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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I picked up a low mileage 95 (158k miles) a month ago. It has a lot of rust issues and the bleeder plugs on the front calipers are stuck but otherwise it's in perfect mechanical condition. It's been running great. Always started within a second or so on the first try. Every time until now. It ran nice and smooth. Didn't eat too much fuel, I was seeing around 20 mpg on the highway and everything. This past weekend I put 500 miles on it in the White Mountains, ran great. It cold starts below freezing without any trouble. A little puff of white smoke and then it runs clean and smooth.

Today it utterly refused to start. The engine spins, white smoke comes out but it won't fire. I tried a dozen times. Every time the engine spins and puffs out white smoke but won't start.

No idiot lights with the key in the on position but when it's trying to start the "check engine," "engine temp" and "fuel filter" lights come on. They go off when I stop trying to start it.

I checked under the hood and nothing is obviously wrong. The engine is apparently low on oil. I would estimate that it could use about 4 quarts (which I'll add ASAP) but the oil pressure gauge shoots up to a good level as soon as I try to start it so I don't think that's my issue.

Over the weekend my rear gas tank started dripping at a good rate so I decided to run it empty rather than let the diesel go to waste. While I was driving it last night the gauge got to the 'E' line for that tank so I switched it over to the front and parked it. By running the tank that low could I have gotten water into my fuel filter and would that cause it not to start? If so, what does it take to replace the filter? I've done plenty of work on my cars including building a big DOHC engine and retrofitting it into my SOHC Mustang so I'm competent with a wrench but utterly inexperience with diesels. Any advice would be appreciated.

If it's not the fuel filter, what else could it be?

Thanks guys, any help is really appreciated.

EDIT: It's a 95 F250 xl with an A4OD automatic if that makes a difference. I also have an SCT XCAL3 tuner but I think the truck uses an older version OBD port so I can't pull codes with it. Is that right? Also, since the check engine light doesn't stay on are there even any codes to pull?
 

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Sounds like a bad glow plug relay. Plug it in for a couple of hours and see what happens. And yes if you are low on oil that will also cause problems.
 

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All powerstrokes use the OBDII port. Try draining the fuel filter housing of a little diesel and see if you get any water or anything that has a gasoline odor. A diesel will smoke like crazy but not start if is has gas in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Sounds like a bad glow plug relay. Plug it in for a couple of hours and see what happens. And yes if you are low on oil that will also cause problems.
Forgive my ignorance but what do you mean by "plug it in for a couple hours?"

Also, if it were a bad glow plug relay, would that just suddenly and completely fail without warning like this? It started right up from a cold start with 6" inches of fresh snow on it this past Saturday. That makes me think the glow plug system is working well but if it spontaneously fails that could be it.

Also, it's a nice warm Spring day here in Cambridge, MA. The temperature outside is around 70. Again forgive my ignorance but isn't that warm enough to start the engine even if the glow plugs aren't working? I mean it's a diesel as long as it can turn over quickly (which it is) shouldn't it be able to start just on compression alone as long as it's decently warm or am I underestimating the importance of the glow plugs?



I'm really starting to think that by running that tank so low I pulled a bunch of crud/water into my filter.

I'm going to swing by autozone in a bit and grab some engine oil plus a new fuel filter. Even if the filter is not the problem I'm betting the truck would appreciate a new one.

The fuel filter is right on top of the engine, dead center, immediately in front of the Y-pipe coming off the turbo, right?

I know there's some kind of valve on their to drain accumulated water. Any advice on what it looks like?




EDIT: I looked up the specs on my tuner and the manufacturer claims that it works on 96-10 Ford trucks, mine being a 95. I really think my truck has an earlier version of the OBD port but if the filter doesn't work I'll dig my tuner out and see if I can pull any codes.
 

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you can have your PCM flashed to current code, and your tuner will work fine then
if you can get it scaned you can see if you have and falt codes there is a recall on the CPS .
 

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Discussion Starter #6
you can have your PCM flashed to current code, and your tuner will work fine then
if you can get it scaned you can see if you have and falt codes there is a recall on the CPS .
Thanks! I never thought to check the cam position sensor.

I found a great resource on the problem and things to eliminate before assuming it's the CPS:

http://www.thedieselstop.com/contents/getitems.php3?CPS%20Failure!

That said, my 01 mustang had a CPS issue and that always triggered the Check Engine Light which would stay on until I used the tuner to clear the code. Here I'm not getting a permanent light, it only comes on when I'm cranking.

Anyways, I'm going to top off the engine oil and drain and replace the fuel filter. It probably needs a battery charge after all that cranking too. I'll see what that does for it then find my tuner and report back.

Thanks guys.
 

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If your getting white smoke when cranking, your getting fuel. change the filter, try again. as soon as you see the first puff of white smoke, stop cranking, then wait a couple seconds then crank again. could be flooded, I know my truck will not start if i stay on the starter, but as soon as i let off and crank again it fires instantly.

HTH
 

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glow plug relays are probably one the most common parts to fail on these trucks. it will just all of a sudden not work or work sporaticly,causing tons of white smoke with no start or hard start.air in the fuel system could be causing some problems too but if you shut it off running it should have started
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I topped off the fluids, drained and replaced the fuel filter and gave the battery a charge. After that it started right up and I did a victory lap around town to top off the battery. It ran great.

Thanks for all the help guys. It's great to be a part of a community like this.

I can't wait to start modding this beast.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It was 4 qts. low on oil and you spent 2 days trying to diagnose a no start before you " topped off fluids " ?
Turns out it only took a bit more than 2 qts to get it back to full. Evidently I need more practice extrapolating from dipsticks.

The fuel filter was quite encrusted when I pulled it and I suspect that was the real issue.

I would also point out that I immediately identified the low oil as an issue. In fact I mentioned it in the first post. It took me all of two minutes after the truck refused to start to decide it needed oil. I just didn't think that alone was causing the truck to suddenly refuse to start and I still don't think that was the only issue.

It might have taken me two days to do something about it but I recognized it as an issue immediately, thank you very much.
 

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A couple quarts low won't cause a start issue. I have seen literally 5 quarts in one and it still run, it did have runability issues under accel though
 
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