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Old 09-11-2021, 06:31 PM   #1
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Def Gauge Reads Wrong and Engine Lights - what?

Driving down highway and all is fine, then Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) comes on. The one that looks like check engine, but does not have the word "engine". I find a Freightliner place only 20 miles away, right on my travel patch and called asking if they could check my code. They said sure, so I stop in and the immediately hook up to find code SPN 3363 which is Catalyst Tank Heater. They explained I should be okay for my trip from Texas to Florida, but it should be addressed before I travel to any cold climates (b/c the heater would be needed). So, I carry on. And, the next day when we start up, the MIL light is still there and I did my best to ignore it.

About a week later I start up the coach and the MIL light is gone. Great! So I go on my way, smiling. About 2 hours into drive, the Check Engine Light comes on. Oh no, what is this? I continue on my way, very concerned. Then the MIL light also comes on. So now I have both lights. Really worried now, expecting to see Stop Engine Light next. I started to look for Freightliner facility but none open nearby on Saturday. Ugh. Meanwhile, my DEF fill level was showing 2 of 4 green bars. I was planning to wait until 1 bar, then add DEF. All of the sudden the 2 green bars change to 1 flashing red bar. What? Oh no. So I pull over and add 2.5 gallons of DEF. Restart coach and I have 2 green bars. Good to see that (but the two engine lights are still on). I keep driving and the 2 green bars change to 1 red flashing again. Pull over again, add another 2.5 gallons of DEF. At this point I can visually see the tank is nearly full. Start the coach, it shows 3 green bars. Start driving, changes back to 1 red flashing bar again.

So, I'm on a big trip, it's the weekend, Im trying to make my way from SC to TN, then Texas. I'm just driving on hoping and praying I don't get stop engine or derate. I hope I can find a way to read my codes to know more about what is happening. So stressful.

Is there a way to get my own codes? Or do I need to buy a code reader device?

Anybody else have all this happen? Suggestions? Thanks in advance.

First photo shows original MIL light about 1 week ago.
Second photos shows all the lights at same time (first Check Engine, followed by MIL about 30 minutes later, followed by flashing red bar for def level ... even though def level about 3/4 full.
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Old 09-11-2021, 08:46 PM   #2
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DEF gauge reads

Those are symptoms of a DEF sensor failure. Find a safe place to spend at least a few days and call the FL 800 number.
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Old 09-11-2021, 09:45 PM   #3
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I'm from the school that doesn't let my DEF get below 3/4 tank, and only add DEF from the pump. The theory is avoiding crystallization that may contribute to DEF head failure.

Of course that could be proven wrong at any time.

I hope you make it. Good luck and safe travels.
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Old 09-11-2021, 11:55 PM   #4
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You can get the codes from your dash, using the light bar dial to turn it to diagnostics. Once you have the codes, call the FL 800 number. They'll tell you what the codes mean. My guess, a DEF head failure.
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Old 09-12-2021, 08:06 PM   #5
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Todays Update

So this morning I started the engine and the engine lights were gone and def fill as 3 green bars. I was going to capture the fault codes but they were gone. So, I start driving and 4 hours of driving, no issues. Then the engine line comes on again, and the def fill level changes from 3 green bars to 1 flashing red. Same thing as yesterday. I pull over to try and get the codes, but in order to get diagnostic screen I have to turn engine off, and key to ACC. When I do that the code engine light goes off, so no codes to capture (again!). Drive another hour, all is fine, then again engine light and red def fill. Another 10 minutes and the engine light goes away by itself (without stopping) and def fill changes back to 3 green bars. Kept driving another 30 minutes and one more time, same thing happens. This time when I stopped I was quick to capture the code before it cleared itself.

