Is it ruined or not?

Morning all,

I have an opportunity to buy a clean, low mileage 2006 Escalade. This Escalade is fully loaded and has sat in a garage for 1 year.

So, what’s wrong with it…well, here’s the story. It is owned by a family that lives down the street from me. The Escalade was their father’s who passed away 4 months ago. He passed as a result of Alzheimer’s. About 6 months before he passed, he got out one day and went for a ride in it without his family knowing it. His mental capacity at that time was not at its best. Before he drove home that evening (to find his family frantically searching for him), he stopped by a service station and pumped DIESEL into it. This isn’t a diesel vehicle. He drove it home and it died in the driveway. They pushed it into the garage and there it has set for a little over 1 year.

So, now they want to sell it. They have offered it to me for a wonderful price.

Can anyone tell me what to expect out of this Escalade? We haven’t pulled it out of the garage yet and done anything with it. It is going to ever be the same? Is the engine ruined?

Many thanks for any input and thoughts.

It would appear only the engine needs fixing. If it died because the spark plugs would no longer fire, the damage may not be too extensive. Some diesel in gasoline will work its way through usually. Your maximum expsoure is an engine rebuild (budget about $6-7000), and minimum a tank cleanout, engine cleanout, compression check, etc. for about $700-$800.

So, unless the price is at least $7000 below what a vehicle like that is worth to you, it is not a good deal.

I would not worry too much about the one year storage; many unpopular cars sit on the dealer lot outside for a year or more.

My guess is that there is no real internal engine damage, but the fuel system is probably a mess. I wouldn’t be surprised if it costs a few $100 to a couple $1000 to get everything cleaned up and running. If it was me I would have the car towed to a good shop or dealer and have it diagnosed, then agree on a fair price based on the repair costs.

I think with the fuel system drained and flushed it would be fine. Chances are it will need a new battery and of course the asking price on the vehicle is a big factor in whether to buy it or not.
What kind of a wonderful price are they putting on it?

I agree with ok4450. The fuel tank should be drained completely. A few gallons of fresh gasoline poured in. The ignition switch should be cycled to the ON postion a couple of times. The fuel tank drained of the flushing gasoline. Add five or so gallons of fresh gasoline.

Recharge the old battery and see if it still has adequate ampacity. Sears automotive usually has the equipment to charge and test the battery.

With the battery fully charged installed, crank the engine. Do not crank for more than 10 seconds at a time. Allow 5 minutes of starter cooling between attempts. If the engine does not start, after five attempts, i.e. 50 seconds of cranking, the fuel system may have other problems.

If the engine does start and run, have the oil changed as some of the diesel oil may have made it into the crankcase so an oil and filter change is in order.

You might want to negotiate a offset of the sale price for your time and effort getting the Escalade operating.

Good Luck. Let us know how it comes out and what unforseen difficullties arrise.

ok4450, they are offering it to me for $20K. The Blue Book Private Party estimate on the vehicle as equired ranges from $36.5K down to $32K.

The exterior and interior of the vehicle are in perfect condition. Even though it was in a garage for 1 year, they kept it under a cover and even applied Armour All to the dash and seats every other month.

So I figure with a price of $20K, even if it takes me $5K to $10K to get it running, I’m still coming out ahead. Shoot, I guess I could even get a new engine and fuel system for $5K to $10K. Maybe?

Thanks for the reply.

I would probably buy it, you can always resell it and make a little profit if it’s not the vehicle you want/need.

I don’t see that any damage would have been done to the engine by the diesel fuel. The diesel fuel finally got to the engine cylinders. It wouldn’t burn. The engine stopped. Simple scenario.
The Cadillac Escalade has two fuel tanks and two fuel pumps. I will have to assume that both tanks have diesel fuel in them. Since there’s no listing at Auto Zone for an external fuel filter, I’d say that it doesn’t have one.
Your neighborhood mechanic could handle this. [ A fire extinguisher should be at hand]. The diesel fuel needs to be drained from the fuel tanks and the fuel plumbing on the engine. To clear the engine of diesel fuel, hold the gas pedal to the floor, and crank for 15 seconds. Put five gallons of gasoline into the primary fuel tank. Again, hold the gas pedal to the floor while cranking. If the engine begins to start, ease up on the gas pedal. That’s it!

