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No electrical - ZIP. Up a creek without a paddle!


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Help!!!!  Traveling cross country with truck and car on trailer. Trying to limp home 1500 miles with a badly leaking tappet cover (1 gallon oil leaks out per 200 miles!) Pulled in to get fuel.  Went to start truck, heard click then nothing!  All lights, dash lights, windows, cabin lights, etc.  DEAD!  Checked batteries, terminal connections, grounds, fuses, etc. all seemed good.  Removed terminals from batteries and reinstalled them.  Heard door open alarm so turned key to run. and had dash lights, windows etc.  Tried to start, heard click again then nothing.  Lost all dash and interior lights, windows, etc. again.  Waited a few minutes and dash, interior lights reappeared.  Put booster packs on both batteries and tried to start again.  Same result, click then nothing.  This time however thought I saw small puff of smoke coming from positive terminal of the battery near fuse box.  Got under neath truck with key in run position to see if I was getting power to starter solenoid. Could not detect any 12 v at starter.  Area under truck quite wet from leaking tappet cover.  Could this in some way cause my problem?  Towed truck to local diesel repair shop.  This being the weekend they can't get to it until Monday. :(  They didn't know what is the problem.  They want to pull starter on Monday and replace it. As I noticed that several wires underneath were wet with oil and missing some insulation (?) I want to suggest replacing these wires first and second run a jumper wire from the positive battery terminal directly to the positive terminal on the starter, this way to check if starter is indeed bad before they pull it.  Has anybody out there  experienced these same problems or have any ideas on what might be my problem.    Would you perform the first two procedures I want to have the shop do before pulling the starter?  I really need some help. I really, really need some help/ideas!!!

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Sounds like you have a bad battery clamp/cable at the driver's side battery.   A bad starter motor will not cause a lose of electrical power in the cabin ( lights, power windows, radio, ect.) but a bad battery clamp/cable would.  Don't let them just throw parts at it like the starter motor.  They are going to have to do diagnostics like voltage drop test an such to pin point the problem then do the repair work.  Have them document the values of what they find.   

      Good luck!

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I even thought the same thing, so I put a new clamp on the ground terminal of the driver's side battery (+ side looked good with no movement).  Did not change the truck symptoms at all.  How do I do a voltage drop test accurately to diagnose the source of my problem?  Step by step please so I can make sure shop does it right and what would various readings specifically tell me about the source of my problem(s)?  Back to leaking tappet cover.  Could oil soaked wires to starter or starter result in my symptoms??  Thanks for your thoughts guys.  With the leaking tappet gasket, earlier bad diesel fuel and now this, it really as been a trip through hell.  I just had another thought that I would like to run by you.  As my ECM is mounted to the side of the tappet cover, could an oil soaked ECM in any way cause my problems?  Heaven forbid as this is around a $1000 bill!  The leaks on the tappet cover appear along the bottom of the gasket, and while the ECM is a bit oily, most of it is above the bad leaks.  Is the ECM not normally sealed against water, debris, diesel and oil?

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 I would pursue the above advise and maybe, since the truck is in the shop already have the leaking valve cover seal replaced. 

 How old are the batteries? Have they been load tested recently? Check all the heavy gauge cables, battery and starter cable as well. Sounds to me like something is shorting out bad.

 

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1 hour ago, Tbird9140 said:

How do I do a voltage drop test accurately to diagnose the source of my problem? 

These two video's explain it better than I could wright it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPpHRuddhh4

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfLyh43iihM

1 hour ago, Tbird9140 said:

Could oil soaked wires to starter or starter result in my symptoms??

Oil soaked wires, NO.

Oil soaked starter, may be, but the oil would have to get into the solenoid and insulate the contacts since you are not hearing a click in the solenoid when trying to energies the starter.   The solenoid can be taken apart and the contacts cleaned or replaced if needed.

 

1 hour ago, Tbird9140 said:

could an oil soaked ECM in any way cause my problems? 

NO,  The ECM is sealed so there can be no intrusion of foreign material.     Your problem is in the starting circuit.

