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  #1  
Old 01-27-2010, 06:55 PM
CriticalMass CriticalMass is offline
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Unhappy '02 7.3 missing and smoking until engine warms up

Hi, I've been throwing parts at this so far and don't seem to be making any progress, so I thought it would be a good idea to come and get some opinions before I spend myself broke. It is a:

2002 F-350 service truck with an extra long wheelbase and an automatic trans.
96k miles
keeps setting a P1211 code
really low on oil when I got it, and oil didn't look to have been changed in a while
misses and smokes until it warms up
doesn't want to start up when the fuel tank is low (less than 1/4 tank)

I just bought this truck, about a month ago. I live in southeast Louisiana and I flew to Ontario, California to pick it up. Things were shady from the start.When I got there the guy said they had "noticed" a problem with it and wanted to make sure it was fixed before I took off in it, 2000 miles back home. He said it had a couple of codes in it. 2 hours later it was dropped off and seemed to be running fine. He said there was a loose fuel line connection and they had it fixed. I grabbed my stuff, installed my license plate, and hit the road.

20 miles down the road the truck started missing and smoking pretty bad. Now I do have some experience with these and immediately had the thought that it was probably low on oil. I pulled the dipstick and sure enough, it wasn't even touching the stick. 2 1/2 gallons later I had it topped off. I drove the rest of the day, then had the oil changed the next day with 15W40 Rotella and a new filter.

Every morning on the way back, when I would start the truck, it would take extended cranking to start it. Sometimes not much. Other times, enough to scare me a little.... but it always started. It would miss and smoke until I got it out on the road and got it warm. Then it would smooth off and run fine the rest of the day; no missing or smoking.

When I finally got the truck home, I checked the oil level and was pleased to see that it had only used about a quart in the 2000 miles home. I parked it and it sat in one place for a week, without being started. When I tried to start it back up, it wouldn't. I cranked and cranked and cranked, and it would try to start, but wouldn't. so I started replacing parts. Fuel filter, glow plugs, and did one head gasket and internal harness on the passenger side. I was about to do the other side when I remembered that another almost identical truck I had driven had done something similar, and would only run if there was plenty of fuel in the tank. So, I went and got 10 more gallons and poured it in the tank. The truck started immediately. Still doing what it did before, but it started.

I'm blindfolded here. I don't have a scanner, and I don't have enough experience with these things to know what to do next. All I have is the P1211 code, the symptoms, and the order that things happened in to try and formulate a diagnosis.

What should I do next? I really need some help.
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  #2  
Old 01-27-2010, 07:57 PM
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Why did you replace the head gasket? How are you reading codes? The less than 1/4 tank sounds like a problem in the tank.
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:34 PM
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I'm guessing you meant valve cover gasket, not head gasket. I find it hard to believe that adding 10 gallons to the tank caused the truck to magically start. Try and repeat the results to be sure. Make sure the start did not happen because it was later in the day and warmer, the engine had been cranked enough to warm things up a little, etc.

If it's a fuel tank level issue, then your fuel filter bowl should be empty after a couple of cranking attempts with a low tank. This of course would be the cheapest and easiest thing to fix, which also makes it less likely if your luck is like mine.

What are you using to pull the codes? Can you monitor any live data? Does the truck start any better if you unplug the ICP sensor?
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:51 PM
CriticalMass CriticalMass is offline
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You're right, I did mean valve cover gasket. Sorry about the confusion on that. I was a bit pressed for time when I posted before.

But no, as strange as it sounds, all I did was add 10 gallons of fuel. And that was only about 20 minutes after a good round of cranking trying to start the thing, later on in the evening when it was cooling off outside, not getting warmer. Another thing that made me decide to do that, is I heard strange noises coming from the electric pump in the frame rail. As if it was starving for fuel. After adding the 10 gallons it still made those noises..... but it started up pretty quickly. Could there really be something obstructing the strainer in the tank? How likely would that be?

I haven't tried unplugging the ICP sensor. If I do that and the miss goes away, does that indicate a bad ICP or a problem with the IPR? I forgot to mention that I had done this before, but someone told me to check the head pressure on the high pressure pump, so I disconnected one hose and adapted a guage to it. It showed 3600 PSI while cranking. Thats normal from what I understand.

