I think it's my head gasket, but would appreciate clarification
Ok... We've been going back and forth on a separate thread titled "rough start and white smoke" for a couple weeks now on what my '03 F-250 problem might be.
Initially the consensus was EGR cooler. But after pulling the EGR valve and finding it dry, that came up empty.
For nearly two weeks I'd get heavy white exhaust at startup in the morning, but not at the end of the day if it had sat all day after being started in the morning.
I checked my coolant levels on an every-other-day basis and never saw a change, never found oil in the coolant, and never had the degas bottle puke on me.
Over the last day or two I've noticed a strong sweet smell around the truck shortly after shutting it off.
Today I drove into town and on the way in noticed that my A/C wasn't working. Happened to be going to a mechanic to pick up the Subaru from having a ton of repairs done. As I pulled in I noticed a loud metal-on-metal screeching sound from under the hood. So I popped the hood while waiting on him to get off the phone, and discovered that the clutch plate from the A/C motor (where the serpentine belt goes on) had snapped off, and so every time the A/C dried to kick on, it was causing the screeching noise. I also noticed that finally my coolant had gone from just over max at hot to well under min at hot... I mean, almost not enough left to get any into the degas bottle (but still no signs of puking).
It's also been idling kinda rough... So I asked my mechanic how much it would be to have him look over the whole truck and figure out what was wrong, he said $40-70, depending on how long it took... figured I'd leave it with him and drive the Subaru home.
Since coming home I've done some more looking, and I'm thinking now that my head gasket may be blown. However, there is one notable thing that never has happened to me, but seems to be a normal thing with a blown hg... the degas bottle puking.
Anybody got any more insight for me? I'm only a moderately good mechanic... deepest I've ever been into an engine is replacing the water pump and alternator on a '92 Chevy Lumina... definitely never worked on a diesel engine, and I don't have any mechanics tools other than a set of jack stands, a creeper, and a socket set. If it comes back that I have a blown head gasket, is that something I could expect to be able to fix myself? Or am I better off just paying for it to be done? What other possible causes could there be for the symptoms listed above?
I'm broke right now and really can't afford to have this done, but I'm also really doubting my ability to do it myself.
Would also love to have a complete list of the tools/parts I'll need, especially with recommendations for after market parts (seen talk of ARP studs but no clue what that's about... also seen talk of after market metal gaskets which won't blow...)
Personally I think it could still be the EGR cooler. Since you know you have coolant loss, you pretty much you will be tearing it down anyway so that is when you upgrade to the BPD EGR cooler ........ and if the original one doesn't leak during a pressure test, then you go in deeper for the studs and OEM gasket replacement. As Vince said - lots of how-to's on the net.
If you can afford it, just bite the bullet all at once ..... studs, OEM head gasket, BPD EGR cooler, OEM oil cooler. The main decision is who you will have do your heads (test for cracks and mill the heads).
BTW - you can get to the EGR cooler without pulling the cab. Whoever said that you needed to pull the cab is way off base. You can also do head gaskets without pulling the cab, although some say it is easier (and some don't).
you are also going to need a cherry picker to lift out the heads if it comes to that. and you might as well have your heads checked, valve job, seats, etc. or find a good mechanic who likes beer and bribe him instead
Ok, so got the truck back from my local diesel mechanic today... Truck passed the head test and he double checked the EGR valve and confirmed that it was dry as a bone. He said the white smoke I'm seeing was from fuel which he thinks is not burning off entirely during cold starts. Said my injectors could be a little plugged and recommended using the PS diesel additive every time I fill the tank. I had a couple ounces left in an old bottle a friend gave me and I never used, so I dumped it in my half tank today... also bought a new bottle so I'll start using that and see if it helps the rough start and reduces the white smoke on first start.
He did find one small coolant leak in an external hose for my heater core which explains the coolant loss I finally saw along with the sweet smell around the engine after I had run it hard.
Thankful that's all it seems to have been! Bought four gallons of what my local parts store said is the correct coolant for this truck along with a bottle of coolant flush stuff... I'll be doing that this weekend, most likely, just as preventative maintenance since I have no idea the last time it was cleaned. I'll post up the specific stuff he gave me in a new thread before I do it and make sure it's the right stuff...