For two decades 7.3 Powerstroke was the most popular diesel engine. Its rather simple design, combined with a conservative power rating, culminated in a model that was extremely hard to kill. The ability of this engine to last up to half-a-million miles with proper care also inflated its reputation.
Anything that this engine did lack was peppered over by the shortcomings of its successor. The 6.7L engine that Ford came up with to replace 7.3 Powerstroke quickly gained a notorious rep because of its various problems, including blown head gaskets, cracked head coolers, bad injectors, just to name a few.
Hence the reason why you could still see the 7.3 Powerstroke working the construction sites, highways, and fields every day. But people who use this engine don’t do so without any modifications. Most of them replace their stock air filter with an aftermarket one to improve the performance of their vehicle.
Best Air Filter for 7.3 Powerstroke
ECOGARD XA5446 Premium Engine Air Filter
The EcoGard XA5446 air filter provides the best of both worlds. On the one end its competitive asking price makes it an extremely budget-friendly option for almost all users out there. On the other end it has the features that belie its meager asking price and help this model compete in the market.
Start with its shelf-life. This model is capable of lasting up to 12,000 miles in the dirtiest conditions that you can subject your engine to. It does that by stopping most dirt and dust particles at the tip of its filtration media. You can also clean this unit, although you may not be able to wash it.
Then comes its ease of installation. You don’t have to spend hours or use any specialized hand tools to mount it under your hood. Its OEM design makes sure that the process of removing the old filter and installing this one won’t take more than a few minutes.
Nothing belies the meager asking price of this model as well as its filtration efficiency. Its multi-layer filtration media makes sure that none of the common-size dirt particles can get into your engine. You can therefore count on this model to have a positive impact on your engine’s performance.
- Hugely competitive asking price
- Won’t need replacement for 12,000 miles
- Factory fit design for easy installation
Motorcraft FA1750 Air Filter
Here is another budget-friendly air filter that stops dust particles and allows air from going through. It has a straightforward design that lets your engine receive more air than it would do from an ordinary aftermarket filter. The pleats embedded in the design ensure that dirt particles don’t accompany air.
You can keep on using this filter for as long as 12 months. That is because it has an oil- and moisture-resistant design that keeps both these irritants at bay – thereby allowing the filtration media to deal with the incoming dirt particles in an unburdened manner.
This air filter also gives its dry elements a chemical treatment. This enables them to withstand the extremes of temperature while also giving the filter a 98.5% efficiency rating. The chemical treatment also enhances the capacity of the filtration media, which means it can hold on to more dirt particles.
To further sweeten the deal, this model boasts a leakproof design. It stays rigid in the face of maximum infiltration of air and refuses to collapse under negative pressure. Little wonder then that Motorcraft has warrantied it for a whole year.
- Draw large volumes of air
- Perfect OEM fit
- 12-month warranty
- Slightly pricey
ECOGARD XA5042 Premium Engine Air Filter
Two features distinguish this EcoGard air filter from the one discussed above. Start with the design. This model has a well-rounded design to ensure maximum air flow with seals both above and below the filtration media to impart rigidity to the whole structure.
That isn’t the case with the EcoGard XA5446. It has a classic flat design with no space between the filter media. You might also see that while this model has two seals, the XA5446 has only one. Nothing is holding that air filter aloft from below.
Compatibility is another area that sets both these models apart. The XA5446 air filter is compatible with most vehicles made in and after the year 2000. This unit on the contrary is compatible with vehicles mostly made in the last decade of the 20th century.
Aside from everything mentioned above, their pricing also differentiates both the models. The one we reviewed above casts slightly less than this one. That despite the fact that both of them have similar efficiency rating and are warrantied for the same period of 12 months.
- Lasts 12,000 miles
- Avoids engine wear
- Easy to install
- Might not be compatible with the latest vehicle models
Motorcraft FA1757 Air Filter
All the air filters that we have recommended thus far have one thing in common. They all are available at a budget-friendly price. Motorcraft FA1757 is different. This air filter costs six times as much as some of the inexpensive units on this review. Here’s why it does that.
The FA1757 uses a leakproof polyurethane seal that is much better than the standard plastic seals that you usually see in other filters. It blocks the leakage of oil and therefore has a positive impact on the shelf-life of this product.
All the internal dry components of this product are chemically treated to withstand damage from oil and moisture. They are all resistant to extreme temperatures, a must-have feature given that the heat under the hood routinely sends temperatures north of one-hundred degrees.