 

21 minutes ago, Doubletrouble said:

since the truck is in the shop already have the leaking valve cover seal replaced

Good advice.  All that leaking oil is not doing the rubber components any good and will cause them to detreat rapidly. 

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 Be leary and educated on whatever repairs the shop suggests. If they know you are travelling and stranded you are at their mercy. Not all shops but some will take advantage of standard travelers. 

 Hopefully it will turn out as a bad cable or battery, easy fix. 

 Please keep us posted on how things turn out for you. Best of luck.

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13 hours ago, Tbird9140 said:

  Removed terminals from batteries and reinstalled them.  Heard door open alarm so turned key to run. and had dash lights, windows etc.  Tried to start, heard click again then nothing.  Lost all dash and interior lights, windows, etc. again.  Waited a few minutes and dash, interior lights reappeared.  Put booster packs on both batteries and tried to start again.  Same result, click then nothing.  This time however thought I saw small puff of smoke coming from positive terminal of the battery near fuse box.  

 

 

The above comments indicates the positive battery connection is faulty.  It needs cleaned not just R&R. Both the post and cable end, also the main power cable to the PDC. There will be a thin film, of not really corrosion but more of an oxidation that insulates the connection, usually black in color. However, sometimes in a clean environment and if the oxidation is just getting started it can be the same color as the lead so it can be hard to see. I would start there first.

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Yup need to do a voltage drop test of the main cables. 

 

 

Bad starter contacts can do the same thing. You'll hear the pinion pop out but no starter spin.

 

Bad starter solenoid fuse will do the same thing click and nothing. 

 

Engine oil protects the terminals from corroding at all. 18 year old truck and the battery terminals are near new yet. 

 

DRIVER SIDE

DSCF5205.JPG

 

PASSENGER SIDE

DSCF5206.JPG

 

Edited by Mopar1973Man
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All your comments were spot on.  The problem area was in fact the positive terminal on the driver's side battery and/or the cable to the starter itself.  I only found this out after paying $650 for a new starter installation that the repair shop insisted was the source of my problems.  As they had agreed to work on my truck on a Sunday to get me back on the road, and the fact that I had no alternatives available to me, I was reluctant to get into a argument with them.. I did suggest a voltage drop test and trying to jump start the starter before doing anything else.  It was obvious that they did not appreciate "my interference" and suggested that I stay at the hotel while they completed their work.  What is a guy to do when I had already had my truck and attached car trailer towed to their shop?  I was afraid that they would say something like " Hey we're doing you a favor by working on Sunday.  If you don't appreciate our leaning over backward to help you out, then get your truck and auto trailer  off our property!"  I only found out about the misdiagnosed repair some 300 miles down the road when the same "no start, no juice anywhere" reoccurred.  I was able to get the truck started again after an hour of banging on every electrical connection on the truck at 1 in the morning, at 25 degrees, in an all night truck stop.  Needless to say, for the next 800 miles, I never turned the truck off - for diesel, for oil, for food, for bathroom breaks, to walk the dog, for nothing!  When I got home I turned the truck off and it would not start.  Lucky me.  I later tested the old starter (I had decided to pay the core fee) and found it to be OK.  :doh:

 

One thing I did learn about my truck on the way home.  Because I could not turn the truck off to check the oil level, and because I knew I had a significant oil leak around the tappet cover,  I kept a close watch on the oil pressure gauge.  I made sure that the needle never got out of the "safe zone"  even when the truck was idling.  What I found out during the first 300 miles was that if I filled up oil up to the full mark,  it would leak from the tappet cover very rapidly until the level was at the add mark.  After that it would leak much more slowly from the tappet gasket.  Even at the add mark the oil pressure gauge read clearly in the "safe zone"  By watching the pressure gauge, I thereafter waited until the needle approached the lower line of the safe zone and then and only then added a gallon of oil.  The needle immediately rose to above the mid point of the oil pressure gauge.  I followed this procedure all the 1000 miles back home and ended up using about half the oil I leaked out on the way to Las Vegas.  Maybe you more diesel-mechanically inclined can give me an explanation for this uneven leaking from my truck's tappet cover but it is not apparent to me.  I assure you that this was real for my truck and I am glad I discovered this, for not only did it save me extra oil expense, but when I could not turn off the truck and read the oil gauge accurately, it allowed me to know when to add oil safely.  To the best of my knowledge,  I did in no way damage the engine as it ran fine all they way home, and even now back at the "corral." it runs good and no check engine lights, ever.

