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Old 01-23-2014, 07:37 PM   #1
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Help Needed

All,
This is a long post. Sorry for being long winded, but I would greatly appreciate any insight to help us resolve our problem.

My wife and I have a used 2006 SMB based on the E350 platform. We have had it for about 8 months with no real issues. Recently we began having problems starting the engine. The engine turns over as if it is about to start, but never does. This issue has left us stranded in Death Valley...not once...but twice in the last month!!

The 1st time this happened in DV, we had our truck towed to Las Vegas. The Ford dealer confirmed that car would not start. He then found that the ground terminal which attaches to the frame was loose. They tighten it up and the car starts up. We come back to pick it up several days later and the car starts on 1st try. We think it is fixed.

We head back home to Northern California and figure we'll finish up the Death Valley trip which was cut short the 1st time. No issues the first day we are there. However, on the 2nd day we experience the exact same issue.

We take the truck back to same dealer and he looks at it again. Car does not start initially and then one of the techs starts shifting around the engine wiring harness. Voila! The engine starts right up! So now the dealer says that the main engine electrical wiring harness needs to be replaced...to a tune of $4k!!

I ask them are they sure this is the solution to the problem. They say no.
I ask them if they were able to isolate to a specific circuit. They say no.
I say that I am not comfortable with their analysis and need a more thorough diagnosis before authorizing repairs. They are not willing to do further analysis.
I then have the truck shipped back to Norcal.

The truck is now at a Ford dealer here in NorCal, but the car now starts so they are having a difficult time identifying the issue. Batteries are new/strong, fuel injection strong, oil pressure strong...everything looks good.

The only common link between the non-start is that we were on traveling on bumpy roads prior to the non-start event (think road to Scotty's Castle which is being graded/gravel and the road to the Devil's Golf Course). Roads with lots of vibration.

Has anyone had/seen/heard of this issue before? What was the solution?

Thanks!
Darryl
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:39 PM   #2
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Re: Help Needed

It might just be a connection issue with one sensor also. 4K is a rip off. I had my harness replaced for 2.2K plus they installed a bullet proof FICM that I supplied. For me my engine would just quit at low idle and miss from time to time like when going around a corner. It always restarted so I really wonder about your issue. After the harness was replace I had no more issues after that. The problem is you are at their mercy and often the dealership will...lets just say feed you full of BS. They know you're on vacation, not from the area and take advantage. Not all dealerships are that way. So you need to find the right mechanic that is trustworthy but if you're on a limited timescale they might have you bracketed.

Who is the dealership? Mac was from there...maybe he can send you (or other LV members) to the right dealership or mechanic.

Sorry for your problems. Rather than start a 6.0 bashing (that I hope other members will not start here), I found that although the engine does have issues from time to time, a good mechanic can get you home. That is key. I understand you have to do what it takes to get you there and sometimes you have to deal with dirty dealerships. Been there and done that. Don't let it ruin the trip.

[edit] If you can wiggle the harness to get it started that might help. The problem is it is like an octopus and is spread out all over the engine. Sometimes after engine cool down it might start. Also there have been issues with the connector (a multi-pin type) on the FICM that does what you're engine is doing. Sorry no pics where that is located. Maybe one of our engine pros can find and post or give you somewhere else to look. If it tries to start it doesn't sound like an electrical issue (more like a fuel issue) but I could be wrong. They should have been able to get a code pointing to the problem but my harness never threw a code.

When I open my hood all I see is this huge mass.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:46 AM   #3
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Re: Help Needed

Thanks for the feedback. It is something I can review with the mechanic in the morning.

BTW, TEAM Ford in Las Vegas is the place which quoted me for the wire harness fix.
If anyone can suggest a reputable diesel mechanic in northern California, it would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again!
Darryl
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Old 01-24-2014, 01:01 AM   #4
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Re: Help Needed

A 2nd opinion is always a good idea when potentially large repairs loom.

Intermittent wiring problems can be VERY difficult to pinpoint sometimes, to the point where sometimes a full harness replacement actually is the safe option (I also question your quote however). Once it gets to the point where the harness has to come out to further isolate the problem point, IMO its best to replace. Manipulating an old harness that's already been heat-cycled adds the risk of causing additional damage.

Was the dealer able to even isolate which component was not allowing it to start? I would be sure to have that answer first. As mentioned, it may only be a loose connection as a sensor (or solenoid). It could even be a loose connection inside one of those components.

Ford dealers do have the option to install what is basically a black box. It records up to two weeks of data. If the van doesn't start, then the dealer can pull the black-box data and at least narrow it down to which components are not communication, and possible test those components.

I had one van in my shop (Chevy) which would have intermittent stalling/no-start conditions. Another shop replaced a lot of components. It turned out to be a short in the passenger-side oxygen circuit, which would then blow the Crankshaft sensor fuse. Turned out to be a relatively easy fix, but he had already spent a lot of money with the dealer throwing parts at it, so he was only able to repair that one branch circuit, even though others were nearing the same fate. (It was a steamer truck, so it idled almost all day every-day and most of the engine harness was baked so bad the wires felt like they were ceramic-dipped).
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Old 01-24-2014, 10:13 AM   #5
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Re: Help Needed

Not really Nor-Cal but Browns diesel out of Fresno did mine. It's a very small shop but I was happy with their work and price. YMMV

https://www.google.com/#q=brown%27s+diesel+riverdale+ca
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:49 AM   #6
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Re: Help Needed

I didn't see where you posted the type of engine you had, but if you have a 6.0L my suggestion is that you park the van for a few weeks and read nearly everything here:

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/forum107/

Then post a question on that forum describing your problem and asking if there is a member (of the FTE Brotherhood) who has AE in your locale who would be willing to come over to look at and analyze your engine.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:36 PM   #7
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Re: Help Needed

All,
Thanks for the responses. They are quite helpful.

Yes, our SMB has the 6.0L V8 engine. I will read the link thoroughly!!

Darryl
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:41 PM   #8
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Re: Help Needed

CarringB,
No, the dealer was not able to isolate the problem to a specific circuit/area.
He literally said the following: 'When I checked it out in the morning, I was able to verify that your car did not start. I had one of my technicians wiggle the main engine wiring harness and the car started immediately after that.'

That was it. I did ask for more diagnosis but they were not willing to do it. I even talked to the service manager. No go.

Anyway, now it is running...but I do like the black box idea which was suggested.

Thanks,
Darryl
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:45 PM   #9
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Re: Help Needed

I actually know the owner of Team Ford, another desert racer. One reason they probably quoted you so much is to get you to take it away. Dealers don't want to waste tech time on problem troubleshooting jobs when they are more productive doing a the "gravy" jobs that come in the door.

Find a good auto electric shop - they would figure it out, I know my guy could.
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Old 01-24-2014, 09:18 PM   #10
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Re: Help Needed

Yes, I heard that the owner of Team Ford was a desert racer.
I agree with you on the quote. I got the distinct impression they were not interested in troubleshooting the issue. I think they like cranking through the standard Ford car/truck repairs.
Can't blame them though as I am sure they are measured against cycle times and INS/OUTS.

Where is your shop? If I exhaust the possibilities here in San Jose, I may find myself looking for new perspective. :-)

Thanks,
Darryl
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