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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Engine Cranks / No Fire / No Start / Fuel Issue

Orange County, CA, USA.

2001. Ford Powerstroke. 7.3L. E450. 24 foot El Dorado Bus / Van.

Very tight, crammed, engine compartment. Hard to access and find stuff.

Problem Background / History:

Engine has 300,000.
I've owned 2 years. I've put on about 7,000 miles.
Ever-since I bought it, sometimes the engine would die on idle at a traffic light or in park. This only happened every once in a while.
Recently, engine idle sometimes rough upon starting and died out. Sometimes rough idle when in park or when stopped at traffic light, causing engine to die. Not all all the time.
I ran the engine with fuel tank low on empty, but got fuel, did not run out of fuel or die. Engine ran fine after that.
About 2-3 days later, after driving a few miles, I parked and it started to idle rough and want to die and I shut off engine before it died.
A few hours later, I was ready to leave, turned engine over, would not start. Engine cranks over. No combustion. No fire. Left it parked. I tried again later. No luck. I tried again a few days later. No luck. It hasn't started up since then.

Don't know what the problem is. This is my first diesel engine. I have read some comments here about various things to try. I'd appreciate some ideas and feedback on my situation.

People tell me to check / change fuel filter upfront on the engine. They say it's easy to do. I looked in there, the engine is crammed in the space, hard to access or find stuff. The fuel filter is buried under stuff. I took the air intake / air filter plastic shroud off. The fuel filter is still down under various electrical connectors, heater water hose, turbo charger air intake hose, etc. So, I still got stuff to take off just to access the fuel filter. And, the space is limited to reach the fuel filter or to remove it. So, it's not such an easy thing to do as some people say. I still have a few more hoses to remove to get to the fuel filter canister.

I bought a fuel filter to have on stand by in case I need it. Since I've already gone this far, I thought I might want to replace it while I'm checking things out. Who knows when it was replaced the last time. When I replaced the air filter over a year ago, it was extremely dirty, so the previous owner didn't seem to keep things too clean.

I need some good suggestions from experienced mechanics who've had this problem and have experience with it and not just hearsay.

I'd like to find the quickest way to test if the fuel pump is pumping fuel to the engine. I can't even find the fuel bowl. It's buried under something, somewhere. I could use an engine diagram / schematic for this exact rig showing where everything is located.

Don't know where the fuel pump inertia switch is located if there is one. This is a bus, not a pick up truck, so there's no passenger side kick panel area. Only door with stairs entry way.

I don't think it's air in the fuel line because I added fuel in tank and had been starting up and driving around for a few miles, for 2-3 days. I have experienced air in the fuel line before and it doesn't seem to be that.

I don't know if I sucked up junk from the bottom of the tank and maybe plugged up my filter in the tank or if some water?

I don't know if I burned out my fuel pump from running on low fuel recently? And, bus has 300,000 miles. Don't know if fuel pump was replaced or when. So, who knows it's life span.

I live in the road in this bus. So I was broken down in a parking lot. Warned to move. Got towed out of lot to the street. Neighbors called the police. Warned to move within 72 hours. Friend towed me across town. Street sweeper day coming on Tues early morn. So must move again. It's a race against the clock to fix this or I face $300 tickets, towing and impound. The bus is my home on the road. I live in it 365 days a year, 24/7. So, it's very critical and urgent that I get it up and going asap.

I am in Orange County, CA, near Costa Mesa / Newport Beach, CA areas.

I'm on a low, tight budget. Survival mode. I can't afford to hire a mechanic or go to a repair shop.

If there's anyone out there who can help remotely or is nearby who would be willing to give me a helping hand, I'd really appreciate it. I'm a social media guy. At least I can give you a shoutout on social media and my YouTube channel.

Hoping I can get this fixed and back on the road again as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, it's a game of cat and mouse, trying to avoid the neighbors, the street sweepers, the cops, the parking lot owners and the tickets, tows and impounds.

Thanks so much.

Sincerely,

JR

Google Search: Road Warriors 360

If interested, like life on the road and like to help people, follow me on Instagram; YouTube; Facebook; Twitter.
 

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Considering the symptoms, I'd start by checking fuel pressure with the problem occurring.
Pump should be on the driver's side frame rail, below door area. Maybe start by listening/feeling for it's hum with the key on for first 30 seconds
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Kaya, Appreciate your reply. In my vehicle type, is there a pump in the tank and also one on the rail, that you mentioned? Or only one fuel pump in the spot you mentioned? Do you have a picture of what this rail pump looks like? Thanks for your reply. JR
 

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Just the one on the rail. Cylinder about half the size of a pop can. Has 2 fuel lines connected to it lol.
 
