Starting Fluid - Why not? - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain Discussion of the 99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine and drivetrain in the 1999-Up Super Duty trucks and Excursions. No gas engine discussion allowed except on transmissions and drivetrain that pertain to all models. Please confine discussion of topics in this forum to those items that are specific to the 7.3L Power Stroke engine.

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Old 12-06-2012, 02:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Starting Fluid - Why not?

I helped my dad get one of his old tractors running a couple weeks ago & we had to use some starting fluid. Today I happened to look at the can & noticed it says "For gas and diesel engines". I've always read on here that we should never use starting fluid on our 7.3s, & I'm pretty sure that I've repeated that in a few of my posts.

Why shouldn't we use it if we need it? Is there any real info that supports the "never use starting fluid" crowd? I know a couple of diesel mechanics & they use it when needed (bigger engines than ours) & say it doesn't/won't hurt anything. I've never used starting fluid on my truck.

Curious!
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The reason is simple. Our engines use glow plugs which can ignite the ether at inopportune times. If it hits on a piston upstroke, it could drive a rod through the side of the block.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If your Glow plugs are working and you spray ether (starting fluid) into the intake, it's quite possible that it will ignite before the piston is in the proper position, and the force of the explosion will drive the piston in the reverse rotation while the starter is trying to go forward. You can experience a violent result.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I should've clarified that if I was going to use it, it would be because the glow plugs weren't working. Even if they were working, as long as you sprayed some on the air filter, would there be enough get into a cylinder to cause an issue if it did light off early? I've had a hard start issue before when my GPR was bad and heard a muffled pop when the glow plug lit off diesel that was in the cylinder from the previous start attempt.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Its a little like Russian Roulette. Maybe you'll get lucky - maybe you' won't. I'm not trying it on my motor. Now -if you disable the glow plug system first - then spray away...
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i will NEVER use starting fluid AGAIN. i found out how bad it can be. when i had starting problems in the past i used it and i heard the exposion in my engine like i never heard b4, i thought i blew up my engine, after spending a few thousand bucks to fix it. after i tried to fire it up the engine was starting to crank REALLY SLOW i had used about a can in less than 1 week of trying to get it started. SO after that experience NO MORE START FLUID FOR ME.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Dont abuse it and you wont get burnt by it.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Amen. Not a problem if used properly. The biggest problem is people tend to use too much.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Too much starter fluid in a non glow plug/non air intake heater engine can wash the lubrication off the cylinder walls and cause the compression rings on the pistons to wear prematurely and you will lose compression. I've seen some old Detroit Diesel two cycle engines ruined so bad that they just will not start cold without either, no matter what the outside temps. Warm, they'll fire, cold absolutely no.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My 96 had no problems with ether in 640k miles. We was usually on the road and had no plug-in.

I've used it on my truck rarely (weak batteries) and it revved up real high off of the ether. I got my glow plug relay on a switch now so I can disconnect the PCM ground to the GPR.

And yes, use it modestly

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Old 12-07-2012, 07:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I too have seen a Detroit that was ruined by starting fluid. Now you pretty much have to use it until its in the 80's outside. Granted this machine was abused for many years. I think if used in moderation it would have been fine but it was used as a mechanic when there were actually other problems.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:53 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I use WD40 on my tractor when the temps are really low, I've never had trouble with my truck starting.


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Old 12-11-2012, 02:15 PM   #13 (permalink)
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On one of the gold mining shows, "Jungle Gold" I think, a bush-mechanic used bug spray to get a diesel excavator started.
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Its like cocaine to the engine, once it gets a taste it'll keep needing it. Seen a few cracked pistons because of it.
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:04 AM   #15 (permalink)
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It keeps needing it because there is something else wrong with the engine, not because the ether somehow lowered the compression. Fuel in the cylinder is fuel in the cylinder. Just my opinion.
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