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Problems Starting a Cold Series Land Rover Engine - Part 1

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This is part 1 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 and fire but will not actually run. Part 2 focusses upon the situation where the engine (petrol or diesel) can turn over but will not fire at all. Part 3 focusses upon when the engine will not turn over at all or only very slowly.

As in any fault finding situation, do not rule out the possibility of multiple causes - Series Land Rovers have a tendency to double up their faults! You may need to check suggestions in Parts 2 and 3 if the solution is not found here.

Whether the engine is petrol or diesel there is a slow running setting that needs to be checked as the first possible cause.
For the genuine Series Land Rover diesel engines, there is a slow running screw on the fuel distributor pump that could have vibrated out of position. Note its original position, adjust it and if the engine fails to start return the screw to its original position again.
For the petrol engine, there is a slow running screw on the carburettor. Note its original position and then screw it in a little further and if the engine fails to start return the screw to its original position again.

For both the diesel and petrol engines the problem could be i) a faulty fuel pump (e.g. a perforated diaphragm) ii) a blocked air fuel filter iii) a blocked air vent in the fuel tank.

Original Series Land Rover Petrol engines
Check the high tension leads, spark plugs and distributor cap are correctly fitted and not damp.
Check that the contact points in the distributor are not corroded or badly pitted and that the gap, when fully open, is 0.015in, 0.38mm for Lucas and 0.017in,0.43mm for Ducelier distributors.
Check that the spark plug electrodes are clean and the gap is 0.25in, 0.65mm for Series I & II Land Rovers or 0.030in, 0.75mm for Series IIA & III.
Check the inside of the distributor cap is not cracked and that the centre carbon rod can contact the rotor arm.

Original Series Land Rover Diesel engines
It could be a heater plug problem. With early engines the plugs may be in series and then none of them will work if just one of them fails.
If fuel is leaking from a union joint then air will enter the system and casue faliure to start. Check for leaks.
One or more fuel injectors could be blocked and need replacing.
If the engine has been smokey recently then it could be lack of compression due to engine wear or damage to a piston ring or valve spring. Tappet clearances could be significantly out also.
Water may be in the fuel. This can be checked by loosening the drain plug beneath the fuel filter and collecting the outflow. Water sinks below diesel. Most fuel tanks have a drain plug which can be used to drain off water from the fuel in the tank.

Part II (on the AUS page)           Part III (on the USA page)


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