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Ok, Kaya, thanks so much for the soda can picture image. Now I know what to look for. Ha. I already had explored underneath about a week ago, and I recall seeing something like that. I will revisit that spot. JR
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Hi Kaya. Ok, I turned the key, jumped under the bus, heard the pump humming. So, can I rule out the fuel pump? Of course, I don't know if the fuel is moving yet. I have about 1/4 tank of diesel. If fuel pump good, what are the next things you'd try? Is there an inertia switch on my bus? What is a MDT reset button? Noticed those words on a panel on front right side area of the dashboard facing inside bus. Which electrical switches or areas should I check? Where should I check to see if fuel is pumping to the engine? When should I check the fuel filter? Is spraying esther into air intake area ever advised with this type of engine or not? Is running some transmission fluid thru the fuel tank advised to clean the lines of contaminates or not good? Someone mentioned this. I'm talking about once I solve the engine problem and it's working. Or what is recommended to clean fuel lines, injectors and other areas of contaminates? Give me a list of things to do next. Anyone else who knows what they're doing are welcome to share their thoughts if you know my vehicle and have experience working on my type of engine. Thanks so much. JR
 

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Next, you'll need a device capable of reading engine data/codes. There are cell phone apps you can purchase, along with a dongle to plug into the obd port. That's where I'd turn next.
Is there any smoke out the tailpipe while cranking?
Does the rpm gauge move at all while cranking?
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Kaya. In the past when I cranked it over, didn't think to look for white smoke. And, I'm alone, upfront, don't have anyone to look in back for me. Mine bus doesn't have an RPM gauge. I'm on a tight budget. I wonder how much a cheap phone app and dongle cable would cost? Do I need a phone data connection to access info or can do offline? My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S5. No data service. I only use as a wifi phone at the time. Is there a fuel pump inertia reset switch on my bus like some diesel pick up trucks have? If you didn't have a code reader, and had to solve the problem in survival-mode, what other things would you do next? Thanks. JR
 

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All said and done you probably won't be paying more than 20$. Just search this forum. There are plenty of threads to point you in the right direction for data viewing.
It's not worth the time without it. Especially not on an e series
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Ok, I'll definitely look into that. Share a link for the best cheapest one if anyone finds one for the phone app code reader android. Thanks. JR
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Kaya or anyone. Please share a link to the best cheapest free code reader app and best cheapest dongle cable source online. I rather have a referral to a good source and brand than guess and pick one that isn't good or recommended. I appreciate any advice, comments, suggestions, sources and resources that may help me solve my problem. Still broken down and stuck on the road going on over a week now. Thanks so much. JR

Ps. App for Samsung Galaxy S5 Android smart phone.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Hi NoRalPh. No, I haven't seen. I will go look now. Thanks for taking the time to share this. I appreciate any advice, comments, suggestions, sources and resources that may help me solve my problem. Still broken down and stuck on the road going on over a week now. Thanks so much. JR
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
To Kaya and anyone else: I don't recall any red check engine light ever going on, so I guess a code reader won't be of any help? I think I'll just check the fuel pump to see if it is pumping fuel up to the engine. I bought a fuel filter. I'll change that out and see if fuel is pumping there. I have to replace the temperature send unit that reports to the dash temp gauge while I'm at this spot. After that, I'll put everything back, reconnect electrical connectors, and see what happens. I'll try a code reader if I can get my hands on one. Not sure what else to do. I don't know if there's a fuel pump inertia switch, but if there is, it must be ok, since the fuel pump is humming for 30 secs. when key is on. I checked all the fuses in the fuse box, and any I found under the dash, all good. So, don't know what else to do. Anyone is invited to send me any other suggestions or what to check and do. Thanks. JR
 

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RED? The SES light, which indicates the PCM sees something out-of-spec, is Yellow and just because you don't see it on right now doesn't mean there aren't codes to read. You really can't do more for less money that investing into a simple app to retrieve codes (and a specialized library of codes at That!).

My usual No Start -


WTS Light? - do you get it when you first roll-on the key? (shows the computer is running)

Do you see cranking rpm on the Tach? (some '01s are supposed to, some aren't) Do you have a spare CPS to try?

Is there fuel in the fuel bowl now? Does it refill after cranking? (open the drain level to check) Look above the pass ft tire, you'll see a 3/8" metal tube, against the motor that ends there, it's the drain for the bowl (yellow lever you slide to the side). Get a cup, open the lever, drain the fuel bowl, look at the fuel, close the lever. Then, turn the key to the ON position (should hear the pump) for 15 secs. Drain the fuel bowl again, whaddya got?

