DD15 Operator Guide – System Checks

System Checks

Perform the following system checks before starting for the first time.‪

Cooling System Checks

Check the cooling system as follows:‪

  1. Make sure all drain cocks in the cooling system are installed (drain cocks are often removed for shipping) and are closed tightly.
  2. Fill the coolant overflow surge tank with genuine Detroit Diesel POWER COOL
    antifreeze until coolant level stays between the low and full coolant marks on the tank. For more detailed recommendations, refer to “How to Select Coolant”


  3. Entrapped air must be purged after filling the cooling system. To do this, allow the engine to warm up with the pressure cap removed. With the transmission in neutral, increase engine speed to 1,000 rpm and add coolant to the surge tank as required.
  4. Check to make sure the front of the radiator and air-to-air charge cooler (if equipped) are unblocked and free of debris.

Lubrication System Checks

The lubricating oil film on the rotating parts and bearings of a new or newly overhauled engine, or one which has been in storage for six months or more, may be insufficient when the engine is started for the first time.‪


  • Insufficient lubrication at startup can cause serious damage to engine components.
  • Do not add oil if the oil reading is between the two bends on the dipstick. There are approximately 3.8 L (4.0 qt) from the fill mark to the full mark. Overfilling the oil pan can cause engine damage.

To ensure an immediate flow of oil to all bearing surfaces at initial engine startup, the engine lubrication system should be charged with a commercially available pressure prelubricator. After prelubricating, add additional oil no more than 3.8 L (4.0 qt) at a time to bring the level to the proper mark on the dipstick. ‪

For lubricant recommendation, refer to “How to Select Lubricating Oil”


Checking the Oil Level

Check the oil level as follows:‪

  1. Check the oil level using the oil dipstick. The oil level is measured using the two bends or the crosshatch area on the dipstick. If the oil reading is between these bends or in the crosshatch area, then the oil is at the proper level for engine operation.
    Click to see this graphic in a separate window
    Click to see this graphic in a separate window

    Note: The engine must be shut down for 60 minutes and on a level surface for an accurate oil level reading. Otherwise, the engine must be brought up to an operating temperature of 60°C (140°F), shut down, and allowed to sit for five minutes on a level surface. Failure to allow the oil to drain back properly as just described can result in a low oil level reading.



    To avoid injury from slipping and falling, immediately clean up any spilled liquids.‪


    Do not add oil if the oil reading is between the two bends or in the crosshatch area on the dipstick. There are approximately 3.8 L (4.0 qt) from the fill mark to the full mark. Overfilling the oil pan can cause engine damage.‪

  2. If necessary, top off by filling engine oil no more than 4 L (4.2 qt) at a time through the oil fill cap to the satisfactory fill range on the oil dipstick. For detailed procedures, refer to “How to Change Oil and Replace the Lubricating Oil Filter”

    . Do not overfill.

Extended Storage

An engine in storage for an extended period of time (over winter, for example) may accumulate water in the oil pan through normal condensation of moisture (always present in the air) on the cold, internal surfaces of the engine. ‪


Failure to eliminate water-diluted lubricating oil may lead to serious engine damage at startup.‪

Lubrication oil diluted by water cannot provide adequate bearing protection at engine startup. For this reason, Detroit Diesel recommends replacing the engine lubricating oil and filters after extended storage. ‪

Fuel System Checks

Fill the tanks with the recommended fuel. Keeping tanks full reduces water condensation and helps keep fuel cool, which is important to engine performance. Full tanks also reduce the chance for microbe (black slime) growth. For fuel recommendations, refer to “How to Select Diesel Fuel”

. Make sure the fuel shutoff valve (if used) is open.


Prolonged use of the starting motor and engine fuel pumps to prime the fuel system can result in damage to the starter, fuel pumps, and injectors.‪

If the shutoff valve is even partially closed, it may cause erratic engine operation due to an inadequate supply of fuel to the fuel pump.


NEVER use ether as a starting aid to run the engine. Doing so will result in injector damage.

If an external starting aid is used, such as a starting fluid, the heat generated by the external fuel source will cause the injector tips to be damaged when the fuel cools them. The injector piston and bushing can be scored from running without lubrication.‪

To ensure prompt starting and even running, the fuel system must
be primed if air has entered the fuel system. Priming is done by operating the manual hand priming pump located on the fuel filter module or connecting an external priming pump to the priming port
on the fuel filter module. ‪

Authorized Detroit Diesel service outlets are properly equipped.‪

Priming is required if the fuel system has been serviced.‪

Drain off any water that has accumulated. Water in fuel can seriously affect engine performance and may cause engine damage. ‪

Adding Fuel

When adding fuel, pay attention to the following:‪


Always use Ultra-Low Sulfur Fuel (ULSF) with 15 PPM sulfur content or less, based on ASTM Standard D 2622 test procedure. Higher sulfur levels will damage the Engine Aftertreatment System.

