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Old 10-15-2018, 04:31 PM   #1
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3600 won't start after dead batteries replaced. Brake buzzer and light

Hello everyone!

I have a 97 Thomas Vista 3600 T444e. I let it sit for a few months and the batteries died. I just got new ones and now the bus won't start.

The electrical starts, warnings go off and then stop but the brake pressure one stays on and the air brakes won't build pressure.

The engine sounds like it wants to start, but won't. It sounds healthy and good. I'm not sure what it could be. It was 100% a few months back. Is there a way that the air pressure not building would stop it from starting? Should the pressure begin to build before the engine starts?

If it's not the air brakes, what would be the next thing to check?

It does seem like it wants to start but something is not allowing it (like a safety?)

Thanks for all the help!!
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Old 10-15-2018, 04:44 PM   #2
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3 major things to look for:

1. Is your oil low? The T444E uses HPOP injectors which don't work if you don't have enough oil.

2. Are your glow plugs working? T444E doesn't need them during the summer months but when the temperatures cool down it won't start without them. Turn your key to the accessory position and note your voltage. Then turn it to the "run" position and compare. The "wait to start" light should be lit and the voltage should be obviously visibly lower for up to 2 minutes. If the reading is the same, you may have glow plug problems.

3. if you have an air leak in the fuel line, all of your diesel may have drained back to the tank. Building pressure back up is a pretty painful ordeal.

Your air pressure won't build up while the engine isn't running. The compressor is driven by the engine so it's not doing much just from the starter spinning. Also, if the starter is spinning, you're cleared any potential interlocks.

For sure check the first 2 things before digging into the fuel system. My Vista had a bad glow plug solenoid and I didn't know it for months, until the temps dropped below 50!
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Old 10-15-2018, 04:55 PM   #3
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Thanks brokedown

[QUOTE=brokedown;294682]3 major things to look for: thank you for your reply!!!

1. Is your oil low? The T444E uses HPOP injectors which don't work if you don't have enough oil.

-I have checked the oil: full!

2. Are your glow plugs working? T444E doesn't need them during the summer months but when the temperatures cool down it won't start without them. Turn your key to the accessory position and note your voltage. Then turn it to the "run" position and compare. The "wait to start" light should be lit and the voltage should be obviously visibly lower for up to 2 minutes. If the reading is the same, you may have glow plug problems.

-glow plug seems to be fine. Warning comes on then after a few seconds goes away like normal.

3. if you have an air leak in the fuel line, all of your diesel may have drained back to the tank. Building pressure back up is a pretty painful ordeal.

-I was almost out of diesel and had to put some in. Could there be an issue there?


Your air pressure won't build up while the engine isn't running. The compressor is driven by the engine so it's not doing much just from the starter spinning. Also, if the starter is spinning, you're cleared any potential interlocks.

thanks again for your help!
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Old 10-15-2018, 05:37 PM   #4
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The "wait to start" light doesn't indicate that the plugs are actually doing anything, only that it's telling them to do something. Watch the voltage, the needle should really dive low when the plugs are lit up, they take 80+ amps so you won't miss it on the voltage gauge!


being low on fuel shouldn't hurt it as long as it wasn't so low that it was sucking air.. aka basically empty or very low and parked on a steep incline. Generally speaking, if the engine turned off because you turned the key, it probably wasn't out of fuel. You can look in the fuel filter housing and make sure it's full. Should be a spin-on cap under the hood, I can send a photo of where mine is if it helps.

But really I'm expecting it to be a glow problem based on my personal experience.
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Old 10-15-2018, 05:46 PM   #5
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Cycle the key to "ON" and wait for the "Wait to Start" light to go out. Turn key "Off" and repeat 3-4 times before trying to crank the engine.
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Old 10-15-2018, 05:47 PM   #6
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While you're cranking, is there any smoke coming out of the exhaust?

If there is white smoke coming out of the exhaust, I'd 2nd the glow plug nod. But seeing that you're in san diego, I highly doubt glow plugs are the issue.

Watch this video to see what I'm talking about.


Are you sure when you changed the batteries that you have all the wires hooked back up correctly?
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:01 PM   #7
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John,
What is the advantage of multiple cycling?
George
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:33 PM   #8
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John,
What is the advantage of multiple cycling?
George
Sometimes the glow plug relay can go bad and it will work a few seconds before it craps out. Multiple cycles will give the glow plugs a little more heat up time if this is the case. If the relay is toast, then this will do nothing.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:57 PM   #9
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John
Thanks for that info
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Old 10-16-2018, 01:28 AM   #10
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As you wrote that you had a low fuel situation it sounds like you need to bleed air out of your fuel system (i.e. prime), provided that the fuel shutdown solenoid isn't closed. You need to have fuel up to the injectors to get a diesel to fire and run.

Excessive cranking of the engine to try to get it to prime destroys batteries and starter. Every diesel bus owner needs to know how to properly change fuel filters, and if needed, to prime the fuel system.
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:52 PM   #11
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Thank you all for your info.

I tried multiple times cycling through but it still won't "catch".

The lights and dash and power are all going so I don't think that it would be a battery issue.

I did not notice any smoke coming from the exhaust, but I didn't check for that the first day I tried to start it.

To bleed the fuel line-is that something I can do? Youtube-able? Or will I need to hire someone?

