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  #1  
Old 12-30-2001, 01:38 AM
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Starting Fluid in diesels

I understand that starting fluid is not to be used in diesels with glow plugs---so I don't used starting fluid; however, I have had others tell me "I tried to use starting fluid to get it started" and I have seen auction yards try using starting fluid on Mercedes diesels. Now to the question: What is the possible consequence of using starting fluid in glow plug diesels?
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2001, 02:47 AM
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Bent rod, holed piston, blown head/gasket are possibilities or in an extreme situation you could be making your own homemade "Daisy Cutter". Probably get away with it a few times, but I wouldn't risk it.
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  #3  
Old 12-30-2001, 11:19 AM
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jbaj007offers very good explanation.

Just because someone gets by with it sometimes, does not mean that it is safe. If you use starting fluid in a glow plug engine, you are definitely a risk taker.

Good luck,
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Old 12-30-2001, 11:43 AM
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Try WD 40 less volatile than ether.
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Old 12-30-2001, 11:59 AM
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I've heard of the WD-40 starter fluid trick also. However, I believe WD-40 has recently change the formulation so the volatile component is no longer present.

Larry and jbaj700 have very good advice - do not use starting fluid! At best you might get started with ONLY a broken piston ring(s) that will cause problems and damage down the road - usually when you want it least.

Best fix is to find out why your diesel won't start or is hard to start: valves need adjustment, bad glow plugs, restricted fuel flow to the injector nozzles, bad injector nozzles, low compression, out of time IP, low/bad battery charge, bad starter or someone put a gas M-B starter in and will not turn the engine fast enough to start, clogged air filter, get a block heater, etc., etc.

Good luck!
Tom
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  #6  
Old 12-30-2001, 01:14 PM
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I have used fuel in a spray bottle to get them running, they will usually purge themselves.
Jerryb
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2001, 01:25 PM
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Tom: Note from my post that I don't use starting fluid in diesels.
Having heard that others have tried it, I was curious as to the possible consequences. I buy a number of Mercedes at auction and whenever some yard-guy comes over to start a diesel with starting fluid I inform him that I will not participate in the bidding if he attempts to start it with starting fluid. If he does---I don't.
Whether it cranks and runs or not. So far---the few that I have
seen starting fluid used on---don't start anyway---even with starting fluid. At least one auction yard I no longer sign in with because they start all autos with 24 volts----not good for computer systems---typical "yard-guy" response: "Well, the headlights still work".
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  #8  
Old 12-31-2001, 12:19 AM
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kweimer:

You asked about possible consequences from using starting fluid - I provided another one that can happen in addition to the ones listed by jabaj700 (after I responded to the WD-40 suggestion). Then I listed some things that can cause hard starting. I did not infer nor suggest that you used starter fluid as that was clear from your posting. You asked about possible consequences if starting fluid was used - from your statement I inferred that you had a need to know information from members of this forum (professionals, technicians, those with vast experience, and other qualifications to justify relying on their opinion) about the possible good consequences of using starting fluid or the bad consequences from using starting fluid. If the majority of opinions suggested that using starting fluid was a good thing to do, then you would use starting fluid. On the other hand, if the majority of opinions suggested that using starting fluid was a bad thing to do (as it is), then you would not do it. I simply provided another bad consequence if starting fluid was used - nothing more.

Best regards,
Tom
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  #9  
Old 12-31-2001, 12:50 AM
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Tom,
Thanks. I had always heard that "it is bad to use starting fluid on glow plug diesels" and would from time to time convey this information to others who contemplated using starting fluid, but was not really able to answer the "why" part of the question. Recognizing that this forum has many knowledgable and experienced people, I thought now a good time to present the question to the forum. You and others have given me the answers that I need----now when I caution others against the use of starting fluid on glow plug diesels, I can answer the inevitable question that follows: "why?"
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  #10  
Old 12-31-2001, 12:16 PM
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Using starting fluid with a prechamber diesel like the MB (it works fine with others, depends on design and whether or not the glow plugs are on) can cause serious pre-ignition. It can be severe enough to stall the starter motor, can break ring lands, including the steel insert for the top compression ring, and can, if seriously overdone, blow the head gasket and/or pull the head bolts out of the block. Melted piston tops aren't unheard of, either.

I wouldn't bid on any diesel engine that some hayseed insisted on using ether on either!

I only know of a few diesel engines manufactured since 1970 that do not have a pre-heat system of some kind, either air or glow-plug. It simply isn't possible to start one dead cold without a pre-heat system, although that doesn't seem to have sunk in very well in some places -- I've got some farm types in my neighborhood who insist on starting diesel tractors without the preheat or the four batteries specified. They use a lot of ether!

Peter
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  #11  
Old 12-31-2001, 02:20 PM
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I discussed this topic with my father just the other day.

He said that, years ago, he tried to start a glow plug-equipped Caterpillar diesel with starting fluid. This resulted in one of the glow plugs being blown completely out of the head.

When he called Caterpillar to inquire about replacement parts, the parts guy said, "You used ether, didn't you? Don't ever use ether in one of our engines. That's why we build them with glow plugs; so you don't have to use ether."

Caterpillar made a repair kit for this situation that involved drilling and tapping the glow plug hole while positioning a vacuum hose at one of the ports to remove the metal shavings created by the drilling.

Ether and glow plugs are a bad combination.

Aaron
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  #12  
Old 12-31-2001, 02:28 PM
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Smile

Aaron;
Another very good real life example of reasons I can give others for not using starting fluid in glow plug diesels.
Thanks......
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  #13  
Old 12-31-2001, 05:30 PM
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Now that you have the "why -nots"

Now that you have all covered why NOT to use ether to start your MB's, I might as well add my .02 . It's still a free country right? NOT that I EVER would use ether on one of my diesels. ( cars or trucks that is) there is a method that reduces the chances of a catastrophy. Simply disable the glow plug system if you MUST use starting fluid ( John Deere log skidder, ancient one each) The other precaution would be to have someone else start to crank it while you shoot the "poison" into the air cleaner, still the glow plug system MUST be disabled.

I keep a can of starting fluid on hand, but it's not for starting cars. I use it to clean brake rotors and other parts that I don't want any kind of "residue" left on when the cleaner dries.
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  #14  
Old 12-31-2001, 05:53 PM
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Back in 1995 I had a glow plug relay failure and my independent told me to use WD40 to try and start it. Tried it until the battery went dead and could not start it. The previous post that mentioned the change in formula of WD40 is correct. They no longer use a petrolum based product in WD40, so I believe it will no longer work. Since the relay had failed I guess it was OK to try the WD40. I ended up having AAA tow the car to the garage for a new relay.
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  #15  
Old 12-31-2001, 08:51 PM
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WD-40

Actually if you must know...it's NOT the formula of WD-40 that made it work as a "starting-fluid". Are you ready for this...it's the fact that the PROPELLANT in the can was non other than PROPANE. Now you know the REST of the story.
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