The ‘cheap’ Chinese diesel heaters are extremely popular within the caravanning & RVing community. However, as with most things found on eBay, there is no such thing as ‘after care’ or ‘tech support.’ You make the purchase, then you’re left to your devices to install the thing and sort out any issues that may arise with the unit along the way.
But do not despair! There are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to the cause, filled with loads of information and an army of helpful people if you find yourself in a pickle.
I’ve also put together this Chinese diesel heater problems post with as much information as I could gather. Included are the Error Codes along with many troubleshooting solutions, which people have found to be useful with their own diesel heaters.
This post is dedicated to listing common Chinese diesel heater problems and finding solutions where possible. If you have any information you’d like to see added (or altered) with this list, please leave a comment down the bottom or shoot me an email.
Full disclaimer: I am no diesel heater expert! However I have researched extensively to create one big compilation of as many Chinese diesel heater problems and troubleshooting solutions as I could find to help others out with their diesel heater woes.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see our disclosures here.
Chinese Diesel Heater Error Codes
Chinese Diesel Heater Controller Symbols
Below are the various Chinese diesel heater controller symbols. Taking note of which symbol is displayed with the Error Code will help to identify the specific troubleshooting issue.
Chinese Diesel Heater Error Codes
The following error codes may apply to many of the Chinese diesel heater units, however the codes for the name brand units (such as Eberspacher and Webasto) will be different.
Chinese Diesel Heater Error Codes:
|E-01||Undervoltage of power supply – battery doesn’t have enough power||• Recharge your battery before turning the diesel heater back on|
|E-02||Overvoltage of power supply – voltage is over the permitted level||• Reduce the voltage to 12 volts|
|E-03||Glow plug fault – ignition plug failure||• Check glow plug and leads (replace if necessary)|
• Possibly low voltage
|E-04||Fuel pump fault – fuel pump broken/ not working||• Check the fuel pump’s getting power|
• Check all fuel lines are intact
• Check there’s enough fuel in the tank
• Possibly low voltage
|E-05||Overheating of the machine||• Check air intake isn’t blocked|
• Check all vents are unblocked
• Check fan is working correctly
• Check that ducting hasn’t been crushed
• Check the temperature sensor on the housing
|E-06||Motor fault – fan motor issue||• Check that the fan is turning freely|
• Possibly low voltage
• Check the magnet polarity and Holzer sensor position
(see video below)
|E-07||Broken circuit fault – communication broken between the heater and controller||• Check all plugs and connections|
• Possibly low voltage
|E-08||Flame out – low fuel or air in fuel lines||• Check fuel levels in fuel tank|
• Check fuel filter is full
• Check for blockages in fuel supply
• Check all fuel connections are good
• Possibly low voltage
• May need to restart multiple times to refill fuel
|E-09||Sensor fault||• Check sensor plug isn’t loose/ broken|
• Check the circuit
|E-10||Ignition failure||• Check lines & pump for blockages|
• Check fuel supply
• Indicates multiple restarts without success (due to other errors)
Clearing Error Codes
To try and clear an Error Code after various troubleshooting, take the fuse out, then put it back in again before restarting the diesel heater. You may need to do this after trying to restart the diesel heater multiple times, as they can ‘lock out’ after 6 or so restart attempts.
Here’s a handy video showing how to stop your diesel heater fan from touching other things and throwing the E-06 code. It also shows what (and where) the magnet polarity and Holzer sensors are, plus why it’s important for them to be perfectly lined up.
Chinese Diesel Heater Problems
Below you’ll find the Chinese diesel heater problems organised in alphabetical order.
Chinese Diesel Heater Blowing Cold Air
It seems there are many reasons behind why the diesel heater is blowing cold air or not fully starting up. Here are some troubleshooting items to work through if your diesel heater is blowing cold air.
- Check the fuel line is clear and fuel is running freely (no air bubbles, cracks or obstructions)
- May take multiple start-ups to get all of the air out of the line
- Make sure fuel is successfully making its way to the diesel heater unit (pull the fuel line off the heater and make sure it’s pumping through)
- Has the diesel gelled (can happen when temperatures get below -12ºC/ 10ºF)?
- Try replacing the fuel filter with a better quality one
- If you’re getting an E-10 (Failure to Start), pull the fuse out, then put it back in to reset the heater. Now try and restart it again.
