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Old 12-28-2000, 01:40 PM
john m kirby john m  kirby is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

I have a 1988 F250 diesel that is very difficult to start at any air temperature. It starts within 3 to 6 turnovers when I have the heating unit plugged in for long enough. I had one mechanic
extensively work on it, and now another shop. No one can find out what is wrong. With heat it starts easy. Have had the following done:

- New starter installed Jan. 2000 ($500+)
- new glow plugs (AC Delco) Jan. 2000
- 3 leaking fuel tubes replaced Jan. 2000
- Air leak fixed by having a rubber hose replaced Jan. 2000
- New fuel filter

- New glow plug relay control unit Sept. 2000 - (1st unit
ordered was defective and exchanged for another which the
mechanic checked out as working)

Following in Sept. 2000:
- New glow plug wiring harness
- Used but in immaculate shape main wiring harness (Ford
no longer manufactures this) from an '88 F250 diesel.
- Clamps for fuel tubes as another leaked and was replaced.
- Re-built injector pump. Mechanic pressure checked lines
including the line to the fuel tank and also dropped the
idea of adding a check valve to this line as he concluded
no fuel was being lost (Subsequently the 2nd shop I had work
on the truck concluded there was fuel being lost but after
examination decided none was).
- New injector tips (spray nozzles inside injector).
- New fuel filter.
Truck subsequently had the same problem. First mechanic finally insisted the truck needed a valve job and after rings were checked, maybe a ring job. I took the truck to Winner Ford
of Dover, De. and told them I wanted a valve job and no diagnosis. They checked the compression and found 370 the lowest, 375 the second highest, and 400 the highest. They claimed they cranked each cylinder only 4 times. First mechanic claimed they should have disconnected the main fuel tube because fuel might seal the rings and cause a higher pressure reading than normal. I and my father thought that did not make sense because in a normal start, would not the fuel be there anyway? Winner Ford said they disconnect nothing. Winner Ford said the relay control unit for the plugs was bad. I just had a new one put on in Sept. 2000. We are now into early Nov. 2000. I was desperate to solve this problem, at their mercy, so gave the o.k. They also charged me for the diagnosis which totaled $429 for the relay control unit and a new replacement plug as one had burned. I took it back to them and complained later as the problem was still unsolved. They kept the truck two days, and the mechanic angrily insisted that the only thing wrong with the truck was that the batteries were too weak. He said they only put out 650 cranking amp. That was funny, I had bought 2 850 cold cranking amp batteries less than a year ago from PEP Boys. I then bought 2 900 cold cranking amp batteries. No effect on problem. Winner Ford insisted it did not need a valve job. My first mechanic continued to insist it does. The truck starts easily with heat, but often takes 5 or 6 turnovers of the engine. It often, but not always, tries to fire after about 2 or 3 turnovers but cannot. The first mechanic says it is trying to fire on the one 400 cylinder but cannot on just one cylinder. I say maybe so, but why doesn't the remaining cylinders pick it up? They don't, only when the engine is warm. Winner Ford said they wanted to install all new glow plugs of the same brand. It was they who put in a different Motorcraft brand to replace the bad AC Delco. They said they would pay for it if it did not solve the problem, and if it did solve the problem, I would pay for the plugs and not the labor. I agreed. They put in the new set and I tried to cold start the truck in 30 degree temperature. It turned over 9 or 10 times and I turned the switch off. That's another subject. The first mechanic claims that the more turnovers, the more heat to the plugs, and the mechanic at Winner Ford claims the opposite. That is why any time the truck turns over more the 7 or 8 times I quickly kill the switch so I don't take a chance on burning any plugs. Anyhow, I tried again a minute later and after about 8 or 10 turnovers I turned off the switch. I waited 2 minutes by my watch, and tried again. I made the decision to kill the switch at the 9th or 10th turnover and the truck began to fire. Because of my turning my wrist it killed that. I tried again, and the truck started within 2 or 3 turnovers. I will wait for 50 or 60 degree temperatures in the mean time and simply use the heating cord for colder than 45 degree starts.
My first mechanic says that there is no different type of plugs just different brands. So does the mechanic at Winner Ford. Incidently, the new set of plugs have the light stay on for 20 seconds or more. My old set only stayed on for 7 to 9 seconds and my first mechanic says that's all they should stay on is around 7 or 8 seconds. I have recently read an e-mail from a man who had trouble cold starting a 93 GMC diesel truck. Somehow he was talking about ohm heat resistance. That the standard plug has a 2 ohm and that he had a friend who had a .7 ohm rated plug at 15 amps. He said he got a set of plugs rated between .5 and .8 ohms and would take up to 18 amps. He said the problem was immediately solved and furthermore, he could cold start without the heating unit at 19 degrees. There's got to be something to that. Can anyone tell me what's wrong with my truck? The seven plugs taken out of it were said by the mechanic to have 3 that were questionable as far as being in good condition and one was bad. I am wondering if higher resistance plugs are not recieving too much heat even with a 3 to 5 turnover start? Then maybe being super-heated at the few occassions when I turn the engine over more? In the past 2 months with the old set of AC Delco plugs I've started the truck about 35 or 40 times with the heating cord. And up until recently, about 30 or 35 times at the farm where I hunt
with the residual heat from the engine in about 3 to 6 turnovers.
Once in 35 degree temps. we were longer getting back to the truck from being on deer stands (3 and 1/2 hrs. instead of the usual 2 and 1/2 to 3) The truck turned over 8 or 10 times and I killed the switch. I tried again a minute later and it turned over about 7 or 8 times and started. Then, on a 25 degree morning duck hunting, I tried the truck after it set for 2 and 1/2 hours. I turned over more than 10 times and I killed the switch. A minute later it turned over 9 or 10 times and started.
I ran it for 25 minutes to warm the engine. An hour and a half later, leaving for lunch, I tried and it turned over 8 or 9 times and I killed the switch. Then I tried and it started within 5 turnovers. The next Sunday, in 50 degree temps. I tried
blowing a hair drier on hot into the air filter while I turned
it over. My father suggested it, thinking the hot air would help
start it. I doubted it. Anyhow, it turned over about 13 times and did not start. I tried once more with as many turnovers and had no luck. Those 5 times are all that I turned the engine over more than 6 times. Out of 70 or 80 starts. So why would that few times ruin or start to ruin the plugs? I think it might have something to do with heat resistance. At the pressures I mentioned, it should not need I valve job, but I don't know that either. I desperately need someone to tell me what's wrong. I paid $5900 for this truck in March 1999. It has 128,000 + miles on it and seems to run good. I've spent over $3500 on this problem alone. The previous owner had it 6 years and the owner before him had it since 1988. I think I've got an otherwise good truck here and I just need to find out how to solve this problem. Sorry to be so long but I've e-mailed in other forums, and what little replies I get ask me questions that I've already had the subject accounted for. Hence, I simply try to tell all I've had done to the truck here, what the mechanics have said, and how the truck is acting under what circumstances. I would appreicate any help I could get.

