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Old 02-01-2004, 08:14 PM
whunter's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan
Posts: 17,363
Post "Ether", use and abuse. *Flame suit on*

Hello Everyone
#A. I am a professional mechanic.
#B. My average use of ether = three cans per year; two are used to clean special parts.
#C. My personal vehicle repair average = 980 too 1700 vehicles per year.

I have used ether on my 300SD twice, following is the description.
Note: My air intake system is OEM.
#1. Open the hood.
#2. Look at the front of the radiator.
#3. Locate the air intake pick-up tube.
#4. Give the air intake pick-up tube a one second shot of ether.
#5. Walk around, get in and start the engine.

You will please note that this way; it is almost impossible to feed excess ether to the engine, the excess will run back out, the weak ether vapor will last only a couple of revolutions.
This will not strip the cylinders.
When done correctly; it would not damage a diesel.
Ether is only to boost start the engine, not run the engine.
Ether vapor is what the engine wants; not liquid ether.
I have considered making a video of how to use ether correctly on a diesel, there are several videos on the market.

Note I try to see humor in all situations.
I qualified my answer; for the goof that I watched trying to start an Audi diesel (running #2 that jelled), he used three ether cans; straight in the turbo body, witnessed him spray half a can into the turbo body then puncture all three cans to dump the remaining liquid in, even after I warned him.

He paid when the front end lifted and oil started oozing out from under the engine, I could not stop laughing as I drove away.
Natural law does not forgive an idiot; the repercussions can be fatal to car and driver.

Near fatal... and a warning
Near fatal... and a warning


ASE Master Mechanic

Prototype R&D/testing:
Thermal & Aerodynamic System Engineering (TASE) Senior vehicle instrumentation technician.
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1980 240D
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Last edited by whunter; 01-09-2012 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 02-01-2004, 10:28 PM
Posts: n/a
It dosen't hurt to have an EMERGENCY can of ether to use as a last option, even I keep one in my car. Still, you must have a working brain to use it properly as whunter does.
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Old 02-01-2004, 10:35 PM
wolf_walker's Avatar
Zen And The Art Of Diesel
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 2,050
I spent my share of time in fields on tractors growing up, and a great many of them have a spot for a can of either built right into the tractor, with a method of injecting it from the cab. It's not immediate diesel death if used correctly.

However a dummy can tear up a rock if given an opertunity..
One more Radar Lover gone...
1982 VW Caddy diesel 406K 1.9L AAZ
1994 E320 195K
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Old 02-01-2004, 10:48 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: central Texas
Posts: 17,277
One must be careful not to use starting fluid or ether on any engine which has a heated intake... that WILL expode. My Ford Diesel tractor is this way and has lots of warning decals on it....
If one disconnects the glow plugs one would have to really work hard to hurt our diesels with normal spraying of starter fluid into the intake tube...
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Old 02-02-2004, 12:40 PM
Wes Bender's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Alpine, AZ / Green Valley, AZ
Posts: 733
Another consideration in whunter's method is that the one-second worth of ether will be fairly well diluted by the time it reaches the glow plugs. I keep a can around for emergencies, but mostly use it for parts cleaning.

Wolf_walker - regarding rocks, I made a good living at that.....

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Old 02-02-2004, 12:49 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
Propane does a pretty good job, too -- a friend of my brother's was trying to start his 300CD with propane instead of fixing the problems (when I last saw it running , it needed a glow plug relay --- duh). When the propane ignited, it blew the valve cover off. I shudder to think what else is wrong with the engine!

I'd try to talk him out of it, but the body and interior are bad enough I'd rather not tackle it. That 380 SL he has sitting with no engine (especially if I can find the engine and tranny), now, that's another story!

Ether if very unlikely to substitute for glow plugs in a pre-chamber diesel -- they usually WON'T start cold without them, no matter what highly ignitable stuff you spray down the intake. If the mixture is ignitable on it's own, it burns way too early to help start (usually stalls the starter motor), and if you put enough in there to actually get a decent fire, it will burn WAY too hot!

1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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Old 02-02-2004, 10:30 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: TX between Dallas and OK
Posts: 1,793
hmmm... what about a mist of gasoline. Maybe this will create a precombustion that helps the diesel to begin cumbusting.
"If anyone knows other lessons I need to learn, please tell me. I'm tired of learning them the hard way".
by JerryBro

The Glow Plug Wait: This waiting period is a moment of silence to pay honor to Rudolph Diesel. The longer you own your diesel the more honor you will give him". by SD Blue

My normal daily life; either SNAFUed- Situation Normal... All Fouled Up, or FUBARed- Fouled Up Beyond All Repair

62 UNIMOG Camper w/617 Turbo, 85 300SD daily driver- both powered by blended UCO fuels
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Old 02-02-2004, 10:42 PM
Posts: n/a
Gasoline vapor has the same problem... it will ignite long before the piston reaches the top of its 22:1 compression stroke, stalling the starter.
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Old 02-02-2004, 10:51 PM
whunter's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan
Posts: 17,363
Thumbs down "Never", gasoline.

Hello coachgeo
"Never", gasoline.

Here is another fools idea you should never try.
I watched a fellow use a torch O2 tank feeding the turbo, the idiot was sure it would be ok, would not listen to advice.
Fastest start that I have ever seen; fastest stop also, the engine topped 9000+ RPM in 90 seconds.
A perfect example of
SNAFU- Situation Normal... All Fouled Up
FUBAR- Fouled Up Beyond All Repair

Have a great day.
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Old 02-03-2004, 08:34 AM
Registered User
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Location: central Texas
Posts: 17,277
Did you mean to say he used the O2 or the Acet ?
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Old 02-03-2004, 08:57 AM
whunter's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan
Posts: 17,363
Thumbs down He clamped the hose set over the center of the turbo intake

He clamped the hose set over the center of the turbo intake, with no torch head, locked the throttle at full with a hood prop rod on the accelerator pedal, used a remote starter switch to crank it with the key on and opened the O2 bottle at 500 psi, the main acet regulator was leeking, but I do not know how much.
He cranked it and we heard it scream like a jet engine reving up, we all ran out of the shop.
He was running the fuel off a one quart oil can.
Total engine life was 90 seconds, start to finish.
This is a never do, bad idea.
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:33 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: central Texas
Posts: 17,277
The operative part of what he did wrong may be the ' locked the throttle at full' rather than the introduction of O2..... which , minus the acet, may not make much difference... certainly not enough to make the 9000 rpm's....
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:44 AM
84300DT's Avatar
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Location: Mass.
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methink better to use the ether on oneself instead of ruining an engine
1984 300D Turbo - 231k....totalled 11/30/07 RIP
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:57 AM
Posts: n/a
These are glow plug engines. If they won't start, find what's wrong and correct it. If the engine isn't worn out and it is a pin type GP engine, a new set of GP's will fix it ninety-five times out of a 100.

These are not farm tractors with no starting aids. In those engines, starting fluid (not ether) is the only choice.

Don't get starting fluid anywhere near a glow plug or manifold heated diesel engine. Just find what's wrong and fix it.

My $0.02,
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:27 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: central Texas
Posts: 17,277
Clearly one would not use starting fluid for any machine with an intake heater..... that is called as EXPLOSION....

However, a one or two second shot of starting fluid at the intake tube of one of our diesels may help start it .... and I still say has not enough BTU's in the mix to hurt our diesels...

It is perfectly legit to disconnect the glowplugs ( at the relay) before using the starting fluid if one is really worried about this.

I guess I am going to have to clip JimSmith's answers on this from a couple of different threads.... I would have thought that this would be farther towards ' settled ' than our Oil and AC threads .

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