Just what exactly is a glow plug and what does it do? A glow plug is a heater and is so named because it glows red hot when activated. Diesel engines are compression ignition engines and rely on hot air (under extreme pressure) to combust the fuel. A cold engine with cold air temperatures creates difficult combustion conditions resulting in either no engine start or a very difficult start with smoky exhaust. The addition of glow plugs to heat the cold combustion chamber allows the diesel engine to start quickly and smokelessly. Glow plugs are connected to a glow plug controller which is either switched on by a temperature switch or the engine computer at the time that the extra heat is required. Glow plugs usually cycle on and off after the engine has started for up to two minutes to ensure good combustion.
How do you know if your glow plugs are not functioning properly? There are a few ways based on the vintage of your diesel. On older diesels, around 2000 and earlier models, you will notice long crank over or no start when cold. You might also notice that the engine runs rough on start-up and smokes excessively for a short period of time. On newer computer controlled diesels you’ll rarely ever experience these poor engine start and running issues. This is because, after the slightest glow plug defect is detected, your check engine lamp will come on. With it a stored trouble code indicating which glow plug may be faulty will be logged in the computer.
Almost every automotive diesel (car or light truck) uses glow plugs however there are some exceptions. The Cummins diesel as found in Dodge trucks has no glow plugs but instead uses a grid heater in the air intake. This warms the air as it is sucked into the engine. It only switches on during very cold weather.
How often should you change your glow plugs? Unlike spark plugs, there is no recommended maintenance replacement interval for glow plugs. They are normally changed when either cold start issues present themselves or your check engine lamp comes on with a glow plug code (and after diagnosis it is determined that the glow plug is faulty).
Cranking over a diesel engine takes a lot of energy and your starter motor works very hard. All diesel vehicles have either two batteries or one humongous battery to provide the power for the starter. Starters, due to their size are very expensive, so a quick easy starting engine is much easier on your starter. With the quick start that glow plugs provide your starter lasts much longer, saving you money.
The Ford 6 liter diesel engine is fraught with numerous problems however all of these can be overcome. In this video we will show you what we feel is the ultimate repair solution for the 6 Liter: repairs that will keep the engine performing reliably for years and years.
Many of the 6 liters problems stem from the design of the engine and oil cooling systems. This engine uses a unique system in which the engine oil cooler is mounted inside the V of the engine. Here coolant flows through narrow passageways which eventually plug up causing coolant flow restrictions and excessive oil temperatures. From here coolant flows to the EGR cooler which, due to its narrow passageways also tends to clog. Excessive coolant temperatures eventually lead to head gasket failures and even a destroyed engine if left long enough.
For the truck shown in this video, the owner wisely chose to do the ultimate repair job; a repair which eliminates all the weaknesses of the 6 liter engine. This includes cylinder head studs to prevent future head gasket failures, a Bulletproof EGR cooler plus the bulletproof remote engine oil cooler system. A number of minor but nonetheless important upgrades were done during the procedure including new oil stand pipes and STC fitting on the high pressure oil pump.
Let’s get started:
First step is to remove the bumpers and accessories from the front of the truck then disconnect all items necessary to remove the cab from the vehicle. This includes evacuating the A/C system, draining the coolant, disconnecting the steering column, brake lines, coolant and heater hoses, wiring and much more.
Once the cab is raised the engine is readily accessible and a pleasure to work on.
Stripping the engine down is our next step and the next few photos reveal just that, with the heads, oil cooler assembly and high-pressure oil pump removed.
The many dismantled parts can be seen in this enormous layout.
Next steps include cleaning components such as the block deck and cylinder head surfaces along with the oil pump cover and all of the many bolts and miscellaneous parts.
We are now ready to put things back together:
The high-pressure oil pump is reinstalled along with a new and improved STC fitting. On occasion the old STC fitting would break and when this occurred would crack the back of the engine block.
Following pump installation, the cover is installed and tightened down.
We next move onto installation of the Bulletproof remote oil cooler adapter: this is a complete assembly that bolts in place of the engine oil cooler and cover.
Cylinder head studs are installed, then head gaskets, then cylinder heads. Heads are torqued to spec. During head installation, fuel injectors are reinstalled with new seals, along with rocker arms and bridges.
