application is the use of a sealed plastic injection molded box. This design helps keep hot underhood temperatures out and inlet temperatures lower when compared to an open metal box.

7.3L plastic airbox from Edge Products
The big plastic airbox from Edge Products offers an excellent fit and finish with the ability to draw air from the inner fender well area along with directly behind the grille through a long duct that attaches to the box.
7.3L Power Stroke Edge Products High Flow Jammer Air Box with Filter
The new filter and molded tube running to our turbocharger mates up perfectly with the box and will ensure clean cool air enters our engine. While not shown here, we also opted for the optional pre-filter from Edge to give us just one more step of protection from debris and moisture.
7.3L Power Stroke Edge Products High Flow Air Box
The final piece to the puzzle is the airbox lid that is held in place with a few included screws. The big Edge logo adds some style under the hood too.
7.3L Ford Power Stroke header panel
To go along with that high flow intake, we also decided to make a simple change to the front of the truck to improve airflow getting to it. Since our Edge intake draws from right behind the grille and we installed the moisture-wicking pre-filter, we’re going to modify this white header panel to direct air right into the ductwork.
7.3L Ford Power Stroke header panel
With a quick cut from a 3” hole-saw, we made short work of that fiberglass header panel and now have a true ram-air effect feeding incoming air into our airbox. The one thing to keep in mind here, if you drive in a wet climate, this could allow water to enter the airbox and create some issues, so you’ll want to be sure you have a watertight screen to reduce that chance.

4” Exhaust

To complement the high flow intake, we also wanted to upgrade the factory exhaust system. A replacement Ford F350 4” exhaust kit has long been one of the most common first mods a diesel owner makes. In most cases, this offers two advantages, reduced backpressure for lower EGTs and of course a better sound. For this truck, the new 4” Jammer exhaust we also sourced from Edge Products was going to replace the original 20-year-old rusted system. The factory muffler had a few spots that had rotted and were leaking, and the tailpipe was looking pretty shabby. With plenty of room to work with, the new mandrel bent 4” downpipe will really help with EGT control while towing. Edge spent a lot of time perfecting their muffler design to offer excellent flow characteristics and sound without creating a bunch of drones inside the cab. Jammer exhaust kits are constructed of stainless steel tubing and will most likely outlast the truck at this point. Fit and finish are perfect, with the tailpipe exit kept up tight against the body offering a clean classic look with a little pop of style from a 5” polished tip.

7.3L Ford Edge Products Jammer Exhaust kit
A true high-flowing 4” exhaust system is a great place to start on any performance build and this old 7.3L is no different. The Edge Products Jammer Exhaust kit will help reduce EGT’s and back pressure, allowing that big cubic inch engine to run more efficiently. The all stainless steel construction and mandrel bent heavy wall tubing ensure years of trouble-free use as well.
Ford 7.3L factory turbo downpipe
Removing the factory downpipe isn’t too challenging with easy access to the v-band clamp at the turbocharger outlet. But keep in mind, over years and years of heat cycles, that clamp will basically weld itself to the mating surfaces, so a pry bar or mallet may be needed to break that seal.
7.3L Ford factory exhaust muffler
With a couple of quick cuts from a Sawzall, the entire exhaust system was out in a matter of minutes. The factory muffler has served its purpose, but the black soot seen around the edges shows where it’s been leaking and a big reason we chose to replace it.
Ford 7.3L factory exhaust system
The factory exhaust system is a 3” diameter and has some tight crimped bends throughout. Replacing it with a free-flowing 4” system will help reduce backpressure and lower our exhaust gas temperatures, especially while towing.

In some follow-up issues, we’ll investigate some popping from the front end and some strange tire wear problems. The ripped and worn seats will get an upgrade and of course, we’ll start looking at some performance modifications and maybe even some dyno testing. We’re just getting started with Ford F350 Project My2K, so stay tuned.

Edge Products Jammer system 4" downpipe
On the 1999-2003 7.3L applications, the true gains in an aftermarket exhaust kit come from the downpipe. The factory downpipe is only 3” in diameter and has a very restrictive bend at the turbo outlet. The new Jammer system replaces this with a larger 4” pipe with a smoother transition, to reduce backpressure and EGT’s under load.
Ford 7.3L Edge Products Jammer 4” muffler
Under the truck, the massive polished muffler uses a small internal chamber that removes the annoying drone at cruise rpm found in other 4” muffler designs while a spun ceramic, high-temperature packing helps offer a unique throaty exhaust note.
Edge Products Jammer Exhaust System 5” polished rolled tip
Finishing it off, Edge designed the kit to tuck in nice and close to the body and includes a 5” polished rolled tip for a clean and classic look that fits this old body style Ford perfectly. Nothing crazy or attention-grabbing, simple with enough flash to let others know she’s not stock anymore.

Strictly Diesel

Edge Products


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