How To Check For Caterpillar 3406E/C15 Fuel In Coolant: Image Guide, Symptoms, And More

If you're running a C15 or 3406E diesel engine, you may have experienced your engine missing. So, why does that happen?

Diesel Caterpillar C15 Engine BlockWell, in some cases, it can be caused by coolant entering your engine. This normally happens because of a failure in your engine, often related to your injectors and o-rings.

We're taking you through how that coolant can get into your engine and what you can do about it. 

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HOW CAN COOLANT ENTER YOUR C15 OR 3406E?

Caterpillar 3406E, C15, & C15 ACERT engines all use the same style cylinder head, injectors, and injector cups (see images 1 & 2 below). The injector on these engines seats directly against the cylinder head casting, not on the injector cup.

The seat is located below the injector cup and should completely seal the cup from combustion pressure and heat. (see images 3 & 4 below). The injector doesn't actually even touch the injector cup.

One issue with this design is that it is possible for the injector to not seat completely against the cylinder head. This may be due to imperfections in either the head casting, the injector, or both.

If the injector to head seat is not sealing, it will let engine cylinder pressure go past the seat and pass in-between the cup and injector. When this happens, the cylinder pressure and heat can now reach both the injector o-ring and the upper injector cup o-ring. These o-rings will then fail as they were not designed to withstand the high cylinder temperatures and pressure.

These engines might be similar, but there are a few key differences. Learn more about how the C15, C15 ACERT, and the 3406E differ in our blog post!

 

SYMPTOMS OF Injector Seat FAILURE

3 Signs Your Injector Seat Is Not Sealing Correctly

  1. Burnt injector o-rings

  2. Carbon buildup or tracking on the inside of the injector cup or on the injector body above the sealing line (see images 6 & 7 below).

  3. Traces of coolant or leaking coolant around the injector cup.


O-Ring Failure Can Lead To These Problems

  1. Fuel in the coolant

  2. Engine miss from combustion pressure aerating the fuel

  3. Overheat of the injector tip causing a miss


The Symptoms Of Injector Seat Failure Include

  1. The injector body is worn, warped, or damaged.

  2. The cylinder head casting is worn, pitted, or otherwise damaged.

  3. The injector hold down bolts were improperly tightened or stretched.

Shop Caterpillar Diesel Engine PartsImage Guide to Caterpillar 3406E/C15 Injector Failure:

Image 1. Complete injector for 3406E / C15

Complete Fuel Injector for Caterpillar 3406E / C15
 

Image 2. 3406E / C15 Injector Cup

Caterpillar 3406E / C15 Fuel Injector Cup

 

Image 3. Seating surface of injector tip to cylinder head

C15 Injector Seat  Highway & Heavy Parts

 

Image 4. Seating surface of injector to head is below the injector cup

Caterpillar C15 Injector and Cup
 
 

Image 5. C15 Injector shown installed in the injector cup

Caterpillar C15 Injector and Cup
 
 

Image 6. Start of carbon buildup due to leak at injector seat

Carbon Buildup In Caterpillar Injector Seat
 
 

Image 7. Carbon buildup due to leak at injector seat

Carbon Buildup In Caterpillar Injector Seat
 

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If you notice this failure in your CAT C15 or 3406E, it's important that you get it taken care of right away, before it can cause even more problems in your diesel engine. Highway & Heavy Parts can help you get the diesel engine replacement parts you need to keep your engine running for miles to come.

Think you might be having a problem with your cylinder head components? Read our post to learn the symptoms that you need to replace your C15 cylinder head components.

 

Not sure what diesel engine parts you need for your repair? Our ASE Certified Technicians can help! Call us at 844-304-7688, or request a quote online!

 

Diesel Engine Resources:

Related Articles:

CATERPILLAR C15 DIESEL REVIEW: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

CATERPILLAR 3406E:TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS, SERIAL NUMBERS, & PREFIXES

CATERPILLAR DIESEL ENGINE SERIAL NUMBERS

CATERPILLAR C15/3406E STAGE 3 CYLINDER HEAD OVERVIEW | PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT

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Originally Posted November 13, 2014; Edited April 5, 2020