STARTING engines .. problem solving by using a simple check list.
Neither NEPTUNE Products, it’s employees, nor associate companies, take any responsibility for the safety, nor any other aspect, of the information given below.
First check that it is safe to do a check .. if it’s not safe, don’t do it !!
Note: The simple use of FTC combustion catalyst added to the fuel, will often improve engine starting without you touching a spanner, nor indeed getting your hands dirty.
There are several simple-fix reasons why internal combustion engines, both diesel and petrol, may be hard to start, or fail to start.
Unfortunately there are sometimes reasons why a simple-fix is not possible .. if the simple-fixes from the check list below do not start your engine, please contact your engine mechanic.
Here are some (roughly chronological order) simple-fix checks to help start, or improve starting your engine .. we may have missed a few, so we welcome your input.
- Check that the park brake is fully on, or the boat secure.
- Check that the engine is out of gear.
- Check that any shut-off (engine stop) mechanism is in the “go” position.
- Check that the starter motor is not jammed into the engine starting ring gear.
- Check for a “good” cranking rate from the battery, if not ..
- Check the battery acid level is just covering the plates.
- Check that the battery is sufficiently charged and not connected to another battery of much lower charge, nor concurrently to other high drain connections.
- Check all battery connections, especially “earths” .. they must be clean and tight.
- Check for defective starter switch, or solenoid .. the connections clean and tight.
- Check for any “knocks” when the engine is cranking, or running.
- Check that any compression lifter on diesel engines is working properly.
- Check that the “glow plugs” are working in diesels .. check their fuse is intact.
- Check for foreign matter blocking the engine air intake.
- Check for excessively dirty air intake filter.
- Check that the “choke” is working correctly.
- Check that the exhaust system is not blocked, especially with EGRs.
- Check for fuel level in the fuel tank. Remember that a vehicle, machine, or boat fuel tank on an acute angle may not have sufficient fuel to cover the inlet to the fuel pump feed line.
- Check the fuel tap (if any) is “on” .. usually a T-handle is “in-line” with the pipe or hose.
- Check the fuel is “fresh”. Fuel goes “stale” with time, especially in warm weather. Stale fuel makes starting harder .. sometimes near impossible in poor condition engines.
- Check that the correct fuel is being used.
- Check that the fuel is getting to the carb, or injection pump and injectors. You will probably need to undo the connection with the fuel line. Ensure that air does not get into the injector line .. and remember that gasoline (petrol) is heavier than air and very flammable.
- Check for fuel line leaks, especially air getting in on the “fuel lift” side (tank side) of the fuel pump.
- Check for air getting into the delivery side of the fuel pump to the fuel injector pump and to the injectors .. diesel engines won’t run well and often won’t start with air leaking into the injectors.
- Check for water in the fuel .. check the in-line water trap and empty if water is visible.
- Check fuel filters for blockages, especially diesel “bug” accumulation.
- Check in petrol engines, that a bright blue spark will “jump” from a closely held high tension lead end to each sparking plug cap terminal. Also check for a bright blue spark across the sparking plug internal terminals by removing each plug and earthing the plug body. Take care to use insulated holding tools to avoid electric shocks.
- Check that correct grade of engine oil is being used, especially in low air temps.
- Check that the engine crankcase oil is at the proper level .. not overfilled.
- Check that cylinder compression is within recommended pressure range.
- Check the fuel injection timing.
- Check the valve timing.
Remember that internal carbon deposits around fuel injector tips, piston ring grooves, valve seats, sparking plugs, exhaust ports and EGRs are a common cause of engine starting problems. Internal carbon deposits can be easily removed by adding FTC catalytic decarbonizer to the fuel and using DeSLUDGE in the engine oil just prior to an oil and filter change.