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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just completed a 2 day 1000 mile road trip. I planned to put my truck in storage over the winter, so I filled the tank at the local Shell and added 8oz of Howes Diesel Treat. After 24 hours at 32F, when I tried to start it, I got a cloud of never-before-seen black smoke, and the truck was bucking so hard that I shut it down. I tried twice more with the same results. I decided to stop and research here.

Unfortunately, most black smoke events are acceleration related, not cold start. I'm checking lots of stuff, but wanted to get feedback on the cloudy diesel. It looks like a hazy IPA. Does this look reasonable? I added the water that is at the bottom just to see how it would behave. The upper portion is what I'm concerned about given the optical sensor. Should I drain it all through the T- valve?
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It definitely looks cloudy for sure.I would drain it at this point if the engine started to run poorly.There must be some issue with that fuel if your having problems.Did you have any problems before filling up?
 

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The howes should not do that. Looks like you got some bad water emulsified contaminated fuel to me. Drain the tank and fuel manager asap and fill with clean fuel. Add a recomended dose of Power Service Clear Diesel or similar to the tank and run and drive for a while to dry & clean the fuel system. After running change fuel filter.
Dont leave that gunk in there or you may get tank bugs and or corrosion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It definitely looks cloudy for sure.I would drain it at this point if the engine started to run poorly.There must some issue with that fuel if your having problems.Did you have any problems before filling up?
No problems before filling up, other than the fish bites that have plagued me forever. The black smoke event was crazy. I was worried about the harmonic balancer and pulley. I checked those today and they looked good, so that's a relief.
 

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No problems before filling up, other than the fish bites that have plagued me forever. The black smoke event was crazy. I was worried about the harmonic balancer and pulley. I checked those today and they looked good, so that's a relief.
Sounds good.Try refilling with new fuel from another station and see if that helps.Possibly wherever you got the bad fuel from they could have problems with the tanks underground allowing contamination to occur.Anything is certainly possible with that sort of thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update. Things I did today:

1. Confirmed no soot marks indicating an exhaust leak.
2. Actuated waste gate using a hand vacuum brake bleeder. It held.
3. Changed fuel filter. It was due. I change every 10k mi.
4. Changed air filter. I change every 10k mi, but it looked decent.
5. Plugged in the block heater even though it was 38F.
6. Put the batteries on a charger.
7. Ran the hell out of my lift pump (remote switch) while taking periodic fuel samples.
8. Confirmed turbo could spin freely with no play.

The fuel samples improved from the orange juice of this morning. They weren't clear when viewed through a jar, but while pouring, they looked good enough that I didn't expect a problem with the optical sensor. I think the first sample was from the fuel filter housing and hadn't received the Howe's treatment yet. I had my wife start it up while I monitored fuel pressure at the T-valve (20psi) and confirmed the waste gate was holding (solenoid and vacuum pump working).

It fired up like it never had a problem! We moved the truck 200 feet to the pole barn that will be it's home for the rest of winter. Tomorrow, I'll empty the diesel tank and fill with new diesel from some other station.

The truck is due for injectors and turbo side glow plugs. It's been 100k mi. I replaced the driver's side glow plugs in Arizona last month. Two of four were totally dead.
 
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If you had a water in fuel issue. I would still treat the fuel system with Clear-Diesel Fuel & Tank Cleaner
Good stuff if you are going to overwinter your vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you had a water in fuel issue. I would still treat the fuel system with Clear-Diesel Fuel & Tank Cleaner
Good stuff if you are going to overwinter your vehicle.
I'll look into that. I should note that I never got a WIF warning light, nor did I have water separated from diesel in any of my samples from the T-valve.
 

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I would remove it. Not knowing is alarming. Could be a Bio fuel or worse case scenario it's algae which is hard to get rid of. Just for grins and giggles take a nail that has been degreased and put it in the solution with half in the fuel and the other half in the water. Let it sit for a few weeks and get back with some new pics. Set up a few test jars an try your additives out. One that I found that mixes with both water and fuel is FPPF fuel additive. Most of your truck stops carry it. Think you will find most additives will not mix with both.
Whatever you do don't use it often, as fuel injection shops need the work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We put up the contaminated diesel for free on Facebook Marketplace. It's Facebook, so who knows, but someone replied they had recently filled their tank at the same station and that their truck stopped running.

