Oil pressure is critical to the injection process in an engine such as the 7.3L Power Stroke, which relies on HEUI injectors. Low oil pressure in the high pressure circuit can be perceived in much the same fashion as low rail pressure on a modern common rail injection system. Efficiency, performance, and emissions may be affected by a faulty IPR valve, or injection pressure regulator. In addition to a mechanical or electrical failure, the o-rings on the IPR valve can leak and leave an oily mess in the valley of your engine.
IPR Valve Operation & Diagnostics
The IPR (injection pressure regulator) valve is an integral part of the 7.3L Power Stroke's HEUI injection system. Recall that this is a unit injector setup where fuel pressure is created in each individual injector by means of highly pressurized engine oil. The IPR valve controls the oil pressure supplied to the injectors by the HPOP (high pressure oil pump). Once the desired oil pressure is achieved per the current operating conditions, the IPR valve bleeds off excessive pump pressure through the return circuit of the HPOP. A faulty or failed IPR valve generally results in low oil pressure as more pump pressure is being bled off than intended. This can manifest as a hard start, no start, rough running, or low power condition.
The IPR valve is a normally open solenoid, thus it will allow oil pressure to bleed off should it fail entirely (or is unplugged). Since the 7.3L Power Stroke's injectors require a minimum ~500 psi for an injector to fire, low oil pressure in the high pressure system can prevent injection events altogether. IPR valves are tested using diagnostic equipment that has the ability to remotely operate the position of the valve. The duty cycle of the IPR valve is then set at minimum and maximum values and the ICP (injector control pressure) is monitored. If oil pressure does not change or is not within spec, the IPR valve is not functioning correctly. Diagnosing the IPR valve requires that the ICP sensor is in good functioning condition.
If you're experiencing a no-start condition or rough idle, try isolating the problem by unplugging the ICP sensor. The PCM will default the ICP pressure when a signal is not present. If the engine then starts or the idle smooths out, the problem is the ICP sensor and not the IPR valve.
We don't recommend replacing the IPR valve with a generic brand part. Although the OEM part from Ford is relatively expensive, it is by far manufactured with greater quality than inexpensive alternatives and will outlast/outperform the generic IPR valves on the market (see part numbers above).
How to Replace the IPR Valve on a 7.3 Power Stroke Diesel
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• Disconnect both negative battery cables.
• Remove the fuel filter housing/fuel bowl assembly; see 7.3L Power Stroke fuel filter housing removal procedures
• Locate the engine oil pressure sensor on the top of the high pressure oil pump reservoir towards the passenger side (refer to image). Unplug and remove the sensor with a 1-1/16 inch socket.
• Use a suction gun to remove the engine oil from the HPOP reservoir. Measure how much oil is removed as it will have to be replaced with new, clean oil. We removed ~ 1/2 quart during these procedures.
• Locate the IPR valve. It protrudes through the driver side of the HPOP, which is mounted to the backside of the high pressure oil pump reservoir.
• The IPR valve is designed to be removed/installed in multiple pieces. Remove the small nut at the rear of the valve with a 3/4 inch socket, then slide the spacer and solenoid assembly from the valve body.
• Remove the IPR valve body with a 1-1/8 inch, 1/2 inch drive deep socket. You may need to gently push the metal fuel lines running on the driver side valve cover out of the way to reach the IPR valve. Do not bend them.
NOTE - not all deep sockets are equal length and thus you may not be able to slide the socket over the valve and reach the nut with a ratchet attached to the socket. If this is the case, slide the socket over the valve with the ratchet disconnected, then place the square drive into the socket as far as possible. The ratchet will not snap into the socket, but it will have enough contact to turn the socket accordingly.
• Disassemble the replacement IPR valve for installation.
• Apply a light coating of clean motor oil to both o-ring seals on the IPR valve.
• Thread the IPR valve into the HPOP by hand, then tighten with a socket. Torque IPR valve to 35 ft-lbs (47 N-m).
• Install the solenoid body, then spacer over the IPR valve shaft. Tighten retaining nut to 53 in-lbs (6 N-m). Note that this spec is inch pounds, NOT foot pounds.
• Reinstall fuel filter housing and IPR valve electrical connector. It is recommended that you use new fuel lines when installing the fuel filter housing. See 7.3L Power Stroke fuel filter housing installation procedures for part numbers and procedures.
• Refill the HPOP reservoir with clean engine oil and reinstall the engine oil pressure sensor.