The Code was SPN 1761 (followed by FMI 11 OC 8). When I looked that up I think it has to do with the def fluid level in tank ... perhaps the float. So, I am optimistic this isn't a def head issue, rather a tank fill read issue. I'm going to call FL in the morning to see if they can help me. Hoping for some good news so we can continue our travels soon.
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Old 09-12-2021, 09:22 PM   #6
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Wife and I spent the last 4 days in Frederiksberg Tx wine country in our Newmar
another very nice experience!
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Old 09-13-2021, 10:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathisw View Post
So this morning I started the engine and the engine lights were gone and def fill as 3 green bars. I was going to capture the fault codes but they were gone. So, I start driving and 4 hours of driving, no issues. Then the engine line comes on again, and the def fill level changes from 3 green bars to 1 flashing red. Same thing as yesterday. I pull over to try and get the codes, but in order to get diagnostic screen I have to turn engine off, and key to ACC. When I do that the code engine light goes off, so no codes to capture (again!). Drive another hour, all is fine, then again engine light and red def fill. Another 10 minutes and the engine light goes away by itself (without stopping) and def fill changes back to 3 green bars. Kept driving another 30 minutes and one more time, same thing happens. This time when I stopped I was quick to capture the code before it cleared itself.

The Code was SPN 1761 (followed by FMI 11 OC 8). When I looked that up I think it has to do with the def fluid level in tank ... perhaps the float. So, I am optimistic this isn't a def head issue, rather a tank fill read issue. I'm going to call FL in the morning to see if they can help me. Hoping for some good news so we can continue our travels soon.
Mathis,

Sorry to hear of your problems. Part of the job of the def head is sensing fluid level so you may have a head issue.

A few years ago I had a similar situation on a Spartan chassis when climbing from Laughlin to Flagstaff. Adding fluid to mine did not change the fluid level indication on the dash. It had just gone into derate as I was pulling over. On a whim I unplugged the def sensor from the top of the def tank for a minute and plugged back in. This action finally reset the head and gave proper indications on the dash gauge. It has not happened since. Might be worth a try.

Best of luck.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 757driver View Post
Mathis,

Sorry to hear of your problems. Part of the job of the def head is sensing fluid level so you may have a head issue.

A few years ago I had a similar situation on a Spartan chassis when climbing from Laughlin to Flagstaff. Adding fluid to mine did not change the fluid level indication on the dash. It had just gone into derate as I was pulling over. On a whim I unplugged the def sensor from the top of the def tank for a minute and plugged back in. This action finally reset the head and gave proper indications on the dash gauge. It has not happened since. Might be worth a try.

Best of luck.
Thanks for that suggestion. Could be helpful. We made it to TN and here a fee more nights then an appt at Freightliner in Knoxville to check it out. Iím not even sure the engine light will be on or not when I get there because it comes and goes. Hoping they can still pull codes from faults that WERE there. Will see. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Live this forumÖ the learning also continues. Just hope I can keep learning more than I forget :-/
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Old 09-14-2021, 07:03 AM   #9
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Does the engine have to be running to pull the codes?
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Old 09-14-2021, 07:04 AM   #10
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Mathis,
Take a picture of the top of your DEF Header showing the part number and post it. If Freightliner is out of DEF Headers I may have what you need.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:54 PM   #11
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A few years ago I had a similar situation on a Spartan chassis when climbing from Laughlin to Flagstaff. Adding fluid to mine did not change the fluid level indication on the dash. It had just gone into derate as I was pulling over. On a whim I unplugged the def sensor from the top of the def tank for a minute and plugged back in. This action finally reset the head and gave proper indications on the dash gauge. It has not happened since. Might be worth a try.

Mathis

Just curious, did you unplug with the engine running and or just the key on?
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Old 09-14-2021, 06:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken C View Post
A few years ago I had a similar situation on a Spartan chassis when climbing from Laughlin to Flagstaff. Adding fluid to mine did not change the fluid level indication on the dash. It had just gone into derate as I was pulling over. On a whim I unplugged the def sensor from the top of the def tank for a minute and plugged back in. This action finally reset the head and gave proper indications on the dash gauge. It has not happened since. Might be worth a try.

Mathis

Just curious, did you unplug with the engine running and or just the key on?
Ken,

Neither. I unplugged the def unit with the key off and out of the ignition.
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:37 AM   #13
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No, engine must be off but key in ACC position to get to the Diagnostic screen. From that screen you can find codes. In my case the engine light kept going away before I could get code. I was finally fast enough to catch it though.
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:42 AM   #14
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My DEF model number

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettesniper View Post
Mathis,
Take a picture of the top of your DEF Header showing the part number and post it. If Freightliner is out of DEF Headers I may have what you need.
Here are photos of my DEF head, with what I assume is the model number.
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