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Old 05-12-2007, 12:55 PM   #1
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We're currently in the middle of our first real trip in our new Itasca Ellipse 40FD (400hp Cummins ISL on Freightliner Evolution Chasis) and had a real problem I wanted to share in hopes of helping others avoid it.

Headed up the Grapevine grade on I5 near L.A., I was shocked to see the "STOP ENGINE!" warning light come on. All seemed to be fine with temp and oil pressure in normal levels and everything respinding as expected... but not being one to mess with such a warning, I pulled to the side. I waited 5 min and restarted and everything seemed ok for about 2 miles when it happened again.

I waited another 5 min and restarted, only to have the warning come on for a third time so I pulled to the side and called Coach Net.

Coach Net immediately decided that I needed to be towed 40 miles to a Cummins dealer in Bakersfield. Coach Net called back to say that the Cummins dealer and asked for me to ensure that I didn't have a low coolant level since that had caused the "Stop Engine!" warning on the new Evolution Chasis.

I visually checked the coolant tank and saw the level was between the min and max levels so assumed that was a normal operating level for a warm engine. I explained that I was headed uphill but they said they didn't think that would have a big impact.

Bottom line is that we spent 6 hours at the side of a dangerous highway getting our brand new rig towed and another five hours getting the problem diagnosed only to find it was completely unessary!

Turns out that the "Stop Engine!" warning was generated by a coolant level which was about a gallon low! The tech found that the engine had overheated at some point (he theorized during the delivery trip across country) and that had probably resulted in a loss of coolant which wasn't sufficient to trigger the warning until I started up the first steep hill. The reason the coolant tank appeared to be within the operating zone was because of internal "baffels" which segnemt coolant into several compartments within the tank. Looking at the front of the tank, one can only see the outter most compartment...which appeared to be within operating range. In order to "really" fill the tank, coolant needs to be added until it actually exceeds the "max" level and pours over a "dam" into the rest of the tank.

The tech did a great job of explaining what had happened and then beat the snot out of my engine on a dyno to make sure that all was in order.

Being a retired Director of Customer Support for Hewlett-Packard, I came away with two objective thoughts... and a lot of emotions:

1) More effort should be made to remotely diagnose problems before ordering a tow. This event cost Freightliner a lot of money and my family a lot of time and consternation... all unnecessary.

2) There is a wealth of data contained in the onboard computer and it needs to be accessible by means other than a tech in the shop armed with a laptop.

Ok, enough for now. We narrowly avoided having to "camp" at the Cummins dealer over the weekend since it was late on Friday but were able to continue on the Phoenix that night and all is well.

Hopefully this info will help others avoid what my family and I had to endure.

RickO (smiling again )
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:55 PM   #2
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Stop Engine Warning caused by Low Coolant!

We're currently in the middle of our first real trip in our new Itasca Ellipse 40FD (400hp Cummins ISL on Freightliner Evolution Chasis) and had a real problem I wanted to share in hopes of helping others avoid it.

Headed up the Grapevine grade on I5 near L.A., I was shocked to see the "STOP ENGINE!" warning light come on. All seemed to be fine with temp and oil pressure in normal levels and everything respinding as expected... but not being one to mess with such a warning, I pulled to the side. I waited 5 min and restarted and everything seemed ok for about 2 miles when it happened again.

I waited another 5 min and restarted, only to have the warning come on for a third time so I pulled to the side and called Coach Net.

Coach Net immediately decided that I needed to be towed 40 miles to a Cummins dealer in Bakersfield. Coach Net called back to say that the Cummins dealer and asked for me to ensure that I didn't have a low coolant level since that had caused the "Stop Engine!" warning on the new Evolution Chasis.

I visually checked the coolant tank and saw the level was between the min and max levels so assumed that was a normal operating level for a warm engine. I explained that I was headed uphill but they said they didn't think that would have a big impact.

Bottom line is that we spent 6 hours at the side of a dangerous highway getting our brand new rig towed and another five hours getting the problem diagnosed only to find it was completely unessary!

Turns out that the "Stop Engine!" warning was generated by a coolant level which was about a gallon low! The tech found that the engine had overheated at some point (he theorized during the delivery trip across country) and that had probably resulted in a loss of coolant which wasn't sufficient to trigger the warning until I started up the first steep hill. The reason the coolant tank appeared to be within the operating zone was because of internal "baffels" which segnemt coolant into several compartments within the tank. Looking at the front of the tank, one can only see the outter most compartment...which appeared to be within operating range. In order to "really" fill the tank, coolant needs to be added until it actually exceeds the "max" level and pours over a "dam" into the rest of the tank.