 

Before you guys beat me up, yes I know that I should have corrected the leaking tappet cover gasket before I started out.  I offer a couple of explanations in my defense.  First, I was planning to correct the problem.  I had ordered a new billet tappet cover thru Amazon but either the USPS, or UPS, or Amazon had lost it in transit.  After waiting two weeks for delivery, Amazon finally cancelled the order and refunded my money.  Second, my emergency trip to Las Vegas came up with about 12 hours notice.  The guy storing two of my classic cars told me that he was going to put them out on the street and let the cops deal with them, if I did not get them by the upcoming weekend. (Long story here, not my fault.)  Lastly, the tapper cover gasket was only seeping when I started out and it got worse by the mile.  Responding to some of your earlier comments, I did ask three repair shops along the way to get the tappet gasket issue fixed.  The first shop, Albuquerque,  wanted $500 labor to do the job; the second shop, Las Vegas, wanted $600 labor to do the job, and the third shop, Kingman, AZ, wanted $450 labor to do the job, but I would have to wait 24 hrs as the gasket had to be ordered for next day delivery.  You can buy a lot of leaking oil for $450-600!!!  On more than one occasion I did buy Walmart out of its cheapest 15-40 oil.  In the final analysis I used 22 gallons of oil for my trip (14 gallons out, and 8 gallons back) for a total of approximately $230.   I only spent about $500 for diesel on my trip!  And guess what, I now have the addled benefit of a completely rust proof truck under-body, car trailer and 1993 Allante, I was towing back from Las Vegas.  Well til next time, thanks for all your help.  Larry

DSC00258.JPG

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Glad you got it sort of sorted.

Love the bed on the truck, I drive a 2500 diesel but have a 3500 gas 5.9 parked and slowly rusting away and that bed is just what I need to fab for it

 

For the record here in the UK the gas 3500 will more than likely be able to be driven long after the diesel especially if gas..... sorry propane converted :)

 

 

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What year is your truck?

 

When my OE failed it was like driving the Exxon Valdeze. Work kept getting in the way of fixing it. We have all had to do things not exactly the right way before.:doh: But I hate hearing about the starter. Starter $130 or so and an hour to put in on. And it fid not fix the problem.

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My truck is a 2000.  Another question for you guys out there in never never land.  Do you feel a diesel - air separation system is worth the expense?  I am running a VP44 to which I added a Raptor frame rail lift pump some time back to insure adequate fuel pressure to the injection pump.  I asked if I could retrofit my Raptor with an Air Dog separation system.  Bit so far have got no answer back.  Presuming an air - diesel separation is warranted, is there any reason to choose Fass or Air Dog?  Not looking to spend $600+ unless there is some real benefit to my system.  Any thoughts?

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If your fuel system is in good shape and not introducing air in, you should be ok with just factory filter, you can add another spin on inline. Air will destroy things overtime, cavitation is not good. 

My truck had airdog150 when I got it ran fine first few years then started leaking fuel out of weep hole. Airdog wouldn't warranty it or sell me parts to fix it just kept trying to sell a new pump, so I got a fass titanium now. If I did more research back then I'd get a mechanical and some spin on filters inline. I now have a limited life time warranty that covers pump and motor as long as I own it, going to be hard to switch now to a mechanical. Not sure if raptor is strong enough to put more filters inline, someone else may help with that, I always thought they weren't anything special to spend money on, but I guess they work ok on stock trucks. 