Can you hear/feel the pump running (below the dr seat, against the framerail)

Could the fuel gauge be giving a bad reading? (Below 1/4 tank?)

Is it cranking fast enough? - it won't even TRY to start if cranking too slowly.

Is your truck "chipped"? If so, remove it as a Test.

You can unplug the ICP sensor, as a Test, so the PCM sets a default value for the IPR to run on.

Did you check the plug and sheet metal nut going to the IPR? That nut can vibrate off and allow the solenoid going over the valve to slide around. The wires going to the IPR can get brittle, crack, and short together. Make sure the plug & wires look in good shape.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi. Thanks for your help. I'm still broken down on the street. A friend towed me to another street because street sweeper day to avoid a ticket. I am in Calif. I you are in the U.S., I'd like to speak with you by phone. I will private message. I will look into all these things. I am on a very tight budget, so very limited money. I will find a way to get a code reader. I'd love to have one for now and the future. Thanks for this list of things to try. Frankly, I need a diagram, schematic, drawing of the engine and where all these things are located and info on what they do. Do you have a link for me or suggest a source? Also, please suggest a link for the best cheap or free app and for the best cheap dongle cable for the smartphone. Mine is Android. Samsung Galaxy S5. Also, does the app work on the phone without a data wireless connection? Because I only use phone on wifi, no data plan. Are there any local stores that sell this dongle or must buy online? I definitely want and need the code reader. I don't like just guessing. I prefer to know what's going on. It's just that my situation is so urgent being broken down on the street. Can't stay in one place long on the street or get complaints, warnings, ticketed, towed and impounded. Survival-Mode Level 10. JR

RED? The SES light, which indicates the PCM sees something out-of-spec, is Yellow and just because you don't see it on right now doesn't mean there aren't codes to read. You really can't do more for less money that investing into a simple app to retrieve codes (and a specialized library of codes at That!).

My usual No Start -


WTS Light? - do you get it when you first roll-on the key? (shows the computer is running)

X. Not sure. What does WTS stand for?

Do you see cranking rpm on the Tach? (some '01s are supposed to, some aren't) Do you have a spare CPS to try?

X. No Tach / No RPM info.

Is there fuel in the fuel bowl now? Does it refill after cranking? (open the drain level to check) Look above the pass ft tire, you'll see a 3/8" metal tube, against the motor that ends there, it's the drain for the bowl (yellow lever you slide to the side). Get a cup, open the lever, drain the fuel bowl, look at the fuel, close the lever. Then, turn the key to the ON position (should hear the pump) for 15 secs. Drain the fuel bowl again, whaddya got?

X. Now, with your info., I'll try to find fuel bowl.

Can you hear/feel the pump running (below the dr seat, against the framerail)

X. Yes, heard the pump humming.

Could the fuel gauge be giving a bad reading? (Below 1/4 tank?)

X. Fuel gauge seemed to be accurate prior to this problem.

Is it cranking fast enough? - it won't even TRY to start if cranking too slowly.

X. It was at the time of the problem, but now I have to charge battery.

Is your truck "chipped"? If so, remove it as a Test.

X. Not sure. How to find out?

You can unplug the ICP sensor, as a Test, so the PCM sets a default value for the IPR to run on.

X. Don't know what these are or where located. Need to find online diagram to print out. Can you provide link? Auto parts store doesn't have any repair book on my vehicle.

Did you check the plug and sheet metal nut going to the IPR? That nut can vibrate off and allow the solenoid going over the valve to slide around. The wires going to the IPR can get brittle, crack, and short together. Make sure the plug & wires look in good shape.
X. Don't know what this is or where located. Need to find a diagram with everything on it. Can you suggest a link or source?

Thanks so much.

JR
 

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OK, lets start here;

The WTS is the "Wait to Start" light, people call it the "GlowPlug light (incorrectly). Are you getting that?

The CPS is the Cam Position Sensor and a common failure. If you Do NOT have a trans temp gauge in the instrument cluster (means you have an "early '01" w/o the electrical upgrade) then you should see cranking rpm on the tach as you crank it on the starter (means the CPS is doing it's job). If you DO Have that Trans Temp Gauge in the cluster (the "other" 01's and newer) you Will NOT see cranking rpm on the Tach. This is where a scanner would tell you rpm.

The fuel gauge issue has more to do with the pick-up failing rather than a bad reading. At 1/4 tank it's not uncommon for a bad pick-up to "suck air" instead of fuel. The fuel test above will confirm fuel delivery though, it's just that IF you're at 1/4 tank it's an easy fix to just add 10 gallons and see what happens (you're gonna buy fuel at some point anyway....)

