Monday, January 4, 2010

The Black Sludge

I think I have figured out why my van was running like crap: uneven idling, lack of power, hard starting.

I decided to have a look and see why my van is still leaking fuel. I saw that the fuel bowl still appears to be leaking from every orefice (except the ones I filled with new seals). So I decided it's time to pull the bowl again, and this time replace all the seals, not just a few, and do a total fuel bowl rebuild.

I hooked up the handy-dandy new drain hose I put on the bottom of the vehicle, positioned a container under it, and opened the drain plug on the fuel bowl. Boy do I wish I'd done that months ago. A full pint of pitch-black sludge started coming out.

Rubber. My "new" hoses are melting. The fuel bowl was probably dangerously filled with this black sludge, but my "Water in Fuel" light wasn't coming on because rubber isn't conductive, and the water-in-fuel sensor works by testing for the conductivity of water.

I pull the filter. Plugged up and filthy, after only a couple thousand miles. I am a little worried about what damage this might have done to my injectors.

The fuel return lines are literally disintegrating: melting, sweating from the outside. Based on the sludge content of the filter, the insides of these hoses must look even worse. The brand-new ones after only a few months are already in the same condition that the old ones were after nearly two years. Scary, and frustrating.

I located and ordered, from, a proper biodiesel-rated fuel line kit. Expensive: $125, but still less than I spent on the WRONG hoses back in September. I will put a few new but completely inadequate hoses on, just to buy me some time until the correct hoses arrive in the mail (should be next week).

After the correct hoses arrive and are installed, the game plan will be to run the engine for a while on the new filter and new hoses, then run the tank down to empty, drain it, clean out the rubber sludge that no doubt is collecting at the bottom of it, run it some more to filter out all that crap, and finally to change the filter yet again. And... if I did all the right things, not change that filter again for another 30,000 miles or whatever the spec is.

This is my fifth filter in two years. At $35 a pop. I really hope to have finally gotten this right.

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