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11 hours ago, Tbird9140 said:

What I found out during the first 300 miles was that if I filled up oil up to the full mark,  it would leak from the tappet cover very rapidly until the level was at the add mark.  After that it would leak much more slowly from the tappet gasket.  Even at the add mark the oil pressure gauge read clearly in the "safe zone"  By watching the pressure gauge, I thereafter waited until the needle approached the lower line of the safe zone and then and only then added a gallon of oil.  The needle immediately rose to above the mid point of the oil pressure gauge.  I followed this procedure all the 1000 miles back home and ended up using about half the oil I leaked out on the way to Las Vegas.  Maybe you more diesel-mechanically inclined can give me an explanation for this uneven leaking from my truck's tappet cover but it is not apparent to me.

 

Maybe nobody wants to mention this because you asked not to be beat up for your decisions.  I am not beating you up, either.   Just wanted you to know that driving until the oil pressure gauge begins to drop means that the oil pump is beginning to pump air along with the oil because the oil level is so low.  Engine bearings and the turbocharger bearing would be suffering under those conditions.  Hopefully, no measurable damage was done.  

 

I would never consider installing an air separation system on my fuel system.  I have never seen any real proof that it would beneficial enough to justify the additional cost.  I have a frame rail mounted FASS lift pump (nothing special) with a suction strainer and OEM filtration.  I just passed the 350,000 mile marker on my truck with the second VP44 logging over 260,000 miles now.

 

35 minutes ago, Dieselfuture said:

Air will destroy things overtime, cavitation is not good. 

 

Just wanted clarify something.  Air entering the fuel system is not the same thing as cavitation.  Cavitation is destructive.   Air entering the fuel system could shorten the life of a high pressure pump over years of operation, but won't be nearly as destructive as cavitation.

 

When air enters the suction side of a pump, the air will compress on the discharge side of the pump to whatever the pump's pressure is operating at.  That is all that happens.  Engine performance will likely be poor as the air will be mixed with the fuel in the high pressure lines, thus taking longer to reach pop off pressure due to the compressibility of the air.  This will result in late timing and an improper amount of fuel injected.

 

Cavitation is much more serious and can occur on an airtight system.  If the suction side of a pump is under a partial, but fairly strong vacuum because of a suction restriction, the fuel pressure will drop below atmospheric pressure on the suction side of the pump and some of the fuel will vaporize.  When vaporized fuel passes from the low pressure side of the pump and arrives at discharge side of the pump, a very strong implosion will occur precisely at the point of pressure change.  These repeated implosions caused from fuel in a vapor state violently returning to fuel in a liquid state will hammer the same spot in the discharge side of the pump and will actually start removing metal from either the gears (or vanes) and / or the pump housing.  Totally different behavior compared to air getting in the fuel system.

 

- John

 

 

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7 hours ago, Tractorman said:

When air enters the suction side of a pump, the air will compress on the discharge side of the pump to whatever the pump's pressure is operating at.  That is all that happens.  Engine performance will likely be poor as the air will be mixed with the fuel in the high pressure lines, thus taking longer to reach pop off pressure due to the compressibility of the air.  This will result in late timing and an improper amount of fuel injected.

Exactly correct. 

 

7 hours ago, Tractorman said:

Cavitation is much more serious and can occur on an airtight system.  If the suction side of a pump is under a partial, but fairly strong vacuum because of a suction restriction, the fuel pressure will drop below atmospheric pressure on the suction side of the pump and some of the fuel will vaporize.  When vaporized fuel passes from the low pressure side of the pump and arrives at discharge side of the pump, a very strong implosion will occur precisely at the point of pressure change.  These repeated implosions caused from fuel in a vapor state violently returning to fuel in a liquid state will hammer the same spot in the discharge side of the pump and will actually start removing metal from either the gears (or vanes) and / or the pump housing.  Totally different behavior compared to air getting in the fuel system.

Now this would occur with the old Carter lift pump and stock plumbing because on a 2 line pump the it would return to the inlet side being there is no where to return to the fuel tank. There was several video of older carter capable of cavitation. Between plumbing restrictions, vacuum on the small stock lines and high flow injectors it was very possible. 

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As long as your suction lines are unobstructed, you will not get cavitation.  The only way to get a specific pressure reading would be to temporarily tee in a test port on the suction side of the lift pump and hook up a vacuum gauge.   This test is normally unnecessary because there are other ways to prove that fuel is flowing without restriction.

 

- John

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