The tech did a great job of explaining what had happened and then beat the snot out of my engine on a dyno to make sure that all was in order.

Being a retired Director of Customer Support for Hewlett-Packard, I came away with two objective thoughts... and a lot of emotions:

1) More effort should be made to remotely diagnose problems before ordering a tow. This event cost Freightliner a lot of money and my family a lot of time and consternation... all unnecessary.

2) There is a wealth of data contained in the onboard computer and it needs to be accessible by means other than a tech in the shop armed with a laptop.

Ok, enough for now. We narrowly avoided having to "camp" at the Cummins dealer over the weekend since it was late on Friday but were able to continue on the Phoenix that night and all is well.

Hopefully this info will help others avoid what my family and I had to endure.

RickO (smiling again )
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Old 05-12-2007, 05:16 PM   #3
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RickO,

Thanks for your writeup. Good learnings.

We too have been 'stranded' along the side of a road, and then towed to a service center. Last one was recently when our power steering pump went out on our brand new coach. Spent 2 nights at a Freightliner dealership. Not fun.
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Old 05-13-2007, 03:12 PM   #4
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RickO, I'm glad you and the family are safe and your coach is running well but a third thought should be added:

3. Why was the coolant reservoir designed in such a way that it doesn't give a true reading of how full the reservoir actually is?

It seems that anyone of us can be fooled by this poor design.

Paul
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Old 05-18-2007, 08:38 PM   #5
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Rick,

Sorry to hear about your poor luck, but always think of it this way, I could have been worse.

But your right about being able to diagnose a problem yourself. Here is a solution for you. If you have a laptop and use it on the road, this is a great solution. I learned about this program from another member, John Canefield and it is awesome. It is called VMSpc, and it is make by a company called Silverleaf. They make a variety of engine diagnose stand alone units you can buy, and all hook right into your engine diagnostic port that the techs use. They provide an amazing amount of easy to read and understand information. One of the functions is a trouble code section that displays not only the code, but a plain english translation that would be very helpful in a situation such as yours.

The stand alone units are kinda pricy, but they also offer a software version that loads onto your laptop for about $100. Do a search on VMSpc and you will find tons of info and install tips (some of them mine). It could save you a ton of time and money in the future.

I have pics included in one of my posts, and John Canefield has pics on his web site linked to the forums.

Good luck, have fun with the rig!

Sarge
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Old 05-19-2007, 09:56 AM   #6
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First of all sorry to hear about your ordeal. One solution im surprised the dealership didnt mention to you for the future is disabling the parameter within the ECM that causes the engine shut down sequence to come on for low coolant. I think most have that option but from the factory it is set to the on position so that when it does get low on coolant you'll get the red check engine light and whammo you'll ultimately get shut down. But if you disable that function you will get all the bells and whistles but no shutdown sequence.
Just a tip for next time I suppose.

And SargeW has a very good tip there!! cheap and very money saving tip if ya ever break down out of warranty
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:13 PM   #7
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Eleven years later... Canadian Maritime caravan... St John’s Newfoundland... Heading for the overnight ferry to Nova Scotia... Deja vu all over again. Fleetwood Excursion 40X. Start the engine. Low Coolant light comes on, then goes off. I shut off the engine and go back and check the coolant - it’s between cold min and max. Restart the engine, no issue. Leave the RV park and head for the highway. 89 miles to the ferry. As I approach the highway the ‘Low Coolant ‘ light comes on. I’m on a bridge. The ‘Check Engine’ light comes on. All gages appear normal. As I turn onto the highway entrance red ‘Engine stopping’ lite is flashing... Engine shuts off. I pull on the shoulder of the ramp.

Two hours later after talking with FL, adding water to the coolant recovery tank, I’m advised that it’s either a sensor or wiring issue and I should plan on getting towed. Holiday weekend in Canada, next ferry in 5 days.

I’m a retired aircraft tech... I remove the connector from the probe... I cut the wires and splice them together... clears the low coolant lite (but creates other issues, like very little throttle response). But I can drive it and make the ferry while monitoring the temperature which remained normal. By the way... the engine responded real well on cruise control.

