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ISL-G - Piston Failure

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  • ISL-G - Piston Failure

    Hello Everyone,

    We operate a transit fleet consisting of 32 newer (2010-2016) New Flyer buses with Cummins ISL-G engines in them, additionally, we have 25 older 2002 Eldorado Nationals with John Deere HFN03/04 egnines in them.
    Over the past year nearly a third of our fleet has experienced a piston failure in our ISL-G engines and I was hoping to see if there were any other users who have experienced similar failures? The vehicles all came in smoking and a hole was burnt through the piston. There has been no rhyme or reason to which piston. Below I have all of the details and backstory behind our particular case.

    In July of 2015 our local Cummins branch came out and said they needed to do a round of ECM calibrations. Shortly after these were completed (15,000 miles later, about a month or two in case) we had our first engine failure. It took out one of the older 2010 units. A month after that, it took down one of our 2012 units which was around 170,000 miles. From there about every month we had at least one engine failure. In May of 2016 we contacted our local branch to see what is up. We got a half-hearted response telling us to check the intake for leaks, check the EGR valves, and make sure the EGR cooler was not plugged up. They made no mention of the piston undergoing a re-design (which we found out after the fact). After another failure, our technicians then brought up the issue of the vehicles backfiring through the exhaust. At this point they let us know of the piston re-design (they re-clocked the top of the piston) and that there was an ECM calibration to take care of the backfire (which was caused by the initial ECM calibration in July '15). They came out and did the re-cal (were going to charge us full price, but went with 50% policy coverage), and the rate of failures slowed but we have had some since. Since our last conversation with them they told us they will be releasing a steel piston in Q1 of 2017 as well as another ECM update, we submitted a fleet-defect warranty claim, they refused to consider labor & tows (expected) and asked for invoices for each individual part installed on the engine. Still waiting to hear back on the parts coverage.

    Any one else have similar experiences to share?

  • #2
    Cities are just expected to eat the cost of these and keep replacing new engines with newer engines, after all its the tax payers money and not their money so the cities don't care

    I'm sure someone over you is getting a nice kickback, maybe you should just be quiet about this problem before you become the problem and find yourself standing in the unemployment line.

    I know this is sad but anyone that doesn't acknowledge this has and does happen on occasion is either disingenuous or ignorant.

    Hope Cummings does the right thing, but i wouldnt hold my breath, the fact you had to cover so many of these costs so far isnt a good sign, i bet if you went to your local media with this as a investigative/fraud/govt. waste angle i bet Cummings would be more "helpful" with "your" problem.

    these cast, hypereutectic, or forged pistons?


    • #3
      No matter the piston material, it's probably a lean burn condition. That is why they are suggesting to look for air/vacuum leaks.


      • #4
        You might want to have your fuel analyzed from time to time to make sure of the methane content and see what other constituents make up the gas stream. There are a lot of "undesirable" things that end up in Natural Gas that can harm engines. I would think that the calibration changes in the engine's ECM are most likely the problem (or part of it) but someone who has a fleet as large as yours should keep on top of what is fueling the engine.


        • #5
          my thoughts are that it started when you had your first recalibration that it is a lean fuel or a timing problem.


          • #6
            I just came back from Cummins training there are comming out with a steel piston for the Islg engine should be out soon


            • #7
              Trucking company with 12 ( 2012 my ) ISLG Engines have had 13 piston failures in 24. Months. No warranty coverage


              • #8
                how can a aluminum piston in a top fuel dragster power @ 10,000 horsepower fueled by liquid dynamite can be done and Cummings best answer is......make it out of steel

                IIRC these engines use what is essentially a "venturi-mixer" style of injection, one large port that distributes fuel into the intake manifold.

                Would be curious what cylinders are failing, if it is the same cylinder position(s) it could be a result of inadequate fuel distribution. Seems like there would be better and more accurate fuel delivery if they went with a multiport setup, even if they had to run 2 injectors/cyl. the reliability and economy should be well worth it to the end user.


                • #9
                  maybe one of these fleet managers should start a post called "Class Action Lawsuit-Cummings engine failure" anyone who has had similar problems needs to get together and hopefully come up with a solution that can benefit everyone.

                  Cummings needs to step up to the plate and warranty these engines if they are in fact under warranty. I bet your not the only ones who this has happened to.