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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to figure out what/where the culprit is for making my gauge cluster and radio drop out and then come right back almost before you notice/realize it went away. I've tried to find what else I lose, but it all happens so fast that it is pretty near impossible to look around fast enough to see what else is gone. So far, it sounds like it COULD be either Fuse #35 OR a relay in the instrument cluster, but it is pretty darned hard to troubleshoot a problem that just flashes into the system and then goes away almost instantly. Fuse 35 seems OK to me when checked, but maybe I'll just change it "in case".

SO---anyone had this issue and what did it turn out to be that was the problem? Any help here would be GREATLY appreciated so I can (hopefully) find and fix it BEFORE I just lose everything for good and maybe cause other problems, too.

This all MAY HAVE been covered in this forum somewhere in the past, but I can't find it....

Thanks,

Don J
Reno, NV
 

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Instrument cluster is the most likely culprit. There are solder joints which sometimes break or are not quite done right in the first place, and the cluster controls a lot of things, so that's probably what's going on. There are places which will repair it, to include FICMrepair.com, but you can also try to do it yourself. I had similar problems, so I pulled the cluster and then re-flowed every solder I could get to, and even added a little bit of solder to a couple. I haven't had a problem since. (knock on wood)
 

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You have a battery saver relay problem. It’s a PCB relay on the cluster. Get a new cluster or have yours repaired and it will solve your issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for all the tips...I'll keep those in mind if I continue to have this problem. For the moment, after finding (along with the above symptoms) that my batteries (EXIDES and only 1 1/2 years old) weren't charging like they should making me think that I was having an alternator going (or maybe GONE) bad and in the process of fooling with that I found that one of the two sets of wires that attach to the alternator (it was the plastic one that is SUPPOSED to snap into the alternator securely-=--see the picture) was kinda wiggling around and likely losing contact causing a bunch of problems, one of which was the regulator in the alternator was getting intermittent signals causing (I HOPE) the batteries to not be maintained in a charged state because everything was (on and off) Running off of battery power. One symptom was (as I see it, the batteries running down to the point the FICM didn't have good enough voltage to run it, causing engine running problems).So anyway, I worked on that connector and all seems good now (knock on wood) with the charge system working right and no weird flickering or flashing of any kind. We'll see whether that solved the problem(s)or not, I guess!
 

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Hope that works for you. Sounds like you located the source, but I would take a good look at your FICM and batteries if they got down that far. I'd put a charger on them and let them fully charge over the course of a day or so. The slower the charge, the more likely they'll actually take it up to their full capacity. At that point, individual load test them to make sure they're both good. Afterwards, once they're back up to full charge, watch your FICM voltage as you start it, and while it's running. Shouldn't dip below 45 volts. And, of course, check your charging voltage. With these trucks, wait about 2-3 minutes at least before checking the charging voltage, because the glow plugs cycle on and off for up to two minutes after starting. And, make sure any major accessories are turned off too, like seat heater, lights, 20,000 watt stereo....lol.
 

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"resident smarty pants"
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I wonder how long the FICM will hold on before failing ...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, that snap connector repair seemed to do the trick...it is all solid now---I drove it around for a few hours today and it seems to be all good....no low battery problems, no charging problems and no cluster failures or battery/charge light flickering and flashing. Also, (so far) it seems like I lucked out and haven't hurt the FICM--it is a replacement from the FICM Man with the bottom tune--I think 40 (maybe 80--I don't remember---Horsepower worth) as it doesn't seem to have lost its mind as it starts and runs fine---and I am hoping the low voltage problems didn't hurt it. I guess only time will tell on the FICM. I am really hoping I won't have to replace it, but if it starts to exhibit ANY of the "FICM BAD or FICM going bad" symptoms I will replace it with another identical unit from the FICM MAN as they were reasonable on prices and gave great service.