- Need a minimum 150 watt inverter
- Need at least 12.5 volts of power
- Make sure there’s plenty of charge in your batteries
- Make sure the original diesel heater wiring is connected straight up to the battery
- If wiring has been extended and not connected properly, it may not be receiving enough power for a full start-up
- Check the glow plug
- May need to replace the temperature sensor – have a look down below at ‘Heater Keeps Turning On By Itself’
- Error codes (see table above)
Air & Exhaust Troubleshooting
- Remove exhaust pipe and air inlet pipe from underneath the heater. Try to restart the heater. If it works, there’s a blockage in the pipes somewhere (clean out or replace pipes and/ or muffler)
Chinese Diesel Heater Blowing Fuse
Chinese Diesel Heater Blowing a Fuse:
- Replace the fuse
- If it keeps blowing, the glow plug may have failed, causing it to short out. In this case, replace the glow plug
- Fan may be stuck and not spinning (see the E-06 error above for the video on how to fix that)
- Is the fuse rated too low for the amps being drawn? Check that you’ve got the correct fuse as recommended by the manufacturer
- Is there a short circuit somewhere along the line?
Chinese Diesel Heater Blowing Smoke
A common Chinese diesel heater problem is blowing smoke. If you have tried to start your heater multiple times, you can expect it to blow smoke when it does actually start up – it’ll be burning off the excess unburnt fuel and soot accumulation.
Diesel Heater Blowing Smoke Troubleshooting:
- Check the air inlet, exhaust pipe and muffler to make sure there are no blockages
- Blowing white smoke may indicate not getting enough fuel for ignition – top up the fuel tank
- Try shortening the exhaust pipe to the original kit length (1 metre), clear the codes then restart. A long exhaust pipe decreases air ratio and promotes resonance
- If you’ve been running it on low for too long, it’s probably clogged the inside of the heater unit
- Periodically pull the heater apart for a clean and service (success has been found in spraying Brake Cleaner up the exhaust pipe and down into the combustion chamber, after removing the glow plug)
- Check the glow plug and glow plug atomising screen (see video below)
TIP: Before fiddling with the glow plug, it’s a good idea to have a spare on hand as they are ceramic and can easily crack. You can find Gasket + Glow Plug Kits on eBay for $25 – $35. You’ll also need a specific tool to remove the glow plug, so check that your kit comes with that (below).
Have a look at the great video below on how to locate and replace your glow plug, as well as the glow plug filter.
Chinese Diesel Heater Factory Reset
To factory reset the diesel heater, take the fuse out, then put it back in again before restarting the diesel heater. You may need to do this after trying to restart the diesel heater multiple times, as they can ‘lock out’ after 6 or so restart attempts.
Chinese Diesel Heater Flooded
Another of the common Chinese diesel heater problems is flooding the fuel chamber from over-priming. The only way to fix this issue is to get rid of the excess diesel.
If the fuel chamber is too flooded to ignite:
- Can try lifting the heater up and tilting it towards the exhaust to drain out as much diesel as possible
- Open up the heater and clean out the fuel chamber
After that, you’ll need to run the heater on high until it’s burnt out all of the excess diesel (until it stops smoking).
Chinese Diesel Heater Fuel Pump Not Working
To check and see if the fuel is actually making it to the heater or not, unplug the fuel line from the diesel heater. Now switch on the heater and see if fuel is squirting out the end of the line. If not, fuel isn’t going to the diesel heater unit.
Diesel Heater Fuel Pump Troubleshooting:
- Make sure there’s plenty of fuel in the fuel tank
- Make sure the fuel tank hasn’t been mounted more than 2 metres below the height of the fuel pump
- Make sure all of your connections are well-sealed, with no air getting in
- Make sure the fuel filter and fuel pump aren’t clogged
- Make sure the diesel hasn’t gelled in cold weather (when temps get below -12ºC/ 10ºF)
- Make sure the diesel isn’t too old
- If the fuel tank has algae growing in it, you’ll need to flush out your fuel lines and get a new fuel tank
- Make sure the fuel pump is getting power
- If all else fails, replace the fuel pump
Add 2 litres of kerosene to every 10 litres of diesel to prevent the fuel solidifying in temperatures below 0ºC
Chinese Diesel Heater Leaking Fuel
Leaks in the Fuel Line:
- Check all of the fuel line for cracks or splits. Replace where necessary
- Check all of your connections. Replace or tighten where necessary
If the Tank is Leaking Fuel Around the Fuel Line Nipple/ Drilled Hole:
- Get a better o-ring
- Seal around the o-ring with a bit of silicone
- Replace the tank and instead of drilling a hole in the bottom for the fuel line nipple, add a fuel tank standpipe pick-up from a hole in the top
Chinese Diesel Heater No Power
Here are some things to check if the diesel heater has no power:
- Check all of the plugs and connections and make sure nothing has come loose in your travels
- Check that the fuse is good. Replace if necessary
- Inspect all of your plugs and make sure none of the pins have been pushed back
- Open up the connection casings and make sure each wire is connected properly
- Use a multimeter to check the voltage in the main wiring harness
Chinese Diesel Heater Noisy Fan
If your diesel heater fan is noisy, chances are it’s hitting the cover (or another part) inside the unit.