It did not likely cause and serious damage. You will need to clean out the diesel and may need to baby it to get it started after cleaning out all the fuel system.

Agree, if you like this kind of vehicle, grab it, since the calculated maximum cost is much less than the savings you are looking at!

This sounds like an urban legend to me. Like the incredibly cheap Corvette (the only thing wrong with it is the owner died in it and was not found until months/years later).

Diesel pump nozzles are too large to fit in a gas vehicle’s filler neck. You can put gas in a diesel vehicle but not vice versa, unless you have a funnel and a lot of time on your hands.

Stronza has a point. The “re-filled with diesel fuel” statement by the seller may be an honest mistake. How many people can smell diesel fuel over the odor of gasoline?
Anyway, you have a “pig in a poke” deal. At the selling price, the “pig in a poke” may be worth it. Have a mechanic check it out.

Just for jollies I went out in my brother’s '97 Quest to a gas station that has a diesel pump. You would have one heck of a time getting a significant amount of diesel fuel into an unleaded car.

How do they know he pumped diesel fuel into this vehicle? He was alone, right? Suspicious, very suspicious.

I’d approach this as I would any other used vehicle. If you can start it and it runs, great. If it won’t start, you have NO IDEA why. If it won’t start, be afraid, be very afraid. You have no way of verifying the story. FORGET the fact that the owner died. That’s beside the point. Judge the vehicle by what you can see, hear, and feel. That’s all you have to go on. Don’t believe anyone’s story. They may, or may not, have any idea what they’re talking about.

If someone pumped diesel into an Escalade, it’s unlikely that he would have made it “home,” unless he lived within a few yards of the filling station. Gasoline engined don’t run very long on diesel fuel.

Investigate this further. Personally, I’d walk away from this one. Something doesn’t add up.

Besides, even if you get this beast running, it will drink gasoline (premium, most likely) as if it’s free. If you could afford to operate such a vehicle, you would not be looking at this one.

Wow, I never thought of that. He ‘claimed’ to have pumped diesel into the tank when he got home that night. Because the engine died when he pulled in the driveway, noone took the time to verify his claim. They were just happy to have found him and that he was safe.

I talked with his son this morning and he turned white when I passed the information along about diesel nozzles being larger than gas nozzles. He told me that when they asked his Dad where he had been, he claimed to have ‘gone to fill the truck up with diesel’. Of course he used to drive rigs so that would have been a common task he would have done prior to his getting ill. They assumed that he had done the same to the Escalade.

I’m walking away from this one…you guys are right…something is wrong with this scenario.

Thanks for everything.

Wait a minute, it still could be a simple fix. You’re getting it for 12 -16k under KBB, that would pay for a lot of repairs. Maybe he went after some diesel, but not being able to get any into the tank, he simply drove home and ran out of gas. Anyone check the gas gauge?

If you really want the vehicle, take a second look, if the offer is still on the table.

My thoughts exactly!

why did they the family leave it like this for a year? I put put diesel in my tank a full tank of it. I was on a trip and never looked at pump I drove for a one mile and SHIT. I got a hose drained it out put gas in tank it smokes for a few miles and was OK. it never ran so good.
tell them it is junk give $500 and tow it home. you got a great deal. if they think it junk just do this make a deal with them. let you do the fuel change get it running and then come up with a good price. they lost already and suv is part of their dad. remember they will be watching how you take care of dad,s car for as long as you own it.

It may still be a deal, diesel or no diesel.
The one thing to consider may be a seized or knocking engine. Check the oil level, jump the battery, and see what happens. Note if the engine cranks over and make sure it does not have any funny noises while doing so.

You could also try spraying some aerosol carb cleaner into a vaccum line as a means of seeing if the engine will start. It will only run a few seconds if it does but this could tell you something.
IMHO, they should not object to allowing you to do this.
For the price it’s definitely worth looking at if the oil level is up to par and there are no obvious signs of a lack of oil problem.

The only downside would be if the vehicle fired up, ran fine, and they had second thoughts then about selling it. :slight_smile: