Black Smoke, No Power (Yet Another!)


New member
Hi folks!

I’m a long time reader, first time poster.
2002 MB OM612 (tagged Freightliner) with 271,000 miles.
I bought it 2 1/2 years ago and have driven it 40,000 miles.

I have been experiencing intermittent black exhaust for the past month or so. Mainly during acceleration or on hills. This problem suddenly got worse, to include exhaust in the cab(!), large clouds of smoke and finally loss of power, to where the van can not climb the small hill to exit my driveway. So i’m stuck at home, in a rural setting not sure what to do. I have read a lot of posts and tried different solutions, but no luck. I do not have a scanner or way to read codes (I know, I know! It’s on my Christmas list!). But I could use some help on this one, something seems off! Please read on, i’ll set out a timeline in bullet-points:

Two Weeks Ago:
-van seems to be putting out more black smoke on hills or under sudden acceleration. To the point that i’m beginning to feel a little embarrassed.
-the next three things happened within three or four days, but I am uncertain as to the order of events:
...slight loss of power (can’t keep up with traffic. Sluggish on hills)
...added Seafoam Diesel Additive. (1 can to a 20 gallon tank)
...started to experience what I can only assume was carbon monoxide poisoning.
-On a Sunday night I was reading the Sprinter-Forum regarding black smoke, and I had a visceral feeling that I had been unknowingly inhaling exhaust. (luckily the windows have been down due to the warm autumn that California is having!)
-Monday morning I opened the hood to find a fine layer of soot everywhere. Called my local technician saying I had a problem.
-Tuesday morning stopped into see him. We found that when the vehicle revved, smoke was coming out of a hole in the intake manifold. The hole was slightly smaller than the diameter of a pencil. (yikes!)

At this point, I should say that I am not all that experienced in automotives (except for what I have learned over the past 2 years here on the can incur from that what you wish!) and while my technician has over 40 years of experience, I am not sure if diesels, let alone Sprinters are in his wheel house. That said, we decided to research some more.

-Wednesday afternoon I plugged the hole with JB Weld.
-Thursday through Saturday I commute to and from jobs observing that while she seemed to run better, she was still smoking and sluggish on hills.
-At this point I can’t decide if it’s an internal problem, a Limp Home Problem or the fault of the Seafoam Additive (a product which I had used a few times a year or so ago, but started to associate with this same “sluggish acceleration” phenomena... at which point I stopped using additives.) I had burned through 1/4 tank so far.
-Sunday I decide to remove and clean my EGR valve. Remember, this is the ‘02-03 valve, which is apparently unique to the other models. I read the instructions on the forum and followed the directions. It was an interesting experience.
-The intake manifold looked pretty caked with gunk. But I didn’t want to touch it. Would it be bad if pieces of it fell into the crevices and got sucked downstream? Clogged injectors? I kind of figured this was more of a job for pros, so I cleaned my EGR up nicely and replaced it.
-I did observe on the inside of the EGR what looked like “chipping” ... or “chipped-off” metal.
I took a picture of it and filed it away as ‘information’.
-Returned EGR to it’s home, and then turned ignition... choked a bit, started, then stalled. Over the next few minutes I tried again, “gasping”. then again, and again. At some point she started, blowing a huge cloud of exhaust that engulfed the yard. It was starting to get dark and I was too worried to take her for a test drive.
-Monday morning, she fires up fine, nice idle, not a ton of smoke, idled for 20 min, put her in drive and headed toward the gate, but she doesn’t make it up the short hill. Lots of smoke, (black as far as I can tell from my passenger mirror). Reverse her back to the house. Cancel client. Consult SprinterForum.
-Cleaning soot from engine, find a crack in the large (elephant) hose! Crack is underneath the hose and about 3” long! (Was this here all along, or did I cause this while replacing the EGR?)
-I found a thread on SprinterForum about repairing the hose with duct tape and hose clamps.
-BTW... thank you, everyone on this forum, what an amazing amount of knowledge, experience, humor and kindness! I am so grateful to this site. Thank you especially to those who contribute above and beyond the call.... you all are a life line to sonmany peoples dark night!
-I continue.
-I thought I had it all figured out, and so I tape/zip-tie the crack. I did a pretty good job. But, same situation. She won’t make it up the hill.
-Next I replaced the Air Filter (I know, that should have been first!) Nothing.
-She ain’t going nowhere!

