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Old 09-03-2018, 11:52 AM   #1
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Our family voyage from AZ to AB and back, and a couple issues our 6.0 SMB had

Our family of 4 took our 2006 E350 6.0 from Arizona all the way up to Jasper (Alberta) and then over and down the pacific coast over the past month. Traveling with a 1 year old and 3 year old has its challenges for sure but we enjoyed all the amazing scenery, and found a lot of places we are anxious to go back to! But the "trip report" is a thread for another day. I wanted to post about a couple of van issues that ended up costing us a total of 5 days on the trip at the mechanic, and ask for advice on any preventative fixes we can do before our next trip to avoid interruption again. Our rig has had all the bulletproofing and head studs done on it, so we were hoping we would be good to go, but it was a couple of other unrelated items that ended up going wrong.

Issue 1: TFT Sensor code P0731 went off while we were in SLC. I called around to every Ford dealer and all of them were more than a week booked out, great! So I took it to Aamco, figured it just needed a new sensor and we'd be back on the road in a few hours. 8 hours later they had put in two different sensors and neither cleared the code (thankfully they were about half mile from the childrens museum so it wasn't too awful). They recommended I find a Ford dealer that could replace the PCM. I ended up finding a young father at Ford Bountiful that "took pity" on our family and promised to squeeze us in the next day. So we booked a hotel and I took the van in "limp mode" over to the dealership first thing. They tried the TFT sensor replacement with the same results, then had to wait a day to get a new PCM in ($$$), which didn't work either. Finally they decided to replace the entire engine wiring harness ($$) and that worked. Cost us 3 and a half days plus a bunch of hotel expense, but we were thrilled to be back on the road. In hindsight we were very fortunate this happened in a major city, and that they were able to get that wiring harness in - I had heard Ford doesn't even make them anymore? Had we been more rural this could have been incredibly expensive and taken a lot more time.

Issue 2: Couple weeks later we are feeling pretty good about the van, we have to watch temps while towing (3,000lbs) if ambient temps are high but otherwise it's doing pretty well. As we pull in to fuel up just outside of Sutherlind, OR I notice a loud clicking sound from behind the firewall, and we have very little braking power. Scary! It's 5pm and I find a mobile diesel mechanic who's willing to look at it in a vacant lot we slowly pulled the van into. He confirms it's an issue with the vacuum booster for the brakes, but unfortunately can't get the part in until the next afternoon. Back into a random hotel with the kids and within 24 hours we are again thankful to be back on the road.

Between the two issues my wife isn't happy with the van, but it did force us to think about what we want in our camper. We had thought about a Sprinter a bit but I think had similar issues happened where they happened we might have had a lot more trouble having it serviced vs having a fairly common Ford engine. The engine I think we've done pretty much everything we can to make it reliable (see thread here), but the wiring harness and brake booster I'm not sure we could have predicted. Probably will be a few months before we take another trip in it, I would like to upgrade the transmission cooler (got up to 220F on some steep grades, but mostly <200F) but are there any other preventative measures for common failure items we can take before our next trip? I'm going to talk to our Diesel shop about perhaps upgrading the brakes to Hydroboost, I read on the forum a thread about doing that with some E450 parts.

Also, any possibility to reduce the noise on that clutch fan? Guessing not, but I was always trying really hard to keep the WT to <225F (very difficult when driving through some of the high temps in the SW) to keep the cabin from getting too noisy.

Appreciate all the input!
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Old 09-03-2018, 01:11 PM   #2
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Its a 2006, and "stuff" happens - You could have purchased a "newer" model, but then you would have paid more up front, and still no guarantees - Think its all relative. Will add that if you have to go in to do any repairs, consider getting a couple other items replaced at rhe same time - in the long run its more cost effective.

I'm no mechanic, but can identify with your heat management issues on EOT, ECT, and Tranny temps. Tried many things but ultimately came down to reaching out to 5-Star Tune for help - now have 4 programs that each have the fan activate earlier. At the same time also installed a Mishimoto "low temp" thermostat and replaced fan & clutch. All my temps are running about 15 degrees lower now. Interestingly, even though I know my fan runs more now, I hardly ever hear it because it's so quiet.

