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Old 08-01-2008, 01:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Caterpillar 3406E & ECM

Hi everyone,

I may be in the process of buying a truck; having it inspected at a dealership that's also an authorized Cat shop. As part of this, I want to have them hook up to the computer and pull diagnostic codes. It's a Caterpillar 3406E in a 1995 Peterbilt 379-127.

If the owner does not have the password, but gives consent, can the shop retrieve the engine password (I hear there's a VIN-based backdoor) and is this expensive?

How long does the computer keep history on faults? Is it possible to wipe prior reports, and is there a way to see if this has been done?

Are there known issues with 3406Es from this area that I should be aware of and ask the shop to look for?

Where can I find a list of engine parameters for this engine? My reasoning is that if I want parameters adjusted (anything from speed governor to performance-related settings), there's no point in paying for a second computer hookup if they can do it all during the first one.

If I do up the HP (say from 475HP to 550HP), is this just a matter of changing ECM parameters, or are there extra costs and caveats involved?

How does simply adjusting ECM parameters differ from what a performance upgrade such as the Pittsburgh Power tuning kit does?

Any help much appreciated.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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1, unless a password was entered earlier in this ECM, no password is needed.
2, if it has password that has been forgotten, there is a "backdoor" around them so it can be changed...with the latest versions of Cat "ET" we cannot view or eliminate the password but we can change it for the new owner.
3, fault codes remain untill cleared, if the code relates to temp, low coolant or oil psi it requires a factory password to clear...this leaves a record forever at the factory that it was cleared.
4, a 475 can be rerated to 550 with no iron changes if above s/n 5EK67132, a factory password is required...customer list price for the password is $500 plus whatever the shop charges for there time to do it...avg of $200
5, parameters can be set to "default" at the same time if desired...
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Are there known issues with 3406Es from this area that I should be aware of and ask the shop to look for?


The earlier 3406E had crankshaft breakage problems, the engines with the 5EK pre-fix were the ones that were affected mostly, check with the service mgr at Cat and he will tell you which engine pre-fix to stay away from.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the responses. I'll be sure to check the engine serial. This particular purchase may be off as the buyer is balking at allowing a professional inspection, but if so, I'll be looking at similar trucks.

What about tuning chips for Cat or possibly Cummins big truck engines? The only stuff I find out there seems to be for RVs (Caterpillar) or RVs and Dodges (Cummins).
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Old 08-02-2008, 12:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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What about tuning chips
Other than the Pittsburg power box, I don't know of any.

Every one I knew that ran the power box liked it, but took it off because it made the engine run too hot, a few blew head gaskets, not worth the money IMO.
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Old 08-02-2008, 12:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I kind of liked the concept of being able to flip a switch between power/smoke show and economy mode. Bullydog says they're working on one but no ETA. I guess the other option is changing codes in the ECM directly, but that doesn't give you the option to switch back and forth.
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with Maniac on the Power Box.Unless you have the Money to take care of Issues.Stay with the Factory uprate.I know a few running this Box on C-15 ACCERT'S that have cooked High pressure turbos and cracked Heads,Most have taken it off.Also depends on ones driving style... but if it is Not safe Useable power whats the sense.Useing one is definately up to the individual. One of the Best e-model CAT'S is the 6NZ serial # prefix around 1999-2000 MY.Stay away from any 3406E MBN prefix engines.This is the Emissions Bridge motor before the ACCERTS came out. They are Troublesome Junk period.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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grounder: The trucks I'm looking at are early to mid 90s, so way before ACERT became an issue. As for all the "troublesome junk", I'd like to hold the EPA liable for each and every one of those motors. <sigh>
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The Pre-ACCERT MBN bridge motor is 02-03.It essentially Looks like a Normal 3406E to someone that doesnt know about it.But it is Not one to own.Also I would advise keeping away from the PEEC 3406 B These are around 94 or so.This was essentially a Mechanical Injection pump with electronic control management to some degree.They are a pain to work on and if you have trouble with the engines personalty Module,(This was Basically the First ECM for the 3406 before going Full electronic engine control and Unit Injectors with the E model) parts are getting scarce for it.This was right before the E model's.If you are buying a older CAT Mechanical pump engine I would shy away from a PEEC model.
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Old 08-04-2008, 12:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Also I would advise keeping away from the PEEC 3406 B These are around 94 or so.This was essentially a Mechanical Injection pump with electronic control management to some degree.
Is this the same as the Caterpillar 3406C?

