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Old 10-03-2019, 06:20 PM   #1
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Stumbling & low power after overheating 8.1L W24

Greetings! Any advice will be much appreciated (and you'll be my family's hero, since this cut short a month-long road trip planned over many months). Rig is an ’07 Winnebago on '06 W24 chassis.

Two days ago I forgot to reinstall my radiator cap and lost all the coolant on the interstate. Now worried sick that I might have blown head gaskets and/or cracked heads. But maybe (hopefully) the issue is ignition related??

--The story--

I was towing a car and temps were in the 90s. Drove 5 mi., idled for 1 hr., then got on the interstate. After 2 minutes, the windshield wipers started running and couldn’t be shut off. Pulled off a minute later at the next exit, pulled the wiper fuse, and got back on the highway. (Turns out, this was due to coolant splashed in the wiper motor electrical connector, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.)

After two more minutes on the highway, the high temp alarm went off. I saw the temp gauge just below “H”, turned on the heater to help with cooling, and exited a minute later. Then had to wait nearly 4 minutes for a turn signal. Kept idling at the light since I was afraid to shut down and block the ramp. Looking back, really should have just pulled off and shut down right away. While idling, the “replace engine oil” message appeared.

Within two minutes pulled into a parking lot and shut down. While pulling in, though, I noticed a major loss of power. Also, the temp gauge suddenly dropped to just over half way (perhaps because all the coolant had now been lost??).

I saw coolant all over the rig and realized what had happened. After an hour I added 5 gal. of Dex-Cool, not much less than the total capacity. Driving home on local roads, the temps were fine BUT there was significant loss of power and rough idle. My HOPE was that the issue was related to everything getting wet.

Today, two days later, the engine does idle more smoothly, but the power loss and stumbling is still obvious. I can get up to 60 mph, but it takes all she’s got, and on slight grades she struggles.

--What I’ve checked--

1. Cooling system holds 15 lbs. air pressure. No drop after several minutes of testing.
2. Oil on dipstick isn’t milky. No foam on oil filler cap.
3. No check engine light. No codes thrown (couldn’t select Workhorse on scan tool, but didn’t find any codes when set to “generic” mode or ’06 Silverado 8.1L)
4. Don't see any white steam from exhausts.

--What I’ll check tonight--

1. Test for exhaust gasses in cooling system using liquid (blue & yellow) chemical test
2. Cylinder compression test (would also do leak down test, but don’t have shop air)

--Any ideas--

Could this be ignition related? I sure hope so. If so, what should I test or further dry out? Any other ideas??

I’m REALLY not wanting to go down the rabbit hole of head work, and I couldn’t have had the unit hot for more than 7-10 minutes! But with no coolant at all, maybe that’s all it would take? The heads are steel, not aluminum, right?

Again, thanks for any advice. The kids were pretty sad, since we were heading out on our "grand adventure" for a month and now we're back home with a broken rig.
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Old 10-03-2019, 06:48 PM   #2
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I'd leave the pressure check on the cooling system overnight, just to be sure you don't have a very small leak. As long as the compression test comes back OK the only other thing I can think to do is smell the exhaust for antifreeze, you should notice any leaks by smell. I might also pull the plugs and make sure one isn't extremely clean which would indicate a leak into that cylinder. Have you checked the plug boots on both ends to make sure they're good. Other than that I'm out of ideas. Good luck that sounds like a tough one to figure out.
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:11 PM   #3
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I'd leave the pressure check on the cooling system overnight, just to be sure you don't have a very small leak. As long as the compression test comes back OK the only other thing I can think to do is smell the exhaust for antifreeze, you should notice any leaks by smell. I might also pull the plugs and make sure one isn't extremely clean which would indicate a leak into that cylinder. Have you checked the plug boots on both ends to make sure they're good. Other than that I'm out of ideas. Good luck that sounds like a tough one to figure out.
Thanks! I'll take a good look at the boots and plugs when I pull them for the compression test. Another idea I had was if this might involve the coil packs?
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:27 PM   #4
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Sounds like you got your checks covered, also I would also smell exhaust for antifreeze.

So far as coil packs, I have not read on this forum that the coil pack are a problem, but you could get a new one and swap it out one by one to make sure all 8 of them are good.

I would think if there was a problem with a coil pack, you would have a check engine light with a code.

https://easyautodiagnostics.com/gm/4...he-cop-coils-1


Is the check engine light on? any codes?

Would of been nice to have a scan gauge hooked up so you could of seen the actual temperature.

Please keep us informed here on your progress.
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by CJ7365 View Post
Sounds like you got your checks covered, also I would also smell exhaust for antifreeze.

So far as coil packs, I have not read on this forum that the coil pack are a problem, but you could get a new one and swap it out one by one to make sure all 8 of them are good.

