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Problem Starting a Cold Engine on a Series Land Rover - Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part guide to solving the problem of why a cold Series Land Rover engine may not start. It focusses upon the situation where the engine (petrol or diesel) can turn over but will not fire at all. Part I focusses upon the situation where the engine (petrol or diesel) can turn over and fire but will not actually run. Part 3 focusses upon when the engine will either not turn over at all or only very slowly.

As in any fault finding situation, do not rule out the possibility of multiple causes. You may need to check suggestions in Parts 1 and 3 if the solution is not found here.

Generally speaking if the engine is petrol then the problem is most likely (but not exclusively) due to an electrical fault. Alternatively, for a diesel engine, it is most likely to be a fuel fault. Except that in very cold weather, diesel heater plugs can take a longer time to reach the required temperature for ignition to take place.

There could be a low cylinder head compression problem. This can be caused by valve leakage, damaged or stuck piston rings, damaged cylinder head gasket or generally worn cylinder bores.

Original Series Land Rover Petrol engines

Remove a spark plug and re-fit its ignition lead. Use insulated pliers to hold the plug electrode in contact with a good earth on the engine. Crank the engine and see if there is a spark across the electrode gap (need two people for this operation). If there is a spark, then the problem is most probably not electrical and you need to search for a fuel problem. If there is no spark then suspect the ignition coil, condenser, contact points or a broken/loose electrical connection.

Original Series Land Rover Diesel engines
It's possible the engine stop control cable is jammed in the stop position so check that first. Otherwise you have a fuel problem. Check that fuel is present by loosening the drain bolt at the bottom of the fuel filter. It could be that the fuel filter is blocked.

Part I (on the UK page)            Part III (on the USA page)





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Fascinating facts
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Windscreen washers became an option in 1961

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