-Checked injectors. They look alright.
-Checked Turbo hoses. They look alright.
-I really don’t think i’m in LHM. Though I suppose I could be. It just seems if I was restricted to 2nd gear, the small hill in my driveway wouldn’t be enough to stop me. And I lost power at one point reversing to the house (on flat ground.)
-BTW. The exhaust smells/tastes really bad. I sorta like the smell of diesel, but this is different.

Anyway, sorry for the long opening post. But I wanted to explain as much as I could, so that you all don’t have to ask questions later. I probably shouldn’t count on Santa for a scanner. Which one should I buy? This is my work truck and my only rig, so getting her running again is really important. Her name is Bertha.

Thank you for any and all insights.


Former Nelson BC Sprinter
Your lack of power and black exhaust smoke are probably caused by turbo air not reaching the intake in enough quantity. The elephant hose I assume is your turbo hose into the EGR, and if split would cause your problem. The fact that taping didn't fix it, may mean the turbocharged system has a leak before it, or the turbo isn't being turned on.
Check that the small vacuum hose is still on the bottom of the turbo actuator.
Check that the tape is still tight on your leak and you have no other air leaks past the turbo.
Check that the" hairs " inside the MAF sensor and its connections is clean and Air Temp sensor is clean.
Check if you can get up the hill in 1st gear by tapping the shifter Left. You just might get more air and power up the hill from higher RPMs of 1st gear.
It could be the air intake manifold is too clogged and will need to be professionally cleaned.
Best wishes with getting a scanner early. Scanners are as vital as diesel is to someone who depends on their truck and live in the boondocks.
PS don't forget to post the picture of the EGR
Last edited:


'02 2.7 T!N Freightliner
Turtle, I'm not the pro from Dover but I am an '02 Freightliner brother. I've been here a shorter time than you.

My advice based on my experience is that Christmas needs to come for you tomorrow so that you can scan your rig for codes. That will only save you money between now and the end of the year.

No scanner, then more black clouds and guessing games for you.

I have an Autel 802 but other brothers here are using the cell phone app with success that is under $100. I can't help you with that, I only know the Autel.

Since you are going to be ordering some new parts get a new gasket for the EGR valve. That way you will be ready to replace it when you pull the valve again to run your shop vac extension down inside the intake manifold to suck out all that evil looking soot. The elephant trunk will want a new O ring when you replace the rubber pipe.

You are going to break your engine if you don't scan and then fix it.

All that fuel is trouble as you know. Injectors would be suspect if they are original?

I like the names you chose for you van.

Edit: I see Nelson Sprinter posted, his advice is always good.

bill in tomahawk
Last edited:


New member
Thanks Nelson!
Thanks Bill!

I recognize you both from posts you have made on the forum and appreciate your quick reply!
I figured my next step would be to fully inspect ALL turbo hoses for leaks, so that’s on the agenda.
I have read about the MAF sensor, but have no idea where to find it (or what it does!) Any advice would be gold!

Seems like the Autel 802 comes well recommended.,.. eventually i’ll Be asking “so, how exactly do I hook this thing up?”

But more importantly is a question about the EGR gasket.
I removed my EGR, and the gasket, and then stuck it back on there when I returned the EGR. Was this a mistake? How important is a brand new gasket? I have read here and there on the SprinterForum about the EGR gasket , but don’t recall a solution to this question. (After days of reading this forum, it seems to all blend together!) Figure I will replace it either way....

Can I really just stick a shop vac in the intake manifold and suck out all of that evil gunk?? That would be great!! I read on here somewhere that some amount of “evil gunk” is acceptable... I wonder what that amount is.

Also, I think I forgot to mention on the OP that I checked the injectors and they looked fine, however I look forward to a professional opinion.

Thanks SprinterNation for your input.

Patrick of M

2005 T1N 2500 (NA spec)
Re: Black Smoke, No Power (Yet Another!’

Visual inspection of the injectors won’t give you much information as to their performance. Scanner needs to be on hand (but it is not a cure all or even diagnose all) . SOunds like you have lack of air (have you ever changed the air filter?). Also your model has a vac controlled turbo actuator (I think!) check vac lines and actuation. Double check all the intake hoses between the turbo and the intake manifold/also the intercooler (in the cooling stack).
Read read read.
Read the scanners forum on this site....
Make sure you understand basic operating principles of common rail diesels and also other types of diesels, it all helps Re diagnosis. Hard to trouble shoot a system you don’t understand.
Have fun, learning is a gift.


