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Diesel Site 203 Degree Thermostat - 96-03 Ford 7.3L

Thoroughbred Sku #: DSTDS203
Manufacturer Sku #: DS203

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Product Details

Product Name: 203 Degree Thermostat
Manufacturer: Dieselsite
Application: 1996-2003 Ford Powerstroke 7.3L

This thermostat will fit 1996-2003 Ford 7.3L trucks starting with Engine Serial #201681. Not for use with 1994-1995 trucks unless you have installed a 1996-2003 water pump.

Here's a little background on the Ford Powerstroke thermostat.

203° is the temperature that navistar designed your truck to run at. This is the thermostat that was and still should be in every powerstroke 7.3L.

Until 1996, all 7.3L Powerstrokes that were manufactured used an International water pump and an International short stem 203° thermostat . In 1996, Ford changed to a lower degree 195° thermostat. They changed water pump designs at this time as well. The new pumps required the new long stem 195° thermostat in place of the short stem to properly seat the bypass disk. All 1996-2003 Ford PSD's now come equipped with a long stem 195° thermostat. Recently the factory replacement thermostat available at the parts counter changed to 192°. Our Dieselsite 203° uses the correctly sized t-stat with the correct temperature spring so that we no longer have to give up the benefits of running our vehicles where they were meant to run.


Diesels run most efficiently at approximately 200° or above. A factory equipped 192°/195° thermostat will maintain an operating temperature at approximately 165°-170°. The Powerstroke has such an efficient cooling system, that this low flow when the thermostat is slightly open is normally enough to keep the engine cool. The downfall to this is that the engine -- when our trucks are not under load -- never begins to reach its optimal operating temperature. Our 203° thermostat maintains a minimum operating temperature of 190°. This brings the operating temps up from as low as 170° to as high as 203° depending on the operating conditions of the truck. This is closer to the operating temperature range that is preferable in our trucks for optimal efficiency.

When our trucks are under load and are producing higher combustion temperatures the 203° will allow the engine to run even closer to its optimal operating temperature. If the truck is under load and reaches the 203° setting, the thermostat is then fully open. This means you are at the maximum coolant temperature that the truck will reach. Your maximum temperatures are only a few degrees higher than in stock configuration, but these are degrees that you want for better performance. The best benefits come when the same truck is under a light load and would have a hard time reaching this optimal temperature. As stated above, you will never reach this optimum temperature with the stock 195° thermostat. The end result of installing the 203° thermostat should be slightly better fuel economy, less smoke, and maybe a few extra "ponies" to go along with it.


Although International still uses a 203° thermostat in some applications and that thermostat is available at most auto parts stores, it is the wrong part for the 1996 - 2003 Powerstroke. DO NOT USE THIS! It has a shorter shaft and will not shut off the internal pump bypass. This will cause inaccurate coolant flow direction through the engine. This IH version thermostat mentioned is available by calling us.

The thermostat in the Powerstroke not only controls operating temperatures, but properly directs the flow of coolant through the engine. As the thermostat opens, it proportionally closes the bypass. With the thermostat fully open, the bypass is mostly closed, and vice versa. With the International (Pre-96 Ford) thermostat, this cannot be controlled properly because of the shorter bypass stem. The shorter stem of the IH (pre-96 Ford) thermostat allows the thermostat to be fully open while the bypass is fully open. This means the coolant can travel in any direction available -- whatever direction it chooses. It can either travel through the radiator or simply make the shorter, less restrictive path back through the front of the engine. This will cause uncontrolled overheating in the back cylinders of the block, with absolutely no signs of danger showing on the water temperature gauge in the cab. It is possible that the back of the engine can have no coolant flow at all yet the thermometer in the outlet of the water pump shows all to be normal. Multiple things can happen at this point. Cylinders can seize, freeze plugs can fall out and other normal symptoms of an overheating engine may occur. Worst case is a blown motor and it won't be covered under warranty.

We know the warranty departments and engineers at Ford have verified engine loss due to the short stem thermostats in previous cases where people were sticking into their trucks to increase their operating temperatures. As soon as they see the short shaft thermostat -it's your problem. Our 203° thermostat will not encounter these problems! It's designed to work as the OEM unit did WITH the long stem for bypass protection.


Because you reach a higher optimum operating temperature - safely - by using our thermostat with the long stem for bypass protection. It's that simple. We've combined the two units to bring you a safe alternative. Now you can have the optimal operating temperatures without risking the chance of uncontrolled overheating in the back cylinders of the block due to an uncontrolled bypass.


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