Sitting In Nova Scotia with an appointment tomorrow at a truck repair company to get the probe replaced and the connector repaired. I can’t understand why the computer is designed to stop the engine with a low coolant level and no corresponding rise in engine temperature... but what do I know... To be continued...
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Old 08-09-2018, 04:16 PM   #8
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When checking level, it is wise to remove the cap of the upper tank when cool to examine for the presence of fluid. If you have a small leak, especially one which leaks when cold rather than hot, your engine could be losing fluid and replenished by the overflow supply tank.

In that event your engine could be low on coolant and not able to recover lost fluid from the reservoir. My engine has a low coolant level sensor anda dash light warning with a buzzer. It came on shortly after startup and then stopped. When I got back to my home an hour later I checked the fluid after it cooled down. I was two gallons low even though the supply bottle was half full. In my case it was do to a small leak when cold at a connection going to the trans cooler.

now I take the cap off as part of my precheck just to make sure it is topped off correctly.
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ladagobago View Post
When checking level, it is wise to remove the cap of the upper tank when cool to examine for the presence of fluid. If you have a small leak, especially one which leaks when cold rather than hot, your engine could be losing fluid and replenished by the overflow supply tank.

In that event your engine could be low on coolant and not able to recover lost fluid from the reservoir. My engine has a low coolant level sensor anda dash light warning with a buzzer. It came on shortly after startup and then stopped. When I got back to my home an hour later I checked the fluid after it cooled down. I was two gallons low even though the supply bottle was half full. In my case it was do to a small leak when cold at a connection going to the trans cooler.

now I take the cap off as part of my precheck just to make sure it is topped off correctly.
A buddy of mine had the same problem
He got all excited and took it to a dealer. Dealer new of the problem and just added coolant. Everything was fine after that
Told me the story.
About a year later same thing happened to
Me.
Added coolant and everything was ok
Seems like its happens a lot
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Old 01-07-2019, 09:08 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by blemon56 View Post
Eleven years later... Canadian Maritime caravan... St John’s Newfoundland... Heading for the overnight ferry to Nova Scotia... Deja vu all over again. Fleetwood Excursion 40X. Start the engine. Low Coolant light comes on, then goes off. I shut off the engine and go back and check the coolant - it’s between cold min and max. Restart the engine, no issue. Leave the RV park and head for the highway. 89 miles to the ferry. As I approach the highway the ‘Low Coolant ‘ light comes on. I’m on a bridge. The ‘Check Engine’ light comes on. All gages appear normal. As I turn onto the highway entrance red ‘Engine stopping’ lite is flashing... Engine shuts off. I pull on the shoulder of the ramp.

Two hours later after talking with FL, adding water to the coolant recovery tank, I’m advised that it’s either a sensor or wiring issue and I should plan on getting towed. Holiday weekend in Canada, next ferry in 5 days.

I’m a retired aircraft tech... I remove the connector from the probe... I cut the wires and splice them together... clears the low coolant lite (but creates other issues, like very little throttle response). But I can drive it and make the ferry while monitoring the temperature which remained normal. By the way... the engine responded real well on cruise control.

Sitting In Nova Scotia with an appointment tomorrow at a truck repair company to get the probe replaced and the connector repaired. I can’t understand why the computer is designed to stop the engine with a low coolant level and no corresponding rise in engine temperature... but what do I know... To be continued...
Mine goes to low power for several miles then reduces the power further but doesn't kill the engine
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:36 AM   #11
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Thanks for information I like you were crossing a steep bridge and was worried it would stall going up. I like protecting engine but give a little bit more warning don't just shut me down up hill on busy interstate 10 crossing river
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:47 AM   #12
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Mine goes to low power for several miles then reduces the power further but doesn't kill the engine
Same on my 2016
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:59 PM   #13
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One solution im surprised the dealership didnt mention to you for the future is disabling the parameter within the ECM that causes the engine shut down sequence to come on for low coolant.
How is this ECM modification performed?? Will any Freightliner shop do this? Is there a TSB covering this?

Great information, by the way .
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Old 05-08-2019, 07:47 AM   #14
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Yes this is good information I didn't know you could have that done. No emergency lane and shut down is dangerous for me and others. Where can I have it done and what should I tell them I want done
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