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Old 10-20-2019, 07:36 PM   #1
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My school bus wont start

My 3800 international 2000 will not start. The gas gauge doesn't fully work so I think it got drained to nothing. I filled it up.
The battery works because the wait to start light comes on and we can use electrical stuff like the headlights etc. When I try to start it after the wait to start button goes off, it just clicks. I looked under the hood and there's no sparks or anything happening, it is turning and trying to start.
Also a warn engine light keeps coming on and I can't figure out what it means on google. I'm sure someone on here has dealt with this so please help if you can. Thanks in advance, I think I have enough information but if I need to clarify anything just ask me
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:42 PM   #2
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We need to know if the engine is rotating or not when you try to start. If the starter just clicks and the engine does not rotate, then the batteries are weak or bad or maybe a starter connection or bad starter.
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Old 10-20-2019, 08:25 PM   #3
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Also, these things don't like to be run dry. You may have to prime the fuel filter before it'll start, even though the tank is full. It may take considerable pumping to prime them.
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Old 10-20-2019, 11:45 PM   #4
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If you ran it out of fuel and then cranked it over dry for awhile, it's likely the battery that needs a charge/boost to get it going.
The bit about priming above, could also come into play?
Doesn't sound too serious but if you're being chased by a 2 legged "Grizzly", you might be in a pickle!

Good luck...
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Old 10-21-2019, 07:04 AM   #5
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the WARN engine light may also be an indicator.. the computer will not engage the starter-enable relay if it feels like there is sometheing major wrong with the electronics of the engine..


however best first advice is charge the batteries with a battery charger.. not a jump from a car, as others have mentioned, these engines like Tall batteries to start..
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:10 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies, I'm going to try to prime the engine with fuel later today and I'll see if that works.
The engine is turning over, I'm pretty sure it just ran completely out of fuel.
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by H.Gilly View Post
Thanks for all the replies, I'm going to try to prime the engine with fuel later today and I'll see if that works.
The engine is turning over, I'm pretty sure it just ran completely out of fuel.
Just because other electronics and even GPs work doesn't mean the batteries are sufficient. Big difference from headlights and all working vs cranking starter AND providing enough power to the PCM and all the other electronics to actually start the engine.
Like Chris said, DO NOT JUMP START IT, you need to use a battery charger, BUT BUT BUT, do NOT NOT NOT leave that charger on while trying to start the bus, battery chargers give off dirty power that can damage PCMs/TCMs, I've seen this in diesel pickups before. NEVER turn the key on with the battery charger supplying power.
I use a RV converter to keep my batts charged up and rigged up a relay that cuts power to the converter when I turn the key on.
Depending on what engine you have pull the fuel filter see if it's even empty, if it is then fill it with ATF (auto trans fluid) this will lube up and clean the injectors. Then try to start it.
Fill out yer info so we know what kinda equipment your sporting.
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Old 10-29-2019, 02:18 AM   #8
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A more complete description of the engine light you see would be helpful. If it blinks, how many times and in what pattern?
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Old 10-29-2019, 09:09 AM   #9
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Battery Charger

For charging the batteries, do you need anything more powerful than a typical car battery charger? I actually need to invest in a charger and wasn't sure what the best type would be for the bus.


Ideally one that could handle the bus batteries, car batteries and tractor battery.
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cofrari View Post
For charging the batteries, do you need anything more powerful than a typical car battery charger? I actually need to invest in a charger and wasn't sure what the best type would be for the bus.


Ideally one that could handle the bus batteries, car batteries and tractor battery.
It's an automotive battery, it doesn't know what it is in when you hook a charger to it.
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Old 10-29-2019, 01:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cofrari View Post
For charging the batteries, do you need anything more powerful than a typical car battery charger? I actually need to invest in a charger and wasn't sure what the best type would be for the bus.


Ideally one that could handle the bus batteries, car batteries and tractor battery.
They produce dirty power, anything you plug into the 12V like chargers for your phone/tablet could wind up damaged if you use them while using the battery charger, just hook a CB radio up to your bus and you can hear the charger humming in the radio. Also DO NOT NOT NOT NOT ever try to start your bus while the charger is running, this can damage the ECU/TCM, I've seen it happen in pickups before.
You are better off getting a RV converter, it will charge your batteries and power your accessories and are made to run full time unlike the car battery charger.... NEVER use a trickle charger, they are bad about damaging battery cells too BTW.
WIth a RV converter, there is a grounding lug to ground it to the frame of your rig to do it right whereas there is no ground lug on a normal car charger.

