96 Fiesta 1.8 D starting problem - markengland
My 1996 1.8 Endura-engined Diesel Fiesta has always taken a while to turn over ever since I bought it a year ago, but it is particularly bad in the cold weather. A 'fast fit' type centre recently told me my battery needed replacement, however a friend with a DIY type charger showed the battery as still being in a reasonable condition. So it could be the battery. However, something I have noticed is that I have never heard the diesel heater in operation whilst I am waiting for the orange glow light to go out on the dash, which generally stays on for around 5 - 10 seconds. Even if I do this twice, the engine is really struggling to turn over. Should the diesel heater make a noise whilst it is working, is there anything I can check? Thanks, as ever!
96 Fiesta 1.8 D starting problem - DP
The orange glow light on the dash is for the glow plugs which pre-heat the combustion chambers to assist cold starting. These are silent in operation. On some cars you can hear a click as the relay energises, but not all.

Glowplugs do fail, and it's always cold weather where the problem seems worst of all. They sit in the "front" of the cylinder head and screw in horizontally. You should see a wire running along the front of the head with four ring terminals at evenly spaced intervals that are attached to the plugs.

The first (and easiest) check is that the plugs are receiving power. Get a multimeter set to DC and put the positive probe onto one of the glowplug terminals and the negative onto the battery earth. Get a mate to turn the ignition on. You should get battery voltage (12-13v) for a good 5 seconds if its a cold start. Work your way along each plug and confirm that voltage is getting to all four (this confirms the relay, bus bar and connections are all good).

The next step is to test the glowplugs unscrew the little nut from the end of the plug and disconnect the wire. Using a socket ideally or a spanner if access is tight, unscrew each plug gently from the head and look carefully for any damage to the tip. Light sooting is normal, but any cracks or chunks missing indicate the plug is scrap. The only foolproof way to test the plug is to connect it to the battery but be careful - they get hot.

Get two lengths of insulated wire with each end of both lengths stripped back about half an inch, and a good pair of well insulated pliers.

Hold the glowplug with the pliers around the hex part, with the narrow end pointing away from you.

Clamp one end of the first piece of wire between the pliers and the hex. Connect the other end of this wire to the negative terminal of the battery.

Wrap one end of the other piece of wire around the screw terminal of the glow plug and secure it with the small nut. Make sure no stray bits are shorting onto the main body of the plug.

Holding everything securely, touch the other end of this piece of wire on the battery positive terminal.

The plug tip should glow orange/white within a few seconds. If not, and if all connections are secure, the plug is defective and needs replacing.

Glowplugs stop glowing as soon as they are disconnected from power but remain hot enough to burn for several minutes. Put the plug somewhere safe until it is cool.


96 Fiesta 1.8 D starting problem - defender
the glow plugs wont alter the cranking speed ,suggest you check all battery and starter connections ,does it turn quicker with jump leads and another battery also helping , or if you can get someone with a clamp meter to check the current the starter is drawing it will help a lot in the fault finding ,or remove the starter and have it bench tested to see if it is lazy/turning slow
96 Fiesta 1.8 D starting problem - markengland
Thanks DP and Defender. I have just borrowed another 'DIY' battery charger, and considering I have just got in from a 30 minute drive, the LED's on the charger didn't move above the red (low) section, so I assume it is the battery. I would like to get a 2nd opinion but the only people I know with proper battery chargers are the same people that sell batteries, so I'm not certain how biased they'd be!

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