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My wife and I are back from our Yellowstone trip. Despite my efforts to have all preventive maintenance done and have spare parts in hand we did have truck trouble. First, I'm going to inflict a vacation picture on you - here's our rig at the Roosevelt Gate of the Northwest entrance:
(From now on, keep in mind that I'm not a wrench.)
So, our first morning at Yellowstone the truck wouldn't start. Crank, crank, crank, nothing. I'm sitting there thinking about it, and I notice white fog coming from the right rear. Aha, I'm pumping fuel through the engine, so it must be ignition. Weak glow plug heating?
I cycle the key several times through the Wait to Start light on-to-off process, and the truck fires right up. Great, we're good, I have a workaround, and we press on the mission.
For the rest of the week that's the routine. Once the engine is warm it starts without hesitation, which happens a lot with all the Yellowstone sights that we're pulling over and shutting down for. Each morning I have to cycle the glow plugs anywhere from 3X-6X before it will light off. I'm not completely comfortable about the future, but I don't want to drive clear out of the park for a fix if I don't have to.
Wrong, I will have to.
One more picture, from the fateful morning:
I took this picture on the way back from the bathroom, and 2 minutes later tried to start the truck. Three hours later it still wasn't starting.
My key cycling didn't work no matter how much I did it. I knew it was cold glow plugs, and I knew this was the coldest morning we'd yet had, although I doubt it got below 30 that night.
We did everything we could think of to warm the engine: I started our portable generator and ran the exhaust under the engine compartment, we boiled water in all our pots and pans and put them under and on the engine, and my wife took a hair dryer under there and pointed it upwards.
I tried to light our lantern because it would have been a great heat source, but it chose that morning to fail, like the truck, for the first time in 12 years. (If it's not one thing it's another. )
I can't tell you how many times 1 or 2 cylinders would catch, but then nothing. In the middle of the ordeal I called the Park's tow service and the guy said I was doing everything he would try, and all he would be able to do was tow us if we couldn't get it going.
Finally, after 3+ hours, with some sun hitting the engine compartment and the batteries beginning to lose their enthusiasm for the job, it just barely fired on enough cylinders to run and get them all going.
So, we broke camp and drove out of the park to West Yellowstone where the nice lady said they couldn't get parts until the next day, and her best Ford tech was getting a root canal.
Off we went to Bozeman, where Ford sold us a new glow plug relay and told us they were booked 10 days out. He called around, and found a local guy who would do the install and test the circuits and plugs.
Yes, I could have installed the GPR myself, but he warned me that if there were other problems I could fry the new relay, and I wanted everything tested.
We drove to Rick's Automotive where Rick himself was kind enough to drop everything to run circuit tests, install the GPR, and test again. The truck was fixed and we hit the road.
At that point we were over a hundred miles out of the park in the direction of home, we'd had a week to see most things, so we headed home.
Didn't mean to make a short story long, but I hope that it might help someone.
Yes, I bought TWO glow plug relays, and now have a spare in the cab.
Thats usually the sign of a bad glow plug relay. Easy job to do. They tend to go out every couple years. The only thing that I can help you with is the next time this is happening plug in the block heater. If your out camping use the generator to plug it in or if at home plug it in to your outlet. No need for hair dryers and boiling water in a pot under the truck, won't work.
Not sure off the top of my head, just a guess about $100-$150 if you do it yourself. Give me some time to look up a couple for you. I'm rapping up a 2007 mirror swap with the heated mirrors and running lights. If you want you could start with a google search.
Sorry about your trouble. Your truck came with a block heater like the guys above said. If its not there and is plugged, get a new one. A great little, and cheap mod to give you a heads up that the relay is going, is the glow plug relay LED mod. It costs about 10.00 bucks and maybe 1hr of your time. The light comes on for the entire time the relay is activated. No light, or intermitant/flickering light means the relay needs replacing. There are write ups with pictures right here from the FTE members.
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