Online Engine Diagnosis

While vacationing in Branson, MO last week with the family, our van engine started running very rough and lost power on a routine drive to the grocery store.  The engine is a 7.3l Direct Injection PowerStroke with 298k miles on it that’s not given us any trouble in the 13 years that we’ve owned it, so I was expecting the worst case scenario.  I immediately turned to the online forums that I use for advice and recommendations for a solution.  In this case it was TheDieselStop.  Based on the symptoms, the Injector Drive Module (IDM) was the suspected culprit.

Since I was a day away from departure and there was “no room at the inn” for us to stay longer, time was of the essence.  Even worse, the weekend was quickly approaching and it was Thursday night.  I immediately started a search and by Friday morning had arrived at these options:

  • $1000 for new part from local dealer with availability on Tuesday,
  • $500 for remanufactured part from O’Reilly’s with availability that afternoon carrying a 1 year warranty,
  • $250 for remanufactured part from O’Reilly’s with availability Saturday afternoon carrying a lifetime warranty,

I opted for the last one because of the warranty and, to some degree, the price; however, it didn’t arrive as promised on Saturday.  O’Reilly’s told me that it wouldn’t arrive until Monday since it had missed this shipment from Oklahoma City.

Since I had rented a small car ($24/day) in the meantime in order to run errands, I expanded the search to a larger area.  Although AutoZone didn’t have a location in Branson, there were several in northern Arkansas as well as to the north around Springfield.  Amazingly, I was able to locate the same remanufactured part with the 1 year warranty in stock at an AutoZone in Ozark (about 30 miles away).  I was off and running within minutes.

About 2 hours later (got hungry), I arrived with the part and installed it within an hour.  Here’s the kicker… with just an online search and a simple problem description, the diagnosis was correct and our van was back on the road and running perfectly.  I can’t even imagine how I would’ve diagnosed this problem even with all of the tools and time that I would’ve had at home.  I’m super impressed with the experts who share their knowledge and experience via the forums at TheDieselStop and I’m very thankful for their help!