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Mysterious Diesel Engine Issues

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by Ron Cardoza, Jan 8, 2019.

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  1. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    Hello Fellow Forum Members,

    I encountered a mysterious issue with one of my engines on my boat and questionable service provided by a licensed volvo dealer company. Posting here hoping to get clarity on what should have & shouldn't have happened as well as what could have caused this issue in the first place. Not to bias anyones opinion, individual names and companies have been been removed.

    FACTS:
    2015 Boat w/400 hrs engine
    Twin Volvo’s IPS 600 434 hp

    Engine diagnostic conducted. Engines started prior to diagnostics started. Engines not started after diagnostics started. During the diagnostics the technician hooked their computer (Handheld PDA not a laptop) to the starboard engines and was able to complete the process. When the tech hooked their PDA to the port engine the PDA froze multiple times. My Capt did not witness a successful completion of the diagnostic of the port engine.

    Result of Diagnostics stated on invoice: "Inspected both engines and drives for leaks.connected the vodia to both engines and removed all fault codes.Started and tested engines dockside checked for leaks and confirmed oil pressures.All operations checked good at this time"

    After a couple of days I went to start the engines & the port engine would not start.The engines had not been started since diagnostic tech had started engines BEFORE conducting diagnostic test.

    The starboard engine started as usual but not the port (never had a problem with starting the engines prior). The solenoid clicked when attempting to start the port engine but engine would not turn. no codes or alarms other than not showing the hours of the port engine or showing it as on. Capt came tried starting engine without success. He conducted an autoconfig in the same manner the diagnostic tech instructed him to do if there was ever a problem. The engines still would not work and still made the solenoid clicking noise. No alarms or codes shown other than not showing the hours of the port engines or showing it as on.

    Same tech came that conducted the diagnostic came that same day. Capt asked tech about the issue with the computer freezing and tech became defensive said "My computer didn't do anything to your engine" and stated the cause for the engine not turning on was the battery and when Capt asked again if he was sure, the tech was adamant it was the battery and said that both batteries needed to be replaced. Tech attempted to jump start the battery with no avail. Capt and I purchased new batteries and replaced and the engines still did not start.

    A second tech was sent to service the engines, IPS and generator and then assessed the situation with the port engine not starting.

    This tech assessed that it was probably the starter, removed the starter and bench tested the starter offsite and then brought it back reinstalled it and said it wasn't the starter. Tech said that the portside engine when he connected to his computer threw off old and new codes (strange because diagnostics shows no codes or alarms). He mentioned to Capt that the diagnostic tech was never able to conduct a diagnostic on the port engine (not sure how he determined this if by record or spoke directly to diagnostic tech) and only the starboard engine was the diagnostic tech able to conduct a diagnostic test on. Tech said he would need to return to trouble shoot further and did not know what could be the cause of the engine not starting.

    Third Tech came and stayed approximately 30 minutes. Techs evaluation (different from the previous first and second tech evaluations) said believed the problem was that someone had conducted an auto configure incorrectly on the engine and thereby wiped out the system software in the engine computer. Said, to fix it, he would have to conduct another auto configure and to do so he would have to return to the office and download the software and then return.

    Side bar: The Volvo display on the main cabin helm station started to display a number of different alarms and codes that weren’t occurring when I and Capt tried to start up the port engine the first time (prior to the diagnostic tech coming to check to see what happened). The boat that day had no codes or alarms showing on the display other than not showing the portside engine working.

    The same tech returned again and spent an hour. Said he believed the cause now to be the Starter and the Solinoid. And that he had to place an order for a new starter and he couldn't install a new software until that was done.

    We informed this tech that the second tech already bench tested the starter offsite said the starter was fine. This third tech said that a starter has to be bench tested and then again at the boat. And that offsite bench testing is not sufficient to determine if a starter is good or not and can throw off a false read.

    We had a conference call with this techn to get an understanding how we were told it was an autoconfig problem and a software problem but then we are hearing it's a starter and solenoid issue and how that could be. The tech informed us that the starter could have been fine but because of multiple attempts of starting the engine that it must have damaged he starter and the Solinoid (which seemed to now have stopped working as well).

    Tech also said there was a mention of a "Low voltage" displayed on that engine and that the Low Voltage could cause a bunch of problems and that was also the culprit of frying the starter, the solenoid and system software. It was concluded that the starter needed to be ordered and that would be installed and the software (because engines serial number has software on cloud and belongs to engine with no charge) would be installed after.

    Tech returned with new starter and tried to install software and said that it now was the ECM that was damaged as well and so happened to have an ECM in his vehicle. Installed the ECM and and software was able to get engine to start but then experienced some type of “short”. The engine was able to get started only by then pressing the parallel battery.

