Temporary Archives >> 7.3L IDI Diesels (Not Power Strokes)

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Dan S
Member # 1147
Reged: 05/05/99
Posts: 452
Loc: Albuquerque, New Mexico
glow plug / starting fluid controversy.......
#518386 - 11/27/01 03:50 AM

Last winter while residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico (5000 feet above sea level) I was removing the 8 glow plugs for testing. As fate would have it I sheared one of them off flush with the cylinder head which left me with seven glow plugs to potentially fire the 7.3.

I also found additional problems with the controller and wiring to the remaining glow plugs. So I disabled all eight. I have always had special concerns regarding the possibility of a glow plug breaking off and landing on top of a piston and taking out a whole motor. This happened on my Oldsmobile 5.7 that I owned fifteen years ago.

So,I will be finding some used glow plugs and knockout the electric heat elements and TIG Weld them shut and reinstall. Thus eliminating that possible problem from ever happening to me again.

It has been over one year since I have disconnected the glow plug system and I am glad that I made the decision to do so. I now keep a aerosol can of starting fluid on board at all times. First thing in the morning I lift the hood and give a couple quick snorts of starting fluid into the air filter. Then wait a few seconds and then turn the key and the 7.3 comes to life even in high-altitude combined with single digit temperatures. there is usually enough heat left in the motor after shutting down to allow the motor to start during the rest of the day without the use of starting fluid.

I know I will probably catch a lot of negative comments from people on this forum for doing this but, "MY TRUCK ALWAYS STARTS"

I believe by using a little bit of intelligence along with equal amounts of common sense one should have no problems. I have experienced no starting problems whatsoever for over one year and I do not anticipate any.

I will emphasize that using glow plugs and starting fluid at the same time is a definite "NO NO"...... use one or the other but not both !!!

I hope this will help others who are experiencing impossible and frustrating starting problems in cold weather because of something going haywire with their glow plug system.

It works for me........Dan

Member # 11319
Reged: 02/13/01
Posts: 1633
Loc: Erie, PA
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518387 - 11/27/01 06:05 AM

I will cation you that you will soon make short work of your engine by using starting fluid. Most big rigs use direct injection and have a heater grid in the intake manifold. They have about a 16.5:1 to a 18.5:1 compression ratio. They will practically start themselves, but with a little aid of starting fluid if necessary. On the other hand our IH 6.9's and 7.3's are indirect injected and have a compression ratio of 20.7:1, making it almost impossible to start them on fluid without causing extreme pressure on the top end parts. I have seen all kind of parts damaged by starting fluid. Usually the first to go is the ring around the head gasket, and then a nice hole through the piston. Some cases the wrist pin sheered right off!!! And in the most extream cases, the connecting rods will bend or break.

Now for the solution: You can get constant duty marine glowplugs that you can leave on forever and they still will not burn out. They are about $25.00 a piece and I think they have a lifetime warrenty. Use an easy out or some other means of getting out the old glowplug, and then wire up a push button, now for about $250 later, you can now have safe fast starts. Or you can keep the existing method and a year or two later pay out $5K for a new engine.

The guy's name is Zigg that uses these plugs. He can give you some more info. Look in the 6.9 forum!

And by the way, the 5.7 diesel was a piece of S?*#@!!

Member # 16722
Reged: 10/04/01
Posts: 842
Loc: Central Iowa
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518388 - 11/27/01 11:58 AM

I use starting fluid with glow plugs, but like you said it takes a little common sense. Squirt it and go in and imediately go to crank and don't stop until it starts. Works everytime, but I don't do it very often. If you are not over doing it with the either dose you won't have any problems. Some guys blow engines up with either, some never had a problem, all goes back to the common sense thing.
The 5.7's were a little rough around the edges, but I wouldn't say they were junk.

Member # 11287
Reged: 02/12/01
Posts: 84
Loc: marlboro,ma usa
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518389 - 11/27/01 05:32 PM

hi all
what can happen if you let the glow plugs cycle out (wait for the clicking to stop)than give it a snif of eather. will this damage anything with the glow plug system?
thanks gabe [Smokin]

Member # 1458
Reged: 05/24/99
Posts: 3140
Loc: Victoria,B.C.,Canada
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518390 - 11/27/01 10:37 PM

Well Dan, as you know this is a question that really doesn't have an answer, but a lot of opinions. Like you said among others, some guys get away with ether for years, others blow up their engines this way.

I have a brother who kept blowing the glow plugs out of a Ford tractor he uses for plowing in the winter(they actually blew out of their holes when he tried to start it) so he welded them over, and he's been starting with ether for several years, and it bangs off and runs and runs...Hmmm...

I know of one guy who tried to start his engine with a broken off glow plug tip that fell in, and this is the result...Click here for "Oilpan bits"...

I have written an article about this problem, and it's worth a look. Food for thought anyway. I do have the "marine" glow plugs,they are very pricey, but I consider it cheap insurance, and for about a year now they have worked flawlessly for me even when my truck was left snowed in for several days in -20 temps, it fired on the first piston. In my opinion, your truck will last a lot longer if you setup a proper functioning glow plug system. Have a look at my article and give it some thought.

My page here...


Member # 1566
Reged: 05/31/99
Posts: 67
Loc: New Albany, IN
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518391 - 11/28/01 01:44 AM

I would toss the can of Ether and grab you a can of WD-40. If you need a starting aid this works the best. Less volitile than ether and lubes at the same time.

Birken Vogt
Member # 2535
Reged: 08/16/99
Posts: 4410
Loc: Penn Valley, Ca
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518392 - 11/28/01 04:11 AM

I am from the camp that says ether is ok...I think it must be better for the engine than all that wet fuel that gets sprayed in there when the glow plugs aren't up to snuff. However the loud noise it creates was enough to make me want to fix my glow plugs last time I was dealing with them....


Member # 4026
Reged: 11/27/99
Posts: 545
Loc: Norwood N.Y. USA
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518393 - 11/28/01 08:01 AM

If all the farm tractors makers can use ether than why can't we? I for one have had for years an ether injection system for a JD tractor installed on my truck that meters the JD starting [ 80% ether] fluid into the air cleaner and it works very well. I have a 3 position toggle switch on the dash that allows me to use ether or GP's but never both. As those of us whom have the 88 models they are hard starters in cold weather.

Davey Diesel
Member # 3767
Reged: 11/12/99
Posts: 524
Loc: Martinez Ca.U.S.A.
Re: glow plug / starting fluid controversy....... new
#518394 - 11/28/01 07:38 PM

[Vomit] never use ether on a 6.9 or 7.3 with a working glow plug system.Unless you like doing internal engine repairs. [Shrug] It's like playing Russian roulette with 5 bullets in a 6 shooter. [Zombie]

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