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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,

I get a lot of good info here and I wanted to share a little journey that I recently took by buying a 2006 3500 dually (flat bod) for my business.

When I bought her everything seemed on the up and up... there was a check engine light on and I brought a cheap code reader, but it was an HVAC code that I dismissed because the seller had disconnected the AC for some reason I can't remember. Seemed to be a solid truck that pulled evenly though the gears (6sp manual). It rolled quite a bit of black smoke but it had 370K on it so I figured maybe I can get another 100K out of it before a major engine overhaul.

Got her home, cleaned her up, changed oil and fuel filter as well as got an alignment and a few little other odds and ends. Drove it around for a few days in town before I had to made a 1,200 mile trip with it.

About half-way through my trip I could tell she had dropped some power ... and I wasn't even towing anything yet. It was running so badly before I got to my pickup spot I called a cousin to translate the codes I was seeing through the odometer. They seemed wacky and all over the place (waste gate open, low volts on intake heater, implausible fuel level, MAP sensor circuit, common rail checksum error, etc) so I started thinking then I had a loose ground.

The next morning, before my towing session, I got out the tools and tightened every bolt with a wire going to the frame. She started up fine and seemed to be running smooth. Picked up my enclosed trailer that I use to haul equipment with and set off for the 600 mile run home (Lubbock to Houston with a stop in Dallas).

She made the run home but now without issues. Along the way I would notice a significant power drop, some hills I could only climb at 65mph. With my foot on the floor and timing the hills I made all of them. I kept figuring that I still hadn't tightened every bolt and that maybe I had a bad boost actuator. Without having much documentation on the truck and needing to be at a jobsite with a deadline I just kept pushing on until I could at least make my delivery appointment. A few things were going right: I was able to keep a stable engine temp, oil pressure and voltage gauges. so I figured I'd just push on with the trip and do some sleuthing when I got home after driving through the night.

About 200 miles from home (11:30pm) I start noticing the voltage gage start dropping.... not good. I pulled over real quick to check battery connections and such but after 10 min of troubleshooting I needed to start making decisions. With nowhere to park for the night and worried that I would never get her restarted via battery I decided to grab an extra battery from one of the machines I am transporting and plunk it in the passenger floorboard. I ran a positive and ground wire through the window and hastily wired it into the battery. Voltage came up and I get the road. I kept watching the gauges and betting myself I far I could make it. I figured that if I got within 100 miles of home I could get a wrecker to come get me without having to sell a kidney.... but that seemed like an impossibility until I actually looked down to see 99 miles till home.

As I got into outer Houston I started to get bold.... the old girl was actually going to get me home.... hot damn! I was 18 miles from home when the dash lit up... first the brake service light, then the airbag light, that stupid check gauges light was mocking me for the last 200 miles.... not helpful.

About 10 miles from home the engine started sputtering and I figured I was done for.... but, o' glory... I've got just enough speed to make the top of the Beltway 8 overpass. I pulled over, grabbed a second backup batter from the trailer, changed it out with the other floorboard battery, put her in 2nd, got some speed, dropped the clutch and bam! Shes off and running again... but I'm way past borrowed time at this point. I had to shut the lights off coming into my neighborhood but I did finally shut her off in front of my house.

I tinkered with it over the course of the next few weeks replacing some sensors and the waste gate solenoid. She ram better but then other weird shit started happening: radio would refuse to turn off, air bag and brake light would flash, RPMs were spotty, occasionally the whole dash would die, ECU started throwing undervolt codes, random other codes, etc.

I finally decided that all the battery and ground connections had to go. I saw some other people using welding cable as replacement battery cable but after two days of not finding something cheap enough for me I settled on a 25 ft set of jumper cables made with #2 wire. Started hacking them up and soldering terminal lugs on them. I replaced every cable coming from or to the battery, even both engine negatives.

I am happy to report that even though the engine still runs a little rough (I have some kind of mis-fire that I need to chase next) I finally have the check engine light off! The truck as a lot of other issues to make it comfortable but for now it is at least dependable.

I realize this was a long post for something that could have been said in a paragraph but this truck has been a big part of my life as of late and I felt a narrative was the only way I could represent the relationship.... plus, you knew know who might pick up a detail that is important to them.

Thanks for all the good info guys... you're keeping guys like me paying their mortgages.

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