Some of its previous users had the pleasurable experience of this model lasting well over 2 years. That is a huge plus point of this model when you consider that it is only warranted for half that period. Motorcraft has undoubtedly gone above and beyond to make it long-lasting.
- Leakproof design
- Performs excellently in severe dust conditions
- Lasts well beyond the expiry of its warranty period
WIX 46637 Heavy Duty Air Filter
Here is another air filter whose price tag might be a deal-breaker for some. It might not be as expensive as the Motorcraft FA1757 we just saw above. But this OEM air filter won’t come cheap either. Though it does have the features to justify its asking price.
Start with its unconventional design. The 46637 has a well-rounded design that doesn’t allow it to pose any restriction in the flow of air. It also enables this product to fit seamlessly in your 7.3 Powerstroke. You won’t have to use any specialized hand tools to mount it under the hood.
The 46637 uses the combination of pleated filter paper and mesh support screening to keep dirt particles from getting inside the engine. Its well-rounded design also provides this air filter with a much larger area than other models, thereby giving it more space to hold on to captured dirt particles.
- Easy to install and maintain
- Low restriction to the airflow
- Extremely reliable and durable
BETTERCLOUD Oiled Cold Air Intake System
Every single design element of this cold air system oozes durability. Begin with its material of construction. The aluminum that this unit is made up of is designed to withstand temperature extremes. Then comes its silicone couplers. Their durability allows them to provide years of reliable performance.
Its gloss black finish makes sure that this kit won’t stand out among other parts underneath the hood. All the bolts, mounting brackets and hardware that you’d need for installation are there in the kit. You won’t have to spend a penny on anything extra for its assembling.
Yet another notable feature of this cold air intake system is its washable filter. There’s no need for you to dispose of it the moment its performance starts showing signs of decline. All you have to do is to take out the filter, rinse it and put it back again to enjoy original performance.
All these features combine to make an intake system that improves the engine’s throttle response and gives its turbo spool-up a pat on the back. Your engine would turn into something that would perform as reliably on race day as it would on your daily driving routes.
- 4’’ Aluminum construction
- Gloss black finish
- Reusable, washable filter
- Limited compatibility
K&N Engine Air Filter
Most air filters that you see on the market last for 10,000 to 12,000 miles. That isn’t the case with this K&N Engine air filter as it is warrantied for 1million miles or 10 years. It means that it will keep on going for the entire life of your 7.3 Powerstroke. And it has more to offer.
K&N has equipped this product with a high-end filtration mechanism. It keeps dirt and dust particles at bay while allowing 50% more air to enter the engine. That’s how it will enhance your vehicle’s uphill performance, acceleration and shelf-life.
Its ease of installation was another feature of this model that impressed us. K&N delivers it to your doorstep pre-oiled, so you just have to take out your existing air filter and drop this one into the factory air box. That is why we call it one of the easiest upgrades for your vehicle.
You might find it pleasing to note that this filter is washable. That is to say that you can quickly rinse away any impurities you may see embedded in its filter media. But you won’t have to do the rinsing thing any soon as this model’s low maintenance design empowers it to go 50,000 miles before needing cleaning.
- 10-year/million-mile warranty
- Provides 50% more airflow than disposable paper filters
- Won’t require any cleaning for the first 50,000 miles
- Won’t come cheap
Pentius PAB7438 UltraFLOW Air Filter
Here is another air filter whose primary focus is on increasing the airflow to your engine. But it doesn’t achieve that objective on the cost of more dirt and dust particles. This model attains its goal by blocking dirt and debris while allowing the passage of air. Here’s how it does that.
It uses a foam filter media to separate the dust particles from the incoming air. The seal on top of the media prevents any leakage from above and its fitment inside your engine will prevent any leakage from below. You can therefore rest easy with the knowledge that it won’t let dirt particles pass through it.
Some of the users who have tried this product were impressed with its ease of installation. That isn’t surprising for us as there’s nothing in its design that might impede fitment. It is made to be a perfect replacement for your stock filter.
- Removes impurities from the intake air
- Increase the vehicle’s mileage
- Available in a reasonable price
- Isn’t the best on the market
Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit SPE - 9922
The majority of Spectre air intake kits serve a double purpose. They provide you with a filter that blocks dirt and debris and an overall system that increases your engine’s horsepower and torque. We’re happy to report that that’s precisely what the SPE-9922 does.
Spectre has provided this model with a reusable low-restriction air filter. It not only keeps the harmful particles at bay but also provides up to 50% more air to your engine than the stock filter. The filter is also washable and keeps on going for up to 100,000 miles without needing any cleaning.