Noisy Fan Troubleshooting:
- Open up the unit and have a look and see what the fan is touching as it spins
- See if you can slightly adjust the fan so that it no longer hits anything
- File down any plastic that the fan may be skimming against
- Check that the little round magnets on the back of the fan aren’t sticking out, causing it to rub
Chinese Diesel Heater Not Igniting
If the diesel heater isn’t igniting, you may be dealing with E-10 error code.
- Check the fuel lines and fuel pump for blockages, which may be stopping the fuel from getting to the unit properly
- Make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank
- Make sure the fuel hasn’t gelled or got algae growing in it (can be common in the white fuel tanks that get lots of sunlight)
- Check that there are no air bubbles in the fuel lines
- Check all of your pipes and connections are good
- Make sure there are no blockages in your air inlet pipe and exhaust pipe
Chinese Diesel Heater Overheating
Diesel heaters are not designed to draw in outside air that’s over about 30ºC. If they do, they’ll overheat and automatically shut down.
- Try restarting your diesel heater when the air temperature is cooler
- Check to make sure there’s nothing causing the air going into the diesel heater to be over 30ºC (is it too hot inside the cabinet that the diesel heater is mounted in?)
- Open up the cabinet where the diesel heater lives and see if the unit will work with the extra air flow – this is a good way to see if it’s getting too hot in there when closed up
- Might need to add better insulated ducting to the air intake
- Might need to add more ventilation to the cabinet where the diesel heater lives
Chinese Diesel Heater Remote Not Working
If the remote control isn’t working, here are four possible causes:
- Remote battery is dead and needs replacing
- Remote control is broken and needs replacing
- No power going to the diesel heater
- Deeper issue with the diesel heater
- Check that the fuse isn’t blown
- Check that all power plugs and connections going to the diesel heater have a good, tight connection
- Check the pins inside the plugs – have any been pushed back?
- Dismantle the connectors and check that every wire is connected to a pin
- Unplug the main power connector from the diesel heater and use a multimeter to check the voltage on the supply wires
Chinese Diesel Heater Screen Not Working
Something I noticed with our diesel heater controller is that the display seems to fade really quickly, where it becomes hard to even read anymore. For some reason, the LED lights wear out rather fast, which is what causes the display to fade.
You are able to add an additional little LED light to the unit, if you’re handy with electrics, which should solve the problem (see video below).
To help lengthen the lifespan of your LED controller display, switch it off when not in use. You can also switch the screen off after the diesel heater has started up and you’ve finished with the commands.
Chinese Diesel Heater Sooting Up
Condensation in the exhaust pipe and muffler can cause sooty blockages. To avoid this Chinese diesel heater problem, run the heater on high for a bit before shutting it off each time. That will help to burn off any fuel build-up, which causes soot.
- Clean out the exhaust pipe and muffler
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is mounted on a downward slope to allow for condensation to drip out
- Make sure the muffler is mounted with the drainage hole pointing down to the ground (see picture below)
- Periodically pull the unit apart to clean and service it (success has been found in spraying Brake Cleaner up the exhaust pipe and down into the combustion chamber, after removing the glow plug)
- Higher altitudes will cause the heater to run rich, which equals soot build-up
Chinese Diesel Heater Turns On By Itself
Another common complaint in the list of Chinese diesel heater problems is when the heater turns on by itself and starts blowing cold air. Many people report only being able to turn it off by pulling out the fuse or disconnecting the power.
The issue is with the temperature sensor, which needs replacing. You can find Temperature Sensors on eBay for $10 – $15.
Check out the quick video below on how to change the diesel heater temperature sensor yourself, it’s dead easy.
