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Hoping for an answer that makes sense: blowing white smoke

Discussion in '6.0L Powerstroke Diesels' started by lefthanded, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. lefthanded

    lefthanded Registered User

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    I think it's coolant.

    This is the sad story: bought a 2006 6.0 with 172K miles. It's an E350- a van. Ran for ten miles, and then the engine light flashed. A moment or two after that, white plume but the engine still ran, didn't heat up, good oil pressure. This is a completely stock van. Have no service history on it. It was in construction. The test drive was great, no check engine light, the coolant was only a bit down, and it started in the cold after about a month (I can verify the month, long story).

    I planned light duty, hauling an old trailer. It had had NO trailer use that I can tell. It was a service truck whose bins and tanks had been removed.

    I'm guessing it's a head gasket, which means pulling off the body and replacing the studs, the gaskets, machining the head, new oil cooler and an EGR delete, then the reverse install.

    However, before I bought it, I looked to see if there was coolant in the oil or vice versa, and no, no problem. Nice running van. I planned to put at most, 6k miles on it each year, but not now.....

    I was told that a leaky injector seal could also pull coolant. I didn't know the water jacket was that close. And all of my knowledge is on 7.3 IDIs, not PowerStroke. It SMELLS like coolant and only blows it during acceleration. I've driven it 5mi back to my house.

    If it is a head gasket, I might just get a crate block reman and have that installed. Seems simpler, as much of the labor is yanking the chassis and body apart. How much more could it be to drop the drive shaft, tranny, and install a new block?

    Sorry for so many questions in the same post, but this just happened, and I'm not having a happy new year. I can't find my code reader to read the codes. The code reader's around somewhere.... I no longer have a garage where I could fix this myself, nor the body hoist needed. I'm sure there's no way to do the head without pulling the body.

    Thanks in advance for any help or wisdom. The van chassis is not quite immaculate. It would be a waste to part it out, and I'd rather put a long block in it if the differential's only going to be $2-3000.

    Lefty
     
  2. DaveBen

    DaveBen Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    It is probably a head gasket. These engines are known for blowing head gaskets. Heads have to come off and new gaskets replacing the old ones. It is not injectors.
     
  3. 79jasper

    79jasper Chickenhawk

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    If I'm not mistaken, this could be the egr cooler as well.
    I don't think you should do a whole crate engine.
    If it is the head gaskets, I would probably do new ucf heads. Orings, studs, the whole 9.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
     
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  4. lefthanded

    lefthanded Registered User

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    What's the diagnostic method to determine EGR cooler vs head gasket?

    Thx Lefty W9YW
     
  5. Crawler

    Crawler Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Since you don’t have coolant in oil or oil in coolant, you need to do a pressure test on the cooling system next. Typically a blown cooler or head gasket will pressurize the cooling system. Not always. But typically.

    There’s the tooless way that can tell you a bit. But if you are up for rigging up a gauge it will tell you a lot.

    Tooless method- get truck up to full operating temp. Very carefully crack the cap on the degas bottle to release all of the pressure. Then close the cap and drive the vehicle as hard as you are comfortable with. Then crack the cap again and see if you’ve built additional pressure.

    The gauge way is to either make an additional line or cut into an existing line. There are two smaller hoses on your degas bottle. One from the engine, the other to/from the radiator near the top coolant hose. The line you want is the line leading to the degas bottle from the center of the engine. T into this line and hook up a pressure gauge that you can view in cab. Mine usually sits under the windshield wiper so I can see it, but don’t have to route it in cab.
    Again, heat up the truck, vent the intitial pressure. Watch to see if you build additional pressure. If it rises slowly it’s typically one issue. If it rises fast then it’s typically another.

    Not all blown headgaskets will pressurize the cooling system. If your white smoke is indeed coolant and not Unburnt fuel, then you should see the van consuming coolant.
    And I would suspect a blown cooler rather than a head gasket from the way you describe it. But I’ve seen them both do it.
     
  6. Crawler

    Crawler Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Another test that I’ve used in the past is the cooling system bubble test.