I would think if there was a problem with a coil pack, you would have a check engine light with a code.

https://easyautodiagnostics.com/gm/4...he-cop-coils-1


Is the check engine light on? any codes?

Would of been nice to have a scan gauge hooked up so you could of seen the actual temperature.

Please keep us informed here on your progress.
Will do, and thanks for the link. I'll sniff the exhaust for that sweet "smell of death".

No check engine light, and seemingly no codes. The scan tool I had wasn't for large trucks, but it didn't show any codes in a basic "generic" mode, or when I tried telling it the vehicle was an '06 Silverado 3500 8.1 L. So hopefully that was an adequate scan.
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:47 PM   #6
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Might be possible that coolant might of entered the "tuba" air intake, as it sits below the radiator cap, if enough entered could of soaked your air filter, your MAF sensor sit right behind the air cleaner so you could also inspect your air cleaner and clean your MAF sensor while your there.

OEMY has alot of good tips on his website.

Oemy's Web Site - Tech Tips
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:47 PM   #7
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I would check the air filter, might be full of sticky coolant. I would also check the MAF Valve, since I was in the same area, it probably got a lot of sticky coolant. Both these would cause a lack of air flow, and proper fuel mixture. Looks like someone beat me to it....LOL
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Old 10-03-2019, 08:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CJ7365 View Post
Might be possible that coolant might of entered the "tuba" air intake, as it sits below the radiator cap, if enough entered could of soaked your air filter, your MAF sensor sit right behind the air cleaner so you could also inspect your air cleaner and clean your MAF sensor while your there.

OEMY has alot of good tips on his website.

Oemy's Web Site - Tech Tips
Wow! Hadn't even thought about intake. (And thanks also, hawkeye1995)

Will definitely check that and the MAF. Radiator cap is right beside the intake. That old Dex-cool was sludgy and gross, so it certainly could have gummed things up. I had planned to drain and purge the coolant at some point, but this was an unexpected "purge."
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Old 10-03-2019, 11:37 PM   #9
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Removed the air intake (the tuba), but seems pretty clean beyond the low point drain. Filter looks clean too. Tomorrow I'll clean the MAF sensor anyway just to be sure.

By the way, at several points in the Workhorse service manual, it says to "refer" or "go" to this or that section. For example, there are several times is say to:

"Refer to Mass Airflow Sensor/Intake Air Temperature Sensor Replacement"
or...
"Go to Diagnostic System Check - Vehicle"
or...
"Refer to Cylinder Head Replacement - Right Side"

My question is, where are those sections? I sure cannot find them. It almost feels like I'm missing an entirely separate "repair procedures" manual or something that tells you how to actually DO stuff.
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Old 10-04-2019, 05:36 AM   #10
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Is there a limp mode, just for the heck of it try disconnecting/reconnecting a battery cable to remove any codes.
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Old 10-04-2019, 05:44 AM   #11
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Do you have the ability/availability to check the fuel trim with a OBD scanner, this will tell you a lot, perhaps one of your o2 sensors went south.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:03 AM   #12
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Might be a good idea to wash the engine to get the antifreeze off. Also clean your MAF sensor . I could be contaminated with antifreeze.
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:15 PM   #13
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Old 10-06-2019, 11:49 AM   #14
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REALLY appreciate the input, everyone. Hoping to get this show back on the road.

The idle is still a little lumpy, but not terrible. Revving the engine still gives hesitation, and there is low power when driving, making it impossible to maintain highway speed.

Again, all of this started with overheating due to losing nearly all the coolant when I forgot to reinstall the radiator cap.


--What I’ve tried--

1. Disconnected and reconnected the battery to clear codes.

2. After startup, found code P0117-Engine coolant temp sensor low voltage-- using scan tool set on “Chevy enhanced DTCs.” Cleared that code and it didn’t return.

3. Blue/yellow liquid chemical test for exhaust gasses in the radiator. That test was negative, with no color change after 2 minutes of testing.

4. Cleaned the MAF sensor with spray cleaner. No obvious contamination.

5. Checked the air filter. There was a smell of antifreeze, but no obvious major contamination. Have a new filter coming tomorrow anyway and will replace.

6. Removed and cleaned the intake “tuba”

7. Sniffed exhaust, but no antifreeze smell noted.


--What I’m trying next--

1. Change oil and filter (due to overheat and message to change oil)

2. Remove plugs and check cylinder compression

3. Inspect plug condition.

4. Somehow test the wires and plugs?? Maybe replace the plugs?

5. Check coil packs for good spark using HEI spark tester

6. Wash engine

7. IDEAS ???


--Live data from scan tool—

Could someone please help me make sense of this data?

Setting the scan tool back to generic mode allowed grabbing some live data. This data was captured after idling 20 minutes. Perhaps the Bank 2 long-term fuel trim is too high??
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