Driving home for Christmas and she died - Help! - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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Old 12-24-2009, 08:16 PM
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Driving home for Christmas and she died - Help!

Hi, I'm new to the forum and hope someone can help me out.

I was driving from the UP of MI to the Detroit area yesterday and while cruising down the freeway at 70, the van all of a sudden started feeling like it was running out of fuel. The light had just come on, and normally I have 5 gallons left. I managed to get off the highway and made it about 1/2 mile down a surface road before it cut out completely. It went from running full on one minute and just faded away in a matter of a mile or so. Thought I was out of fuel, so I put a couple gallons in and it would not re-start. Fired a little, some white smoke, but no re-start. Had it towed to my parents (thankfully we were within about 20 miles at this point) and started searching for clues. The van had the CMP recall done about 5K ago, but it sure sounded like that was the problem, so I picked up two new ones today from the International dealer. Put the first in and it would not start. Seemed to fire eradically, so I swapped in the second new one just in case I had a bad new part. Still no start, but it seems to try to fire now, but not catch. Added some more fuel with 911 treatment in case of gelling in the tank, and plugged in the block heater for a few hours. Checked all the fuses under the hood, and the important ones under the dash. Still will not start. Does not seem to be much smoke coming out of the pipe. The oil pressure gauge shows good pressure while cranking. Changer up the batteries while I was working and they are at 12.8+ volts.

So, any ideas?? I'm strapped for time and need to get this fixed so I can go home on Sunday for work!! Should probably add, it's a 2003 E-350 with a 7.3L.

Thanks! Brian
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Old 12-25-2009, 02:46 AM
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Wish I was close by I'd hook up the scanner to it. That is what I would do if I were you. Stop guessing and get it scanned. The only time mine left me on the side of the road was when the wiring harness under the valve cover came loose. In fact, I didn't replace it the first time and it came loose again. Mine was on the driver side but the scanner told me that.

Oh...and welcome to the org.!

I'll help you keep this bumped to the top today. You may want to post again with something like: Need Scanner Help In Detroit!" Just an idea?


Maybe farmboy can help you? Anyone in Michigan that needs

Last edited by Hank; 12-25-2009 at 03:07 AM.
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Old 12-25-2009, 04:41 AM
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Hope you get it figured out.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:35 AM
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Place a hose on the end of the fuel bowl drain line and open the fuel filter drain, with it open try cranking. You should be a solid strong ( 55 psi) stream of fuel out of that hose. If not you have a bad fuel pump or clogged pick up in the tank itself.
What kind of oil pressure are you seeing while cranking? Sure sounds like a fuel related problem.
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Old 12-25-2009, 07:06 AM
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Old 12-25-2009, 09:48 AM
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OK, thanks. I will try the hose trick and see what I get.
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Old 12-25-2009, 04:47 PM
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UPDATE - The van is running, but I still want to be sure I understand what happened:

More info:
Last night I picked up sone Diesel 911 and dumped it in the tank. I did not pull the filter because it was getting late and almost time to do the family Christmas stuff, and since the van is a half hour project to get to the filter, called in for the night.

Today I tried the hose on the drain test and it was definitely not 55psi coming out of the line, but it was a continuous stream. Just for kicks, I tested the fuel pump fuse and it was good, and swapped the fuel pump relay, which was also good. I cycled the key a few times to re-fill the fuel bowl, and tried starting it. It fired a few times and almost ran, then went back to just cranking. I drained the bowl again, cycled the pump, drained the bowl, cycled the pump, and cranked. Fired a few times, almost ran (longer this time) and died. Drained, cycled, drained, cycled...etc, cranked and Merry Christmas, she started. Ran rough and was smoking like a fiend, but running. I let it idle a bit, it slowly improved. Revved it up a few times, fumigated the neighbors, actually the whole block, and it continued to improve. So, I unplugged, closed up the hood and made a smoked lap around the block. Power was very low, but it continued to improve. Couple more times around and it seemed to be getting close to normal, so I ran it out on the main roads for a few miles. Everything seems good now. I stopped and filled up the tank and put more additive in. I plan to put a new fuel filter in tomorrow when the stores are open.

Now, I want to understand what happened before making the 450 mile run back home.

To summarize: Driving down I75 with the cruise at 70mph, van starts to stumble and loose power. Feels like running out of fuel. Low fuel light had come on approximately 5 miles prior (normally means 5 gallons left.) I make an immediate exit and get about 1/2 mile from the highway and it continues to peter-out and die. Will not re-start. Walk to the gas-station - no diesel (grrr!). Call dad who brings a couple gallons of diesel out. Cycle the pump a few times, van will not re-start. Some white smoke, seemed to fire erratically, but no re-start. Decide to call for a tow just as the police arrive and say we have to have it towed. Towed 20 miles to parents house..ok, at least we made it. Van sits over night. Thursday morning I jump on powerstroke.org (awesome site!), and all indications point to CMP, which had been replaced 5k ago under recall. Pick up two new ones from the international dealer, swap one in, no luck. Does not seem to fire, so I try the second one (who knows, right?) Crank and seems to fire, but no start. Back on powerstroke.org, lots of ideas to try. Put the battery charger on it to make sure voltage was good. Check the fuses - good. Maybe gelled fuel in pick-up? Put 8 gallons of diesel in so the secondary pickup will be submerged. Still nothing. Plugged it in to try and warm things up. Gave up and went to a family Christmas party. From here you can jump to "today" above.

Any theories on what happened? It has a new CMP and lots of Diesel 911 in the tank at this point. I'm going to try putting the old CMP back in when I get back home to confirm if it was good or bad. Meeting up with bigcountrysg tomorrow to scan it and see if anything else is up.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:39 PM
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Strange? I will be very interested to know when you find out. Glad bigcountry can help you out. Good luck on your return trip and report back to us when you get home.
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Old 12-26-2009, 06:43 AM
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My guess is gelled fuel, I don't remember if you said what the temps were but if you are close to SG it is cold. If the fuel gelled adding the 911 to the tank will help with the fuel in the tank, but what about all the fuel in the lines, pump, fuel bowl, fuel filter, injectors, etc......? It took several drains of the fuel bowl to get this good fuel from the tank up to the injectors. Did you collect any of the drained fuel, or did you just dump it on the ground? If you collected it did it look gelled? I would replace the FF before driving home and if you have to fill up add some additional anti gel additive to the fuel you purchase. Glad to hear you got it running.
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Old 12-26-2009, 07:34 AM
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Could you have simply run out of fuel because you gauge has become inaccurate?

You say your dad brought you "a couple of gallons" but, that may not have been enough to full solve the problem. I'm not sure why, but I've always understood that, if you run dry it's necessary to put in, at least, 5 gallons to be sure you're ready to restart......
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