EDIT: car chargers are only for charging, converters are for charging and providing power full time.
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Old 10-29-2019, 01:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickBaptist View Post
They produce dirty power, anything you plug into the 12V like chargers for your phone/tablet could wind up damaged if you use them while using the battery charger, just hook a CB radio up to your bus and you can hear the charger humming in the radio. Also DO NOT NOT NOT NOT ever try to start your bus while the charger is running, this can damage the ECU/TCM, I've seen it happen in pickups before.
You are better off getting a RV converter, it will charge your batteries and power your accessories and are made to run full time unlike the car battery charger.... NEVER use a trickle charger, they are bad about damaging battery cells too BTW.
WIth a RV converter, there is a grounding lug to ground it to the frame of your rig to do it right whereas there is no ground lug on a normal car charger.

EDIT: car chargers are only for charging, converters are for charging and providing power full time.
If they are only for charging , why does every one of my chargers have an amperage setting for starting the engine. I've never heard of a single instance of ECU damage from a battery charger used properly. On a vehicle when you turn the key to start, it separates the electrical system from the start system, sending all the current to the starter.
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Old 10-29-2019, 02:13 PM   #13
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They produce dirty power, anything you plug into the 12V like chargers for your phone/tablet could wind up damaged if you use them while using the battery charger
Interesting. I would whole-heartedly agree that cheap battery chargers are electrically dirty. I'm thinking of the kind with a slide switch for setting the current, an analog ammeter gauge in the front, etc.. On the inside they're nothing more than a transformer and a couple diodes. No filtering of any kind. These also have no over-charge protection, so a battery can be damaged if it's left forgotten connected to this kind of charger.

Better chargers.. "smart chargers".. are likely to be a switch mode power supply. They frequently weigh less than the other type because they don't have a heavy mains frequency transformer inside them. Output is cleaner and the automatic control may avoid over-charging (but don't assume; read the manual).

Now I'm curious to compare the output of a basic charger to that of my "smart" charger on an oscilloscope..

Any automotive charger (ie, a charger for 12 v lead acid batteries) will work to charge bus batteries -- given enough time. A bus typically has more than one battery, and high capacity at that, so when the batteries are dead a lot of amp-hours will be required to recharge them. A charger with a max of say 5-8 amps will get the job done but a charger with a max of 20-40 amps will get the early ("bulk charge") part done much faster.
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Old 10-29-2019, 02:31 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
It's an automotive battery, it doesn't know what it is in when you hook a charger to it.



That's what I thought, but wanted to make sure. Thanks!
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Old 10-29-2019, 10:39 PM   #15
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If they are only for charging , why does every one of my chargers have an amperage setting for starting the engine. I've never heard of a single instance of ECU damage from a battery charger used properly. On a vehicle when you turn the key to start, it separates the electrical system from the start system, sending all the current to the starter.
I realize my experience in life isn't going to convince you, especially if you never heard of it elsewhere and that's okie dokie with me.
Sure SOME chargers have a option for vehicle starting, that doesn't actually change anything about what I said about standard auto battery chargers producing dirty power, even when used properly. Power a radio with a charger and listen to the loud hum you get, that's that dirty power I was speaking about, when I was a kid I killed a nice CB using a battery charger to run it....
I killed the IDM in a truck of mine with a battery charger and even though I'd never seen it happen before, it happened to me.
I also have taken in another truck for no start, PCM was dead and so were the batteries, owner told me he had been using a charger to start it, drove fine parked it, hooked it up went to cranking and no money light or WTS light anymore. But OK, ignore my life experience, it can never ever happen.

"On a vehicle when you turn the key to start, it separates the electrical system from the start system, sending all the current to the starter" Really????? All current to the starter only? Ohhhk.... Sure your right there too, PCM doesn't get power until the cranking stops and power is returned to everything else, gotch.