Covering the valve gear sits the high-pressure oil manifold and installed along with this are the upgraded high-pressure oil standpipes. The original designed pipes and seals would fail resulting in a loss of oil pressure and an engine no start.
To ensure an easy start up the oil system is primed until oil flows from the manifold test port.
We’re now onto installing valve covers and the turbo stand
Next is the Intake manifold along with a Bulletproof EGR cooler, this component has been rebuilt to eliminate the causes of failure in the original cooler. Check out the differences between the Bulletproof’s large tubes and the original’s thin tubes: the durability looks very evident.
Some next installations include the oil and fuel filter adapters and plumbing. Because we are using the Bulletproof oil cooler system the original oil filter is no longer used.
Next comes the turbocharger, the FICM or fuel injection control module and the remaining wiring, hoses and sensors.
Here’s how it all looks from front and back, fully assembled and awaiting the cab to be remounted.
With the cab back down we can now work on installing the rest of the Bulletproof oil cooler system which includes first relocating the power steering cooler near the bottom of the radiator. We next install the cooler, pipes and hoses.
The remote oil filter is mounted behind the left front bumper bracket.
Final assembly requires reinstalling and reconnecting all other under hood components, then filling the cooling system, recharging the A/C and we are ready for start up.
After a successful start up, warm up and inspection for leaks our 6 liter Ford truck is ready to go for many miles of trouble free operation having had all major original design flaws corrected.
VW TDI diesel engines have been around for two decades in several evolutions: distributor type and common rail injection. They are fabulous engines and have always been state of the art, featuring quiet operation, lots of power and acceleration, and best of all their fuel economy allows a trip from Vancouver to Calgary on a single tank.
Maintenance is relatively simple requiring routine oil and filter changes, fuel and air filter changes and rarely, timing belt replacements. Reliability of the engines is excellent however there are a few concerns that occur from time to time. Glow plugs and glow plug system failures occur from time to time.
One other concern is clogging of the intake manifold which happens commonly on late 1990 to early 2000 Jettas and Passats. Over time the EGR valve, located in the intake stream allows fine soot particles to build up, eventually building up so severely that air flow is restricted. It can become so bad that the engine has too little power to pull the car up a hill.
When it becomes this sooted, the intake manifold must be removed to do a thorough cleanout. In exceptional cases the cylinder head must also be removed and the head dismantled to clean the valves. Obviously it makes sense to service the intake before blockage becomes severe.
At 100,000 kilometers it makes sense to remove the EGR valve and inspect for deposits and at this point clean them if present. From that point on, reinspecting and cleaning if needed every 50,000 kilometers will ensure a reliable and trouble free TDI experience; just be sure to replace the timing belt every 150,000 kilometers.
EGR valves cause many concerns on Ford 6L diesel engines: the most common one being that the valves stick due to excessive soot deposits. While there are few simple services that can be done on these complex engines, cleaning your EGR valve just happens to be one of those rare simple ones.
The EGR valve service involves removing the valve and cleaning it with combustion chamber or carburetor cleaner. With the valve removed the intake ports where the valve is installed are also cleaned. Doing this service will prevent many an EGR related driveability concern due to a sticking or plugged valve.
Perform this service every time you replace fuel filters and it will only add to the reliability of your truck.
Diesel engines and diesel fuel injectors have changed remarkably in the past decade: gone are the rattly, smoky, stinky, low performance engines from the past.
Today we have the modern diesel: powerful and quick to accelerate, smoke free and quiet, with the added benefit of low exhaust emissions, and often times amazing fuel efficiency. 60+ mpg in a VW Jetta TDI is common!
There have been many changes that have allowed this remarkable transformation and one of the major contributors is the fuel injector which has undergone an enormous revolution.
On older engines all components within the injector were mechanical. The injection pump, again a purely mechanical device, precisely controlled the quantity of fuel to be injected.
Fast forward to today: the fuel injector’s controls are now electronic and the mechanical injection pump is gone. In its place is the common rail system. What common rail means is that all fuel injectors get their fuel from the same fuel rail under the same pressure. There a two types of common rail system: one with very high fuel pressure and another with low pressure fuel that uses high pressure engine oil to boost fuel to a very high pressure inside the injector.
