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Worried about my VP44 or why is the engine starting hard?


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I have had this truck for almost 3 years and love it. For most of this time I barely even hit the starter, it fires right up the second the starter motor engages. Well the last couple of weeks this has changed. First it started having to crank just a bit, maybe 2 seconds and yesterday and today had to crank for 3-4 seconds. It always has fired up fine and runs great, with the mileage being about the same as usual. Fuel pressure is the same, a low of 13 and high of 16. Tried to run it higher but it does not like it. One change is that the weather is now starting to get hot, with our hitting 96 today and forcast to be above 100 by the weekend. The truck has started a bit quicker the first start of the morning, so wondering if the fuel in the lines from the VP to the injector are getting hot after sitting and vaporizing, as the longer starts come later in the day after its been running. Also I have been running some alternative fuel in the critter. Mixed about 5 gallons of old (but never used) peanut oil in the tank. Had about 4 gallons mixed in with 30 gallons of diesel, with some two cycle oil mixed in. Wanted to get rid of the old peanut oil and friends said that as long as you dilute it pretty good that it would run fine so hope that this is not causing problems.Am just scared that the VP44 is heading South and causing this issue... Any ideas or suggestions? Thx,Joe

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Have you noticed and fuel leakage, like may a small drip on the ground? A leak will allow air in the system and cause hard starting. I dont believe you can get the fuel hot enough in the injector lines for the fuel to vaporize. As far as peanut oil, I wouldnot have a clue.

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Dave is right... Look for the wet spots or fuel leaks... Sometimes the fuel system will get air leaks which don't leak fuel on the ground but suck air into the lines as the truck is running and continue to suck air in to drain the line back.Just for sake of cover all the bases what's your fuel pressure (Idle and WOT)? Do you have any error codes?Did you change your fuel filter lately?

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Have not changed the fuel filter in a while, so its prolly time.No fuel leaks that I have seen and I look on the ground, but will check tomorrow.Fuel pressure is 13 min and 16 tops. WOT the lowest I have seen is 12 but rarely goes down that far, usually stays 13-14 if not higher.

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How old is the battery and starter? Could always be something as simple as that. Hopefully you don't need any new pumps, I can tell you they're expensive, I just bought two tonight. But it sounds like you may be lucky. These guys will set you straight they were a great help to me.

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Check your codes too. You can check them by turning the ignition switch on off on off on fairly quickly. Then look at the odometer. It should display p pcu, then codes, then p done, the p ecu then codes and p done again. Just bare in mind this will possibly not show all of your codes, acode scanner is the best way to do this. It will however give you a place to start if you dont have one. It works on my 02 but does not always give up all of the codes.

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Check your codes too. You can check them by turning the ignition switch on off on off on fairly quickly. Then look at the odometer. It should display p pcu, then codes, then p done, the p ecu then codes and p done again. Just bare in mind this will possibly not show all of your codes, acode scanner is the best way to do this. It will however give you a place to start if you dont have one. It works on my 02 but does not always give up all of the codes.

On my 02, I turned the key to the on position, and press the odometer button at the same time. But I have a scanner so I used that since the truck didn't give me my P0234 code, but the scanner did.
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This may not be of any value but, after you go for a run of several miles and shut it down in a quiet place, open your fuel cap slowly. If you hear a hiss or air sucking in while removing the cap that means your factory tank vent is clogged or partly clogged. This has happened on about 4 trucks that I know of.Source Automotive, mostly work on CTDs, told me they've had a few trucks come in with fuel tanks starting to collapse. This condition will make fuel flow difficult for the lift pump to start the flow of fuel.

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I never heard of that one. so I went outside and tried it. It performed a cluster check but gave me no codes. Just apeared to be a cluster check. I had done a cluster before when my ECM took a crap but dont remeber how i did it. It was diefinately the same results I remember seeing though.

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Sounds like a fuel leak, and leak thats getting worse. Does it hard start only after its been sitting for a little while or maybe overnight? Or does it hard start every time? If it only starts after sitting then, if you can, park the truck overnight with the nose of the truck pointing downward, like it would sitting on a good downhill grade street. This will keep the fuel in the fuel lines and not drain back to the fuel tank, which if the truck starts fine will indicate a leak in the fuel system. The common places to look for a leak is ANY fuel line fitting but the most common places to leak is the banjo bolt on the back of the head and the T fitting just below it. If you cant find an obvious leak then you may need to use baby powder.

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I never heard of that one. so I went outside and tried it. It performed a cluster check but gave me no codes. Just apeared to be a cluster check. I had done a cluster before when my ECM took a crap but dont remeber how i did it. It was diefinately the same results I remember seeing though.