Chinese Diesel Heater Won’t Turn Off
If your diesel heater won’t turn off:
- Disconnect the power to the unit or pull out the fuse
- Give the glow plug a careful clean (or even replace)
- Clean out inside the unit and make sure there are no blockages in the pipes
- Put it back together, plug the fuse back in, then run on high to give it a good clean out
- If the problem persists, try replacing the temperature sensor
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Chinese Diesel Heater Settings
Prime the Diesel Heater Fuel Pump
- Hold down 🆗 (OK), then push the 🔽 (down arrow)
- You’ll see ‘H OF’ flashing on the screen
- Push the 🔼 (up arrow)
- Now you’ll see ‘H ON’ flashing on the screen
- You should hear the pump start ticking underneath the van
- Keep priming until the fuel makes it all the way to the diesel heater unit (you can check by having a look at the fuel in the fuel line). You may need to keep turning on the ‘Prime Cycle’ via the monitor as some units will automatically stop priming after 60 seconds.
Turn the Diesel Heater On & Off
- Push the ⎋ (power) button
- As the heater gets up to temperature, the lines across the bottom of the ‘diesel heater’ image increase on the screen
- Hold the ⎋ (power) button until the unit switches off
- The heater will now go through a ‘cool down’ cycle
Set the Diesel Heater Temperature
- Push the 🔼 (up arrow) and the ⚙︎ (settings) button at the same time
- Use the 🔼 (up arrow) and 🔽 (down arrow) to increase/ decrease the temperature
Set the Diesel Heater Clock
- Push the ⚙︎ (settings) button
- The first number will flash. Use the 🔼 (up arrow) and 🔽 (down arrow) to change the number up or down
- Push 🆗 (OK) to move on to the next number, then use the arrows to set the correct digit
- Push 🆗 (OK) to lock in that time
Set the Diesel Heater Timer
- Push ⚙︎ (settings), then 🆗 (OK) four times to get to the ‘Timer’ screen
- Push 🔼 (up arrow) to turn the timer ‘on’
- Push 🆗 (OK)
- Set your ‘Start Time’ using the up and down arrows, then push 🆗 (OK)
- The next time that shows is the ‘End Time.’ Use the arrows to set the time you want the heater to automatically turn off. Push 🆗 (OK)
- You’ll be taken to a second ‘Timer’ screen, in case you want to add an additional timer. If not, it will bounce back to the original ‘Clock’ screen
Change from Hz to ºC
- Hold the 🔼 (up arrow), then press ⚙︎ (settings)
- Display should change to degrees celsius
View the Current Ambient Temperature Inside the Cabin
- Push 🆗 (OK) to see the ambient temperature in ºC
- Push 🆗 (OK) again to see what temperature you’ve got the heater set to run at
View the Diesel Heater Voltage Draw
- Click through the 🆗 (OK) button until you get to a number with a little ‘v’ after it
View the Error Codes
- Click through the 🆗 (OK) button until you get to an ‘E.’ If there are any errors, it will show an ‘E’ with a number after it (e.g. E-07)
Pairing the Remote Control with the LCD Monitor
- Hold down 🔼 (up arrow) for 5 seconds
- You’ll see ‘HFA’ displayed on the screen
- Press ON on the remote to pair
▶️ VIDEO: Chinese Diesel Heater Settings
Chinese Diesel Heater Forum Groups
If you’re really struggling with Chinese diesel heater problems and need more troubleshooting opportunities, check out some of these Facebook groups dedicated to the cause.
- The Chinese Diesel Heater Community →
- Chinese Diesel vehicle air heaters – Troubleshooting & Parts Sales →
- Diesel Keep You Warm (Everything Chinese Heaters + Spares, Accessories) →
- Chinese Diesel Air Heaters – Heater Mods →
- Diesel Heater Safety →
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
It’s imperative to not only have a smoke alarm in your caravan, but you should also have a Carbon Monoxide Detector. They work much like the fire alarm and are just as easy to install.
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer because it cannot be detected via our regular human senses. In other words, you will not see, smell or taste an overload of carbon monoxide in your van, you’ll simply drift off to sleep and never wake up. Yep, it’s that deadly!
Think it won’t happen to you? I personally know a lady who lost her two sisters when she was a child due to carbon monoxide poisoning. How does that happen? Well, there was an undetected gas leak in the family caravan during a childhood holiday. It was as simple and as tragic as that.
With a diesel heater installed in your van, there is the added risk (albeit extremely slight) that toxic fumes may enter the cabin, which will cause serious problems without plenty of ventilation. And let’s face it, if you’ve got your diesel heater going, it’s because it’s bloody cold outside, therefore you’re not likely to have your windows open.
So please, do yourself and your family a favour and spend $30 on a Carbon Monoxide Alarm (eBay), throw in a battery and screw it to the ceiling inside your caravan. It may just save a life or two.
Is there anything else that you could add to the Chinese diesel heater problems list? Feel free to share your experience and expertise with us in the comments down below.