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Old 12-28-2000, 03:42 PM
powerstroker1234 powerstroker1234 is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

Man, I really feel for you. You've exhausted every option and opinion I could give. What baffles me is that I've driven many bigger diesels with no glow plug system and they started fairly easy, I'm talking 20-30*F temps. I mean fairly easy for those temps. Once started they chug smoke for a bit but then it subsides. I'm no help to you, as I said, you've exhausted anything I could of offered. Hope you get it figured out...Les
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Old 12-28-2000, 04:20 PM
deleontow deleontow is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

First off, the compresion is fine, you do not need a valve job, first you need to find out were the problem is, it may be heat related or air in the lines. First of find out if there is any air, on the side of the fuel filter is a bleed valve, depress this while some one turns the motor over, if you get any air bubbles, you have an air leak and need to find it. the other problem may be with the cold start, on the right front head there is a temp switch with two terminals, make sure this is plugged in, now using a light tester with the motor cold, check on the injector pump and make sure that with the key on, that you have power to both terminals, one is the fuel shut off and the other is the cold start timing advance. With out the advance it will be very hard to start. Now if you have power, get it started and then unplug the cold start wire at the injector pump, you should hear the motor quite up some or slow donw, if so then your cold start is ok, if not then your injector pump needs to be replaced. Also you need to check all the glow plugs, even if replaced, they cold have gone bad, Unplugg all the glow plugs, using a light tester clip the aligator clip to the positive side of the batery, and touch the terminal, if the light tester lights then the plug is ok, if not then it is burned out. check all 8. Let me know what you find, if you want call me and maybe I can give you more info over the phone, 760-342-3618

David

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Old 01-02-2001, 10:12 AM
jda jda is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

And I thought I had problems with my truck. When you find out what the problem is, would you be kind enough to post it information for the rest of us, I may end up having the same problem some day. Best of luck, wish there was something I could tell you to help, but you are in way over my head.
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Old 01-05-2001, 11:01 PM
Hammer@ Hammer@ is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

The glow plugs on Fords Ive seen cycle between 15 and 20 seconds plus a after glow after the engine is running.I agree with Deleontow I think Its your injection pump it does'nt sound like you are getting any fuel advance on a cold start.I know you had your injection pump rebuilt but I have seen more than one rebuilt pump still be at fault.
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Old 01-08-2001, 11:25 AM
bgodkin bgodkin is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

Just a thought, But, Have you had anyone check the timing? I would take it to a Good Diesel Mechanic and have the timing checked. There are special tools involved in timing a Diesel that are pretty expensive to purchace. To heck with the Ford Garage, Take it to International or a private shop with a good reputation. Most Ford Garages don't do enough work on Diesels to Stay Proficient where an International Garge does. Hope this helps.

