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Discussion Starter #1
I have been having a hard time starting my truck when cold lately and over the past couple of days sometimes it doesn't want to start when it is warm.

When I have trouble when cold it takes around a minute of cranking and it may sputter a couple of times before it fires with a big black cloud of smoke.

When it has trouble starting when hot it the engine will start to shake violently while the starter is turning and again I will have to crank for an exceedingly long time.

Up until about December it always started easily. Outside temperature right now is around 55 degrees and it hasn't been cold outside when it is hard to start.

Any ideas? I don't know a whole lot about diesels.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I seem to have figured it out, a dead battery and an undercharging alternator. Just after I posted this I went to go out and the batteries went completely dead while cranking. The driver's side battery was hooped but the passenger's side was fine (but had a loose cable) so after a new battery on the driver's side the starter hammers home like it should and the truck starts fine. I had suspected that maybe there was a problem with the batteries because I thought it was cranking slower than before but I am not very familiar with the 7.3L so I wasn't sure. The alternator also makes a tick tick tick noise for a few seconds after the engine starts. I think that it may have dropped a brush.
 

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I have the same engine, and I had the same problem. When is the last time you changed your glow plugs? I had to change them out and then I never had a problem with it again. Also the clicking noise is normal. Mine does the smae thing. I have no clue what it is, but don't worry about it.

DImitri
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Nevermind, the battery didn't fix the problem. I don't know what could be going on. I had air in the system this morning and had to call the auto club. So I went to talk to a local fuel injection shop and the guy said that it sounds like there is a leak in the system allowing it to bleed down and get air in the lines. I changed the fuel return lines and fittings and it seemed to run alright but when I went for a drive and stopped at the store I couldn't start the engine, it very quickly pulled down the batteries. I looked at the new fittings I'd just installed and two of them were leaking. I bought another new battery so now both are new but it still won't start. I wonder if all the trouble starting has caused the starter to fail. I had to be towed home and will look at it in the morning.

The clicking is in the alternator, not the glow plug system but right now that seems to be the least of my problems, or maybe the root of them.

I can't afford this shit to break right now. :(
 

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If you have a fuel leak you will have a bleed down problem,that will lead to a hard start problem.How is the fuel filter?Glow plugs will also cause a hard start problem however once the engine is warm (operating temp)should still start with out glow plugs.Its common for the glowplug relay to go bad,and even it will take out your glow plugs by not shutting them down.They will not last if this happens.They will burn up.so its possiable to need both..Pull a plug and switch on the ign..If its not getting hot check the relay.If the relay is sending juice to the plug replace the plugs..you may need both..(plugs and relay) After all this you may need a starter..most places can test the amprage draw off the starter.This may be why your batterys go dead so fast..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The glow plugs appear to be working fine, the glow plug relay shuts off I can hear it clicking.

I had the truck towed to my Dad's garage last night. There is an auto and marine electrical shop at the end of the block. I think I will pull the alternator and starter out and bring them to the guy to have them both checked out.
 

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appear.?...just cause the relay is clicking does not mean a thing.It can click and not send current to the glow plugs.
..From what you explained with it shaking while its trying to start sounds like air in the fuel lines,along with the black smoke.Sure they smoke some on start up but the shaking and cranking part does not sound right...a bad starter will not crank well when warm but by the sounds of your post it was cranking ok,just not for very long.?let us know whats up.I'm courious now..
 

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Paul Gagnon said:
The glow plugs appear to be working fine, the glow plug relay shuts off I can hear it clicking.

Paul: Even though the glow plugs are getting juice to them, it is still possible that the plugs are burned out. On my 91 I used to change out all 8 every year. They not very expensive, I used to get a set of 8 for around $100. This is something I have saved on file for checking the glow plug circuit:

