Do mean you have hard time communicating with a scanner at the OBDII connector, if so make sure you power at pin16 at diagnostic connector, also we have seen issue with glowplugs not working properly causing hard start when cold and starts fine after warm-up
You can check for glowplugs operation at initial key-of before cranking by checking for voltage at each glowplug connector with a multimeter.
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time for replacement of or severe cleaning with fuelinjection cleaner..also if diesel, add cold start to the fuel system..check and replace oil filter type fuel filter since jelling of fuel may be a cold start issue..crack open an injector line and see if injector pump is pushing fuel really well..and see if air cleaner needs replaced blackened element is not good..good luck..
is this a gas version or diesel fuel ? if it is a dieserl then the heater plugs may be shot, you can normally give it 3 heats or lights then it would start easier, if not then this is msot likely the cause otherwise it could be a fuel pump problem, fuel relay fault or blocked fuel filter
Dan hope this helps, if not get back to me with more specifics
i,m assuming you have a 7.3L diesel if so you have one or more bad glow plugs or a bad glow plug module causing the start issue as for the hard to shift issue is it straight gear , automatic or what without more info that is a loaded question back to the start issue your glow plugs have a harness that is actually part of the valve cover gasket about middle of top of valve cover you will see a connector unhook this connector and inspect both sides they like to burn and melt due to poor connections and will also cause this problem
Imagine the white smoke is unburnt diesel. Anybody standing in the middle of it will be able to tell you soon enough.
Most likely culprit is that one or two of the glow plugs aren't getting hot enough. Usually just that the plugs need replacing, but worth checking first that the busbar which runs between them all is getting +12V at the appropriate stage of the process.