I did a quickie search on ol goog about the chargers damaging electronics, even battery jump packs have been known to damage PCMs/ECUs, I'd never heard that one until now.
Any over voltage is dangerous to the onboard computer junk, it's undeniable, it's very possible for that to happen with a charger.
Take care bud.
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Old 10-29-2019, 10:45 PM   #16
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Interesting. I would whole-heartedly agree that cheap battery chargers are electrically dirty. I'm thinking of the kind with a slide switch for setting the current, an analog ammeter gauge in the front, etc.. On the inside they're nothing more than a transformer and a couple diodes. No filtering of any kind. These also have no over-charge protection, so a battery can be damaged if it's left forgotten connected to this kind of charger.

Better chargers.. "smart chargers".. are likely to be a switch mode power supply. They frequently weigh less than the other type because they don't have a heavy mains frequency transformer inside them. Output is cleaner and the automatic control may avoid over-charging (but don't assume; read the manual).

Now I'm curious to compare the output of a basic charger to that of my "smart" charger on an oscilloscope..

Any automotive charger (ie, a charger for 12 v lead acid batteries) will work to charge bus batteries -- given enough time. A bus typically has more than one battery, and high capacity at that, so when the batteries are dead a lot of amp-hours will be required to recharge them. A charger with a max of say 5-8 amps will get the job done but a charger with a max of 20-40 amps will get the early ("bulk charge") part done much faster.
I'd be intrested in what you find out with your scope comparing them.... If you ever make a video or anything I'd appreciate the info.
Smart vs cheap chargers sound like mag vs electronic ballasts for lights.
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickBaptist View Post
I'd be intrested in what you find out with your scope comparing them.... If you ever make a video or anything I'd appreciate the info.
Smart vs cheap chargers sound like mag vs electronic ballasts for lights.
I too would be interested in seeing the two waveforms. Besides I like oscilloscopes! [Now I remember why we called them O-scopes ... I r a aggie engrneer!]
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Old 11-02-2019, 05:30 PM   #18
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We're having a similar problem on our bus now, can I ask why someone recommended using a battery charger but NOT jump-starting? The last two times we (for trips of just 1 min.) jump-started the bus, and tomorrow we're going to try to jump it again for a 30 minute drive to a Lowe's.

What's the difference between a battery charger and jump-starting the bus and driving it for 15-30 mins to recharge? Does the second option damage the bus or batteries somehow?
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Old 11-03-2019, 01:57 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Shuvom View Post
We're having a similar problem on our bus now, can I ask why someone recommended using a battery charger but NOT jump-starting? The last two times we (for trips of just 1 min.) jump-started the bus, and tomorrow we're going to try to jump it again for a 30 minute drive to a Lowe's.

What's the difference between a battery charger and jump-starting the bus and driving it for 15-30 mins to recharge? Does the second option damage the bus or batteries somehow?
A good battery charger will Top your batteries up before you try to start, some engines won't start unless they are cranking fast.
The bus in question may have run out of fuel in which case it is going to take a lot of cranking to start. By the time all the injectors are getting fuel the batteries might be to depleted to crank the engine fast enough to fire.

Jumping often fails because the operator attaches the cables and immediately tries to start the bus. Not going to work if your batteries are too low, remember you are not replacing your discharged batteries you are trying to run your starter through them. It could take 20 minutes each to boost your batteries up to sufficient power levels.

You are having success because your batteries are almost able to start the bus on their own. You will have better success if you determine which is the weaker battery and hook your cables to it. Read up on how to do it safely so you don't wind up with a face full of battery acid, explosions do happen.

PS, sounds like your batteries are timed out?
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Old 11-03-2019, 01:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cofrari View Post
For charging the batteries, do you need anything more powerful than a typical car battery charger? I actually need to invest in a charger and wasn't sure what the best type would be for the bus.


Ideally one that could handle the bus batteries, car batteries and tractor battery.

Modern smart chargers are nice but slow, as in 20 hours to bring up a badly discharged battery. Up side is they have a recondition feature and you might squeeze an extra year of service out of your battery. The more expensive higher amp ones charge a bit faster and some of them will power your house functions while maintaining charge. They are also very compact and handy to bring on the road.
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