While solenoids have been used inside the injectors the pinnacle of modern fuel injector technology is the piezoelectric crystal which, when electrically energized minutely changes the shape of the crystal and switches a small fuel chamber on and off. The on/off flow in the small fuel chamber triggers the top of the fuel injector to open and close and in turn spray fuel into the engine. The miracle of this injector is that it allows precise injection control to the millisecond.
Old diesels received only one shot of fuel during their combustion stroke while modern diesels receive several injections at precisely timed intervals and this has created the amazing engines that we have today. Through these timed injections more power is produced and the knocking sound, so common to diesel engines is virtually eliminated.
Well they have their concerns and quite honestly many are problematic. However much of this may be due to recent changes in diesel fuel refining.
In the late 2000s, ultra low sulfur diesel fuels were introduced in North America. Minimal sulfur emission is great for the environment but unfortunately for the diesel fuel injector, the refining process removes some lubricants that are crucial to long injector life. All diesel engines built 2008 and newer have upgraded injectors but those prior will likely suffer early failures.
Injector failures show up in a number of ways such as long crank times or no starts, smoky exhaust (usually black) and rough running.
With the expensive components in a diesel engine, performing oil and filter changes and fuel filter changes at or before the prescribed interval is essential.
Replacing modern injectors is very expensive, typically costing several hundred dollars per unit along with a very labour intensive operation. So you may wonder, what can I do to prolong the life of my injectors and avoid expensive repairs? There are several things:
Change engine oil and filter regularly and replace fuel filters regularly.
These additives will restore the lubricants missing from modern ultra low sulfur diesel and prolong the life of your injectors. While there is addition cost, some of these additives will boost the cetane rating of your fuel and pay for themselves with improved fuel mileage and performance.
The best way to save money on car repairs is simple:
It’s with routine maintenance.
Routine maintenance means that at specific time intervals, based on how much you drive, you have your car serviced following a maintenance schedule.
The very minimum schedule that should be followed is the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Following this schedule will make certain that you fulfill all of your requirements should you have a warranty claim. Some manufacturer’s schedules are more thorough than others and a good maintenance shop will review the schedule and make additional suggestions to help further maintain your vehicle.
One oil change every 6,000 kilometers for 60,000 Km equals 10 oil changes and a total cost of around $600.00. A lack of oil changes causing a blown engine is $4,000.00 and could easily cost double that based on the type car that you drive.
An average, thorough timing belt replacement (with water pump, pulleys and oil seals) can range from $1,000.00 to $1,500.00. Neglecting it and letting the belt break puts you back in the $4,000.00 and probably far more expensive price range.
Replacing brakes before they start grinding could be as low in cost as $300.00 but if left until grinding could easily run you $700.00 or far more.
Other Tangible costs:
• Lost work hours
• Arranging transportation to and from the Repair Shop
• The stress of readjusting your schedule
• Being without your car when you need it
Through routine maintenance you will know the condition and lifespan of many of your vehicle’s parts. At specific intervals critical services like oil changes and fluid flushes will be done extending the life of your vehicle.
Will routine maintenance eliminate all surprises? Unfortunately it will not, but it substantially increases your odds of trouble free driving.
So there is your key to save money on car repairs: Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance!
Pawlik Automotive is an auto service shop located in the Marpole area of Vancouver, BC. We’ve been in business since 1991 which makes us 20 years old this year. We service most makes of cars and light trucks and we do pretty much all the maintenance and repairs that your car will need. What we don’t do is bodywork, windshields and detailing.
I want to speak today on a few aspects of our business that are unique.
Let’s face it there are a lot of auto repair shops out there but there are several things that make Pawlik Automotive an excellent choice for servicing your vehicle.
We take what I call a wholistic approach to vehicle service. We look at the whole car, evaluate it and let you know what service is required now and what is required in the future. The basis of that service comes via this very colorful and detailed inspection form. Having us as your partner in vehicle service undoubtedly saves you money in the long run.
We don’t use a heavy handed or fear based tactics as a way of selling service.