Should I completely drain the tank through the T-valve or leave a gallon or so? My concern is the potential for pulling crud from the bottom of the tank. That said, maybe 5 years ago, I dropped the tank to put in a new sock and sender. The inside of the tank was absolutely pristine.
 

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We put up the contaminated diesel for free on Facebook Marketplace. It's Facebook, so who knows, but someone replied they had recently filled their tank at the same station and that their truck stopped running.

Should I completely drain the tank through the T-valve or leave a gallon or so? My concern is the potential for pulling crud from the bottom of the tank. That said, maybe 5 years ago, I dropped the tank to put in a new sock and sender. The inside of the tank was absolutely pristine.
Completely drain the tank and flush with fresh diesel, then refill tank.

Be sure and take a sample of the contamination over to the station and file a claim with their insurance.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I drained it all the Shell diesel and refilled with 10 gallons from 76. Neither were B20. Pictured from left to right:

1. Shell straight from a deep freezer. Note the settling.
2. Shell with Howe's at 40F and water I intentionally added.
3. 76 at 40F straight from the pump. Much better.
4. 76 at 40F after running through the lift pump for 5 minutes then adding a splash of Howe's. Still clear. Will monitor.

I just left my information with the Shell attendant to have the manager contact me.
Tableware Drinkware Liquid Bottle Solution
 
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Sure sign of water. If it sizzles on a hot (400°F) metal plate, that is certain.

Nearly all diesel has a few percentage biodiesel, needed since ULSD mandate to prevent wear in pumps.

Biodiesel acts as a type of emulsifier, keeping water in suspension below 1 micron so it won't filter out, even frozen. Even centrifugation has trouble breaking this emulsion.

Change supplier of fuel.
 

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I want to share a funny on biofuel... At the shop one day the local highway department brought in a new lighted warning sign power by a small one cylinder diesel. The thing ran like crap so we tested the injector and it popped off like brand new which it was. I looked the machine over and noticed the dingy fuel and thought biofuel. I re-arranged the engine to run on straight diesel and the thing ran like a champ. Seems the higher ups required them to run the stuff. They ended up servicing their equipment with both fuels and thoroughly lost any saving they thought they had created. Imagine that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wonder if you add the new fuel to the bad stuff. Would the fuel then layer out to three levels in the container with the water?
I don't know, but we're gonna find out! ... but not until Sunday afternoon, as I'm out of town.
 

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I am not aware of any bio-diesel mandate. Can you share your source of this information.?
Natural sulfur in diesel has beneficial extreme pressure anti-wear properties. Removing sulfur to reach 15 ppm increased wear scar on the ASTM test. 2-5% biodiesel replaces this lost lubrication and has been standard since 2006.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't know, but we're gonna find out! ... but not until Sunday afternoon, as I'm out of town.
It did not separate into three layers. No pics because there's nothing new to see.

It took three attempts, probably due to cloudy fuel in the injectors and lines, and possibly some air, but I got the truck started with clean diesel. I then filled the tank with verified clean diesel, and discovered I have a 40 gallon tank.

My truck ran great. I even hammered it going up a steep hill with no black smoke whatsoever. I'm relieved that I won't be worrying about this for the two months it'll be in storage.

I talked to the manager of the Shell station this morning. He was cool about it. It is a corporate station instead of privately owned... not sure if that's good or bad. I emailed pictures and I'm dropping off a sample tomorrow. I'll update when I get a response.

El Tigre has been our home for 10 years and 100k miles including a Pan-Am trip to Argentina and lots of time in Baja. We've never had bad fuel, a WIF light, or anything, so it's crazy that this happened 3 miles from where we're storing it in Hood River OR.
 
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...Should I completely drain the tank through the T-valve or leave a gallon or so? My concern is the potential for pulling crud from the bottom of the tank....
I've heard that said before about not letting your fuel (gas or diesel) run down so low that the pick up pulls from the bottom, but I never understood how that could be unless the pick up line floats. Otherwise, regardless of fuel level, the height of the pick up remains constant and it would not matter how low the fuel is in the tank as far as "picking up sediment" goes. It could matter as far as cooling for in tank pumps, however.
 
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