June 25

2001 Ford E350 Powerstroke IDM Replacement

Podcast2018, Ford


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here. Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast this morning, and we're talking trucks. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well.

Mark: We're going to talk about a 2001 Ford E350, 7.3 litre powerstroke diesel that an IDM replacement. What was going on with this diesel vehicle?

Bernie: This vehicle, the IDM to start with, stands for Ignition Driver Module, and what was going on with the vehicle is that it would stall out or it would be driving fine, and all of a sudden start running poorly, lack power, really wouldn't go anywhere, barely limp along or as I said stall out. It definitely had some serious driving issues. 

Mark: What is an Ignition Driver Module? What does it do?

Bernie: What it does is it actually fires the fuel injector. With the powerstroke, they use high pressure oil to boost the injection of the fuel, but that's triggered with an electronic signal. The IDM fires the fuel injectors, and it's a fairly high voltage signal compared to what's in the car, so it will boost up the voltage, and then fire the injectors whenever the computer commands.

Mark: What symptoms was happening with the van?

Bernie: As I said, it would stall out. When the engine was running, it would run fine for a while, and then all of a sudden it would just start running poorly, misfiring, stalling, lack of power. As far as diagnostics, some of the tests we did on it, we had a little bit of history with this vehicle previously. We've been servicing it for quite a while back. About six months ago, we replaced all the fuel injectors because there was issues with the injectors. We also replaced the wiring harnesses, which run under the valve cover, and these are a common problem/issue they'll develop. We knew that those items were good and based on the symptoms when the vehicle did start running poorly, we could see it was a complete engine failure, if you know what I mean, as opposed to individual cylinder. That would be just sort of a rough shake. But because of just the severe lack of power, I figured it's a more overall issue. Next of course, scan the vehicle computer. We found a code stored for an IDM circuit fault, which clearly put everything, being the IDM unit at fault.

Mark: Did you find anything else that was going on once you've replaced the IDM? 

Bernie: No. That was it. I'll actually show you some pictures. It's interesting to show what we actually found. We did replace the IDM. That is the IDM. The old one here. Pretty ugly, crusty looking part. This is on the floor of my shop, so it's a speckled concrete floor. It's a weird background, but the electrical connectors go in here, and this is the body of the module. You can see this little button piece that's slipped out, and there's a lot of corrosion around here. A surefire indicator that there is water inside the module, and water in the module is a very common issue. As a matter of fact, you can see a little bit of moisture here. This is after we drained a lot of water out of it. This piece had popped out of place. Water had seeped into the module, and that was why it was behaving the way it was. Sometimes it would be fine, other times water would slosh around, and of course start short circuiting, and it wouldn't fire the injectors properly. Now, why would water get in the module? This module is not particularly located in a fantastic spot. There's the under hood view. The coolant overflow bottle’s here. There's the new IDM right there, and you can see that this is on the edge of the hood rail, it's on the edge of the cowl here where water can run right down here right on top of the module. Not an exactly brilliant spot to have an electronic component. And there is another closer view of again the IDM. The yellow arrows are just indicating that's where water will run down on the unit or from this area here.

2001 Ford E350 Powerstroke IDM Replacement
2001 Ford E350 Powerstroke IDM Replacement
2001 Ford E350 Powerstroke IDM Replacement
2001 Ford E350 Powerstroke IDM Replacement

Mark: We would assume these modules are well sealed to deal with water. Is there preventative measures that would have helped prevent the damage?

Bernie: First off, yeah. They are really well sealed. This truck is 2001. I would say that module is definitely the original, and it's 2018 now, so that's 17 years of use. 17, 18 years of use. That's a long time. But yes, could it be better? Yeah. They could put some shielding, and covering over top of it. One could fashion a tin plate or maybe a plastic shield over top to allow the water to run off. We haven't done that, but it's certainly something that you could do for extra preventative measure. One thing, if you ever did something like that, make sure you give some breathing room because this module will generate heat, and it needs to dissipate the heat. That's something important. But yeah. Definitely something that could be done. Had water not run on this module? Yeah. This vehicle would still be running. Clearly, it did kill it at a premature age.

Mark: We've talked a lot about different versions of Ford powerstroke diesels. It's a V8 diesel. How are these 7.3 litre engines when compared to their newer counterparts?

Bernie: 7.3 is actually extremely reliable. There's not a lot of problems that happen with them. The injectors generally last a long time. There are a few concerns with them, but generally compared to their newer versions, especially the six litre, it's very reliable engine. Of course, it is noisy. It's kind of stinky. It doesn't have the lower emission qualities that the newer versions have, and it's a lot noisier, but it is a good powerful diesel, and its reliability is quite amazing. Definitely a better version, but a little older. You're going to have to be putting up with the rattling noise. Some people actually like that because it does gives you a feel of you're actually running diesel. And they still work well. This vehicle is 18 years old, and you still got lots of life left in it. An 18 year old van with a gas motor at this point is probably not worth a whole lot of money, but a diesel is still worthwhile to keep going.

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your 7.3 litre powerstroke in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website. PawlikAutomitive.com. Lots of articles, and videos on there as well as on our YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair or on our Podcast. Hope you're enjoying it. Thanks a lot Bernie. 

Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for listening, and watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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