"Get you a 12 volt test light. Get a friend.
Now make sure your batteries post are clean. Take the clip end of the test light, and attach it to a suitable ground. Touch the positive post of the battery to make sure the test light works, and the ground is good. Go to the starter solinoid which is on the right fender. Make sure all the connections are clean and tight. Make sure the wire termanils are tight, and not corrodided. check with the test light for power. Next locate the glow plug relay. It should be on the rear of the engine, behind the air cleaner, I don't remember if it closer to the right or left head. The relay looks alot like the starter solinoid. If it has a protective cap over it remove it. There are 4 wire connections here. There are 2 big ones and 2 small ones. Make sure all the connections are clean and tight. Make sure under the wire connections, the nuts on the big postes are tight. Make sure all the wire termanels are tight on the wires. To make sure give them a little tug. Take the 12 volt test light and test for power at the big terminals. One should have power the other shouldn't. Hold your hand on the relay. Next have the friend, turn the key on. Do not start the engine. If the relay is working, you should feel it click or hear it. Take the test light and touch the other big termanil. Does the test light light? If so the relay is good. Otherwise it is not and time to replace it. Now you may have to turn the key on and off a couple of times to do these tests, depending on how fast you are. If the relay is good,take one glow plug wire off the front glow plug of each head. Place the test light point in the end of the termanils. Turn the key on again. If the test light comes on, on each glow plug wire you have removed, the circuit is good to this point. If one side lights and the other doen't, then the wiring harness to the side that didn't light, has blown it's fuseable link. Replace the harness to that side. Next step, remove all the wires to the glow plugs. I know you just change the glow plugs, but they are electrical things, and they do not like to much voltage. Take the test light clip and attach it to battery positive. Take the point of the test light and touch each glow plug at the terminal point. If the glow plug is good, the light will light, the glow plug is good. If no light, replace the glow plug. Make sure you removed the wires from the glow plugs. If you don't, all you need is one plug to be good, and it will lead you to believe all are. The glow plugs need to be tested seperatly.
Now the contoller. It does several things. Senses water tempature, Senses glow plug tempature, and retards the fuel pump timing and energizes the fast idle solinoid, and activates the relay. So the simple tests. If when you were testing the relay, and it worked. the controller is okay. If when you turn on the key and the fast idle solinoid jumps out and stays there when the throttle is depressed, the contoller is okay. If you try to drive the truck when it is cold, and it is in fast idle, and the engine feels like you have little control or it feels like you got alot of power all of a sudden, the contoller is okay, especially if the engine settles down, and returns to normal idle, the same. If you turn on the key, and the glow plugs only cycle once, or don't cycle at all, and all of the relay and glow plug tests are good the controller is not good. The last thing is the water temp sending unit. This will be in the head somewhere, I don't remember where. Actully you have 2. One is for the temp gauge on the dash. Make sure the wire connection is good to both of them. With your test light take the point and touch the termanil. With the clamp end to battery positive, with the engine cold, both should light the test light. Make sure you do this with the wire disconnected. After the engine warms up to about 140 degrees F. One tempature send unit should be open, and the test light should not light. On the other tempature sending unit, the test light will light but not be as bright, this is the sending unit to the tempature gauge. There are other tests with a volt/ohm meter. These meters cost more than the test light, but never the less the testing with them are more detailed. Along with all this a good book on the truck will lead you along the same path, and would cover some of the things I may have forgotten. I write this from memory, and it has been awhile since I have done this. Remember sometimes the simple problems can be the cheapest to fix. Good grounds and clean tight connections can eleminate alot of headache. "

How to test your glowplugs:

"If you have all the glowplugs out now is the easy time to test them, put a plug in a pair of pliers and ground one side of it to the vehicle then use a piece of # 10 or 12 Ga. wire and jump frome the hot terminal on the g/p relay to the G/P terminal and hold it there about 7 seconds and it should glow red if it does you have a good G/P they are really easy to check out of the engine.
Tip of GP to the base or to groung should be 1-2 ohms with V.O.M.

Tip of GP to positive on battery should give 12-13 volts on V.O.M.

Tip of GP to base that is open is bad!"
 

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Paul, I guarnatee it is your glow plugs. Thst is the EXACT sme problem I had. I hd to bump start the truck a few times. Change our your fuel filter as well. you could be getting air in from there. Take are of the easy thihns first, then deal with the more diffiult things.

Dimitri
 

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Could very well be a bad starter. I thought I had dead batteries and possibly a shot alternator because the starter cranked so slow.

Turned out the starter was seizing up. I'll be damned if the starter I took out looked brand new (jobber sh!t). Would just barely turn (while whacking with a hammer) when tested out of the truck.

Also had the problem where it would start (when cold) and run for a couple of seconds and die, then take LOTS of cranking before it would start and stay running. I had a leaky fuel filter base that let air into the system. Replaced it with a new Racor unit - problem solved.
 

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geez,,you would think a guy who starts there own truck every day could tell if the engine cranked slower then normal..at least that what it seems to me..I work on a fleet of cummins,,when they get a starter going south,,you can hear it!You know its batteries or a starter.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Alright now I'm really starting to wish I had a carbureted gas engine.

Since I seem to have multiple problems all at once I had the alternator tested and it checked out perfect so I stole the regulator out of one of the Mustangs and hope that fixes that. I swapped the batteries from the C20 into the F250 and the Chevy started right up with the "weak" batteries while the Ford wouldn't turn over with the "good" batteries. So it seems that all the cranking that I have been doing with the hard starting has killed the starter. I couldn't even turn the starter gear by hand so I bought a new one, it cost me just over $300 including tax. Tomorrow I will try to start the truck and bleed the fuel system. After that I will test all the glow plugs. I've spent over $600 on this damned thing this week and it still isn't running. Oh well, I guess I won't eat this month. :(
 

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Paul Gagnon said:
Alright now I'm really starting to wish I had a carbureted gas engine.
FWIW.... So far my gasoline engine aggravation has far exceeded what the diesel has thrown at me. ;)

(And that's comparing a 6.2L with a TBI 350)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
u2slow said:
And that's comparing a 6.2L
Funny thing is that hte 6.2L has more miles on it and it starts every time. ;)

Anyway I think I'm making some headway here. Once I got all the injector lines bled the truck fired and is running fine. We'll see what happens in the morning because I may still have a bleed down problem. Other than that I tried a used regulator that I had and it made no difference so I went and bought a brand new one jus to be sure and the voltage is still low. I will have to do a little more testing on that problem. Good thing is that I finally fired the engine today for the first time since Monday. I tell ya one thing I sure learned a lot about diesels this week (not hard though because I didn't know much about them to begin with).
 

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well paul if you did not get your fuel leak fixed it will bleed down and not start again....
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well I think I've fixed the hard starting problem. Yesterday the truck started up right away every time and I haven't yet tested the glow plugs. I still need to find out why the charging system has a low output though.
 
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