Installing this system underneath the hood won’t void the warranty of new Ford vehicles. That’s because its design meets the OEM standards that Ford matches when designing its own products. Its ease of installation is such that you can mount it in less than 60 minutes with basic hand tools.
- Won’t require filter cleaning for 100,000 miles
- Provides 50% more airflow to the engine
- Won’t void vehicle warranty
- One of the most expensive systems on the market
Best Air Filter for 7.3 Powerstroke – Buying Guide
Type of filter
One of the first questions you’d have to answer when choosing a new air filter is whether it should be dry or oiled. There’s no single answer to that because more than a few things determine whether a dry or oiled filter would work better in your case. Let’s talk about them.
You don’t need us telling you what a dry filter looks like. The first vehicle that you may have purchased in your life already came with one. Such filters have a paper or foam element that they use to separate dirt and dust particles from the incoming air.
They do this through multiple layers of filtration media. All these layers, when dirty, might pose more problems to the airflow than an oiled filter, but they still perform better than your OEM filter. You can clean them when they are choke-full of dirt but most dry filters aren’t washable.
Most people who use dry filters take this decision because they often drive in drier, dustier climates. Such environments have large amounts of airborne particles, which, if an oiled filter is exposed to them, would force you to clean it regularly.
Their name betrays what these filters are all about. They have multiple sheets of cotton gauze with a thin layer of oil on top of them. The coatings of oil trap incoming dust particles by absorbing them on its surface. That’s what makes them less restrictive to air than their dry counterparts. Here’s how.
Dry filters use multiple pleats of paper that act like a sticky dirt-trap when they are inundated with dirt. This allows them to narrow down the openings in the filter area, thereby impeding air. Oil filters do not suffer from this problem and therefore allow more air to pass through to the engine.
Their reusability/washability is yet another unique selling point of oiled filters. When they get dirty, you can simply take them out, wash them, put the oil back and re-install them. It is this feature of oiled filters that encourages some manufacturers to market them as lifetime air filters.
Style of filter
Do you know that not all air filters are passive recipients of air? Some of them also have pipes using which they actively draw air to the engine. Most people aren’t aware of this and so they miss out on everything that cold air intake systems have to offer.
Also known as stock filters, these filters do not have any say on the temperature of air that passes through them. They only rely on the workings of the engine to receive dirty air, separate dirt particles from it and send the clean air to the engine.
Such a simple-looking approach does have its benefits. You don’t have to modify anything to install or replace these filters. Such models are readily available on the market and therefore cost less. You don’t have to have bottomless pockets to afford them.
On the flip side, OEM filters do not have a massive impact on your engine’s uphill performance, acceleration and mileage. They only do what’s stated on the package (filter air) and nothing else. You can’t count on them to have a measurable positive impact on your engine’s performance.
Cold Air Intake Filters
These filters work by drawing in air as far away from the engine as possible. They do this via a pipe whose inlet is located farther away from the engine. This allows them to suck air from outside the engine bay, air that is much cooler and dense than the one that is under the hood.
Their ability to suck cold air and work with it empowers these units to provide certain benefits. Start with combustion efficiency. Since these units provide cooler air to the engine (one that contains more oxygen than hot air), your car’s fuel/gas will burn much more efficiently.
Aside from that, these systems also have a positive impact on the engine’s uphill performance and acceleration. Some of them also increase your vehicle’s mileage. The only thing that deters drivers from using them is their installation, as they require a lot of modifications to fit under your hood.
Here are the features that are common between almost all the best air filters for 7.3L Powerstroke:
- Heat-resistant material of construction: With the temperature under the hood regularly touching the 200* mark, you need a filter that could withstand the extremes of heat. That’s why a heart-resistant material of construction is a must-have.
- Washable and reusable: Do you know what differentiates filters that last up to 50,000 miles from those that give way after 10,000 to 12,000 miles? The former lets you wash and scrub away the dirt that the incoming air embeds on their surface.
- Long warranty: Depending on how much you’re willing to spend on an air filter, you can get models offering up to million miles of warranty. But even if you don’t want to overspend, you could still get models offering 1 to 2 years of warranty.
There’s no better way to increase the operating life of your 7.3powerstroke engine, improve its sound, and enhance its torque and horsepower than by installing a high-end air filter. These products do everything mentioned in the last sentence by allowing more air to pass through to the engine while keeping dirt and dust particles at bay.