    Tech spent great amount of time tracing wires to see where/what could cause it and found the house battery was hooked up to start the port engine and not the cranking batteries (which why would that occur if that was the case prior)?.

    The engine started right up after he switched the battery cables and has experienced no engine problems since other than showing now a low voltage signal on both engines.

    The port engine hour gage read .2 hours once engine started vs. the 400 hours it had. Tech wants to come and fix that and said something about changing out the old batteries that we had removed (that we were originally told it was bad) with the batteries that are currently there as he's saying those batteries are now probably fried/no longer good.

    Obviously lots of questions:
    1) what could have caused the issue in the first place (engine not turning and only hearing solenoid clicking).
    2) why would an invoice be submitted that said both engines diagnostics completed and no issues or codes or alarms found when another tech said it was never conducted.
    3) is conducting a diagnostic with a PDA even the proper method of conducting a diagnostic as I hear it's an outdated method.
    4) can a computer freezing up multiple times during a diagnostic test do any harm with the ECM or starter?
    5) can a auto configure process be done incorrectly and will that cause the starter, system software and/or ECM to fail/Fry?
    6) why would new and old codes be coming up on the original ECM when there were no codes or alarms on diagnostic test (so the invoice stated)
    7) what would cause a battery, starter, solenoid, software ECM to fail all at same time?
    8) is it true that to determine if a starter is good or not bench testing is not enough and it actually needs to be tested as well on the boat?
    9) could low voltage cause battery, starter, solenoid, system software and/or ECM to go bad? or any of them?

    And lastly does these pictures even look like a new ECM? We were told the ECM the tech replaced my original ECM with is new. Plate is corroded and looks to have been submerged. We are being told by the company the tech installed a new ECM but instead of putting on my old Plate (that actually looks new compared to the plate that is on the new ECM) he just put this old corroded plate on it.

    10)why would someone install an old submerged rusted/corroded plate on a new out of the box ECM? Why wouldn't they just put my plate that is newer on the new ECM?

    11) how does an ECM come when it's new? Does it come in a closed box without or with an installed plate?


    The boat had no prior issues with the engines. We requested an engine diagnostics to be conducted on the boat because we had not conducted one during purchase (stupidly because broker said there was a full warranty on the engine & only after purchase I found that wasn't true...more to come on that issue itself).

    Again no issues before diagnostics. Once diagnostics began with this company, engine didn't work again with different assessments between the three techs that all work for the same company. All scratching their heads contradicting each another.

    We are now being told that what caused all these issues is the low voltage. Meanwhile we are now having low voltage read on both engines after their service work.

    Many unanswered questions from the company and they are invoicing labor and material for a brand new starter and new ECM. As well for all the "trouble shooting" they said they needed to conduct. As well as me already paying them for a full diagnostics which I'm not clear if it was ever conducted on the Port engine and what may have caused the issues to begin with. I already paid for the service of the engines, IPS and generator. Not clear if the issues were caused by boat or by technicians incompetence and/or error.

    Any feedback, insight or comments appreciated. I just want to get to the truth of the matter.

    Attached Files:

  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I would never have gone from Tech 1 to 2 to 3 to 4. You were way to patient and tolerant, especially once you knew you'd been lied to. I would have and now I would get immediately with the owner or President or manager of the firm. If that doesn't get you success, I would call Volvo immediately. With problems like you've encountered the answer I find most often is to go higher up the ladder. You've got it well documented now put that in a nice document and go visit a person of authority. I don't deal with techs when there are issues with what techs have done.

    Also, I'd mention, that in the past, I've found Volvo to respond very well to such issues and problems. They're trying to improve their reputation in the US.

    Yes, much of what you describe looks to me likely caused by people not knowing what they were doing. Determining exactly who did what to what now may be difficult, but I'd hold them responsible for everything starting with the failed test and the lie about it.
  3. gsholz

    gsholz New Member

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    What an ordeal. When you hear the solenoid engage but not the starter, it is usually a sign of low voltage or bad battery. Battery voltage is easy to check with a $10 digital volt meter. Sometimes the voltage reads ok (> 12.5V) but the battery cannot deliver the amps.
  4. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    A+
  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Battery better read better than 12.5Vdc when fully charged And not drop greatly (<2.5) when the starter is engaged. A cheap radio shack DVM would be the better tool here than 4 different techs without a clue.
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    The computer has A LOT of visible corrosion on the outside of the case. I cannot believe that the inside wasn't negatively effected. Batteries can create A LOT of CPU issues with modern diesels...….I know on a MAN common rail boat I manage that goes through batteries every 2.5 years when a battery bank is going bad because the computer starts spitting out a communication EDC failure alarm on start up. Always change all batteries at the same time in modern electronic diesel boats. I would speak to the owner of the dealership and go from there. 4 different techs is a bit crazy......2 yes......4 wow.
  7. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    And lastly does these pictures even look like a new ECM? We were told the ECM the tech replaced my original ECM with is new. Plate is corroded and looks to have been submerged. We are being told by the company the tech installed a new ECM but instead of putting on my old Plate (that actually looks new compared to the plate that is on the new ECM) he just put this old corroded plate on it.