Another area of specialty for us is fleet maintenance: essentially these are vehicles used for business and most often these would be trades companies: plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, rubbish removal companies and garden maintenance companies just to name a few.
What makes our service so valuable to fleets is our thorough inspections along with accurately recording the work needed and booking future appointments along with reminding them of when service is needed.
Diesel cars and diesel trucks are another area of specialty for us. Many auto repair shops don’t do diesels but we love them and have invested in the equipment and education to diagnose and repair them properly.
Doing proper diagnosis is very important to fixing a modern vehicle and it is a big part of our business and it’s something that we do very well. There are many expensive parts to go wrong so it is essential to take the time to find out what the exact cause is so that our client’s money is not wasted.
Over the past few years I’ve invested heavily into our website and created educational materials. I write blog articles frequently about all sorts of auto repair topics and have created several videos on how we do our work and what makes us unique.
I encourage you to take the time to look around as it explains a lot about how we do things here at Pawlik Automotive.
If you have someone that you’d like to refer to us please ask them to look at our videos as it will give them an idea about how we do things and what makes us unique. While I have fun making these I do it so that people will learn about what makes their vehicle tick and what goes into the work that we do so they can get a better understanding of the value that we offer.
Please take a couple of minutes to view one of my videos this week. Just go on You Tube – Pawlik Automotive. I’d love to hear your feedback.
While Diesel engines are remarkably tough they are not indestructible and can be expensively damaged when abused. Take a look at these pistons from a Dodge Cummins Diesel. The vehicle owner had installed a performance chip in the computer and taking advantage of the extra horsepower hauled a trailer at high speed up the Coquihalla Highway.
It was undoubtably an impressive site, watching a truck and trailer maintaining the speed limit uphill through the steep mountain grades. However a severe price was paid when a knocking noise developed in the engine. After tearing down the engine the damage was found: a partially melted piston caused by the relentless uphill quest for speed. This is an expensive diesel repair.
If you own such a vehicle take care when driving, especially after making performance upgrades or modifications: all engines are built to take a set amount of strain and overdoing it could cost you big money.
Serious repairs require serious action: take this 2005 Ford F350 Superduty diesel repair for example, where we recently replaced cylinder head gaskets. This is a huge job which was made a lot easier by removing the truck’s cab.
While this may seem to be an extraordinarily complex amount of work, removing the cab to access the engine is well worth the effort. Having done it with both cab on and cab off I can say that this is the only way to go: the several hours to remove the cab make the engine repair so enjoyable. Without the cab confining the engine, we can stand right beside it with nothing in the way to interfere with the work at hand.
For this particular repair our client wisely opted to replace the head bolts with studs: a repair that is sure to last as studs provide a superior clamping force to bolts. Doing the head gasket with studs requires cab removal.
With the engine repairs completed, the cab was lowered back into place and all systems were reconnected to the engine and chassis in much the same way as happens on the assembly line.
While some businesses like to advertise “no job too small” you can see that for us, no job is too big!
The Ford 6 litre Powerstroke diesel has a few chronic problems and one especially expensive concern is blown head gaskets.
While most diesel engines have bullet proof reliability this is an embarrassing failure for Ford. The great news is that it can be repaired and repaired more or less permanently by using studs instead of bolts to hold down the cylinder heads.
Diesel engines have tremendous combustion pressures which exert enormous forces on the cylinder head, the gasket and the bolts which hold them down. Over time these forces will cause the head gaskets to leak. Most diesels rarely experience this concern but with the Ford 6 litre diesel it is guaranteed to occur before 200,000 kilometers. The head bolts on this engine are simply inadequate to provide the long term clamping force needed to prevent the head gasket from failing.
Repair can take two routes: one is to replace the gaskets and head bolts and expect the same life as before. The other more permanent solution is to replace the gaskets but use studs instead of bolts.
Studs provide a far more solid clamping force to the cylinder head preventing the head gasket from future failures. When a bolt is tightened down it experiences two forces: one is a twisting force as the bolt is turned and the other is a stretching force along the length of the bolt. A stud and nut however experience only one force and that is the stretching force. This allows studs to exert a far greater clamping force than bolts.