View Full Version : Old Diesels; Ultra-Low Sulfur Fuel

01-19-2008, 07:21 PM
Just wanted to let you guys know that are running the older diesels that your injection pump was designed to be lubricated by the sulfur in the fuel. Now that everyone is running on Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), your old injection pump may not be getting the lube it needs. There are supposed to be additives in the ULSD to compensate for the lack of sulfur in the fuel. This may be fine for your newer diesels, but I would not trust it for older diesels (mid to early 90's or earlier), especially high mileage units.

The solution?... Instead of shelling out lots of money on lubrication additives, I just dump in about 4-6 oz. of Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) in every tankful. The ATF provides the lubrication needed and burns pretty clean.

Maybe your injection pump would be fine without the ATF, but for as cheap as it is, I will not go without it. You get peace of mind and save hundreds on a new injection pump and prevent your truck from being down.

01-19-2008, 07:38 PM
How about using a product actually designed to be put in the diesel fuel? I use Stanadyne at EVERY fill-up. I've heard of people using ATF, but not in my truck.

01-19-2008, 07:44 PM
Well that's fine for your nice new truck, and I'm sure that is a good product, but I'm talking about a '91 F-250 with 432,000 miles on it (and still going strong, thank you very much). I'm just talking about your old diesels that you still want to take care of without putting too much money into it.

Gravel Rat
01-19-2008, 08:54 PM
You don't want to use ATF that will kill your injection pump your better off with Howes.

01-19-2008, 08:57 PM
Um...don't waste your money.

I run ultra low in my....
84 international dt 466
99 f350 with 150+k miles

and my buddy's 78 f250 6.9 diesel with unknown miles...

no problems.

Gravel Rat
01-19-2008, 09:04 PM
The old 7.3 IDIs have a rotary injection pump they REALLY need the lubrication or they will wear out. The new low sulphur fuel will wear out a Stanadyne DB2 Pump.

For a PSD it really doesn't matter a truck with a inline Bosch pump still needs some lubricant but it uses engine oil to lubricate most of the internals. A rotary pump uses the fuel for lubrication.

If the injection system on the truck hasn't been touched in years then don't worry about it keep running it. The engine is close to dying anyhow I'am really surprised the engine hasn't failed yet from cavitation.

01-19-2008, 09:14 PM
So is your opinion to use a little ATF or not? I'm no expert, but I figure it can't hurt.

01-19-2008, 09:32 PM
A long time ago, I saw some guys prime a big diesel on a road grader with ATF. They had been working on it and were putting it back together, they filled the filter up with ATF and started it right up. I didn't know much about diesels at the time, still don't know a lot about them, but I wondered if the ATF primed easier because it is thicker than fuel?

Gravel Rat
01-19-2008, 09:54 PM
ATF was never designed for a fuel additive so DON'T use it. Its the same with the old wives tale of using used engine oil in the fuel.

Todays ATF has so many different friction modifiers etc that isn't good for a injection pump. The days when there was only type F fluid it was probably okay.

Buy a jug of Howes and be done with it. The stuff is designed to be a fuel additive. There are others out there like power service etc.

A good mechanic will use Howes to fill a filter on a old mechanical injected engine.

01-19-2008, 10:06 PM
Well, if the ATF is doing more harm than good then I guess I'll quit using it. I was just told that it helped lubrication which made sense to me because it is oil so I figured what the heck, it's cheaper than most additives and it can't hurt anything. And I figured if I'm saving this money I might as well tell other old diesel owners - but maybe they should be advised not to use ATF????

What about using plain old type F fluid????

01-19-2008, 10:27 PM
Don"t forget that ATF will color the fuel and if pulled over it may take awhile to prove that you are not running off road

Albemarle Lawn
01-19-2008, 10:48 PM
Studies have shown B2 (2% biodiesel) fully repaces lubricity taken away with the removal of sulfur.

I run B20 in everything, but if you are not a biodiesel believer, use a B2 blend. If you can't get B2 you can usually find B5, just fill half a tank with B5 then top with ULSD.

Gravel Rat
01-19-2008, 11:20 PM
I forgot about ATF tinting the fuel because your guys laws down in the US and with the marked fuel fines.

Finding a type F oil will be tough its not used much anymore.

Another thing you can use would be vegitable oil (new) it will mix with the fuel.

With the old IDIs you can use biodiesel if you can find it. A mechanical engine will take it where the new PSDs will not. A old mechanical engine doesn't really care.

The new ATF blends are designed to resist burning,heat etc also they have all kinds of friction additives etc. Also ATF acts like a solvent which will loosen and or eat older rubber seals.

Grass Happens
01-20-2008, 12:09 AM
I can still get type F. That's all I ever put into my old Torino, and boy did I put alot of it in...
On a ford site I lurk on, everybody is talking about adding two-stroke to the fuel, not only does it aid lubricity, but gives more mpg's. As I don't yet own the IDI i'm buying, I haven't had a chance to try it, but I figure 6oz's of two-stroke to 25gals of diesel cant be THAT bad.

01-20-2008, 12:26 AM
ATF will work fine. Type F is readily available in the US and many have used dextron III for years.

Vegetable oil would work.
WVO (waste vegetable oil) works for cutting diesel as well but should be properly filtered and water separated.

Biodiesel is a powerful detergent and will eat up old fuel lines and clog filters so be careful with it (b20 not so much as b99)

IDI's don't experience cavitation when the proper coolant is used and kept up to date.

I prefer to use 2-stroke oil as an additive (tcw-3 rated) in everything from a '92 ford IDI to an '03 cummins. 12-16 ounces or so to a tank.

You can use motor oil (non-synthetic) in older diesels. I've run a '99 cummins with up to 2 quarts in a 35 gallon tank of diesel and others have run with upwards of 1 gallon to 30-35 gallons of diesel (even before ulsd came around). Used oil should be filtered as if it were WVO, not worth it for me but I guess it is recycling to a certain extent. Theoretically you could change your oil, filter it, then run it through the truck over the next several tanks and save 3 gallons of fuel in a cummins every 5000 miles +- saving 10-12 bucks.