Engineer In Residence
If you have an intake leak, you will have black smoke. You need to remedy the intake leak before performing any more testing.

Its normal for the intake to have a coating of soot and oil. It can be up to 1/4" thick without any significant impact on performance. If its thicker, you can have it hot tanked to remove the build up. It may be more expedient to install a new/used manifold, but depending on cost you could have the intake welded to repair the hole.

If you have lots of loose soot/buildup, you can vacuum it out.

The intake is under up to 20psi of pressure, so a piece of tape won't stop the leak, though you could carefully epoxy a piece of aluminum sheet over the hole as a semi-permanent repair.

Is the idle rough? Do you get puffing or black smoke at idle? If you put your hand over the exhaust stream does it pulse/surge? Or is it a steady stream?


'02 2.7 T!N Freightliner
The Autel 802 plugs in on the extreme left under the dash(drivers side). You will find a trapdoor to lift on the 'firewall' and a plug in which will match the plug on the Autel cable. Your computer may just be hanging loose, mine was because it is very difficult to get it back up and locked in if it was pulled out. No worries really but it isn't right, the scanner door will be behind it if it is hanging loose. To see the door assume the prayer position outside the door and look in with a light or head lamp and fish around.

I mentioned the EGR gasket because mine showed some wear and maybe wasn't replaced after several removals of the valve. You don't want an air or exhaust leak there(exhaust gasses are entering the intake air stream at the EGR valve, that's what it does. Erosion was occurring at the joint on mine.

Vacuuming the soot out scared me but I did it working in slowly. It was soft stuff.
I'm an old motorcycle racer so seeing that plugged up intake manifold drove me crazy.

The '02-03 component layout and EGR valve is somewhat different than the '04-'06.
Be aware of that.
Your fuel supply system is different as well so get that straight.

This thread might help but I didn't read through it all.

This also might help.

Last edited:


2004 140” HRC 2500 (Crewed)
Call a Freightliner service center and ask them to run your VIN for open recalls.
I believe I’ve seen mention here of a program for replacing flawed intake manifolds on the 2002/3 Sprinters?

I had good success repairing my torn turbo hose with self-adhering silicone rubber pipe tape, stretching and overlapping the torn area with four layers of tape:



New member
Thanks folks! I appreciate all the support.
I’ll look into making sure my turbo lines are all tight and sealed. That sounds like a good first step.

The hole in the intake manifold was the first thing I fixed, last week and she ran well after that, but was still blowing too much smoke (from tail pipe) and being sluggish, that’s why I decided to clean the EGR.
After doing that, is when I ran into the problems.

Thanks Nautamaran for your input, I saw the thread(s) on ‘02-03 manifold recalls ( post had a link to a gov website, I put my vin in and the manifold recall DID NOT.come up :(. But I will try checking with a FL dealership. Furthermore thanks for the hose patch suggestion, I saw your post on that thread and was inspired. Gaffers tape and zip ties is what I had on hand.

SHE STARTS AND IDLES GREAT! The hole in the manifold and the crack in the elephant hose don’t seem to be the issue.
I’ll check the turbo hoses (after work)

To find the scanner port, “assume the prayer position” - hahaha. Love it.
Last edited:


2004 140” HRC 2500 (Crewed)
If your hoses look okay check the turbo actuator arm.
The 2003 uses a vacuum servo, so leaks in the vacuum system can cause a loss of turbo.
The A/C recirculation flap also uses vacuum, so inspect that too.

Good luck,



Former Nelson BC Sprinter
The MAF sensor is on the hose from air filter box to turbo


New member
Hi folks, not much progress. I haven’t been able to get much time off from work but I did get to follow some of the leads you all suggested.

-I ordered replacement gasket for the EGR. That should come tomorrow.
-I found someone with a code reader who will hopefully come out and look at it. Tomorrow.
-I cleaned the MAF sensor with CRC MAF Sensor cleaner. Let it dry, put it back on. Now van won’t start. It just chugs and chugs. Nothing. Won’t turn over. I SUCK AT THIS!! Everything I attempt, just makes it worse! wtf?

I have kept up on researching, found some pictures of EGR valves (the ‘02/03 ones)... mine is different! The metal piece inside the EGR is MISSING!! I made a separate thread to address this issue. (I think it is likely unrelated to the problems that i’m working through on this post. Which seems to be a turbo/vacuum leak.). Check out the EGR pictures and let me know what you think:


Former Nelson BC Sprinter
Since You cleaned the MAF with the proper cleaner it should be fine as long as it was plugged back in/reconnected. I find it to just be a bad co-incidence. The blockage was causing the black smoke and now not enough air to start.
Try starting it without the MAF connected, it may start that way.


