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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #1
It's a 6.0L forum. What can the signs of a blown head gasket be, without the degas bottle puking?

Higher then normal white smoke at startup that diminishes but lasts through the high idle warmup? No smoke after fully warm? Slight to medium miss when cold but normal when hot? Smoking is more pronounced with increase of days between restarts. Drive it everyday and it's hard to notice as much.

Started to act funny and I ran through all the AE tests two weeks ago and found nothing.

55k on a factory rebuild, but past warranty by time.
 

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Old Fart
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889 Posts
You can have the coolant tested for combustion gasses. That will tell you. FORD has, or can get, the strips, as can a good truck shop.
 

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Senior Member
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I would first pop off the egr valve (remove 2-bolts + twist it out) and look down inside the manifold to see if it's wet with coolant from egr cooler leakage. The 03' egr coolers are more resilient to cracking, but they still can crack too just like the later design ones.

Also clean up the egr valve whiles it's removed, partially sticking open egr valve can cause your symptoms too.

The other possibilty is a leaky or worn injector, but which one could be hard to determine if no contribution faults are being generated.

Also make sure your FICM voltages are good during start up (47-49v)

I have yet to see any HG's blown and cause your symptom without puking or obvious low coolant issues included.

Harry
 

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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #4
It might be the EGR cooler rather then HGs. I've been skeptical about this motor since it was put in so I'm looking for the worst.

Tomorrow I'll put the AE back on and pull the intake elbow to look in there. I'm down on coolant too.

Looking up parts and it seems like Ford has discontinued the '03 EGR.
 
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Member
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The 2003 EGR coolers are pretty stout - not many failures. The part number I have for the 03 cooler is still available (at least AutoNation WBL has it): 3C3Z-9P456-B.

Is there any way you can get a whiff (smell) of the white smoke? Might be fuel.

Are you actually losing any coolant over say a months time frame? I agree w/ Harry's post. It isn't common for leaking head gaskets to behave as you described, but I have seen posts from Techs that say head gaskets can leak a little when the engine cools down and seal up when it heats up. Not sure how common it is though.

In the past year or so, I have experienced 3-4 starts that dragged a little. They were all followed by some white smoke (definitely more than what would be expected even on the coldest mornings). I began watching the degas pressure and the coolant level VERY closely. While I see some odd pressure behavior, I now believe the unusual pressure readings are related to a flaky fan clutch (I finally got the code). I have not seen ANY coolant drop in a years time.
 
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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #6
Mark,

Could be I was using the wrong part number for the 03s as I tried White Bear, Tasca, etc. All that was popping up were Dorman parts on eBay, not good.

There may be a few things going on at the same time. I've known that there are injector issues that have been corrected with Harry's magic fluid. I've having a hard time telling the odor in the exhaust as my olfactory abilities are severely diminished from too much farming dust.

Smoke is strong at first start up (cold now, but not sure if it's a factor), to me it has a slight blue tinge. Never see it again during the day including hours of shutdown. EOT/ECT has climbed to typically 10 degrees with excursions to 12 at 70mph, which should have not been an issue with the 03 cooler, but who knows what was put in at the Ford rebuilder.

No bottle puking so it should not be HGs, but ...... At first my thinking was an injector due my expectations of 03 EGR cooler robustness, but then saw the lowered coolant level. The other day when I started it after sitting a week and felt the skipping at 2k the HG thoughts crept in. The smoke is not what I remember from 4 years ago when I lost cyl 7 with a scored cylinder. Filler cap removal does not show excessive blow by but I don't have the sensitive gauge.

Fuel gauge still shows the rhythmic sweep I mentioned in the other thread. Fuel cap removal two weeks ago did not show bubbles in the canister when I cracked over the motor using the single wire disconnected at the pass fender to battery post jump. Did not notice any variation in rotational speed between cylinders that would indicate singular low compression but thought I may have heard a thump in the intake. God I hate rebuilt motors.
 
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Member
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How low was the coolant level Jack, and how many times have you had to add coolant in the last few months?
 

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Senior Member
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If the egr valve is all gooey and not dry carbon soot, then egr cooler is most likely the cause.

If egr cooler is leaking, it can get severe enough that the coolant can run back through the exhaust manifold and into a cylinder when parked...don't want that happening.

Would almost be better if one injector was the culprit, as it's a much less labor intensive repair.

I hope this turns out as well as can be expected, and is either the egr cooler or an injector and nothing more.

Harry
 

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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #9
I didn't get to do anything today other then start the truck for a few minutes, as I do that almost every day in case there is coolant building up in the passages. We had freezing rain this morning that turned into heavy rain.

Mark, I have not really had to add coolant before. I did a couple of trailer runs into PA of about 2 hours each way this November/December and checked the level before each run. The last run on Dec 10 I was about 1/4" below my normal level (Min) which I felt was reasonable as it was very cold. I usually check fluids every two months. I need to make a trip to TSC to get more ELC to get this filled so I'll do that tomorrow between doctor runs.

Harry, an EGR cooler will be bad enough as I would also change out the oil cooler too if things are going to come apart. I may end up taking this to the dealer as its not the time of year for me to be taking a motor apart in the driveway especially if the heads need to come off, and my AE can only check so much.

I really was not expecting an EGR cooler as the Delta was not that bad to me. Gas motors are starting to look more friendly.
 
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Maybe I am in denial for you, but it just doesn't sound like the EGR cooler or head gaskets. I guess that doesn't help fix the problem you are having, but I am just not seeing it being either one of those. Do you have a spare EGR valve to try? Just a WAG (pulling straws I guess), but maybe catch an oil sample and check for fuel dilution.
 