Cranking is VERY important because the computer has several criteria that have to be met before it will trigger the IDM to fire the injectors. Once the cranking speed slows noticeably (>100rpm where 150 is kinda normal) it will not even Try to start. Get those batteries charged or you're just wasting your time & electricity. Again this is where a scanner will tell you RPM ~ ICP pressure ~ Cranking Voltage ALL stuff the PCM needs to have minimums met.

By "chip" we mean a performance chip added to the PCM (computer). I think you'd know, you'd most likely have a knob somewhere to select different performance/towing tunes. They can come loose and cause problems.

I have an S5 also, I use this adapter, they are Blue Tooth, no data needed. http://www.amazon.com/BAFX-Products-34t5-Bluetooth-Android/dp/B005NLQAHS/ Unfortunately, I have no idea how to get one locally.

Here's a pic of those sensor locations (ICP ~ IPR)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi NoRalPh. Thanks. This info really helps along with the info Kaya has shared. The pic really helps. My engine compartment is very tight. The fuel filter area and all those sensors and everything is buried underneath a bunch of other stuff and then the engine compartment area comes in over the top if that space, so there's very little access or clearance. And, inside the vehicle there is the engine cover access for the other end of the engine. So, seeing a diagram really helps. Where's the fuel bowl? Below the fuel filter? If so, I probably won't be able to see it because of how jammed and crowded everything is. Which app do you recommend? Cost? I'd like the best cheapest one that is most useful. I hear some mention Torque Lite and Pro. Link? Thanks for sharing. JR
 

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What I am calling the "fuel bowl" is more accurately the Filter Housing (in the pic the words "Heater Plug" over the cap). Coincidentally this heater plug is important to know because if you do not have the WTS coming on at all the problem is often that the heater has shorted, blow the fuse, and is keeping the PCM from booting-up (a reason to keep asking about the WTS light).

The Torque App Pro is $5.00 I believe and available from Google Play in your phone. Also, you might find that an Amazon Locker, if you have one nearby, might have quick access to the BT adapter.

I also encourage you to start Googling any of these terms, acronyms, and product questions, you'd get a much quicker response :wink[3]:

How are you making out following the No Start?

WTS?
Trans Temp gauge in the cluster?
Try adding fuel?
Charging Batteries?
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
What I am calling the "fuel bowl" is more accurately the Filter Housing (in the pic the words "Heater Plug" over the cap). Coincidentally this heater plug is important to know because if you do not have the WTS coming on at all the problem is often that the heater has shorted, blow the fuse, and is keeping the PCM from booting-up (a reason to keep asking about the WTS light).

X. Ok. I have the WTS / Wait To Start light. No problem there.

The Torque App Pro is $5.00 I believe and available from Google Play in your phone. Also, you might find that an Amazon Locker, if you have one nearby, might have quick access to the BT adapter.

X. I have to order the code reader.

I also encourage you to start Googling any of these terms, acronyms, and product questions, you'd get a much quicker response :wink[3]:

X. Ok. Will do.

How are you making out following the No Start?

X. No progress. Broken down on street. No one to help me. Battery weak. Need to charge. But, can't remove battery or will lose any codes stored if battery goes dead or if disconnect. So need another way to charge battery up full. Have auxiliary battery that maybe I can connect to existing battery to draw power. Not sure. No where to plug in a battery charger. And, if a car is parked in front of me at day or night, then I can't get someone to park in front of me to jump my battery and boost it up. And, can't start my own engine to charge the battery up. So, see, challenges at every angle.

WTS?

X. Yes, I have Wait To Start light. No problem there.

Trans Temp gauge in the cluster?

X. Sorry, can't remember what this all means. I'll have to review above.

Try adding fuel?

X. Need ride to fuel station and get more fuel in container. But, vehicle has run on less fuel than what I have in the past. Never been a problem before.

Charging Batteries?
X. Need way to charge battery without removing it, so don't lose codes stored. Don't want to risk losing valuable info / data that could help me solve this problem.

The many challenges of being broken down on the street, in the city, and not knowing many people here and no diesel mech friends and no code reader and all the other stuff.

So, frankly, nothing's getting done except I am getting some good info from you and Kaya, and all I can do is wait to get a code reader and find a way to charge the battery.

I only have one battery under the hood and the other battery was for the wheel chair lift that's been removed. Last time I checked, the battery was good. How can I use this 2nd battery to help the weak one under the hood? Ideas? Otherwise, need someone to bring their vehicle and jump charge it up more.

Thanks for your suggestions and help.

Very broken down and stuck here on the street in the city having to get towed every few days to avoid cops and tickets.

Frustrating.

JR
 
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