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Glow plug problem on common-rail diesel?


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#1 mjt

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 11:19 AM

The glow-plug light on our 1.8TDCi always goes out after no more than a couple of seconds, even today when the temp was showing -1C. Is this normal for a common-rail engine?
I always wait until most of the dash lights go out before trying to start but in cold conditions like today it coughs and splutters whilst cranking for 15-20 seconds before bursting into life.

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#2 hillmangimp

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 11:36 AM

The glow-plug light on our 1.8TDCi always goes out after no more than a couple of seconds, even today when the temp was showing -1C. Is this normal for a common-rail engine?
I always wait until most of the dash lights go out before trying to start but in cold conditions like today it coughs and splutters whilst cranking for 15-20 seconds before bursting into life.


Hi

On my 2litre diesel in 'normal' conditions the glow plug light comes on and goes straight out again. On sat when the interior temp display was showing -4 the glow plug light was probably on for about a second and went out. With regards cranking, I wait until the glow plug light has gone out and turn the key, engine starts more or less straight away and smoothly (for a diesel on a cold morning anyway!). If you are cranking for 15-20 seconds sounds like a problem.

#3 Foz77

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:20 PM

Hi

On my 2litre diesel in 'normal' conditions the glow plug light comes on and goes straight out again. On sat when the interior temp display was showing -4 the glow plug light was probably on for about a second and went out. With regards cranking, I wait until the glow plug light has gone out and turn the key, engine starts more or less straight away and smoothly (for a diesel on a cold morning anyway!). If you are cranking for 15-20 seconds sounds like a problem.


I've read somewhere (and I can't remember where) the glow plug indicator lamp should always go out after about 1-2 secs; this engine is supposedly designed to start well in the cold

Have you checked your battery?? Might be struggling for juice to turn the engine over. Or try "cycling" the glow plugs 2 or 3 times and see if that makes a difference

#4 mjt

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:30 PM

Thanks guys. It's possible that a new battery might be on the horizon as the charge lamp didn't go out after starting on one occasion recently. I've checked the charging voltage and that looks ok - just over 14V.

That said it seems to spin over quite well and doesn't appear to lose power while cranking.

#5 artscot79

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 08:02 PM

Thanks guys. It's possible that a new battery might be on the horizon as the charge lamp didn't go out after starting on one occasion recently. I've checked the charging voltage and that looks ok - just over 14V.

That said it seems to spin over quite well and doesn't appear to lose power while cranking.

1 of the glow plugs could be faulty the chatge lamp will still go out but starting will be poor my old seat diesel was the same although the lamp goes out try leaving another 2-3 secs before turning over and see if it makes a difference

#6 mjt

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 10:28 PM

.......although the lamp goes out try leaving another 2-3 secs before turning over and see if it makes a difference

As I said in the OP I usually wait until most of the dash lamps (i.e. all except h/brake, oil & charge) go out, which is probably 5 secs or more, before cranking.

I would have thought the glow plugs are only powered whilst their lamp is on and that currently doesn't seem to be nearly long enough to get any heat into them. Maybe they are only triggered to work for a longer time if the temperature falls below a preset level as I've read elsewhere that common-rails should cold-start quite well without them. I think it depends on the fuel pressure and how well the injectors atomise the fuel. This engine has only done around 60k and runs very smoothly once warm so it seems unlikely that it's injector problems.

#7 artscot79

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 10:51 PM

2 things has the diesel filter been changed? this will effect the starting as i found out on my old diesel 2nd the glow plugs continue to run after the engines started till it hits the preset temp so if 1 glow plug is out the car wont start so well its easy to check with a welding rod simply put 1 end on the battery live and touch each plug in turn if it sparks its fine if not its dud diesel plugs will work with 1 out when the temps fine outside but when winter comes iot shows by struggling to start personally ide heve them changed

#8 Foz77

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 01:13 PM

2 things has the diesel filter been changed? this will effect the starting as i found out on my old diesel 2nd the glow plugs continue to run after the engines started till it hits the preset temp so if 1 glow plug is out the car wont start so well its easy to check with a welding rod simply put 1 end on the battery live and touch each plug in turn if it sparks its fine if not its dud diesel plugs will work with 1 out when the temps fine outside but when winter comes iot shows by struggling to start personally ide heve them changed


Id go with that - changed my fuel filter and starting was vastly improved

#9 mjt

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 04:01 PM

As soon as the daytime temperature gets above freezing I'm going to meter-test the glow plugs as I think that's the most likely cause of the problem.

The fuel filter was changed during the last service in April. This cold-starting problem has been noticeable since we bought the car in 2008, although not really a serious problem until the recent really cold temperatures, so I don't think it's likely to be the filter.

Thanks to everyone for your input. I'll let you know when I get it sussed.

#10 mjt

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:40 PM

Update : I've not got much further with this yet. I took off the engine cover and one of the nuts, sticky with grease, stuck to my fingers and then fell through onto the engine undertray. :angry: I had to drop the tray off to recover it and I'm getting a bit too old & creaky for crawling under cars.

When I got the cover off I found I'd wasted my time anyway because access to the glow plugs was too limited to undo the connectors so I couldn't check them individually. I don't have a meter capable of measuring the total current - 32 Amps - so I had to make do with just checking the voltage. This measured out at 11.9V and I'd estimate it was present for about 5 seconds, which is longer than the dash light stays on. The ambient temperature was just above freezing so this might account for the short time. The car started quite easily after the test.

Looks like I'll just have to bite the bullet and get my local Ford people to check it out.

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