I have a 2001 E-350 Super Duty Econoline, 7.3L Turbo Diesel. The quick background is that I've converted it to run veg oil, so I have dual fuel tanks, dual fuel pumps, and electronic solenoids to switch the fuel feed/return lines between fuel sources. I don't believe the conversion to be a source of this problem, but it helps to troubleshoot to eliminate possible fuel flow/delivery problems.
I was on a long 9 hour drive and the van was powering along the highway strong and in charge. I was doing 70mph for almost 9 hours straight when suddenly I got a LOUD banging sound (like a jack hammer under the hood) and lost a lot of engine power. I pulled over thinking I threw a belt, but the belt was fine. I pulled the air filter cover off the turbo air intake tube and it seemed like the banging was actually rhythmic explosions- I could see small puffs of smoke from inside the turbo tube. I thought I might have lost an injector and maybe one cylinder was just compressing pure air- thus causing the banging. The banging got faster if I pressed on the accelerator.
I made an audio recording of the sound and attached it as a zip file if anyone wants to hear it.
The weird thing is, I left the engine running for about 10 min trying to find the source of the banging directly and then it suddenly stopped without me doing anything at all. I was on the side of a highway, so since the banging stopped I decided to try to make it to my destination.
I drove for about another 1.5 hrs and the engine felt VERY weak. Low pickup and almost no power going up hills, but on flat straight-aways, I could get up to 60-65 mphs and maintain that. When I got off the highway, the idle was rough and almost felt like it may stall out.
The next day I noticed the following-
1.) there was a rod that came out of the turbo assembly that looked like it should have been connected to a pin that controlled a valve on the turbo exhaust output. That was disconnected, so I reconnected the rod and pin.
2.) The oil level was VERY high. I decided to change the oil. My van usually takes about 17 quarts, but I drained about 22 quarts out. I refilled the oil to the operating range level and changed the oil filter.
After this is felt a little stronger, but still didn't have the pickup/power it should, still idled a little rougher than I'd like, and was still puffing out some consistent white smoke. The performance was exactly the same whether I was running diesel or veg oil and there didn't seem to be any leaks.
I drove another 120 miles to my next destination and let it sit over night.
Today, I checked the oil level and it's high again. I replaced the air filters just in case that contributed to the power problems.
The van was a VERY hard start this afternoon and the white smoke out the back seems worse. I also noticed the exhaust pipe connection at the engine is very loose- the exhaust pipe itself is just rattling inside the connecting pipe from the engine that it's supposed to be sealed to. That's leaking some exhaust into the cab.
I took it for a test drive. At the first hill it was VERY VERY low power- 20mph with the pedal to the floor. I took it a little further and the engine was struggling and eventually got so weak as to almost sputter out. The pedal all the way to the floor going DOWNHILL was only enough to keep the engine from dying. As soon as the engine had to pull any weigh, it sputtered out and died. It will crank, but it's a severe struggle to get it to fire up.
At the moment I don't have the ability to run the codes for clues, but my suspects include injectors/injector seals, and the IPR or HPOP. From other threads I've found, rising oil levels could mean fuel is getting into the oil.
To summarize my symptoms:
1.) Sudden Jackhammer banging that stopped by itself
2.) Low Power / poor acceleration which deteriorated to a stall out
3.) Hard Start
4.) White Smoke
5.) Rising Oil level
Some additional background, possibly unrelated...
-About 4 months ago the engine cut out completely while I was at a light and would not start again. Crank, but no start. Turns out it was a dead IPR and I had that replaced. Worked great again.
-About 1 month ago I had an electrical problem that melted/shorted some wires providing power to both the diesel and veg oil fuel pumps. I replaced the faulty wiring and checked all the fuses to be sure the electrical problems were gone. That 9 hour drive was the 1st full on hard drive I made since fixing the electrical issues.