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Old 02-05-2007, 05:24 PM   #43
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i can tell you guys i sure know where my block heater cords are at!

i got a trouble call for no lights this morning at 3 am, it was in the low minus teens when i left the house and -28 when i arrived at the site at 4 am!

john
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Old 02-05-2007, 07:42 PM   #44
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I change all GM vehicle's oil by the OLM. Get great oil analysis too, especially the 2.2 L EcoTec in my wife's car. DMax goes 10K via OLM. I use M1 in the truck and Castrol 0W30 in the car year round.
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Old 02-07-2007, 10:25 AM   #45
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Cold weather trip report

Thought I would post a follow-up to my trip up North this weekend (it was freakin cold). We ski several times a year; this was a VERY cold weekend.
Arrived Sunday, skied all afternoon. Forecast was for temps in the negative numbers so I decided to plug in the block heater. Started like a champ the next morning! Couldn’t believe how easy…
Temps for all three nights were forecast in the negative numbers, so I plugged in each night.
When we started to head back home on Tuesday I got a check engine light, and the truck went in to “limp-home mode” (truck would not shift out of second gear). My first thought was my fuel filter, fortunately there is a Chevy dealer right in North Conway NH, so I gave them a call and they said to come right over (we were only a couple of miles away).
They plugged the truck in and the Tech asked if I had used the block heater? I said yes I did. He then replied that there were 2 codes that came up; one said the block heater was used in conditions above zero degrees F. This confused me as I know it was REALLY cold the night before, maybe it never went below 0? The Tech said you really don’t need the block heater below 0 (the manual confirms this) and that GM’s new glow plugs heat up real quick. They are in snow country up in NH and he said the only guys using block heaters are the older diesels…don’t bother unless it is well below 0. I’ll take his advice on this one, he should know. But why “limp-home mode”?

The second code was for an update to the EGR program.
So he completed the down load (took 20 mins.) and we were on our way-no charge!

Can’t say enough about this little Chevy dealer; Crest Auto-World in North Conway NH. They got us in right away, charged the whole deal to warranty, and even washed the truck! If you are ever in the area (popular camping around here in the summer) and need service, do yourself a favor and visit them (I noticed they also own the Daimler Chrysler shop next door, so they could service your Dodge too…).

Lessons learned;
1) It’s nice to know where that block heater is. Go and find the plug before you need it-it is well hidden! But you don’t really need to plug in unless you are positive it is well below zero (we must have been on the edge that last night).
2) Next time you’re in the GM shop; have them check for the EGR update.

Bill
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:06 AM   #46
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hi bill thanks for the update.

i'm still not sure why a fault code would appear.

does this imply using the block heater is harmful at ANY temp?

suppose it's 10 degrees out when parking but overnight lows of minus 20 are expected...

so the truck is plugged in before the sub zero temps happen....

or reverse it. one plugs in at 20 below but then a warm front raises the temps...

many folks leave their trucks plugged in for days on end...

so again the issue 2 me isn't the glow plugs or fuel gelling....

it's crankcase oil viscosity and prewarming the oil should not do anything negative, or throw a limp code.

i see you are using 5w40 but for folks with 15w40, using the block heater at 20-30 dgrees above zero helps with all startup issues, and fuel economy.
it takes several miles of driving to warm 15 quarts of really cold oil, not to mention the tranny and cab.

i suspect the real issue was the egr software. the egr value operates differently based on STARTUP oil temps.
IF the software was a version that didn't account for block heater usage, that could be an issue.
the egr saw 'incorrect' oil temps at start up, opened/closed the valve and threw the code...
just speculation of course.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:18 AM   #47
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I agree with 2air' - I wouldn't think that plugging the truck in would do any damage - regardless of the temperature. I'm surprised that it triggered a code. Additionally, even with synthetics, warming the oil sure helps to get the beast going and the cab warm sooner! I think the cooling systems on the Duramax are designed for the Sahara or Death Valley!
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:51 AM   #48
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Yeah-to be honest the Tech didn't say (or could not tell) which code triggered the limp home mode (my guess is the EGR). But he did know that I had used the block heater-information I did not provide? So I don't really know what caused the shut down, I do know what the manual says...

"Engine Coolant Heater
In very cold weather, 0°F (
-18°C) or colder, the engine
coolant heater can help. You’ll get easier starting
and better fuel economy during engine warm-up.
Usually, the coolant heater should be plugged in a
minimum of four hours prior to starting your vehicle."

I was plugged in for 3 nights-all very cold, with no trouble after the first 2 nights. My guess is the EGR fault caused the limp mode.

But how did the Tech know I used the block heater?

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Old 02-07-2007, 11:54 AM   #49
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Glad to hear it wasn't a big problem. I have pluged mine in the last couple nights for the first time (0 - 10 deg F), and have not had any problems. Actually I have been very impressed how smooth the engin sounds when I start it compared to not using the heater.