Thanks again!
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Old 10-16-2018, 07:48 PM   #12
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dead or low batteries and a T-444E are an interesting topic.. as I killed the batteries in mine recently.. and i found that after a dead battery the engine needs to spin REALLY fast to start.. mine surely sounded like it wanted and should start but it wouldnt when I tried jumping it with my Dodge ram.. once I put a battery charger on it over night it fired right up..



excellent points on the HPOP draining down as well as the fuel. it seems the more you crank a 444E the less the computer likes to try and actually start it..



the fuel.. if you almost ran out.. take the cap off of the dark brown canister in the center top of the engine... thats your fuel filter.. that cap unscrews.. that should be completely full... if its empty, fill it up woth fresh diesel from a can.. put the lid back on and crank a bit. if your tank really ran dry then you should add at least 4 or 5 gallons to it. ( a gallon or so wont do)..



if you have cranked a lot, charge your batteries with a battery charger.. you want good charge for that computer to give you the green light.

-Christopher
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:16 AM   #13
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Generally, to bleed the fuel system you crank the engine and loosen the the fuel jumpers to the injectors one by one until you get fuel. That is if you have fuel to the rail. The fuel shutdown solenoid would prevent that, if that's tripped.

Do not keep cranking the engine, hoping it will start. That equals dollars by the 100's. Find someone who knows something about diesels.
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Old 10-17-2018, 06:07 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bus-bro View Post
Generally, to bleed the fuel system you crank the engine and loosen the the fuel jumpers to the injectors one by one until you get fuel. That is if you have fuel to the rail. The fuel shutdown solenoid would prevent that, if that's tripped.

Do not keep cranking the engine, hoping it will start. That equals dollars by the 100's. Find someone who knows something about diesels.
The 444e is different there are no fuel jumpers and no fuel solenoid, each injector is the pressure multiplier and seats in the head, fuel is fed to the heads. Extra high pressure oil is used as the hydraulic actuator for the injectors. The lift pump pressure can be measured at a Schroeder valve near the fuel filter and should be pulsing up to at least 47 psi ..

My guess is if the HPOP had simply draine dry of oil from sitting that they have cranked well enough to fill it and generate injection pressure. Fuel or low cranking rpm are my best guesses at this point.
Christopher
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:08 AM   #15
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It seems to be the case from your initial posts, but I'm going to ask for clarification nonetheless:

Are all the dash lights acting properly? As you remember before changing the battery? I ask this because on my 3800 with the T444e there are a number of smaller connections that go to the positive post of the batteries. One of them is a fused direct feed to the ECM. I messed up once and forgot to connect it. Thing would turn over all day, but there was no hope of it starting since the injectors weren't firing.
In that state I remember the dash acting funny, though. Can't remember exactly. Maybe the WTS was flashing or something.

In regards to the glow plug solenoid, you can test them easily with a multimeter. I've had two die before. If you have two people you can jump the posts with a screw driver, wait 5 seconds, then get a friend to try to start the bus. Take off any jewelry first! The voltage isn't high enough to electrocute, but it can heat up a ring to glowing red real fast!
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty View Post
It seems to be the case from your initial posts, but I'm going to ask for clarification nonetheless:

Are all the dash lights acting properly? As you remember before changing the battery? I ask this because on my 3800 with the T444e there are a number of smaller connections that go to the positive post of the batteries. One of them is a fused direct feed to the ECM. I messed up once and forgot to connect it. Thing would turn over all day, but there was no hope of it starting since the injectors weren't firing.
In that state I remember the dash acting funny, though. Can't remember exactly. Maybe the WTS was flashing or something.
I'm with jatzy on this one.

Once again, check your battery connections. I've been on service calls where the customer changed that batteries themselves, missed the little ecm wire, and the truck wouldn't start. International is weird in that they have those wires in the first place, so it's something that can be missed. I don't recall the dash showing anything weird though, the one truck did have a dtc for low ecm power though. Now it's one of the first things I check when they mention that they changed the batteries, and almost always is that they missed a wire.

After that. Your smoke diagnosis is next.

No smoke=No fuel being injected
White smoke=glow plugs
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:36 AM   #17
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being a 96 that one has the older style 3 box ECM system on it.. I know on mine (99.5+ ECM) if I pull the ECM BAT fuse or miss that wire up (I did when I swapped my transmission). I dont even get crank.. the ECM doesnt power up the starter-enable relay.. not sure if the 3 box has that style or not.



and sometimes its not a bad idea to pull and reseat both ECM fuses. to give the computer a good clean reset.
-Christopher
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:47 AM   #18
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Mine is a 3-boxer. ECM and IDM are on the firewall and the VPM is inside the cab. If my memory is serving me correctly, it was turning over without the ECM connection.
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happiinesshunter View Post
Hello everyone!

I have a 97 Thomas Vista 3600 T444e. I let it sit for a few months and the batteries died. I just got new ones and now the bus won't start.

The electrical starts, warnings go off and then stop but the brake pressure one stays on and the air brakes won't build pressure.

The engine sounds like it wants to start, but won't. It sounds healthy and good. I'm not sure what it could be. It was 100% a few months back. Is there a way that the air pressure not building would stop it from starting? Should the pressure begin to build before the engine starts?

If it's not the air brakes, what would be the next thing to check?

It does seem like it wants to start but something is not allowing it (like a safety?)

Thanks for all the help!!

Reply from shawna:I'm no mechanic but learned about the glow plug when shopping for my lil bus. It also seems there's a safety mechanism that wouldn't let mine start after installing a brand new battery but when all the doors were shut...bingo!
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