Well, it's official... my 2003 7.3L didn't make it through the first cold snap. I just got back up here to Clear after a week away, and I went out to my truck and it wouldn't start up. It sat here for 1 week in temps ranging from -20 to -5, but it was "plugged in". It was too late at night to mess with it, so I took the batteries inside and warmed them over night, put them on the charger and made sure they had full juice (they didn't require any charging). Went out the next morning, and nothing... It'll turn and turn, but it won't fire up.
Before I left, I filled the tank with winterized fuel (15 miles from home, so maybe 1 gallon low), put in some "Power Services" supplement ("Prevents gelling, garunteed!" ), and plugged in the block heater. When I tried to start it, the temp was -5. It just did the standard... RRRrrrrRRRRRrrrrrRRRRrrrr, but that's it.
So... what went wrong? Should I assume that there is a clogged fuel filter due to gelled fuel? Is there a way that I can test my block heater to make sure it is even working? I tried tracing the wires, but lost it in the radiator area.
This is my first diesel, and my first winter outside of "balmy" Anchorage where "below zero" is newsworthy.
Oh yeah... the guy next to me in the parking lot is a 6.0L, and he sat for the same time period... his fired right up like it was +50F.
But, I guess the most important question here is... how do I get it started? And once I get started, how do I prevent it from happening again? I am working late tonight, but tomorrow's forecast is calling for +5, so I'll be able to get to it tomorrow afternoon.
Maybe the glow plugs are bad? Have you tried cycling the glow plugs 2 or 3 times before cranking? Also be aware that there are different grades of #1 diesel fuel. Some may be rated at +10 Fº and some for colder weather. The Power Service you added should have taken care of this.
Does your truck have an oil pan heater or just the block heater? 15 quarts of oil (especially if it's 15W-40) would make it harder to start, but not impossible.
Thanks, Twin... I'm going to "assume" that the fuel is rated for pretty cold weather... I bought it in Nenana where I can't imagine them using anything but the coldest-rated fuel (but, I guess you never know). Also, I don't know if there's an oil pan heater or not... I tried tracing the wires from the plug-in, to see if it was just leading to the block heater or to anything else as well, but like I said, I lost the wires (I was too cold, and it was too dark, to go hunting very long ) I didn't see anything "obvious" on the bottom of the oil pan.
Yep... 15 quarts of 15W-40 is what's in there. It's time for a change anyway... should I drop it down to 5W-40?
As for the glow plugs... by "cycling 2 or 3 times", does this mean simply turning the key on, wiating for the glow-plug light to go off, and then turning the key off... and doing that all again? Just out of curiosity, what does this do? Just let the inside of the cylinder get that much warmer? No, I did not cycle it, but I did leave the key on for about 15 seconds after the light turned off... I guess I just assumed that the glow plugs kept on "glowing" after the light went off.
Is there a way that I can tell if any of the glow plugs are bad?
If you bought the fuel in Nenana, it most likely is the lower temp rated #1 (hopefully they used all the #2 out of their tank). If you had a oil pan heater, you'd see the silicon pad stuck to the bottom of the oil pan.
I used 15W-40 all last winter, only didn't start one day at -55ºF, but I do have an oil pan heater. I just switched to 5W-40 synthetic a couple of days ago. Seems to help the cold starts a little. At -20ºF a couple of days ago it only romped for a second or two before it assumed the normal diesel clatter.
I have heard that the glow plugs may continue to heat after the light goes off, but I am not sure of this. I cycle the key a couple of times through the glow plug cycle on older trucks and if a truck doesn't start the first time. Personally, I think it may pre-heat the cylinder a little more than just one cycle.
I'm not sure about checking for bad glow plugs, hopefully someone else will chime in here.
The block heater is next to the oil filter. Look up at the filter from underneath and you will see a black cord hooked to the blockheater. The cord may have a orange covering on it where it enters the block heater element. Just reach up there and feel the block heater element where the cord is attached, it should be warm to the touch. If it is not warm the cord is probably bad. The cord usually goes bad before the element(bad connection at the element from road salt).
I am guessing that your block heater is fine. The 15w-40 is a little heavy for winter use but not for the -15 weather we have been having. When it gets -40 or colder you will have a no start situation because of the heavy oil in the high pressure oil pump reservoir will be froze so the injectors will not open. get a pan heater and put in some lighter oil before winter really sets in.
Your problem today is probably the GPR(glow plug relay). They don't last very long but are easy to change. 1.Get a test light. 2. remove small black engine cover. 3. have someone turn on the key while you see if power is getting across the relay terminals. There are two relays under there(one for glow plugs and one for intake heater). If power is not getting across terminals you can "jump" across them with a screwdriver to warm up the plugs so you can get it started. You can get a new relay at Ford but they are cheaper at NAPA or other auto parts stores.
Thanks for the help guys... just got back inside from looking at it... no go on getting it started. I borrowed someone's 200-amp heavy-duty-charger-jump-starter thing so that I could rule out the batteries, but when I tried cranking it, it seemed slower than it did yesterday... almost like the batteries were getting really weak. I played around with the jumper cables and got the best connection I could, but there's not really any way to connect the things to the battery post directly.
