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10 Symptoms of a Bad 7.3 High Pressure Oil Pump

The high pressure oil pump (HPOP) was introduced to run the Hydraulic Electronic Unit Injectors (HEUI) fuel system, an environment-friendly alternative to common rail injectors. The engine’s crankshaft runs the HPOP, pressurizing the engine oil and dedicating the amount of diesel sprayed into the combustion chambers.

The symptoms of a 7.3 high pressure oil pump are an oil warning light on the dashboard accompanied by a whining noise from the engine bay. Blue smoke from the exhaust, unusually long crank times, and losses of power at high RPMs are also signs of a faulty 7.3 high pressure oil pump. 

This piece will take a closer look at the symptoms of a troubled 7.3 high pressure oil pump. 

1. Oil Pressure Warning Light

The oil pressure warning light indicates that the oil pressure in your engine is below optimal levels. Oil plays an essential role in lubrication and temperature control in the engine, so low oil pressure can destroy engine parts, leading to an expensive repair bill. 

Several issues can trigger the illumination of the oil pressure warning light, such as:

The HPOP is designed to pump oil at specific pressures, so if it’s ailing, the oil pressure will drop, triggering the warning.

Given the importance of oil in the engine, it’s crucial to address the oil pressure warning light as soon as it appears.

2. Whining or Whirring Noise From the Engine

Diesel engines produce a deep growl that most diesel enthusiasts consider harmonious. One benefit of the diesel engine sound is that it’s easy to identify unusual noises. 

A whining or whirring noise from the engine might point to a faulty oil pump. It may indicate that the HPOP is on its last legs. 

Various engine components make whining or whirring noises when faulty. If the noise increases with acceleration, the noise is likely coming from the oil pump.

The HPOP is connected to the crankshaft, so the faster the crankshaft moves, the harder the pump works. As a result, the faulty engine makes more noise.

3. Blue Smoke From the Exhaust

Oil shouldn’t leak into the combustion chamber. There are several reasons why oil might leak, including a malfunctioning HPOP.

Blue smoke from the exhaust indicates that oil has made its way to the combustion chamber. The smoke is often accompanied by oil deposits at the exhaust tip.

When the engine burns oil, the oil level drops, leading to further drops in oil pressure. Low oil pressure can cause catastrophic failures, so it’s imperative you get the issue checked out ASAP. 

4. Unusually Long Crank Time

In normal temperatures, it shouldn’t take longer than three seconds to crank a diesel engine. And when it’s cold, the crank time often increases to around five seconds.

If it takes longer than three seconds when warm and five seconds when cold to start the engine, you might have an HPOP problem on your hands.

Furthermore, when the engine heats up, its performance reduces, or the car dies when idle. Before the engine warms, the oil is thicker and, therefore, able to transfer energy more efficiently with minimal input from the HPOP.

However, as the engine oil gets hotter, it becomes thinner and less effective at energy transfer. It forces the HPOP to work harder, an easy task for a faultless HPOP. However, a malfunctioning HPOP will struggle to pressurize the thinner oil, leading to a performance drop. 

5. Losing Power at High RPMs

The HPOP is connected to the crankshaft. Extra pressure on the accelerator drives the crankshaft faster, increasing RPMs and driving the HPOP faster. The increased oil pressure forces more fuel into the combustion chamber, raising the vehicle’s speed. 

A faulty HPOP may not respond effectively to your right foot’s input. If it struggles to increase the oil pressure, you won’t observe an increase in power and speed at higher RPMs, as the oil pressure won’t be enough to force more fuel into the combustion chamber. 

6. Overheating Engine

Oil lubricates and cools the engine. Therefore, a drop in oil pressure or quantity can compromise cooling. The temperature pressure gauge needle usually rests halfway when everything’s running properly.

When the needle starts rising toward the red zone, it shows that the engine’s temperature is too high. A warning light on the dash may also appear, pointing to an overheating engine. 

An issue with the coolant system can cause overheating, and so can a faulty HPOP. Oil circulating at low pressure doesn’t have similar cooling properties to oil moving at the optimum pressure. 