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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #11
You haven't seen the amount of white cloud coming out of my tailpipe.

It's not quite like the volume that comes out of my '52 Allis Chalmers dozer with a Jimmy 2-stroke until it warms up, but as days go by it's getting closer. It doesn't carry in the air like that dissipating quicker so I'm more thinking it's coolant. I'll see how much coolant it takes tomorrow.

I really thought it was diesel up to a few days ago.
 

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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #12
Pulled the intake elbow and the ERG valve. Both look normal with the EGR being dry fluffy carbon and the intake a light wet oil film. It took 1/2 gal of coolant to bring it up to the min level in the driveway, I run it tomorrow and see where things settle out.
 
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Stuck in Commiefornia...
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The smell of raw diesel is significantly different than the smell of anti-freeze, there should be no mistaking the one for the other.

The problem that I found was that combustion gas checks for blown head gaskets didn't work at idle. The pressure gauge test was the final determination for my head gasket failure, it's probably your best "easy" test, to relieve the pressure from the system and watch the pressure rise to 16 and pop the relief in the cap (the gauge actually flutters at about 17psi) under a couple full throttle blasts.


Sent by my right thumb!
 
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Senior Member
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So far we have...

1. It's using coolant because it took a 1/2gal to bring to min level, so coolant is going somewhere.

2. Truck smokes white when cold started, so very likely it's coolant caused.

3. EGR was dry, and intake is light oily which is from normal ccv gasses, that pretty much eliminates the egr cooler as a suspect.

4. This only leaves a few choices if it is indeed coolant caused...
(a) the HG's are compromised
(b) the cyl head has a crack
(c) cylinder liner has a hole from cavitation (not likely though)
(d) coolant loss is slow and external, so it's not being detected, and white smoke is actually fuel related (not a high probability, but anything is possible)

A coolant pressure test when cold soaked with the glow plugs removed would reveal the location once cranked over by the starter.

Jack, this is not what I was hoping for. Probably need to regroup on this one and make a judgement call that results in the best outcome for you.

Harry
 

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I think I would pressure up the coolant system (degas bottle) and just make sure that there isn't a small external leak somewhere. Sometimes you run into the situation where you have two unrelated issues that seem to arise at essentially the same time.
 

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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #16
Idaho, Harry, Mark,

I do think this is a synergism of two or more issues, starting with one or two injectors causing some issues. May be adding some smoke initially, then the occasional rough takeoff or 1500rpm vibration when cold. At normal operating temp everything from that perspective is fine.

I've not seen any coolant under the truck for over a year. Last winter when very cold I had some seepage at the top tanks sides, but that has not shown since. It could be happening on long drives, but I always look under my truck for leaks and anything would show on our light grey stamped concrete surface. Using the red Rotlella ELC there won't be any white traces.

Took it for a 30 min run today and same as always, smoke at startup, some traces for the next mile then absolutely clear on highway, idling, or during restarts after 10 to 40 minute cool downs. Historically even 4-6 hour shutdowns do not show any smoke. It actually runs stronger lately to my perspective.

I did a few WOT runs so I could check the bottle pressure but when I got it home I found out that I left the reservoir cap very loose from adding coolant yesterday. I had a little fluid on the seam around the reservoir, but small enough to be considered to be splash from the loose cap from the ride. Coolant was at the level from adding yesterday.

Tried a different power source for the fuel pressure gauge to see if that had an effect on the pressure deviation when the motor is idling, but no change.

So the only checks off the list I would say now is there is no external leak unless occurring running down the road and never leaves a trace on the driveway. The EGR passage and EGR valve shows no EGR cooler leak.

I thought about another possible cause for oil related smoke at startup, and that would be the start of a leak at the turbo shaft that is pooling up some oil on the intake side. I was starting to consider oil dribbling down a valve guide, too.

Have I mentioned I hate rebuilt motors that was not your motor being rebuilt. The guy who was my lead test driver used to be a dealer service manager who called rebuilds someone else's problem.
 
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Senior Member
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Way back on my 03' model around 30k miles, I developed a undetectable at first coolant seepage leak from the orange or blue egr cooler rubber hose.

When it first started using some coolant, it would evaporate and not leave any traces on the ground or engine block until it got bad enough that one day I saw a drop of coolant on the ground after it sat all night. A cold engine coolant pressure test led me to the culprit (one of the orange hose-clamps) on my original egr cooler, it was running down the back of the block and dripped around the bottom of the bell housing area. Since it was still under warranty back then, I took it in and the dealer replaced the entire egr cooler along with the upgraded turbo pedestal mount.

Just throwing some ideas out there.

Harry
 

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Harry - the same thing happened to me at my coolant filter hose connections quite some time ago.

Jack - Interesting thoughts that it could be turbo related. Makes sense to me that it could be possible.
 

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Senior Member
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My buddies 06' turbo seals failed, same symptom, alot smoke on cold start up. We stuck a PowerMax in and it's been fine for years now.

Harry
 
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Curmudgeon
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
The ERG coolant hose...... Back when I first got this motor during the first two winters I did have a leak there when temps got below 32F. I not seen this for some years but thinking about it more I changed my habit of pulling into the driveway with nose up to backing in nose down when my neighbor started a "commune" across the street and the cars made it more difficult to back out of my driveway. Coolant might be pooling on the motor and not draining off onto the driveway. I'll change that direction and check the results.

Harry, how did you guys determine the turbo seals were leaking? Just by pulling the turbo intake out boot and checking for oil or did things get a little more diagnostic?

If it is the turbo (part of problem) I'm probably be just needing a stock unit. It looks like Ford is proud of their rebuilds compared to what you can find for a brand new Garrett from the aftermarket sites.
 
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