I thought I read over on the diesel forum a while back that some people were having a problem because they did not leave it plugged in long enough before starting. Some sensors were taking readings from a cold part of the engine, and others were reading from a warm area. I think that caused some codes to be thrown.

Anyway, thanks for the heads up.
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:11 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillTex
But how did the Tech know I used the block heater?

when they plug in the module/code reader, a LONG list of codes and information is available. most of it isn't fault codes.

this is somewhat like starting a computer.
all of the startup modules activate and log data.
if for example you disconneted one battery or jump started another vehicle this data is record.
also rpm and max speed, braking efforts (like abs), traction control activation and so on.

if the tech downloads the complete list and reads through it, they can appear pretty smart..

"so you were racing this thing last week huh?"
"why did you disconnect the battery?"
"i see you plugged in the block heater"

and so on.

now for the scary part.

should you have an accident, there is stored data about your driving behaviors from that time.

insurance companies and law enforcement are working to gain access to ALL of this data, as we sit here.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:28 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
...

now for the scary part.

should you have an accident, there is stored data about your driving behaviors from that time.

insurance companies and law enforcement are working to gain access to ALL of this data, as we sit here.

cheers
2air'
2air,

I suppose this is an advantage to a vintage tow vehicle, no codes stored?

Bill
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:35 PM   #52
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More of what the supplemental Duramax manual says (2006, page 2-9):

"You may wish to use your coolant heater to improve ease of starting between 0 and -20F. Keep the coolant heater plugged in for a minimum of four hours. At temperatures below -20F the coolant heater should remain plugged in for at least eight hours. It will not harm either the coolant heater or the vehicle to leave the coolant heater plugged in longer than the times stated." (my emphasis!) Plenty of room for confusion there. For the time being I think I'll go by what Bill and the North Conway, NH, dealer have to say.
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:55 PM   #53
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I am waiting a call back from the "diesel expert" at my local dealer. I will pose some ? about what happened last weekend.
I think 2 air is on the right track; the Tech may have seen that I used the block heater, but I'll bet the trouble code was from the EGR.
I can't imagine why the block heater would cause a fault code...you can't sit there all night and monitor the outside temp!
Stay tuned...
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:20 AM   #54
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Summary

OK-here is what I found out;
Let’s call the Tech that fixed the truck up North Tech #1
We’ll call the Tech at my local dealer Tech #2.

As sated, when I brought the truck to the Tech #1, I was in limp-home mode, would not shift out of 2nd, and the check engine light was on. Tech #1 plugs in the diagnostic tool and several minutes later comments that he found 2 issues;
  • Tech #1 comments “did you use the block heater”? (I tell him yes I did.)
  • There is an update to the EGR programming needed.

(I suspect, that as 2 air noted there was probably a long list of codes that came back, Tech #1 just commented on the 2 above)

Tech #1 comes back ½ hr later and comments that the download is huge and took 20 min, but now I am good to go. They wash the truck, and send me on my way-no charge!

Tech #2 calls me back yesterday, I explain what happened, he is familiar with the problem, says he has seen several trucks come in with this over the last month or so. Tech #2 explains that there is a set of conditions, some combination of cold temp and barometric pressure, which can set off this code and resulting “limp-home” mode. He also comments that the down load for the update is “huge-2 mb.” This can be confirmed by Tech #1’s comment of a 20 min download. Tech #2 says that you may not see this code/fault in more southerly climes; it is more related to cold weather. He also said that I should feel free to use the block heater if it is going to be cold, but agreed with Tech #1 that the new glow plugs don’t really require the block heater, but it won’t hurt to use it either. Tech #2 seemed well versed in this fault, and was fully aware of the EGR update available.

In summary, the fault probably resulted in a long list of codes, all of which, or some combination of which, tripped the “limp-home” mode.
If you live in a colder climate and are heading to the GM dealer soon, I would ask about the EGR update. It may save you a slow drive home some day.
Feel free to use the block heater if it is cold, it sure does start smooth in the a.m. (One caution, as noted on the diesel forum; the block heater uses a lot of juice-watch your electric bill!)

Bill
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:32 AM   #55
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Does anyone know, for sure, what year trucks the update applies to? I'm not due for service any time soon but I may have to make a long trip during one of these cold snaps we're having. If it's worthwhile, I'd take the truck in just for the update.
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Old 02-08-2007, 09:17 AM   #56
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Does anyone know, for sure, what year trucks the update applies to? I'm not due for service any time soon but I may have to make a long trip during one of these cold snaps we're having. If it's worthwhile, I'd take the truck in just for the update.
Don't know-my truck is an 06 w/new Allison. Call the Chevy dealer and ask them...sorry I didn't nail down what years.
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