Brad Godkin
1986 F350 CC/SRW
6.9liter/C6
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Old 01-08-2001, 05:41 PM
deleontow deleontow is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

Just for info, spoke with Mr. Kirby today, to find out more info about his starting problem. He stated that infact the temp plug for the cold start was unplugged, and that after plugging it in, and checking to see if there was any difference in sound, he stated that he could not tell. It is possible that his problem may be the cold start advance is not working on the injector pump, suggested that he have both timing checked, too see if the cold start advance is working. If it is not, this would make it difficult to start. He will be getting back to me soon, I will tell you all what the outcome is.

Dave

http://a2ztowing.homestead.com/a2ztowing.html
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Old 01-09-2001, 10:59 PM
fatforty fatforty is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

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Old 03-24-2003, 06:31 PM
Bradley Rieke Bradley Rieke is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

This guys problem sounds similar to what is happening with my 2000. I was guessing thew first step would be to replace the glow plugs. I have 76,000 miles on the truck. I haven't done as anyhting to fix the problem, yet. The engine warming is very typical of my starting problems. When plugged in it starts fine. When it has been run in the last 4 hrs. starts fine. When it is above 50 it will start with one to three attempts. Each time letting the glow plugs heat until the wait to start light goes off. If it is below fifty the number of attempts goes up as the tempature goes down. Always works when you plug it in. One reason I haven't tried any repairs is I wasn't sure where to start. Is this a glow plug problem?
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Old 04-07-2003, 01:50 AM
RickieA RickieA is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

sorry to hear your having this much trouble starting . I know how it feels to have a problem that just keeps costing with no pos. results.The other replies are all good advice .The only thing i can think of is to check your fuel pump .I had one in the shop a while back that was leaking the fuel down and had to be turned oveer a while till it got fuel back to everything . I also had one that had a bad tank switchover valve that was sucking air . I don't know if either of these are causing you trouble but it's worth checking into. I would also check the amp. draw on the starter to see if it's draging , keeping it from turning the engine fast enough . Just a few things to check that i didn't see mentioned .Hope you find the problem soon. it's sometimes easier for some so called mechanics to say replace somthing rather than go to the trouble of covering all the bases. Good luck !! Rick
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Old 04-07-2003, 09:19 AM
bilder12 bilder12 is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

the 88 7.3 diesel has a lift pump for fuel (transfers fuel from the tank to the injection pump) located on the right side of the block, just like a gasser. If that is bad or leaking fuel, it will cause these problems. If the fuel is leaking back from the top of the engine (caused by bad orings on the nozzles or some other place) this will cause hard starting. If you depress the shrader valve on the filter housing, the fuel should shoot across the engine compartment while cranking. (And that should be right now.) Does the engine smoke a lot when it finally does start? Does it run rough when it finally starts? Can you hear the glow plug relay cycling (clicking) before you crank the engine over? Is the wait to start light on for a short period of time or is it on for a few seconds? You can check fuel delivery by loosening the nuts on top of each nozzle while cranking. If they dont bleed out right away, you are probably loosing the fuel prime and you will have to work your way backwards toward the tank(s). Sometimes the stand pipe inside the tank breaks off and causes a real fit.
Good luck, but the only thing i can tell you is to work your way backwards.
Keep us posted.
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Old 04-08-2003, 11:44 AM
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

Hi fat forty,
scroll 8 posts down from yours, user "kellerkathleen" , I posted a response that may help you.
Magic
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Old 04-10-2003, 09:07 PM
1976diesel 1976diesel is offline
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

i dont know if you tried this. but on the idi diesels on the back of the sun visor(if not ripped or faded) it should tell you to at above 32 f to hold the accelerator pedal at half throttle and below 32 f to hold the accelerator pedal wide open.
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Old 04-14-2003, 08:15 PM
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Ford F250 7.3 liter diesel - serious starting problem

You mention replacing the glow plug relay control unit but not the glow plug relay itself??? I may have missed it I was skimming
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:00 PM
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i have a 7.3 and it was hard to start..... i found the simplest thing helped fixed it...
if you have good controller good plugs which it sounds like. run a seperate ground wire to the engine from one of the batteries and run at least a 4 gauge wire to the controller relay from the positive post on battery. this gives full potential amps to the glow plugs and they will heat quickly, dont forget part throttle when cranking.... mine starts at 30degrees within 6-8 cranks
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:00 PM
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