My perspective; Sounds like you had a great experience on your trip...rallied past the obvious inconveniences - you were creative in passing the time while waiting for repairs, and these unplanned escapades ended out memorable & enjoyable.

Believe the majority of us here can share a tale similar to your comment "I ended up finding a young father at Ford Bountiful that "took pity" on our family and promised to squeeze us in the next day". In each of my such incidents, the only recall I have weeks/months/years later is the appreciation that individuals like that DO exist, and to date still serve as inspiration for me to do something positive to help another - especially when it not expected.

BTW - Since i have a 2006 as well, I'd be interested to hear back if you do the Hydroboost upgrade.
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Old 09-03-2018, 01:21 PM   #3
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The vacuum pump issue is common and Iíve heard some carry a spare. The wiring harness is as random as it gets in my opinion. I think you fared well also. The cooling strategy is big on my list. I like the thermostat idea and fan idea. Sounds like a big trip.
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Old 09-03-2018, 01:24 PM   #4
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There's only one way to guarantee a trouble free 6.0....

Get something else. Anything else.

Sorry to be frank. It's probably not what you want to hear, but no matter what you do, there's always "something" that can sideline your trip. It's a complicated motor where small failures can quickly cascade into more serious issues.

Even a Sprinter will be more reliable, except maybe the '08-'10 models while they figured out emissions, and the limited service network is a valid concern.
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Old 09-03-2018, 01:47 PM   #5
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Go with Hydrobroost, parts directly swap off from E450 van and are available from local stores. More breaking power for the same brake pedal force.
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Old 09-03-2018, 02:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Twoxentrix View Post
Its a 2006, and "stuff" happens - You could have purchased a "newer" model, but then you would have paid more up front, and still no guarantees - Think its all relative. Will add that if you have to go in to do any repairs, consider getting a couple other items replaced at rhe same time - in the long run its more cost effective.
That's what I'm hoping to do, so I'm just trying to reach out to the community to see if there is a list of items I can have all addressed at once. Since it's not a daily driver for us, I don't mind if it takes a while to fix these things. Just trying to avoid things happening on the road as much as possible. Carrying a spare vacuum booster is a good idea if we don't switch to hydroboost, but I'm hoping we can make the switch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twoxentrix View Post
I'm no mechanic, but can identify with your heat management issues on EOT, ECT, and Tranny temps. Tried many things but ultimately came down to reaching out to 5-Star Tune for help - now have 4 programs that each have the fan activate earlier. At the same time also installed a Mishimoto "low temp" thermostat and replaced fan & clutch. All my temps are running about 15 degrees lower now. Interestingly, even though I know my fan runs more now, I hardly ever hear it because it's so quiet.
This is music to my ears, I was hoping there was a way to quiet down that fan but thought that would only make the heat issues worse. I'll have to ask our mechanic about these items and look into 5-star tune.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twoxentrix View Post
My perspective; Sounds like you had a great experience on your trip...rallied past the obvious inconveniences - you were creative in passing the time while waiting for repairs, and these unplanned escapades ended out memorable & enjoyable.
Believe me this guy is getting a Christmas card from us! He was so understanding and I want to make sure that when people can really be caring like this it makes me want to thank them over and over so that they don't lose that human touch. It's rare, but so thankful that those people exist.

Keep the inputs coming! I know the 6.0s can be problematic, but it fits our needs so well we really would like to keep it. Understand that the hydroboost provides greater braking power, but is it also more reliable? Seems like vacuum would be more problematic than using the PS fluid, so I'm hoping the reliability would be improved with the change as well.
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Old 09-03-2018, 07:56 PM   #7
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Was it Oregon Mobile Diesel Service based out of Sutherlin? I’ve heard those guys are good.
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Old 09-03-2018, 08:09 PM   #8
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Was it Oregon Mobile Diesel Service based out of Sutherlin? Iíve heard those guys are good.
It was! Wyatt over there was great. Compared to the big rigs they work on I think my van was a piece of cake.
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Old 09-03-2018, 08:13 PM   #9
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Wow, you may have broken down in one of the best places possible within many hundreds of miles.
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Old 09-03-2018, 08:42 PM   #10
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Wow, you may have broken down in one of the best places possible within many hundreds of miles.
Yeah as I looked up google and yelp I realized if those guys couldnít help me I was in big big trouble
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