    Basically use a rubber plug or spare degas bottle cap. Essentially you need something to connect to the top of the degas bottle and be able to seal. Then that device needs to be drilled and have a fitting attached that will allow connection of a hose or small line.

    Run that line to a clear bottle that is filled partially (3/4) with water.

    While running at operating temp, see if you are getting bubbles. Make a mentaland or physical note of how fast the bubbles are coming out and what size they are.

    Then unplug your VGT and take note of the bubbles. If the bubbles become less dramatic then most likely egr cooler. If they stay the same and don’t change then likely to be head gasket.

    Then plug in the VGT again and take note of the bubbles. If they get worse than the initial bubbles then likely both are blown.
     
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  7. bismic1

    bismic1 Full Access Member

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    A leaky injector seal will NOT "pull coolant" on the 6.0L. Sometimes a bad injector can result in white smoke, but it will be diesel fuel, not coolant.

    I have added on a coolant pressure gauge so that I can monitor the pressure in the degas bottle (as Crawler mentions above). It helps you detect a failure early. You are seeing coolant in your exhaust, so you pretty much know you have a failure. You can also puill your EGR valve and look for moisture under it.

    IMO the videos below help, but aren't always 100%.





    https://www.bulletproofdiesel.com/Articles.asp?ID=358

    Also, you need to determine if your oil cooler is plugging. The OEM coolant will "gel up" and clog the oil cooler which will starve the EGR cooler and make it fail. It won't be fun if you change out an EGR cooler only to have it fail again because you never addressed the failed or plugged oil cooler.

    You determine a failed oil cooler by seeing oil in the coolant (not the other way around) in this engine.

    The way you determine that the oil cooler is plugged up is by watching the oil temperature and coolant temperature. You need an engine parameter monitoring device for this. Every 6.0L owner needs a monitoring device.

    The best value is to download either ForScan or Torque Pro to your smart phone (or to a tablet). I would download Torque Pro to an Android device and ForScan to an iOS device. Then you need an OBDII adapter - Bluetooth model for Android and WiFi for iOs. I have had good luck w/ the BAFX brands. ForScan does make an Android version, but I haven't tried that. ForScan is the better app because it is a VERY good code reader as well. These smart phone apps are free, unless you want to spend $10 for the add-free version. The adapters are around $35.

    You can buy a ScanGaugeII also. It is a little over $100. The ScanGaugeII does not read codes very well.

    Get the engine fully warmed up and monitor your oil and coolant temperatures. If your oil is ever hotter than 15 degrees above your coolant temp, then your oil cooler is plugged and needs to be changed before it ruptures.

    The fix to the root cause of many issues is to flush your coolant system (typically needs multiple flushes) with distilled water and then a switch from the Ford Gold coolant to an EC-1 (diesel) rated ELC coolant. If your coolant has oil in it or has rust and scale in it, then you need to chemically flush it and it may cost you several oil coolers. The coolant passageways in these oil coolers are pretty small. Many 6.0L owners install coolant filters. There are a lot of choices and a lot of internet information on coolant filters.

    BulletProofDiesel (BPD) sells updated EGR coolers that are much stronger than the OEM EGR coolers. They are VERY reliable. Do not install an OEM EGR cooler. the 05 and up 6.0L EGR coolers are all a very fragile design.

    BPD makes a great air cooled oil cooler, but it is expensive. If you get a clean coolant system, your OEM oil cooler will work just fine. Don't get an aftermarket oil cooler (unless it is from BPD). Many times they are either junk or don't provide enough cooling.

    Many times when the EGR cooler fails, the water (coolant) in the cylinders causes extra cylinder pressure, and then you get failed head gaskets.

    It all can be a domino effect, so when issues are ignored, it can get expensive quickly.

    This is why every 6.0L owner needs a monitoring system.

    In addition to all this, EVERY 6.0L owner needs a fuel pressure gauge. Low fuel pressure (and there are many potential causes of low pressure) can ruin the injectors. The problem is that the factory did not give us a fuel pressure gauge. We don't even have an installed sensor for fuel pressure. These must be add-on instruments and can cost a few hundred dollars. Regardless, they are still needed to avoid an early $2k expenditure in injectors. Lots of posts on adding a fuel pressure sensor and gauge. You need over 45 psig (and IMO it needs to be over 50 psig) - all the time, even at WOT.

