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I live in Vermont and i’m new to owning a diesel. I own a 2003 Ford power stroke 7.3. I plug in my block heater but my truck still has a ton of trouble starting in the morning even if it sits for the day after starting that morning. I always end up running my batteries low and seem to have to jump start it but it still takes a ton of cycles of the glow plugs for it to even pop off. I noticed unplugging my tuner while starting it helped a little bit. I know I have to get some new batteries anyways and know that the truck has to have at least 11.6 voltage or in that area for the injectors to open. Is there anything else I can do to make my truck start easier?
 

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I'd start with your block heater element. You can test it with an ohm meter but mine tested fine and was still tripping the GFCI outlet on my house. If you're not handy with a multimeter I'd just pull the element out plug it in and see if it gets hot.

The truck should start without the block heater plugged in so obviously there are other issues, but the block heater working may get you up and running for now.

After the block heater I'd check the most common issues:
  • ohm out the glow plugs to make sure they are good
  • load test batteries
  • check voltage across glow plug relay to make sure it's working correctly
Let us know what you find out.
 

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^^^ All good advice...

I would just add that there is no "glow plug cycling". For the best Cold Start results (say under 35F) here's what I would follow;

Forget the WTS light, it's not in any way connected to the GP system.

Over 20F, wait a Full min, with the key On, before you crank.

Under 20F, plug the block heater in for 3hrs (get a timer so it comes on before you leave in the morning) and wait 1-1/2 to 2 mins, key On, before you crank.

If you're routinely under 20, and especially if it's in the single digits, you will see a big improvement if you use a 5W-40 Synthetic motor oil (that 15W is pretty thick in those temps).

As for the minimum Voltage, in an '03, you can actually be in the low 9's before it becomes a Voltage problem. The other minimum you need is RPM (at least 100 cranking). But, and especially as we enter a Vermont Winter, those batteries need to be 100%. This is no place to scrimp, get the best Pair you can (over 800CCA min). Our trucks rely on them So Much in the Cold.
 

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Living in SoCal, I don't have cold start issues. But I am aware of how important cranking speed is to getting it started. If my cranking speed begins to fall off because the batteries are low, I know I'm about to get a no-start, and my departure is going to be delayed at least an hour while they charge up. (I have no other vehicle around here with enough ooomph to jump the 7.3).

Is there any merit to considering "battery heaters" for these trucks that cold-soak in winter conditions? Batteries produce about half the energy at 32F as they can at 70F. Keeping the batteries warm would greatly increase their output when it is needed the most.

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