Hello everyone! It’s Shawn here to fill you in on the mechanical saga… It’s turning into a novel, so hang with me though the details of the last few days.
Thursday when we picked up the truck we were delayed while the dealership replaced the air dryer on the truck and all the lock cylinders that were found to be very stiff. It was a longer delay than I hoped for, but the air dryer had a leak and I really didn’t want to be fighting locks on a truck that doesn’t have keyless entry, so they had to be done. After spending about 6 hours at the dealership between the repairs, paperwork and lunch, we were finally on our way to South Dakota.
About 20 miles out we get an alert from the computer in the dashboard to run an emission filter cleaning (aka a regen) while parked. Our sales guy Randy (who has been awesome) said if we had a chance to stop to go ahead and kick off the regen.
As Andrea had mentioned in her previous entry, we were meeting up with my old friend Randy Herald at a truck stop just north of Denver, so we started the regen while parked there and headed into the truck stop for a bite to eat. When we returned, everything looked ok as the light on the dash was now off, and so we were again on our way.
Let me take a minute here to enlighten those who may not know about today’s modern diesel engines and their emission systems as this plays into the issue a bit.
I bet most folks have noticed the big semi trucks and the black smoke that pours out of their stacks on occasion. But the bigger question is have you noticed that fewer and fewer trucks now do that?
A few years back, due to increasing emission restrictions on particulate discharge, most diesel truck manufacturers (semi trucks and pickups too) started installing a diesel particulate filter (DPF) as well as a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection system to help clean that filter. The result is that you now see much less smoke from the stacks of trucks and hardly smell the diesel exhaust at all unless it is very cold out. The trucks constantly monitor the soot level of the filter and when the computer feels that the filter needs cleaning due to back pressure, it initiates what is referred to as a “regen”.
In short, when a regen is running, the truck uses fuel to superheat the filter and DEF which reacts to a catalyst in the system which burns off the soot and eliminates the back pressure. My current F250 has this feature, so I’ve been used to the cycle.
OK, enough techno mumbo jumbo, let’s get back to the story…
About halfway to South Dakota, we get a check engine light and noticed a siren-like whine from the engine. I went online and researched the fault code that caused the check engine light (Excessive Regens) and from what I could tell, it didn’t sound like anything that would damage the truck. I had no clue about what might be causing the whine but the truck seemed to be running OK, so we continued on to Rapid City to spend the night.
Friday morning I called Randy at the dealership again, who said it would be best to bring the truck back to Denver to diagnose the problem. I agonized over the decision to drive 6 hours back to Denver and lose an additional day for what might just be a sensor and a loose clamp, but I trusted that Randy would make sure that whatever was wrong was corrected.
We got our South Dakota business taken care of, made the trek back to Denver and dropped off the truck Friday night around 9 p.m. Luckily the service department is open until midnight weekdays, but they were down two techs and it was unlikely they would be able to diagnose and correct the issue that night. So we headed to what turned out to be a very nice Embassy Suites for some much-needed sleep, hoping we could pick the truck up early Saturday morning and head east.
Saturday morning I called Randy at the dealership as he was working on Saturday. He explained that they found a blown seal in the high-pressure turbo outlet. This is what was making the whine and additionally caused the fuel to air ratio to be off which in turn caused the exhaust to have more black soot, which caused the soot filter to need to be cleaned more often than it should be, which caused the computer to turn on the Check Engine light. Whew!
So by noon we are back at the dealership, loaded up and ready to get home! HAHA, not so fast buster!
I started the truck and the audible and visual alarms made it clear that we have no pressure in the air tanks. This is a serious issue for a vehicle that uses air pressure to release the brakes! If you don’t have pressure you can’t move.
“Ok, well, maybe they had to purge the tanks to do the repair and I just need to wait for the pressure to build back up,” I thought to myself. After a couple of minutes there’s still no pressure and now I am getting more concerned. Well, let’s try increasing the RPMs a bit and see if that helps. It didn’t. Sigh.
The service manager is as befuddled as I am. There are no obvious air leaks anywhere, but we can’t get the pressure up.
Well, it’s going to have to go back in a service bay to be looked at, but remember, we have no air pressure, so we can’t release the brakes. This is where the tricks of the trade come into play as they literally “jumped” our truck from another truck and put air in the tanks by connecting the two together using the trailer air lines. The trick works and the truck is back in the service bay again and Andrea and I again wait in the Driver’s Lounge at the dealership for the verdict.
Initially we had been expecting this would be a fairly common failure of the air compressor governor which cycles the compressor on and off as needed.After an hour or so we were told that the entire compressor had failed and would need to be replaced! This job is far from common or simple.
I am now very happy that we returned to Denver to have the truck worked on at the dealership. Again, the dealership came through and is going to cover this repair as well, which is a really good thing as the compressor is a $1,600 part with a removal/replacement time of about 4-5 hours at $175 per hour. That would have been over $2,000 we hadn’t budgeted for.
So, back to the hotel we went for a second unplanned night in Denver.
While all of these mechanical issues have been quite unexpected in both frequency and complexity, we have been VERY lucky. We haven’t broken down on the road, the dealership has been great about taking care of everything even though the truck was sold “as-is”, and we can afford a few extra nights in a nice hotel.
The big bonus of being stuck the additional night in Denver is that we were able to have dinner with some of Andrea’s friends. It was great to be able to spend some time with both couples and I can’t thank them enough for going out of their way to meet up.
Hopefully we’ll be on the road this morning (Sunday: Day 5!) with our mechanical issues behind us. And while I am certain there will be others to come, I am praying that they are simple ones and few and far between.