    The 6.0L can do well for an informed owner, or it can be a nightmare. The E-series is harder to work on in many cases.

    IMO you probably have a clogged oil cooler and a failed EGR cooler. If it has gone on very long, you may also have blown head gaskets. It may have all started w/ your coolant.

    If you are going to do EGR and oil coolers, you should also upgrade the discharge fitting on the HPOP. OEM was (is) a snap-to-connect (STC) fitting that fails pretty often (by leaking). Sometimes it fails catastrophically and cracks the rear engine cover. Ford sells an upgraded one-piece fitting that fixes this problem for good. ALSO in the high pressure oil system (in the oil rails) are standpipes and dummy plugs that frequently leak and cause hard starts or no-starts. Ford sells upgraded components that fix this issue.

    If you are going to have reliability, you need to consider doing all the above work, especially if you are going to tear it down for an EGR cooler and/or an oil cooler.

    Best of luck - get educated if you are going to keep it!!! Keep us informed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  8. Crawler

    Crawler Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    As always, Bismic brings the info. Good post brother.
     
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  9. lefthanded

    lefthanded Registered User

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    I still haven't found my code reader, but what you said makes sense. It wasn't driven far. Perhaps the headgaskets are intact. If not.... it gets ugly.
     
  10. lefthanded

    lefthanded Registered User

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    Very long story short, it was the EGR cooler. The three tests described above point directly to the cooler, not a head gasket repair. I got lucky.

    An EGR delete might be in order. Oil and coolant are still uncontaminated.

    From what I surmise, it would appear that I need to do an oil change, winter weight. I'm going to run some Sea Foam in the oil for a few miles before I change the oil, so as to help clean any clogged oil ports, e.g. thin it out and run it carefully hot. Might as well change the coolant, and if I have time, the tranny fluid... check the rear-end, etc. Although this vehicle was "fleet maintained", I can't trust the maintainer. Ford dealers can give me no information, so I have no idea of warranty service history. It has 172Kmi.

    I also have a bluetooth ODB2 reader on the way, and will connect that will my phone to monitor oil & coolant temps and differentials.

    Only rarely will this vehicle tow anything, and then, not for long, and not hard. The terrain here is hilly, not mountainous and the grades aren't difficult. The tongue weight supported by the bumper hitch is 5000 lbs, and the trailer is 4500 wet, and I run it dry. All other times, it will be empty or far below a half-ton of load.

    The clues given to me were very helpful, and I thank all that replied. I was almost convinced that the head gaskets were blown, and that I'd be looking at $4-6K of repair costs, given that the body has to be separated from the chassis to do the repair in a reasonable amount of time.

    Any suggested fuel additives for the Indiana/Kentucky area are appreciated. It won't be taken out of that area.

    Thanks again!!
     
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  11. 79jasper

    79jasper Chickenhawk

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    I wouldn't put seafoam in the oil. If anything, run some hot shots secret stiction eliminator, or archoil.
    I like hot shots secret for fuel additives also. But I got a gallon of Lucas for free, so guess what I'm running? Lol

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
     
  12. Crawler

    Crawler Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Do not add seafoam to the oil to thin it. Your injectors run on oil pressure.

    Hot shot secret
    Archoil
    Rev x

    Those are fine.

    I usually run rev x or archoil

    If you are doing an egr delete, do not just weld up the cooler or run block offs. Replace the upper passenger pipe on the y-pipe/uppipe with a new piece.

    If you pull the turbo, do a turbo cleaning. Adds an hour of time. But it’s well worth it. Better than going in later to do it.
     
  13. lefthanded

    lefthanded Registered User

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    Post delete, it still throws a code. This means I need a one-time tune. Any tuners in the audience in S Indiana? Runs just great now. Any help appreciated, including how to fool the ECM into believing all is well.
     
  14. Crawler

    Crawler Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    What’s the code
     

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