Anyway, I didn't get home until after dark, and with no garage and just a flashlight, I was having a rough time of finding my way around. Forecast for tomorrow is looking like +10, and I should be able to get out there in the daylight. I've made arangments to tow it to someone's garage if nothing else works to try and get the ambient temperature up. The garage isn't heated, but we should be able to throw a space-heater under it for a while.
1 question on the block heater element... I crawled underneath and looked up near the oil filter like Crumm pointed out... the only wire I saw was going into the top of the housing area that the filter itself screwed into. I assume that this is the oil pressure sensor and not the block heater element? It wasn't warm at all. I didn't see any other wires "next to" the oil filter. I've been hunting around the internet for some pictures, but no luck so far. I knew I should have gotten a Chilton's before I left Anchorage! For some reason, this Chiltons that I have with me for my old 97 F-150 just isn't working! :^)
Of course, all of my tools, multimeter, test light, are all back home in my (heated) garage in Anchorage, so I'm forced to bum around for parts and pieces and assistance. This is frustrating! I'm hoping to drive home Thursday for the 3-day weekend.
EDIT: I just saw that this was post #13... that can't be good! LOL
There are lots of pictures out there of the block heater location but I can't link to them without getting my hand slapped by FTE. It sounds like you were looking in the right spot. The cord looks just like the other end of the cord where you plug it in. Even if the block heater is not working at -10 it should still start. Since you jumped it and still did not have luck I am thinking you are either gelled up or the glow plug relay has failed. Nennana may have not got all the number 2 out of there tanks before it turned cold. I would still recommend checking that the glow plug relay is working before you do anything else. If it is not working you can jump across it with a screwdriver to get the truck running.
It's Running!!! I borrowed a multimeter and a testligt, and was going to go to work testing the gpr, and the plugs themselves if that turned out good. Since this was my first trip out in the daylight, I noticed something else as I was taking the cover off the gpr... a lot of oil everywhere. I've got a leak somewhere and it turns out that I was about 2 quarts low because of it. Added some molases (oops, I mean 15 weight oil from behind the backseat ), hooked up a pair of jumper cables, and after about 5 minutes of crank-and-wait it finally struggled to life. After running it for about an hour, there was no evident sign of an obvious leak, so I drove home to Anchorage.
I also had a friend (a little more mechanically inclined than I) crawl under there and try to find the block heater... he was stumped too, but said that there should not be any ice crystals on the block, so the heater definately wasn't working.
Sooo.... lesson learned: A lack of oil pressure will prevent my rig from going anywhere!
Now, it's time to change to a lighter-weight oil and off to a mechanic to help with the oil leak and block heater. Back to the cold interior on Sunday to put it all to the test.
Should I also opt for an oil pan heater? Is a magnetic one from Napa good enough? Is there a good brand to look for?
Thanks for the help guys... glad I was able to make it back home to see the wife and kids for the weekend!
Definately an oil pan heater, even with lighter weight oil. I'm not sure of the magnetic type, but the silicon pad are the norm. Pretty easy to install. Clean the oil pan and apply with silicon adhesive (buy at the same place as the oil pan heater). You may have to let the silicon cure a little bit before taking outside.
Like twin said forget the magnet get the orange pad that you silicone on. You can use a little duct tape to hold the pad on while the silicone dries.
Did you ever look in the fuel filter? The oil in the valley may be Diesel that came out of the fuel filter drain o-rings. If the filter was plugged with gelled fuel the pump would have been pushing for all it was worth and the fuel may have found another way out. Spilled diesel on the engine looks just like oil especially when cold.
The engine will not run without oil pressure because the HPOP reservoir will run dry and then the injectors will not fire but if you only added oil to the crankcase and not the HPOP reservoir then low oil was not your problem. I would still take a look at the fuel and the gpr.
Hmmmm... Being diesel everywhere instead of oil makes sense in a way - the frozen "oil" everywhere looked new enough that it could have been fuel from the previous night's attempts at starting it. If that was the case, would my filter drain o-rings be damaged now?
There was no noticible loss of oil or any drop from the normal MPG on the drive into Anchorage. There also didn't seem to be any newer "oil" everywhere... I had rubbed my fingers through a couple of places, and the clean finger swipes were still clean.
As for the oil pan heater... I assume I can just pick one up at Schucks or Napa? Any particular brand/size I should ask for?
Just measure the bottom of the pan and get one that will fit. They are a orange rubber pad with a cord coming out of them. be sure to get one for oil pan and not for the battery. The battery ones don't put out enough heat to even get through the pan.
I have 2 oil pan heaters on mine for those trip up north. Brrrrr Darn tropics down here. I have had to the following if all else fails. Blue tarp and camp stove. Let it run for an hour or so and it can get somewhat warm under the tarp. Had my fuel lines freeze up in Glennallen one winter at -60. Was the only thing that got it running.
Would anyone advise also placing a heater on their tranny pan?
__________________ Mike B
1999 F350 CC DW 2V V10 - 2000 F350 CC - Flatbed 7.3
2002 F250 SC - V10 - 2004 F350 CC - 6.O (Terd-Injectors)
2006 F350 CC Lariat - 6.0 (Terd 2 - Head Gasket)
2011 F350 CC 6.2 - The future shall tell
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