Overheating can cause severe, expensive damage to the engine. If you notice this symptom, it’s best to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic as soon as possible. 

7. Oil Deposits on the Fuel Filter

As mentioned above, a faulty HPOP can cause oil leaks into the combustion chamber. These leaks may be difficult to notice because diesel engines are pretty good at burning oil.

If you’ve unexplained drops in power and suspect a malfunctioning HPOP is causing it, the fuel filter might provide the confirmation you require. 

The pressure generated by the HPOP might force the oil back into the fuel filter area, where it stains the fuel filter. Oil stains on the filter might indicate that your vehicle has a faulty HPOP.

8. High Exhaust Gas Temperature

When a 7.3 Powerstroke is working at its hardest, such as when towing a camper up a hill, the exhaust gas temperatures shouldn’t exceed 1250°F (676.7°C). High exhaust gas temperatures expose the engine to heat damage.

Additionally, they signal that the combustion chambers are taking in more fuel than the oxygen can handle. The excess fuel in the combustion chambers generates heat.

High EGT levels commonly point to an injector issue, but at times, they may indicate that you have a malfunctioning HPOP. 

9. Oil Deposits in the Engine Valley

Oil deposits in the engine valley point to oil leaking from the system. HPOP leaks are reasonably rare, so many people misdiagnose an HPOP leak as a rear main seal leak. 

Follow these steps to pinpoint an HPOP leak:

  1. Clean the valley thoroughly.
  2. Clear the fittings that connect to the HPOP of dirt, debris, etc.
  3. Start the truck and rev it a little.
  4. Give the fittings a closer look.

If there are oil deposits around the fittings or the HPOP drain plug, you have a faulty high pressure oil pump. 

10. P1211 Diagnostic Trouble Code

When the check engine light appears, a technician uses a code reader to determine the issue. The P1211 code points to an HPOP ailment or an Injection Pressure Regulator (IPR) leak. The IPR controls how much oil pressure the HPOP produces. 

By the time the check engine light comes on due to an HPOP leak, you’ll likely have noticed other symptoms of HPOP malfunction: small HPOP leaks rarely trigger the engine warning light. 

The check engine light often illuminates when the HPOP leaks so severely that it can’t produce enough pressure to crank the engine and keep it idling. 

While on the subject of diagnostic trouble codes, I have prepared an article explaining the P04DB code on a 6.7 Powerstroke and detailing how to clear the error. 

HPOP Cost of Repair and Replacement

Depending on the extent of damage to the HPOP, you can either repair it or replace it. Repairing the HPOP often involves swapping the seals for new ones that don’t leak. 

It’s cheap but ultimately temporary. It’ll extend the life of an HPOP, but the device will almost certainly malfunction again. You can replace the seals as a temporary measure if you don’t have enough money to buy a new HPOP. 

Replacing a malfunctioning HPOP is a surefire way of eliminating HPOP problems. Depending on the brand and history of the HPOP, a replacement HPOP will cost you between $300 and $800. Remanufactured HPOPs are cheaper than new ones, but they are less durable.

Depending on the job’s complexity, labor costs range between $150 to $500. Therefore, the cost of replacing a 7.3L Powerstroke HPOP is between $450 and $1,300. 

If you have experience tinkering with the 7.3L Powerstroke, you can replace the HPOP and avoid paying labor costs; it’s not complicated. However, if you have no mechanical engineering experience, let a technician handle the replacement. 

How To Maintain Your HPOP

HPOP maintenance is easy, considering the device’s high durability. Ford made hardy high pressure oil pumps lasting hundreds of thousands of miles with minimal maintenance.

You just need to have a technician check the condition of the HPOP during your vehicle’s regular service appointments.

Most drivers don’t check their HPOP for years until something goes wrong. However, if you’ve amped the power on your 7.3L Powerstroke, you need to pay more attention to the HPOP. 

Ford built the HPOP to handle the 7.3L Powerstroke’s stock configuration. Once you tune the engine, you force the HPOP to work harder to meet the increased power demands. The extra effort wears it out faster; tuning a 7.3L lowers the HPOP’s durability.