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Old 06-10-2019, 04:15 PM   #1
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1998 Amtran 40' (4700?) T444e Pusher Eng. Warn. Light no fuel to engine

Intermittent start, will turn over from key on random occasions. Like once every 50 attempts. Previous owner drove it home a year and a half ago, maybe longer, removed front air actuated passenger door and all nearby components, the stop sign and it appears something was done at the rear window as there was a single loose black wire connected to nothing.



The starter is good, starter solenoid good, jiggling shift lever does not help, no wait light for glow plugs (I do not think they are working), engine warning light is on. Tach. does show engine rpm when cranking engine. Relays clicking inside box near the engine with the ECM and rear start.



I bled the oil line to the gauge to the ECM and it now shows oil pressure. Hose was dry and I understand the air in this system can cause failure to start. I do not know if there is still trapped air in other parts of the oil pump system.

I looked for loose wires and could not find any under the engine or from the battery box to the the engine area. There was diesel in the filter bowl, but I am not ruling out a fuel pickup or pump issue.



Gave her a shot of starting fluid and engine runs. I can put 12 volts directly to the the starter solenoid to crank engine. The batteries are old but they charge up and hold a charge, they do not handle extended cranking well 5 to 10 seconds max but I have a charger on them during initial start. They charge to about 12.5-12.8 and settle to about 12.3 or 12.4 volts when off of charger for a few hours.


A solenoid in the panel under the drivers window is in play when operating the key in drivers area, it appears to disconnect the accessories etc. when the key is in the start position. When the key is on accessory or in the on position the solenoid is engaged, and when the key is off or in start it is disengaged. At this point I do not suspect this to be the issue.


I do not know what is causing the warning light, since the engine warning light is on right when the key is turned on, obviously it cannot be for an issue that would prevent the ECM (or sensors?) from defeating startup (electronically activated fuel shut off?) while cranking for reasons such as low crank rpm, low oil pressure etc.

I do not know if Amtran ran their safety interlocks in coordination with the International instrument cluster (engine warning light) but from what I understand, the interlocks are not part of the ECM circuit, so to the best of my knowledge is that, they defeat the ignition system to prevent the engine from cranking, not shutting off fuel to the engine. There is supposed to be a way to connect a hose somewhere by the filter housing to pump fuel into a collection can to check to see if the fuel pump is working, and I am still working on trying to figure that out.


I got the bus thinking that there was the possibility that I could get lucky and find the problem otherwise I would salvage it. Today is day two, and unfortunately I find myself almost obsessed with trying to figure out what the problems are. The engine appears to be in great condition with only 151,000, the brake system holds air well and they work good (pumped air in tank with portable compressor) and most all of the lights, fans, wipers, radio etc. work perfectly. Any advise on how to getting the injectors to doing their job would be appreciated. There is no diesel whatsoever getting to the engine, no coughing sputtering tailpipe smoke or anything when cranking or the couple times I shot starting fluid.
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Old 07-19-2019, 01:19 PM   #2
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Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC/AMTRANS RE
Engine: 7.3 T444E
Rated Cap: 36000lbs
DO NOT USE STARTING FLUID, that is a cheap way to wind up with a expensive rebuild, or worse the glow plugs could ignite the fluid and it blow up in your face.
Using a charger while starting is a bad idea, it can damage the PCM/ECU.

No fuel, check power to fuel pump and start there. If no fuel to the engine then oil pressure is hardly a concern, also check oil level, if it's too low the HPOP (high pressure oil pump) will not get enough oil to build pressure.

I'm PatrickBaptist on YT and I have several 7.3 related videos including on no start issues that might help you. DO NOT USE STARTING FLUID, I've scrapped several trucks over that stunt.
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Old 07-19-2019, 04:32 PM   #3
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Your batteries appear to be shot. Freshly charged batteries should stay around 12.6 for a week or so with no load on them.

School buses are famous for having safety interlock issues and they can be a bear to track down, especially if you don't know what was done to the wiring before you bought it.
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Old 07-19-2019, 04:55 PM   #4
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the 444E likes good voltage to start..



the WARN light coming on for a few seconds at key-on then going off is simply the computer Booting.. if you DONT see the WARN light for a couple seconds then it means the computer isnt powering correctly..



if the engine always cranks then the computer is booting.. it has a self-feeding power relay that must be on to boot the computer and to enable the starter-relay which is what allows the starter to run... safety interlocks would be wired to the starter relay just like neutral safety..


a couple things come to mind..

1. slow cranking speed.. this engine likes to SPIN to start.. 160 RPM I think is what the book says..


2. the IDM's need good input voltage to provide the 110 Volts DC required to drive the injectors.. Low cranking voltage may spin the starter but not run the IDM..


if the WARN light is staying on, pull the codes.. see what the computer is telling you...
-Christopher
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:13 PM   #5
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Year: 1998
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Engine: T444E
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I have this EXACT same bus (I don’t think I’ve ran across any others on here yet?!)

Can you run engine diagnostics? I’ve got a Warn Engine light on mine and was able to flash the codes.

Look under your steering wheel and to the left a bit. There should be a round connector and a push button.

That can be used to flash your code. Maybe it’ll show you something you’re missing?

Edit: Diagnostic Process

-Push and hold that button
-Turn ignition ON
-Release Button
-Give the dash a few seconds and some lights will blink
-When the Warn Engine light starts blinking, start counting the number of blinks.
-It will flash three digit codes.
-Blink, Blink.....Blink, Blink, Blink,....Blink... is code 231 for example
-Between each code a red light (oil maybe?) will blink to separate them.
-First codes (however many) are active.
-Red light blinks twice and then the inactive codes are flashed
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