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Starting problem (Land Rover not lotus) - need help

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asking the same question on Land Rover forum but no solution yet so thought it might be worth widening the question to the more technically minded on here.

Car is a defender TD5 - and it has an intermittent starting problem - Sometimes it’s fine other times I get a rapid clicking from the starter and it won’t start. Sometimes it clicks a few times then starts.

general concensus it is a power issue (not starter motor)

I replaced battery and same problem.
I replaced starter relay and same problem.

So i have tried a few checks as follows:
when I get the clicking (and wont start) - I tried a wire feed direct from battery to starter and it then turns over and starts fine - so i am pretty sure  its an electrical gremlin (not the starter)

I have tested the feed wires into the starter relay (which both come from the ignition switch according to the wiring diagrams) - the ‘always live’ feed is 12.7v,  same as battery.
The other one which comes live when you turn the key to crank the engine is lower at 12.3 to 12.4 varies (I disconnected the starter when doing this to avoid complications)
I think this low voltage on the ignition crank feed might be the problem but not sure.

Today it was just clicking and not starting so I pulled the relay and connected a cable direct from battery to the wire that feeds the starter in the relay connector block - it started immediately no problems - so that cable (to the starter) is clearly ok.

I then refitted the relay and tried with the key and 3 times it started ok then 4th time started clicking again and failed to start. Tried the direct battery connection again and fired up first time.

Previous suggestions have been bad earth connection or faulty solenoid, but as it started instantly with a separate direct feed from the battery i dont see how either of these could be the problem.

So instinctively it seems like the feed from the ignition might be the problem - next job is to get into the ignition and try running a temp cable from the ignition to the relay to rule out a break in the original cable. I have a  feeling that wont solve it but you never know.

Any thoughts or ideas would be most welcome


construction and property consultants : My company

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  • Gold FFM

Just my opinion, If you’ve discounted the Battery and the Solenoid it’s either a dirty connection or a failing starter motor.

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  • Gold FFM

First off, I've had similar problems with a clicking starter on construction equipment, that could usually be overcome with jump leads or putting a battery feed directly to the starter. Both times in the end it did turn out to be the startermotor: wear caused the solenoid to need too much current, more than the ignition system could supply (even if it was in good shape). So don't rule that out completely.

Secondly, my Range Rover also failed to start last Friday, after picking up fries at the takeaway place (great timing!). I swapped the starter relay with another one, no difference, then tried a pigtail instead of the relay (much like you did by providing a direct feed from the battery, bridging pins ) which did get the starter to turn. I tried one last time with the relay and it worked, and has been fine ever since. Had it not worked, I would have simply put the ignition on (pos II) and used the pigtails to get the engine started. My best guess the problems was dirty contacts at the relay, overcome by the slight sparking when using the pigtails. So that's definitely something to (double) check.

As said, the same goes for all other connections, both battery feed, earth and the signal from the starter relay. Keep in mind when the start with the key, a lot of other stuff is drawing current (like the glow plugs), so there will be a voltage drop compared to directly powering the starter. It will only be a small drop if your battery is in good shape, but might be enough to cause a poor connections to become an actual problem.

A couple of more things to consider:
- the starter relay does not get its feed from the ignition switch, so that is unlikely to be the problem. If it was, you wouldn't hear clicking. Both the starter relay and ignition switch do share the same feed, from maxifuse 5 under the seat.
- earth for the starter relay goes through the alarm system. While unlikely if the relay clicks, it wont hurt to try a direct earth.

Do you have the RAVE workshop manuals? If not, let me know, I'll provide the link. I was into Land Rover for many years before I got my first Lotus. 😉



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I have made many mistakes in my life. Buying a multiple Lotus is not one of them.


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