03 Freightliner 2500
I have an 03 Freightliner...had the billowing black smoke...when u cleaned the EGR (if same as mine) could u move the mechanism freely took me a good hour to work it free that the spring would return the actuator...Ive done it twice...I also removed as much tar'ish buildup inside the was running great but decided to deal with the black death, ended up replacing 4 injectors...wrt EGR it would take a long time to spool up and then the power would just unleash itself....make sure your EGR mechanism moves freely by hand...


New member
Howdy folks! Thanks for all of your input and advice!
I decided to follow the “ask Santa to come early this year” suggestion and I bought an Autel 802.
I had to wait a few weeks (while I balanced the budget and then shipping took a week.)
But yesterday it arrived, and today after work I went to put it to use,
Only to find that it did not fit correctly into my DLC (Data Link Connector).

It lines up correctly, but it is not a snug fit! There is no catch, no snap, no click.
It just sorta slips out if you don’t hold it in place.

If you press harder, it will make contact and the tool will activate,
But it would be next to impossible to hold the plug perfectly in place long enough to log in and do the scan...

Again, for the record, I have a 2002 2500 passenger van. Tagged as a Freightliner. I know that these DLC are universal, so make and model shouldn’t be an issue (right?)

I’m baffled. Well, I’m going to go dive into the internet and see if I can come up with any solutions, I just thought I would post it here in case any of you fine folk have any input! Thanks.

My DLC looks like this:


PS- as an update, for anyone following the earlier (a few weeks ago) stages of this saga, I had completed a replacing of air filter and cleaning of the MAF Sensor, only to find that my vehicle would no longer crank!
-I decided to replace the fuel filter to see if that would help. (...even though, in hindsight, nothing about my problem seems to implicate the fuel was kind of a dumb move. Because...)
-No start. Cranking sounded EVEN WORSE!

Then it occurred to me, that over the weeks of starting and tinkering, and not driving could I have DRAINED DOWN THE BATTERY?
-Bought a trickle charger (jumping her did not work).
-Charged over night.
-Cranked next morning, sounded better! But wouldn’t catch.
-Directed my attention to getting fuel out of the lines. (2002-2003 does not have the fuel pump in tank, so it’s kind of a hassle to get the bubbles out. (See i’m Learning!! I’m picking up what you all are layin’ Down! It’s just slow going with work, finances, lots of rain, and the holidays being the major hurdles! But thank you so much SprinterNation! This is such an informative community and I am Grateful!) but I digress...
-After a few days of gentle cranking (I was afraid that too much might burn out the starter), and an hour after the purchase of tools to manually move the fuel through the system....
-She started!! Lil’ rough at first, but she took to it an has been idling just fine! (Didn’t need to pump)

So, now it’s back to the Original Problem.. black smoke/won’t climb that hill!

If only I could read the codes!! HELP!

“I’ve been down so long, that it looks like up to me.”


New member
I did check the turbo hoses. They seem fine.. where do I find the cabin recirculate actuator? I’m not sure what that is...
Last edited:


'02 2.7 T!N Freightliner
Turtle , the turbo actuator lines MWD i talking about are attached to the actuator behind/under the passenger headlight on the flat pan below it,They are hard to see with the headlight in place and the grill/bumper in place. To get a good look you need to remove the headlight.

My Autel 802 plug is a snug fit if I push it in all the way and I can drive around with the meter in my lap hooked up.

I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow.



New member
Thanks Bill, I had a feeling I was going to have to dig around behind that headlight!
Supposed to be dry tomorrow so i’ll Give it a try.

My Autel is definitely not plugging in all of the way. (Thanks BTW, for suggesting the 802, I did some research, and I feel good about the choice.)

My guess is that the OBD port on the van might be gummed up, dusty, or a pin could be bent.

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder

My guess is that the OBD port on the van might be gummed up, dusty, or a pin could be bent.
Some of the OBDII scan tool connectors are a snug fit. You might try heating the Autel connector with a hair blow dryer or a heat gun (be careful if using a heat gun). Another possible fix is to use an OBDII extension cable unit. Just be certain that the extension has all of the pins populated.

:cheers: vic

Top Bottom