Seems like last time I had a bad battery problem the FICM did show signs and symptoms of going bad, but never did COMPLETELY take a dump on me and I replaced it before it go to the dead duck stage.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hope that works for you. Sounds like you located the source, but I would take a good look at your FICM and batteries if they got down that far. I'd put a charger on them and let them fully charge over the course of a day or so. The slower the charge, the more likely they'll actually take it up to their full capacity. At that point, individual load test them to make sure they're both good. Afterwards, once they're back up to full charge, watch your FICM voltage as you start it, and while it's running. Shouldn't dip below 45 volts. And, of course, check your charging voltage. With these trucks, wait about 2-3 minutes at least before checking the charging voltage, because the glow plugs cycle on and off for up to two minutes after starting. And, make sure any major accessories are turned off too, like seat heater, lights, 20,000 watt stereo....lol.
I haven't checked the FICM voltage yet, but the batts load tested out as VERY good (they're only about a year and a half old EXIDES) and they took a charge well...also, the charge was pretty slow at the git-go, but then I started it and drove it around for about 1 1/2 hours to charge it up and all seems OK even after the charge getting down low enough so I got the dreaded "clicking starter" routine---that kinda worried me as to how it might affect the batts and the FICM.

Drove it more today and it started IMMEDIATELY and all seems good. BTW, there is only the OEM radio--no 20, 000 watt stereo for me---I'm now an old fart and have quite good hearing in spite of YEARS spent in helicopters, turboprops and jets. Maybe, just maybe all that being beaten in the head about hearing protection during a military career actually worked.
 

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"resident smarty pants"
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Don't let the voltage get that low again. It can kill the FICM and it won't always show up as low voltage. It can kill the logic board and the only way to identify the failure is to send it in for testing.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Don't let the voltage get that low again. It can kill the FICM and it won't always show up as low voltage. It can kill the logic board and the only way to identify the failure is to send it in for testing.
Yeah...I know better than to "let" the voltage get real low...Having that happen is NOT anything you can ALWAYS plan for---sometimes life just happens, you know? And then sometimes it doesn't KILL the FICM outright...it can happen that it just makes it real sick. This time it happened in the middle of the travel lane in a parking lot. But I think I got lucky this time....so far.... Last time when the batts took a (age related) dump it didn't outright kill it either, but it did get pretty sick and made the engine start and run crappy!
 

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I hear you on "life happens", that said, I watch voltages constantly because of how unpredictable a battery or alternator failure can be. A FICM failure just makes MORE life happen, lol!

I got hammered on this some time ago on one of these 6.0L forums, but the alternator isn't the best way to charge up significantly depleted batteries. That is best done by a charger (and charging them individually is always better IMO).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I hear you on "life happens", that said, I watch voltages constantly because of how unpredictable a battery or alternator failure can be. A FICM failure just makes MORE life happen, lol!

I got hammered on this some time ago on one of these 6.0L forums, but the alternator isn't the best way to charge up significantly depleted batteries. That is best done by a charger (and charging them individually is always better IMO).

Yeah, I agree on the charging thing...not the best, but I did what I had to do to get it moving again! I think I need to buy gauges or have a gauge made for a couple of voltages...one is batts and the other would be FICM...maybe two in one like I had made for the Oil and water temps (see pics...one on with the steering wheel in it is so you can see where I put it) so I could watch them to see if they ever got cattywampus on me...would be a good indication that something not good is happening. Coolant sensor is in side of block and oil is in the top of the oil filter housing. When I put those in, I flushed the system real well and put in some good coolant and also installed a filter in the coolant return line (BD DIESEL kit)to catch any stray crap that got left in the engine when it was built. When I changed it, I cut it open on the lathe so I could look to see what it was catching....and the first couple of changes it caught a LOT of crap...see the pic...later ones, not so much crap after the first couple---I think it is working.

Edit (1) The more I look around now, it looks like doing a gauge to monitor FICM volts constantly might NOT be a great idea....hmmmm...

Edit (2) Oh, yeah..one more thing..I found the receipt from when I got a FICM from the FICM Man (FICM Repair.com) and the one I used is the ATLAS 40 Tune, which is their bottom one in Horsepower, I think.
 

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"resident smarty pants"
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I like having the phone app (ForScan Lite) with the ELM327 OBDII adapter. Cheap way to get data. You don't really need to watch gauges ALL the time! That said, Vehicle Power (FICM VPower voltage) is one parameter I watch constantly, along w/ the coolant and oil temps.

Make sure that when the engine is TOTALLY warmed up, your oil temp isn't more than 15 degrees above the coolant temp.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Today I reconfigured my phone app for the OBDII Torque Pro so I can look at the Batt voltage, the vehicle voltage and the FICM voltage all at once. The FICM runs at 49 to 49.5 volts all the time...seems solid through starting and all RPM ranges, so I think I have maybe dodged the low/dead battery killing the FICm bullet!
 
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