All I have is a little el cheapo code reader. Do I need something that can read data stream info to be able to fix this or can I try some more trial and error stuff without going broke in the process?

Thanks, and thanks again in advance for any help provided.
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  #5  
Old 01-27-2010, 10:59 PM
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My truck has started skipping/missing at a quarter tank twice on me,i haven't done the in-tank mods yet either,i just keep more than a quarter tank of fuel in it.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:10 PM
parkland parkland is offline
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I've read about this problem a few times here now; the low fuel air in fuel situation.....

Heres something to ponder...Mine has almost 300,000km's on it now, and just the other day I ran it so low that I was scared, 25 minutes of driving after the dinging started....and ran 100%.

In fact, on another time, I was just as empty (below empty), and I was driving over a bumpy field, then down a big hill, and up a big hill, to get home, and again ran 100%.

What could be different from mine to yours?

Mine is a 2002 auto, ext cab, 4x4....no weird sounds from anything as of yet....

Could your lift pump be failing? Bad fuel? ????
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:15 PM
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Maybe?

Parkland, did you buy your truck new? Just wondering if maybe someone modded your tank before you got it.

My truck starts running like crap just below the 1/4 tank hash, gets louder and gutless. Was all stock that I am aware of when I got it, until I decided to save some money coming to FTE and got baddddd case of PMS

Original poster, I wonder if you have a cracked pickup tube in the tank maybe? Lots of smoke when cold also tells me glo plug relay, except you are in LA, not MT like me....
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:30 PM
parkland parkland is offline
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I got mine used, from the original owner, who never modded anything, I met him, and I believe him.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:49 PM
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fordf250guy
Well,i'm not the most experienced mechanic in the room,but my bro-in-law drove my truck to take a friend home,10 miles down the road,he calls and said it cut off and would not start back,i thought wtf! i knew there was fuel in it when he left.I asked what the fuel guage read,he said about a quarter tank(about where i thought it was),..ya know,nothing is wrong with it that i knew of,anyway,i took 5 gallons of fuel to where it stopped,put it in,after a few spins it fired up and ran fine.Another time we were going out that night,again the fuel guage read about a quarter tank,we left the house and it hiccupped/skipped a couple times,went to the store,filled it up with fuel,and it didn't do it again...
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:07 PM
CriticalMass CriticalMass is offline
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Well, I worked on it again this morning and it was pretty much the same story.... but

I thought "what the heck" and decided to check the oil level again, even though it had only been a couple hundred miles since I got it home. Guess what? It was almost a gallon low on oil.

It lost that much oil in 200 miles....

At this point, from what I have been reading, I think I have an injector o-ring problem. Does that seem to fit?

If that is the case, what should I do? Googling around, I see different shops selling the o-ring kits that come with 6 o-rings per injector. Is this something I could do myself without any special tools?
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:36 PM
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Try draining your fuel bowl into a clear container. If it is black that a good sign of injector o rings. Your fuel filter would be pretty black as well. If you get the o rings go with ford or international.
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:40 PM
CriticalMass CriticalMass is offline
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Well, thats another thing. The fuel filter had been recently, and I do mean recently replaced when I picked the truck up. I've had the cover off since then and everything looks clean inside. Could they have done that in an effort to fix this problem, or maybe eliminate evidence such as you mentioned?
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:53 PM
CriticalMass CriticalMass is offline
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Well I went ahead and ordered 8 of the o-ring kits. I found a set of instructions on installing them. Doesn't seem that difficult, once you get the injector out. I found a shop on ebay selling them for $7 a set.

But I would still like be interested to know who thinks this has a good chance of working, and why adding fuel made this thing go ahead and run when it otherwise wouldn't. I would rather waste time and effort than money (parts).
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Old 01-28-2010, 06:25 PM
onelionhunter onelionhunter is offline
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Tank

Adding fuel and its cured tells me its in the tank as a best place to start. Weather its dirty screens, cracked pickup, whatever. if thats where you made it go away, thats where I would start looking. Drop the tank and have a looksie is my best advice.
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:00 PM
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Well, it didn't effect the missing and smoking, but it did seem to make a difference in being able to get it started.

It still misses and smokes (blue) exactly the way it has when cold, for the month I have owned it. Its runs fine once the engine gets up to full temp.
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:00 PM
 
 
 
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