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Old 09-30-2019, 06:40 AM   #1
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Rainwater in the crankcase oil, 2018 New Aire

Although we have had a lot of rain over the summer, and a couple of severe storms, I was shocked when my 2018 New Aire would not turn over and burned out the starter. I started the machine and ran the engine about ten minutes the month before. The machine was towed from my yard and taken to Freightliner. They replaced the starter and then burned out that one trying to start it. They next checked the oil and said they found a large quantity of “rainwater” in the oil. They next inspected the air intake and air filter and found that the filter was damp and had some mold. They could not find the source of the water and said for sure it did not have antifreeze in the water mixed with the oil.
So, how does a machine designed to operate in bad weather as well as good get water in the crankcase? They conjecture it had to come in through the air intake but don’t know how that could occur. Both Freightliner and Newmar have declined any responsibility and I am still waiting to see if they can start the engine. So far it has cost more than $4500 out of pocket.
I am extremely discouraged and sorry I ever bought this vehicle.
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Old 09-30-2019, 08:46 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ferdie View Post
They could not find the source of the water and said for sure it did not have antifreeze in the water mixed with the oil.
So, how does a machine designed to operate in bad weather as well as good get water in the crankcase? They conjecture it had to come in through the air intake but don’t know how that could occur. Both Freightliner and Newmar have declined any responsibility and I am still waiting to see if they can start the engine. So far it has cost more than $4500 out of pocket.
On mine, the air inlet is at the top of the rear cap. That goes into a fiberglass "snorkel" molded into the underside of the back cap. At the bottom of that snorkel is a drain tube for water injestation. Look to see if this drain is clogged. That would cause the problem you have had. The snorkel fills, the water then gets down the intake, gets the air filter wet, continues down the intake tract until the water gets into the open valves and ontop of the pistons. Then, over time the water gets past the rings and into the bottom end of the motor.

The much bigger problem is the rust damage from that water sitting in the combustion chamber over time.

The starter seized because either there was still water in the top of one cylinder and got hydrostatic lockup. And / OR, there is so much rust that the piston(s) are locked to the cylinder walls. That requires sleaves / or boring, new pistons, new rings, new gaskets and a whole lot of expensive labor.

Takes a lot of rain water to fill the system. All because of some little ole mud daubers....make sure the drain is open so it doesn't happen again.

Of course if someone malicious were to put a garden hose into the intake top which put more water than a clear drain can remove, then this would have been an insurance claim.
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Old 09-30-2019, 04:37 PM   #3
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With all the New Aire's now on the road you have the first on this forum with this problem.
Dav L has stated what maybe going on now with the post, he has describe the damage now going on, FL should have a copy and taking a look of the interior of that engine.
Back in 2003-04 we had problems with the gas engine air intakes both on Ford and Workhorse but that was corrected mostly by members on irv2.
What has been described in your case is Newmars and FL responsibility.
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Old 09-30-2019, 05:34 PM   #4
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You also have to fill the charge air cooler and turbo charger before water gets to the combustion chambers.
Thats a lot of rain water !!

Did it crank over at first and the hydrolock ?
If that's the case, it may have drawn in a big gulp of water from the air cleaner. That would take less accumulated water.

Were you parked under the edge of a roof, where runoff could flood the air intake port ?
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Old 09-30-2019, 05:57 PM   #5
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Is the air intake drain line small enough that "Mud Dabbers" (bees) could have blocked it off so any water that got into the air intake got into the engine, or some other critter?
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:38 PM   #6
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Can someone please post a photo of the water drain?

I'd like to try to find it on my coach to make sure it's clear.
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Old 09-30-2019, 08:44 PM   #7
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Here is a pic of my plenum drain. Disregard the HVAC ducting...that's custom on mine But it does move a ton of air into the K&N filter housing (on the right).

The drain is the tube that is probably 3/8" opening. So yeah, it can be plugged by a critter.

Also is a pic of the plenum within the rear cap. It's pretty large. I am going to guess it would take two gallons of water in the plenum before it would drop into the air cleaner. Once in there, the engine can gulp it down with no good result.
I think yours might have had even more water as it apparently got into the oil pan too. So it would have to fill the bottom of the air cleaner as well.

Yup, it would take a lot of water to fill the system. But, wouldn't take too much to gulp into an open valve and cause hydrostatic lockup.

If it's "only hydrostatic lockup", then the worst is if it bent a connecting rod. The best would be take an injector out and crank the motor to rid the water in the chamber. And an oil / filter change for sure. A camera in the cylinder would do wonders to determine extent of damage. Don't think there is a way to do that on a diesel.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:15 PM   #8
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I've seen a few pic's of engine compartments with the air cleaner mounted higher than the engine !!
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:39 AM   #9
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Seems like there's more to the story

I have never known a qualified diesel mechanic to burn up a new starter

You would have to had a large charger and overheated some cables

Waiting on chapter 2
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:54 AM   #10
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I've seen a few pic's of engine compartments with the air cleaner mounted higher than the engine !!
I think most have air cleaner higher than the motor. Mine is.

Y, I can see an owner burning up the starter continually trying to start and no go from the motor. But a good mechanic that already knows there is a starting problem? If they don't hear the motor spin...they release the key. They know something needs to be analyzed immediately.

Curious on where all that money already went and the OP still doesn't know the extent of the damage or root cause. Classic crappy diagnosis. Heck of a lot easier to diagnose when you can hear/ see / feel the problem.
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:54 PM   #11
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So sorry to hear this, hope you get it squared away. What a nightmare.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:44 PM   #12
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Bad situation but good information. Im thinking about a used New Aire and now I will compare the air intake system of the 18’s to the new ones and see if there is a difference. You might want to do the same - could be telling and help your case. I didn't know they took in combustion air from the roof. I need to look at the roof anyway for solar so I’ll examine this too, best of luck on this.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:58 PM   #13
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1. post only from the OP.

Hopefully he found the cause and resolvet it.

I think there will be much more to the story when the OP returnes.

Im still trying to figure out how you burn up two starters in a row ?

If the engine doesn't turn over you turn the key off.

If it turns over and doesn't start in 20 to 30 seconds max you turn the key off and investigate.
Letting things cool down.
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:01 PM   #14
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Sounds very suspicious to me.
Any recent disputes with neighbours?
Maybe time to get insurance involved.
Keep a sample of the water if possible. It can be analyzed to determine if it's rain or tap water.
Any way you look at it, it will be big $$$$.
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