The 3406B, as far as I know, was fully mechanical, and the 3406E fully electronic. The 3406C, which belongs right in the era you mention -- 1993 & 1994 -- was the bridge motor between the two.

If I missed anything here, please let me know, but all the ads I've seen refer to either the 3406B, C or E, and I already know to stay away from the 3406C.
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Old 08-04-2008, 02:37 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Is this the same as the Caterpillar 3406C?

The 3406B, as far as I know, was fully mechanical, and the 3406E fully electronic. The 3406C, which belongs right in the era you mention -- 1993 & 1994 -- was the bridge motor between the two.

If I missed anything here, please let me know, but all the ads I've seen refer to either the 3406B, C or E, and I already know to stay away from the 3406C.

You can get a 3406C in a PEEC version but for a couple of thousand bucks in parts and labor you can have One strong running all mechanical C
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Old 08-04-2008, 12:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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You can get a 3406C in a PEEC version but for a couple of thousand bucks in parts and labor you can have One strong running all mechanical C
You have to be damn careful if you are swapping pumps OR swapping pump cams.Yep it will be one strong running engine for about a month if that.I promise you, you will Burn off a Piston top or two if you get the wrong mix of parts especially a different Injection pump Cam.
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Old 08-04-2008, 12:22 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Is this the same as the Caterpillar 3406C?

The 3406B, as far as I know, was fully mechanical, and the 3406E fully electronic. The 3406C, which belongs right in the era you mention -- 1993 & 1994 -- was the bridge motor between the two.

If I missed anything here, please let me know, but all the ads I've seen refer to either the 3406B, C or E, and I already know to stay away from the 3406C.
The 3406B PEEC III is the The one to stay away from it IS basically the Father of the E-model as far as electronic management goes but is a Mess of Mechanical pump with electronic management and I guess you could call it the Bridge to the E Model.I would try to Get a E model if I were Looking
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:16 PM   #14 (permalink)
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You have to be damn careful if you are swapping pumps OR swapping pump cams.Yep it will be one strong running engine for about a month if that.I promise you, you will Burn off a Piston top or two if you get the wrong mix of parts especially a different Injection pump Cam.

this is very true. I never recommend anything HOT for a first time truck owner. IF you don't know exactly how things should run its very easy to melt one down.

I would avoid bridge motors at all costs. The fuel millage is terrible and the power sucks for the fuel its drinking.

You can convert a bridge to a single charger Pre-03 motor but its$$$$$ A cat shop will not touch something like this now a days though. Mother cat has cracked down HARD on shops that were doing hot tunes with fuel maps and trim codes as well as custom re fits.

If your looking for a later model cat i HIGHLY recommend the 98-99 3406E model's.

I would love to find a deal on a 98-99 15.8L 3406E driveline with the 18spd.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:42 AM   #15 (permalink)
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this is very true. I never recommend anything HOT for a first time truck owner. IF you don't know exactly how things should run its very easy to melt one down.

I would avoid bridge motors at all costs. The fuel millage is terrible and the power sucks for the fuel its drinking.

You can convert a bridge to a single charger Pre-03 motor but its$$$$$ A cat shop will not touch something like this now a days though. Mother cat has cracked down HARD on shops that were doing hot tunes with fuel maps and trim codes as well as custom re fits.

If your looking for a later model cat i HIGHLY recommend the 98-99 3406E model's.

I would love to find a deal on a 98-99 15.8L 3406E driveline with the 18spd.
I still Putz with trimcodes on pre ACCERTS.But Other than that I have to watch myself since i work for a Dealership. I know more than a few private shops that are Tearing off ALL of the accert parts and essentially tuning the engine Back into a single charger 6nz E model again NOT legal EPA wise.Heck you can Buy a NEW 08 C-16 625 HP genset engine and throw it into tk.It would NOT be legal but could be done. They look the same as they always did NO VVA'S Twin-Turbos,pre-coolers or any of that crap hangin off them.Now get into 08 Tk engines and CAT has turned them into a Over-complicated mess IMO.While I like their engines and I am certified to service them.I would NOT buy a NEW tk today with thier motor.Thier is just too much that can go wrong.The ISX is outselling CAT right now.
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