Would spin but not fire with temps in mid-30's. Where to look first? - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Would spin but not fire with temps in mid-30's. Where to look first?

I just recently completed a 9000 mile vacation and the truck ran great until I got to WY and the nights were in the mid-30's. The engine would spin, there was a little white smoke from the exhaust but no firing. The camper next to me in Thayne suggested that I plug in the block heater. When I found the block heater coiled cord it appeared to have never been used before (I have only had it for 4 years). After about a half hour I tried again and this time it eventually came to life but was rough for a couple of miles even after leaving the campground. From then on I plugged in the block every night until I got to AZ and never had another problem.

Since I had a pragmatic solution I didn't worry about troubleshooting it on the road. Now that I am back home where do I start? I am thinking that the heater in the base of the fuel filter may have failed. All of the glowplugs seemed to have resistance. It is a Cali truck so it has a Glowplug controller and not the relay. What else should I be looking for?

2003 7.3L PSD F250 2WD Crewcab Longbed
DIY coolant filter, ATS Stage 2 4R100 trans, DIY inline transfilter and 6.0 trans cooler
4.11 gears and Eaton 915A550 Truetrac
Tried Flex-A-Lite model 272 dual electric fans and they caused overheating due to insufficient airflow
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post #2 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 06:43 PM
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The heater in the filter housing can short out and is usually not necessary -- I would disconnect the harness

Likely the glow plug relay is the problem -- use a test light and look for power on the passenger side(battery +), and nothing on the driver side(to glow plug)

then, key on and check again -- should be power on both sides -- talking about the large posts

You can disconnect the harness near the valve cover and measure resistance(ohms) in the outermost connections to check individual glow plugs

The small posts on the GPR -- one is 12 with key on and the other is Ground from the controller

you should hear the relay click if you key on, but not start the engine -- it will click on and off a few times

The light on the dash means nothing as far as the glow plug operation -- it is only a "comfort" light

In my defense, I was unsupervised
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post #3 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 06:47 PM
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Aannd ...I read too fast and missed the Cali controller part -- ignore the relay testing in my previous post

Pull the black and green plugs off the controller and look at the terminals for burning -- you can pop the inner cover off to see the terminals better

Should look like the picture below
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In my defense, I was unsupervised
.
2006 F250 Lariat FX4 cclb
Torque Pro and OBDLink MX bluetooth monitor
General note:
For all those wanting a premium silicone sealer Kubota 70000-73764 is the best your gonna find. This is a hybrid gray silicone that uses solvent rather than acid to start the curing reaction, this makes it safe for aluminum and and any surface that involves coolant.
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post #4 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the wiring diagram! I had pulled the connectors and verified that all 8 glow plugs had low resistance but I didn't know the wiring for the other pins. I'll check them out. Do the Controllers have a history of failing?

2003 7.3L PSD F250 2WD Crewcab Longbed
DIY coolant filter, ATS Stage 2 4R100 trans, DIY inline transfilter and 6.0 trans cooler
4.11 gears and Eaton 915A550 Truetrac
Tried Flex-A-Lite model 272 dual electric fans and they caused overheating due to insufficient airflow
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post #5 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 07:06 PM
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the controller usually is pretty robust, but the connections are the weak part

Also there are the connections at the passenger side battery and fusible links leading to the controller

Not sure on your model, but on later models the controller gives codes if there is a problem

In my defense, I was unsupervised
.
2006 F250 Lariat FX4 cclb
Torque Pro and OBDLink MX bluetooth monitor
General note:
For all those wanting a premium silicone sealer Kubota 70000-73764 is the best your gonna find. This is a hybrid gray silicone that uses solvent rather than acid to start the curing reaction, this makes it safe for aluminum and and any surface that involves coolant.
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post #6 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Mine is the 2003 F250 and there were no codes which tripped the CEL. I was struck at how sensitive it is to temperature. I found it would start at 40 degrees but just spin at 5 degrees less. I was able to repeat it in Utah on a day I didn't need to get going early so I had left the block heater off.

2003 7.3L PSD F250 2WD Crewcab Longbed
DIY coolant filter, ATS Stage 2 4R100 trans, DIY inline transfilter and 6.0 trans cooler
4.11 gears and Eaton 915A550 Truetrac
Tried Flex-A-Lite model 272 dual electric fans and they caused overheating due to insufficient airflow
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post #7 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 07:51 PM
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Thinking you may not be getting power to the controller -- it needs the generate a code

The truck should start down to 20F with the glow plugs alone

Found the vid


In my defense, I was unsupervised
.
2006 F250 Lariat FX4 cclb
Torque Pro and OBDLink MX bluetooth monitor
General note:
For all those wanting a premium silicone sealer Kubota 70000-73764 is the best your gonna find. This is a hybrid gray silicone that uses solvent rather than acid to start the curing reaction, this makes it safe for aluminum and and any surface that involves coolant.
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post #8 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for sending the video and stating that the glow plugs alone will start the engine down to ~20 degrees. Perhaps you are correct that no power to the Controller prevents codes. I'll check the wiring and fusible links.

2003 7.3L PSD F250 2WD Crewcab Longbed
DIY coolant filter, ATS Stage 2 4R100 trans, DIY inline transfilter and 6.0 trans cooler
4.11 gears and Eaton 915A550 Truetrac
Tried Flex-A-Lite model 272 dual electric fans and they caused overheating due to insufficient airflow
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post #9 of 33 Old 12-02-2019, 11:08 PM
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Another thought - were you using any type of fuel anti-gel?

I ask because I was in Oregon in winter (20) once without any. It took me a while to get the truck to start...and...stay running. Noisy as heck and a bit rough running for a bit. The next time I went there in winter (15-20), I added Power Service Diesel Kleen in the white bottle BEFORE I got into the cold. The next morning, it fired right up. Still noisy, but ran great. In both cases, I was not using the block heater. The first time, I didn't know I had one. (Hadn't had the truck that long and where I live, it doesn't get THAT cold. The second time, I didn't have access to a plug.
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post #10 of 33 Old 12-03-2019, 08:44 AM
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Plus 1 on the Power Service White -- those paraffin crystals can start forming above freezing temps, and once started they are difficult to get rid of , until the fuel is warmed up

I have had fuel that could be scooped up with my hands -- should have used Power Service

In my defense, I was unsupervised
.
2006 F250 Lariat FX4 cclb
Torque Pro and OBDLink MX bluetooth monitor
General note:
For all those wanting a premium silicone sealer Kubota 70000-73764 is the best your gonna find. This is a hybrid gray silicone that uses solvent rather than acid to start the curing reaction, this makes it safe for aluminum and and any surface that involves coolant.
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