    10)why would someone install an old submerged rusted/corroded plate on a new out of the box ECM? Why wouldn't they just put my plate that is newer on the new ECM?

    11) how does an ECM come when it's new? Does it come in a closed box without or with an installed plate?

    That's the replacement ECM. FM or in common text WTF??
  8. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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    We had a similar problem we were called to. Owner had hardly used the boat for 4 YEARS due to ongoing fault codes and none-starting problems.

    Slowly and methodically went through each and every electrical connection and cleaned each. 6 hours later he got his boat back to normal and an invoice for less than $1000. Just do the basics.
  9. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Yes, I think the first guy screwed up and then the others were a combination of confused and lost and trying not to put the blame on the first guy. Had they been objective, their first effort would have been speaking to him and trying to figure out what he did wrong.
  10. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    I stayed up last night until 6am detailing everything on an email to the company. they are trying to setup a time with the service manager and the head tech to go over my questions. Great idea to contact Volvo directly. I will thanks for the suggestion!
  11. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    Can low voltage create such problems as in burning out a Starter, Solenoids, Software and ECM as we are being told it was the cause? the low voltage says 25.5 and usually should say I believe 28.5 or somewhere around there.
  12. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    just to clarify...it was 3 different techs (tech 1 did the diagnostics and came back after engine would not start and said adamantly it was the battery, tech 2 did the engine, ips and generator service and then assessed the situation and said it was the starter, tech 3 assessed it was a burnt software due to an incorrectly conducted auto config and then said it was the starter and solenoid and then said it was the ECM as well and then it was a short on the boat side.
  13. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yes. Not highly likely but possible
  14. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    Supposedly what you see that is rusted and corroded is a plate that attaches and protects the ECM. the ECM is under it and connects to the pins and engine and electrical that you can't see. They are saying they installed a new ECM but the plate they used was an old one. I just can't understand why anyone would do that to a new ECM especially when I had a pretty good plate in better condition that was removed so that the new ECM could be installed. info
    doesn't line up.
  15. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    Yeah well this company is now trying to charge me for many hours of trouble shooting, a new starter (which we are testing again our original starter to see what they told us is correct) and what they are calling a new ECM. All the labor and new parts are $7k+ they are invoicing me.
  16. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    BINGO!
  17. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    Possible but IMPROBABLE that it would cause it to all go bad all in same time. Now instead of one engine showing low voltage I've got two engines showing low voltage after their service. crazy
  18. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Well,if the battery charger goes bad that would happen. If the battery charger is leaking AC voltage it can fry all of those things.
  19. Ron Cardoza

    Ron Cardoza New Member

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    I'm being told by another reputable volvo service dealer that low voltage may cause Starter damage but it would not cause the ECM to go bad and it's improbable (the word they used) that all those items would go bad all in same time (again told that low voltage would not do anything to an ECM). An ECM I'm being told is rare they go bad.

    What is the definition of a battery charger going bad? how does a battery charger leak AC voltage? btw: the battery was tested and the battery that we were told was no longer good is actually fine.
  20. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    The battery charger is no longer charging the batteries, hence the low voltage. It might be as simple as the breaker is off to the charger or the charger itself is bad. Bad batteries will generally show normal voltage if the battery charger is good, they just won’t have enough cranking power to turn over the engine. The fact that you’re showing low voltage tells me the battery charger isn’t working at all. A battery charger converts AC voltage to DC voltage (which is what the batteries are), however if a diode in the charger goes bad it could leak AC voltage into the batteries and this could fry various DC electrical systems.

    Volvo Mechanic’s are good at diagnosing Volvo issues, but generally not good at diagnosing boat side electrical issues such as chargers and such. Low voltage or AC voltage in the batteries could fry an ecm, could even make the batteries explode under a load like cranking the engine.

    At this point it’s tough to say what you have going on. The boat even could have been hit with lightening unbeknownst to anyone. Your captain should be able to grab a multimeter and check to see if there is AC voltage on the batteries and what the voltage is and if the charger is working, these are pretty remedial tests. Who tested a battery and said it was good and who then tested it to say it’s not good? You could also have something as simple as a bad ground cable causing all of these issues. Someone knowledgeable on marine electricity could weed most of these items out within an hour.

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