Hmm, it was recommended to me over on cumminsforum as a code puller. Must of been wrong advice, I was wondering why it didn't pull my code up but the scanner did...
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Batteries are a matched pair and about a year old. They are not the problem nor is the starter which turns over just fine and the same way it has for the 3 years I have had the truck.I have a scangauge (as shown on my signature below) and have not seen any codes lately but will re-check. Just tried the fuel cap bit and the vent is working fine as no hissing there... As I said above, first start in the morning is fine, and starts after that get progressively longer. It always starts, just needs to crank longer... Thanks for the ideas guys!Joe

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Hmm, it was recommended to me over on cumminsforum as a code puller. Must of been wrong advice, I was wondering why it didn't pull my code up but the scanner did...

The proper procedure for pulling codes on 2000 and newer 2nd gen trucks is simply to, from the OFF position, cycle the ignition key from OFF to ON three times stopping in the ON position. The odometer will indicate any codes found and stop with a p-done or -----.

--- Update to the previous post...

Batteries are a matched pair and about a year old. They are not the problem nor is the starter which turns over just fine and the same way it has for the 3 years I have had the truck.

I have a scangauge (as shown on my signature below) and have not seen any codes lately but will re-check. Just tried the fuel cap bit and the vent is working fine as no hissing there...

As I said above, first start in the morning is fine, and starts after that get progressively longer. It always starts, just needs to crank longer...

Thanks for the ideas guys!

Joe

Sorry I didn't catch where you said that it starts fine after sitting for long periods of time and this problem only arises after you've been driving and the engine is hot. If thats the case then I no longer think its a fuel leak but since you're still running the factory VP, I will say that it clearly sounds like your FPCM (the computer on top of the VP) is going bad. Why this happens is because Bosch used lead free solder on the electrical connections in that computer. After time (what everyone refers to as "heat cycles") what happens is when you shut the engine off for longer than about 15-20 minutes, the 200* engine heat soaks the VP computer that should be no hotter than about 150*-160* which then causes the lead free solder to deteriorate and fall apart. That deterioration eventually starts causing poor connections within the computer when the computer heats up during those heat cycles. Then you start experiencing hard hot starts, white smoke after it eventually starts, and potentially dead pedal while driving. One way to tell if this is the problem is to carry a gallon of cool water around with you and when you experience the hard start, open the hood and pour the gallon of water directly on the top of the VP to cool the computer. If it starts fine then there ya go. This is more an inconvenience than anything but you should know that the computer is letting you know that it is ready to fail and when it fails, the engine can just stop running no matter when or where you are.
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Morning update. Went out to the truck and it acted just like the old days, started immediately when I tapped the starter.Fuel pressures, mileage and so on was normal.Drove 15 miles to the airport, fussed around there for 30 minutes then returned home. Second startup it cranked just a half second longer and started fine, but did take just a bit longer. If this is the electronics on the VP, whats the future? Going to stop dead on the road someday or show some other signs or ??Thx,Joe

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Morning update. Went out to the truck and it acted just like the old days, started immediately when I tapped the starter. Fuel pressures, mileage and so on was normal. Drove 15 miles to the airport, fussed around there for 30 minutes then returned home. Second startup it cranked just a half second longer and started fine, but did take just a bit longer. If this is the electronics on the VP, whats the future? Going to stop dead on the road someday or show some other signs or ?? Thx, Joe

Joe, if it hard starts every time you drive then shut down for a bit and attempt to re-start, then do exactly what I suggested by pouring a gallon of cool water directly on top of the VP "prior" to re-starting and see if it then starts up like normal. And sorry but if it is the electronics in the FPCM then yes, it will eventually fail on you at any time, any place.....just like turning the key off. There doesn't have to be any codes when that happens either, or you may see the 1693 companion code. Am I suggesting to run out and buy a VP?.....No, but I am telling you to be aware of whats going on. How do I know this?.....well one day when I was driving down the road, my truck just simply shut off in the middle of the street. Unfortunately I also had a trailer connected. Older original VP's can not only fail mechanically from lack of fuel but also electronically. Now as to the reason why this happens, sadly but the lead free solder is still used. (Thank you environmentalists) So its common to get a new computer but important to be assured that you are indeed getting a brand new computer along with the re-manufactured VP since there has been rumor of some vendors reusing old "working" computers. But knowing this issue, I'm sure that doesn't happen anymore. And also, because heat is the reason the solder falls apart, its even more important to make sure the VP has a constant over supply of fuel by running at least 14-16 psi of fuel pressure ALL THE TIME.
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