  • Add winter or summer grade fuel according to the season of the year.
  • Work in the cleanest conditions possible.
  • Prevent water from entering the fuel tank.

For further information, refer to “How to Select Diesel Fuel”


Priming the Fuel System

Prime the fuel system as follows:‪

  1. Operate the hand primer on module for three minutes or 250 strokes.
  2. Crank the engine for 20 seconds.
  3. Wait 60 seconds for starter cool down.
  4. If engine does not start, repeat step 2

    and step 3

    . The starting cycle can be repeated up to three times

  5. If engine still fails to start, continue as follows:
    1. Use DDDL to check for fault codes, repair as necessary.
    2. Repeat step 2

      and step 3


  6. Allow engine to reach operating temperature 60°C (140°F).
  7. Increase engine speed to 1800 rpm for three minutes.
  8. Reduce engine speed and check for fuel leaks. Repair if necessary.

Other Checks

Make sure the transmission is filled to the proper level with the fluid recommended by the gear manufacturer. Do not overfill.‪


Battery Explosion and Acid Burn

To avoid injury from battery explosion or contact with battery acid, work in a well ventilated area, wear protective clothing, and avoid sparks or flames near the battery. If you come in contact with battery acid:‪

  • Flush your skin with water.
  • Apply baking soda or lime to help neutralize the acid.
  • Flush your eyes with water.
  • Get medical attention immediately.

Make sure cable connections to the storage batteries are clean and tight. Check the hydrometer “eye” of maintenance-free batteries for charge.‪

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If lead-acid or low-maintenance batteries are used, make sure battery electrolyte level is normal.‪

Use only batteries that have been correctly filled and serviced. To provide corrosion protection, apply dielectric grease liberally to the terminal pads.‪

Check the turbocompound for signs of oil or exhaust leaks. Leaks should be corrected before starting the engine. Check engine mounting bolts for tightness. Bolts should be retightened, if necessary.‪

Starting the Engine for the First Time

Before starting the engine the first time, perform the operations listed in the “System Checks”




To avoid injury from explosion, never use ether with an engine’s electrical cold starting system.‪

The engine uses an electrical grid heater as a cold weather starting aid if the ambient temperature is below 4°C (40°F).‪

To start a DD15 engine, make sure the transmission is in neutral and turn the ignition key on.‪



To avoid injury from inhaling engine exhaust, always operate the engine in a well-ventilated area. Engine exhaust is toxic.‪



To avoid injury when working near or on an operating engine, remove loose items of clothing and jewelry. Tie back or contain long hair that could be caught in any moving part causing injury.‪

You will notice that both the Amber Warning Lamp (AWL), Red Stop Lamp (RSL), Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL), Diesel Particulate Filter Regen lamp, and High Exhaust System Temperature (HEST) light will come on. This is the result of the Detroit Diesel Electronic Control (DDEC®) computer diagnosing the system to ensure everything is functional, including the light bulbs for the warning lights. If everything is OK, all lights will go out in approximately five seconds.‪

Start the engine after
the lights go out. If starting a vehicle, start the engine with foot off
the accelerator pedal.


If the warning lights stay on, or do not come on momentarily after turning on the ignition, contact the Detroit Diesel Customer Support Center at 800-445-1980. Operating the engine under these circumstances may result in engine damage.‪

Electric Starter

Start an engine equipped with an electric starting motor as follows:‪


To prevent serious starting motor damage, do not press the starter switch again after the engine has started.‪

  1. Place the transmission in neutral, and set the parking brake.
  2. With foot off the accelerator pedal, turn on the ignition switch and start the engine.
  3. If the engine doesn’t start after 20 seconds, stop. Try again after waiting about 60 seconds.


    Do not rev the engine if the oil pressure gauge indicates no oil pressure. Shut down the engine within approximately ten seconds to avoid engine damage. Check to determine the cause of the problem.‪

  4. Monitor the oil pressure gauge immediately after starting the engine.

Note: Do not place the engine under full load until it reaches operating temperature. Colder engine temperatures will cause the engine to preset idle up to 900 rpm. Even at a high idle condition, you don’t have to wait for engine warm up and return to normal 600 rpm idle to drive the truck.

EPA07 DD15 Operator’s Guide – DDC-SVC-MAN-0003
Generated on 10-13-2008