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Getting a truck back on the road

My question concerns a 1999 Ford F-350 Super Duty Turbo Diesel that has been parked outside unmoved for several years. Aside from the obvious inspections of damages (rust, etc). If I charge the batteries up, is it safe to try to start it, should I drain the fluids, what are the first steps to even getting it moved? Getting it towed to a garage isn’t on yet, so what is the first step? I am new to this stuff and would appreciate any info from anyone here for a newcomer looking to learn some basics. Thanks.

You want to purchase the cheapest oil you can find and totally fill the engine with oil and let that oil sit in the engine for at least a week.

In the mean time you can figure out what else the vehicle is going to need.

After a week, drain the oil, pull the injectors and then try turning the engine over by hand at the crank bolt.

If the engine doesn’t turn over, move on to the next project.


How long, exactly, is “Several Years”?? Was the truck running properly when it was abandoned? How many miles are on it?

After 3 or 4 years, it’s doubtful the batteries will respond to charging…You can try, but a pair of new batteries will be among the first expense items…

The first step is to see if the engine will even turn over with power supplied by some outside source…I would do this before you invested $300 in a pair of new batteries…

Tester I had a very good condition 1973 Mustang 6 cylinder 3 speed manual that I parked on gravel beside the house for a little over a year. Nothing could free up the engine. after ATF and Marvel Mystery oil the pistons were still stuck. Towing it down the street and engaging the clutch had no effect. I sold it very cheap to a friend who had an engine.

… if I remember correctly I think I said that diesel fuel can go bad too in my original comment… I think I deleted it because I thought I might be wrong. but now I think I might be right so I ll put it back up

my 75 ford sat for over two yrs and once I drained the gas and refueled it fired right up. you can not stop those old 360 and 390 engines

Use a wrench on the crankshaft harmonic balancer bolt and try to turn the crankshaft. If it won’t turn you will need to get it towed to a shop unless you want to make the truck a project for the next few months. If it will turn try to start it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t diesel fuel tend to invite micorbal contamination when sitting for extended periods?

Might want to check before attempting to send pond scum through the injector pump.

@‌ Caddyman - Well, ‘several’ means 3-5, right? : ) I think it was sitting for about three years. It has 120,000 miles on it. The batteries charged up only enough to get the power windows working, I can get a new pair for a good deal at a local place, so I can do that, but before I can get it into a shop, should I try to get it to at least turn over? It was running okay before it was left, so am I right in thinking the fluids should be drained/replaced? As I said, I’m fairly new to this stuff aside from very basic maitanence, but if there are some first steps that I could do at home, what would that be after the batteries? Thanks for your input, everyone.

See if you can get the crankshaft of the engine to rotate…If you can use a wrench (A 1/2 drive breaker bar and the correct socket on the nose of the crankshaft) If the engine is free to turn over, then hook up the new batteries and give it a try…As for the fuel, diesel is good for a long time as long as it is kept moisture-free…Any moisture invites algae growth and problems…Siphon out a fuel sample and take a close look at it…Compare it to a sample of fresh fuel…

Changing all the fluids before you try and start it? No…Why go through that trouble and expense if it won’t start? If it starts and runs for a minute or two, THEN shut it down and change everything, all the fluids…Good Luck!

@ Caddyman - That was very informative, and useful tips, thanks.

Make turning the crank as easy as possible by pulling the glow plugs first.

Relieving the compression should not be necessary…You are just trying to determine if the engine is seized or not…If the crank moves at all, then it should be safe to let the starter and batteries turn it over…

If you have the time and are concerned, yes, removing the glow-plugs and giving each cylinder a table-spoon of ATF or Marvel Oil then cranking it a few turns then replacing the glow-plugs, that will lubricate and seal the rings and make starting much easier…Expect some heavy smoke on start-up…Be careful not to overdo this…Just one tablespoon, no more…And spin the engine over with the starter a few turns with the glow-plugs out…

I have some annoying progress. As I was getting ready to tackle the batteries today, I was also checking to make sure no visible wires were damaged by rodents. Everything looked fine until I noticed that the wire into (out of?) the HPOP was severed right before the nub at the end, no doubt by a mouse. Is this something easy to repair myself? Or bad news?

Yes, you can splice those wires to repair them.

Is that the sensor for the HPOP? I’m guessing it won’t start if that’s severed, am I right? I am comfortable splicing wires but it was down at the last cm before the little black cap, so there’s really not much left.

Do you know why it was parked? 120K on a 7.3L diesel is low mileage if it has had reasonable care. I don’t remember when Ford came out with their terrible 6.0L diesel, but I think it was after that. If it’s a 6.0L, someone parked it for a reason. Don’t waste any money on it. The term “money pit” was designed for boats and 6.0L diesel Fords.

@Meanjoe is right about bacteria in old diesel fuel. Drain it, blow the fuel lines and clean the injectors BEFORE you try to start it. Pumping that crap into the injectors will ruin more than one afternoon.

@Caddyman is right about trying to rotate the engine with a breaker bar and socket on the crankshaft bolt.

@ KG McAnick

This truck is a 7.3L, that was in good order before changing ownership. The person never picked it up, doesn’t want it now, it’s now owned by me. It was in decent shape, needed some things but nothing beyond a good tune up. A guy I know who is a mechanic reckons it’s well worth trying to fix, that may be debatable but I’d like to admit defeat before I give up on it just yet. I’m a big fan of the pre-2000 Super Dutys, I think they’re great trucks and I’d like to at least try my best to get this one started, if I can’t do it, then I’ll write it off.

Oh, and this is not relevant, but if I were to look for a used '99 F-350 diesel with 150-200k miles that was in good condition, what would the general value of one be? I know there are a lot of variables but any idea of a range? Thanks.