Starting a 7.3-Liter Diesel After Years of Sitting

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7.3-Liter Diesel

Starting up a long-idled 7.3-liter diesel can be a scary task. But here’s how to do it right!

As any good gearhead knows, letting vehicles sit for too long is never a good thing. Especially when you don’t at least start up the engine and let it run every now and then. Time and the environment are a truck’s worst enemies, after all. And if you’re looking to start something like, say an IDI 7.3-liter diesel after it’s sat for years, some precautions should be taken. So when Ford Truck Enthusiasts member aqnhfd was thinking about buying a neglected F-250 recently, he went to the forums for some advice on that very topic.

“I have the opportunity to buy a 1992 F-250 with an IDI 7.3-liter diesel that has been sitting for many years. Believe it’s been 10-15 years, although I don’t know for sure. I can have it for $200 (scrap price), so I’m interested. I know the PO, that’s why I’m getting the deal. He parked it because the glow plugs went bad and he already had another truck. So he had no interest in putting money into it.

My question is, when I go this weekend to fool around with it, what should I do to get it to fire? I’m going to bring 5 gallons of diesel, new oil, and filters. It’s been cold here, so given what I’ve learned about IDIs and bad glow plugs I will be bringing ether. I don’t know much about IDIs, I own Power Strokes only. So how should I go about it? Just replace the fluids and filters and see if it’ll come to life?”

7.3-Liter Diesel

Almost immediately, DarkOverCast chimed in with some excellent advice.

“You only need three things:

1. Two hot batteries – can’t stress this enough, you will fight it all the way with just jumper cables.
2. A 5/8 wrench.
3. The can of ether you mentioned.

Crack the injection lines and crank it over until five or so of them are squirting fuel. Close them off and while someone is cranking on it, shoot a puff or two of ether at it. The return lines are going to be shot and leaking diesel everywhere so it probably won’t idle but it will run. I wouldn’t bother with the filter/oil changes until you know she’s a runner. Don’t sweat the old diesel in the tanks too much, about the only thing an IDI won’t burn is water.

If you buy it, be sure to USE ONLY MOTORCRAFT/BERU glow plugs. Don’t let the guy behind the parts counter say the Autolites are ‘just as good.’ Also, have a wet shirt/rag ready in case it runs away. Very unlikely, but you never know”

Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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