Diesel engine stall on Highway

Yesterday (Saturday), after 5 miles on cruise control (65 mph), the engine looses its power, the speed goes down 10 mph, goes up for half a mile, then
shuts down to a complete stall.
It's a '96 diesel E-300.
The fill-up from empty, was 8 days ago, have 400 miles on the tank. I had noticed since the last filling that the morning starts were not as immediate as usual (couple seconds instead of immediate), and on the highway, 2 or 3 times the cruise would loose 2-3 mph, then pick it back. I thought then that the cruise was at fault.
From my own thinking, it would either be bad fuel blocking the fuel filter or the fuel pump not pumping anymore.
The car was towed to my home. Is this something worth having the car towed 35 miles to the dealership?
Thank you for any help.
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if it has the plastic in line fuel filter change it!
the case, minus a few cans!
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Jacques -
As a general rule, try temporarily by-passing the fuel filter with a length of fuel line hose whenever your problem is symptomatic of a fuel filter issue (e.g.: losing power climbing hills, kicking out of cruise due to inability to maintain speed, etc.). Even if you *don't* have a plastic fuel filter as Pool Man suggests. Doesn't matter whether we're talking gasoline or diesel. If you bypass the filter and one or more symptoms disappear (such as your morning start problem), and returns when you re-connect the filter, then you've learned everything you need to know. Replace the filter. Personally, if you can handle the filter replacement yourself, I wouldn't bother towing the car. I suspect you'll find places like Pep Boys stock suitable fuel filters for your E-300 at prices way below any MB dealership.
Jerry Wolfram '78 450 SL - 212K miles
Jacques Letendre wrote:

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Hi Jacques,
Fuel starvation, probably from a tank of contaminated fuel - probably water etc. So, contrary to a previous suggestion, I would NOT by-pass the fuel filter to thereby test it because by-passing the filter risks contaminating the fuel injectors with already suspect fuel!
Instead, I would simply replace the fuel filter(s) and see what happens next. Bear in mind that unless there's a hand primer pump the engine will need to be cranked considerably after new filters are installed before it will start. That's not a sign of failure but of filling the new filters with fuel.
If there's further problem then the tank should be drained and the fuel filters replaced and replaced perhaps again after a month or two to ensure future reliability.
This is simple but messy work, perhaps a local shop can do it for you. The dealer's high priced expertise isn't needed for this repair.
Tom
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Don't ever do this as it's totally bad advice.
If there is something contaminating your fuel (ie water or sugar), the last thing you would want to do is bypass the filter.
Change the filter instead to a new one of high quality.
Marty
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said:

I totally agree. If you have something clogging the fuel system you want to stop it ASAP. I had the exact same problem on a 300D at night with my wife driving on a freeway in the the Los Angeles area. Had AAA tow the car to a garage who wanted to do a $600 "tune up" on the injector pump, etc. Turned out the only problem was some junk I'd poured into the tank via a 5-gallon can of diesel I'd kept in the garage for "emergencies". I was able to start the car and drive it up on my car carrier. It idled good and only began stalling when reving the motor for a bit. After a 100 mile trip back home I pulled the primary filter and it was completely black from something that had been hiding in the 5-gallon can. I poured the small remaining portion out of the fuel can into a glass jar and it was full of little black flakes of some sort. Had this crap gotten further into the system I'm not sure what could have happened although it would have had to get through the secondary filter as well. Long and short of it is don't bypass any filters. I now keep a primary spare in the trunk just in case. Incidentally, I rarely buy a new primary filter for either my 300D or 240D. I pull them off and simply blow air back through them to clear out any of the bigger junk. Good luck
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Well-known technique in industrial filtration systems (though mostly for dry powder). Known as reverse air pulsing or similar. Amzing how it extends the life of a filter.
DAS
--
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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Just be careful as some filter elements might be damaged by too much air pressure...
Marty
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Just had the fuel filter replaced.
We tried and tried and tried for many many minutes to have my car firing, and it never did.
The car will be towed tomorrow at a diesel specialist locally. He thinks from what I describe that there is a problem related to the injectors.
Will keep the group informed of what is (or was I hope) the problem.
Thanks meanwhile for the replies.
Jacques
dans l'article 2004102510284616807%mercedes@barknaturalpetcom, Martin Joseph snipped-for-privacy@barknaturalpet.com a crit le 25/10/04 13:28:

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if both filters were replaced unscrew the one that looks like the oil filter and fill it with ATF or MOTOR OIL.this goes back to the tank and will mix with the diesel already there. it is a messy job but will help prime the pump.
also locate the hand pump unscrew the top and pump it like crazy. tighten it back up and crank it. do not hold the starter more than 30 secs.
the case, minus a few cans!
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (pool man) wrote

Are you crazy or something? Mine goes straight to the IP.
Bob
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both my 82s and my 84 go through the filter and then back to the tank. there is enough of a mix
new if it is a new one don't run it out of juice.
the inline filter gets the big bugs out while the cartage filter grabs the droppings. the fuel pump puts out a hi volume of fuel and ATF will not hurt anything any way. it also burns !
been doing it for 10 years. ya priced a starter ? i have
and yes i am a bit nuts!
the case, minus a few cans!
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sorry
the case, minus a few cans!
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Don't fill your fuel filters with anything but diesel as this goes directly to the injector pump. You should have a hand pump near the primary filter which permits you to pump diesel through both the primary and secondary filters to the injector pump. You should be able to operate the pump with a simple push and release motion until you hear a sort of squeaking/squishing sound. This will tell you the filters are full and that fuel is now being pumped back through the return line to the fuel tank. Turn on the ignition switch and wait about 30 seconds before you begin cranking. If it doesn't start at that point you have other problems. Good luck.
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dans l'article BDA2EE28.7647% snipped-for-privacy@sympatico.ca, Jacques Letendre snipped-for-privacy@sympatico.ca a crit le 25/10/04 17:53:

Just had my car back and running.
Mecanic said he changed O-rings that were dried and let air come in, thus not pumping the fuel.
How could this problem happen so suddenly on the highway puzzles me.
This mecanic is a diesel specialist. He cannot explain why (except that he had to disconnect the negative of the battery pole to charge it) there is a "ETS Electron" message, plus "Check engine" which is usually referring to the Non-Pollution system.
As soon as I go by my MB dealer, I'll stop and have them correct this.
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when the pump PULLS fuel and you give it a chance to pull air i is going to grab what is easier to pull.
i would think the pump would be in your tank <pressure pump> and not on the block<suction pump> but i only know the older cars & need help with them.
the O ring may have had a nick in it and in time cracked causing the air leak.
another MB mystery
case
the case, minus a few cans!
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