It’s no secret that I like helping people work on their vehicles. Even if I don’t personally know you, I will typically do what I can to lend a hand if it is needed. That said, a friend of mine recently approached me about helping him get another friend’s Super Duty back on the road once again. Several years ago the truck was parked in a Florida garage and then had the door closed behind it. It hasn’t seen the light of day since then.
The owner decided it was time to get the old girl roadworthy, but what does it take to get a diesel truck running again after it has set idle for several years? That, my friends, is what we’ll go over today. I know there are many opinions about the proper way this job should be approached, and with so many varying opinions, I am not one to say what is right and what is wrong. I will tell you what we did, how we did it, and the subsequent results.
Before I even had a chance to see the Super Duty for the first time, a plan was hatched about what we would need to do to make sure we did not cause any damage to the truck’s mechanicals when we did finally crank it over. To accomplish this, we knew we would need some supplies, and this was tackled by reaching out to Liqui Moly and Optima Batteries to secure a few things.
Our First Look
As we opened the garage door for the first time in several years, we were met with a dust-covered 2006 F-350 Super Duty. This truck is equipped with a 6.0-liter Power Stroke and an automatic transmission. The nice thing about the garage in which it was parked is, while not climate controlled, it was not a dirt floor and a pole shed. Since the truck was not parked in the Florida sun and elements, it did not show any signs of overt deterioration.
I was immediately informed that the truck’s fuel tank was filled to capacity before it was parked. This was a good thing as that leaves no room for condensation to form in the tank. However, with diesel fuel, this does raise another concern. I am often asked how long diesel fuel can last before it goes bad from sitting in a fuel tank, and that question really has no definitive answer.
In reality, there is no expiration date on diesel, per se. However, light, water, and heat are three factors that can cause problems when storing diesel fuel. The biggest concern is it can turn into a varnish-like substance over time with improper storage. Also, the longer the fuel does sit in storage, it can develop algae.
Super Duty Ressurection: Let’s Get Started
Although the fuel tank was filled before it was parked, the Ultra Low Sulfur diesel fuel available at the pumps is not very good at lubricating the fuel system. The lack of lubricity of the diesel fuel gets exponentially worse as it sits, so adding a diesel additive before we ever try to start the engine was a must do. The first thing we did was to change the fuel filters and add a can of Liqui Moly’s Diesel System Cleaner.
If you are curious about the Diesel System Cleaner, it is a mixture of additives that aid in the rapid removal of ‘gunk” and deposits from the fuel system. Since it will clean injectors and the combustion chamber, and also increase the Cetane number of diesel fuel, we added it early on as cheap insurance.
Powering Up Our Super Duty
Next on our list, we knew the batteries in the truck would be junk. Unfortunately, the batteries were not connected to any type of battery maintainer or trickle charger at any time during the hibernation, so dead was the operative word. To make sure the cranking amps we needed were on tap, a pair of REDTOP Optima batteries were secured and placed in the truck. But why REDTOP? OPTIMA has various battery options, so why not YELLOWTOP batteries?
The reasoning is quite cut and dried. For most automotive applications, a REDTOP will work just fine, as it is an SLI (starting/lighting/ignition) battery that is designed to get the truck started. This truck is near stock and does not have any aftermarket accessories that will be any extra draw on the batteries, so a reserve capacity of power is not required.
If the truck was significantly modified from an electrical standpoint, then a pair of YELLOWTOP batteries would have been a better option. While many truck owners focus on starting power (Cold Cranking Amps), a YELLOWTOP battery will actually offer slightly fewer cranking amps, while offering slightly more reserve capacity (Amp Hour), than a comparably sized REDTOP. Also, unlike a REDTOP, the YELLOWTOP is also designed to be significantly discharged and recharged over and over again, while a starting battery like a REDTOP, works better and lasts longer when it is kept as close to a full state of charge (12.6-12.8 volts) as possible.
More Than Just An Oil Change
With the battery decision made, it was time for fluids. Not only did the Super Duty need engine oil, transmission fluid, and differential oil, but LiquiMoly has a few often-overlooked fluids that can really help in a situation like this. For starters, before we ever turned the key, we added a can of LiquiMoly’s Pro-Line Engine Flush to the crankcase. This engine cleaner is designed to offer quick and safe removal of deposits that can be found in engines and was developed to be added just before an oil change is undertaken. And that brings up a logical question.
Before we added the cleaner, a discussion was had about whether to drain the old oil before the engine was run or to do it afterward. We posed this question to a couple of oil specialists, and after we got their replies, we decided it would be best to add the cleaner and run the engine for a few minutes before we changed it. There is a lot of logic to digest when diving into this decision, and you can read all about it here.
Fire In The Hole
After checking the oil level, installing the new OPTIMA batteries, and priming the fuel pump a couple of times, it was time to see if the engine would start. It was like the truck was never parked as it fired up and idled perfectly. This was the perfect time to keep an eye on things under the hood to make sure there were no leaks or other problems.
After idling for a while, we shut it down and started our fluid changes. Let me say, I like the fact the 6.0-liter Power Stroke Ford has the oil filter on top of the engine. Talk about making a task simple. We drained the old oil, changed the filter, and then poured 15 quarts of Liqui Moly Diesel High Tec 5w-40 oil down the fill tube. The High Tec oil delivers great shear stability and lubrication properties as well as exceptional cleaning capability.
This fully synthetic oil is designed for use in older engines and offers excellent wear resistance and cleaning properties. We didn’t add any other oil additives as LiquiMoly’s 5W-40 is already fortified with everything the Power Stroke needs for lubrication and wear protection.
Although the transmission fluid looked “nice and red” we also opted to get a few gallons of Top Tec 1800 ATF. The Top Tec delivers excellent corrosion protection, outstanding resistance to oxidation, exceptional friction characteristics, and a high resistance to aging. As I said, the fluid looked good. But the transmission and differential fluids would also need to be addressed if we were going to do a proper resurrection of the truck. Speaking of differential fluids, we ordered a few jugs of 75W-140 Hypoid oil to complete the fluids exchange.
The Super Duty Is On The Road Again
With all of the fluids and filters changed, it was time for a road test. Everything worked as it should with no strange sounds, vibrations, or leaks noticed. The ol’ Super Duty is once again road worthy. It took the better part of a day to go through the truck, but it’s always fun to spend a day in the garage and accomplish something that helps someone out of a jam.
After a peaceful morning with the guys helping a friend get his trusty diesel back in working order, I am happy to report the only thing left is to give the truck a good coat of wax and watch it drive off into the sunset.