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Series Land Rover - Diesel Engine Starting Problems

Comments here are intended for the original diesel engines fitted to Series Land Rovers, but they may equally be applied to other basic diesel engines.

When a diesel engine proves difficult or impossible to start, the reason(s) may be due to either a specific diesel engine problem, or due to a fuel/air mixture problem. Fuel/air mixture problems could equally apply to a gas engine.

Fuel/air mixture problems
1. Is it possible that water is contaminating the fuel? An inspecton of the sediment bowl of the mechanical fuel pump or the sedimenter, if present, may reveal a water layer below the diesel. If water is present, then after draining and re-filling the fuel system, any paper fuel filters should be replaced also.
2. Has the fuel filter become blocked? Remove, inspect and replace if necessary. Fuel filters do not block suddenly, so a recent history of poor starting and sluggish performance may be indicators here.
3. A rare event, but the air vent in a tightly fitting fuel filler cap can get blocked and prevent fuel from leaving the tank. Temporarily removing the cap is a sure quick test.
4. Simple, but check that the throttle control linkage is set correctly and working OK.

Specific diesel engine problems
1. If the heater glow plug warning light either glows very brightly or not at all, then there is a fault with one of the glow plugs or the circuit connecting them. Early diesel engines had the glow plugs conected in series, so if one failed, none of them worked. One faulty parallel-connected glow plug may allow the engine to start but with difficulty.
2. The engine stop control mechanism may become jammed open due to a faulty setting on the distributor pump or a linkage problem. Check the mecahism works correctly.
3. Could be a fuel injector problem. These are best checked when the engine is running though; loosening the fuel input union on an injector will cause the engine to run noticeably poorly for a good injector but show less effect for a faulty one. Additives can be put in the fuel to clean injectors. otherwise a replacement injector or specialised servicing is required.
4. If the distributor pump has been removed recently then the timing may be out. Consult a workshop manual for the correct timing procedure for your engine.


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Fascinating facts

Inner rim width for SWB wheels are 5in and for LWB they are 5.5in


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