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200 tdi - Poor starting issues when not started for a while


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My 200 tdi has suddenly become hard to start if it hasn't run for a while. If it has just run it fires up straight away.

When starting it will crank over and over and over then catch and stop then catch again, run very lumpily then start running normally with a blip of the throttle. There is always white smoke on start up which clears as it heats up. Once running it is fine, there is plenty of power and I can't detect any issues. No hunting, surging etc etc.

My plugs are only a few years old but I haven't taken them out to test on the bench.
I'm getting 10v at each one
My battery is at 12.5v
Earth strap is fine (tested with jump cable from battery negative to chassis and also engine)
Starter isn't sluggish and spins at normal speed
New fuel filter fitted
New leak off pipes between injectors fitted (but not pipe back to FIP)
FIP was replaced in 2011
Injectors have had no love since I bought the car (100K +) so that is on the list to do.

Today I took out the fuel filter housing bleed screw and unplugged the FIP stop solenoid wire and cranked the engine over while watching it on a video camera. There was no fuel coming out of the bleed hole despite plenty of cranking. I then replaced the solenoid wire and tried again and there was instantly a gush of fuel from the bleed hole.

Now. I'm not the brightest sandwich in the tool box but I'm pretty sure the lift pump is manual so I think the FIP solenoid wire has no bearing on the lift pump and this was a coincidence. Which means that fuel is possibly leaking back from the filter back to the tank and I had to crank it a lot to prime the line again.

Based on the symptoms and bits and  bobs I've played with. What tests should I try and what should I be looking at next?

Many thanks.

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Ok. Been out and spent some more time under the bonnet. 

I opened the bleed screw and had to pump the lift pump quite a few times before any fuel came out so it seems that the leak is between the tank and lift pump.

I've had the original pipe replaced with rubber pipe so tightened up the rubber sleeves where it joins the tank metal pipe and also changes to narrow bore before it goes into the pump. Also tightened up the fuel filter as that was a little loose.

Will report back when I've given it a few hours to drain off or not hopefully.

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10 minutes ago, western said:

Have a look at the fuel return pipe on top of the tank. 

I had a look at this tonight and it did seem a little damp where it joins to the rubber sleeve so I gave it a wipe and will check it later tonight/tomorrow to see if it is damp again without me having driven it and got it wet.

The metal pipe isn't looking too pretty so I may replace it.


15 minutes ago, Red90 said:

Lift pump check valve or a leak somewhere.

I will Google check valve as I'm clueless on that.


39 minutes ago, Tim2809 said:

could also be the lift pump diaphragm allowing air in so fuel runs back  

Are there any tests I can run to check this or is it easier to just replace the lift pump?

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2 hours ago, Madcowz said:

I will Google check valve as I'm clueless on that.

There is a one valve valve built into the lift pump.  If it see any dirt, it gets stuck open and the fuel drains back to the tank when off.  It is quite common, especially if you do not have a sedimenter.

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There have been a few reports on here that the lift pumps fail with apparent ease, even genuine ones. I always have a spare Bearmach lift pump handy in case. I would say it would be wise and relatively inexpensive to replace it any way and see if that helps. As Red90 says, it only takes a bit of rubbish in the fuel to stop the valve in the lift pump from being effective. Also wise to double check the security of all the joints in the fuel system pipes to make sure it can't pull air from anywhere when you stop the engine.

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I've bought a 300tdi lift pump which I will fit at the weekend to at least rule it out.

Yesterday the car started very quickly but today I had to crank it for ages. Odd.

If I was to replace the pipe from the tank to the lift pump, would SAE J30 R6 5/16" do the job. It's the right size to slip on to the pump. Also, what is the pipe that runs between the pump and the filter and the filter and the FIP? It's thinner and a hard plastic. Thinking I might replace all of them to rule them out as well.

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1 minute ago, cackshifter said:

I know you said leakoff pipes had been replaced, but I have had identical problems, traced to a dodgy leakoff pipe letting in air. They are buttons to replace, so do check them.

Yeah, I've replaced the 3 little ones between the injectors. haven't replaced the longer one from 4 back to the FIP. If I can find out what the pipe is I'll buy stack of it and replace everything in there just to be sure.

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Right, got a chance to look at this over the weekend and managed the few hours on Sunday when it was raining. The rest of the day, both before and afterwards was lovely blue skies.

Anyway. This is looking good. Fitted newer 300tdi pump so had to sleeve the existing pipes with rubber to fit but so far this morning it started almost instantly. It didn't start on the very first turn but almost immediately afterwards. I'm happy with that and it's a huge improvement on it sitting cranking away for 5 - 15 seconds like it was before.

Thanks for all your help and advice.  


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  • 1 month later...


Back in February I swapped out the lift pump and it instantly fixed my poor starting problem. Fast forward a month and it's back to how it was.

Spoke to the guy I bought the pump from and he doesn't think its the pump as its a Delphi and he says they are pretty robust, he refuses to sell BritPart. He's given me another one to swap out but I wanted to see if it could be anything else.

Took my fuel filter off yesterday and it only had a couple of inches of fuel in it so was pretty much empty and nowhere near brimmed as it should be. Car cranks and cranks with no smoke from the exhaust. Catches then dies but starts instantly next turn of the key and then runs fine. If I stop the engine and leave it for a few minutes it starts fine. Leave it 30 minutes and it takes a few cranks. Leave it over night and it takes ages to start.

So it's def an air in system issue with fuel draining back and it kinda points to the pump but its unlikely it is the pump or is it?


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2 minutes ago, western said:

did you replace the return metal pipe on top of the fuel tank ? 


No. After replacing the pump fixed the issue I walked away. It's cold up here and I was waiting for warmer days before I looked at the tank.


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Replaced the pump and had another good look at the fuel line and I’ve got bubbles. And not the fun Prosecco type bubbles either. These are large bubbles with some fuel in between.

It all looks a bit bodged under there. I’ve got a metal pipe coming from the fuel feed on top of the tank which goes into an orange hose just above the chassis rail. This then changes into a clear hose half way along the chassis with a bit of black rubber pipe sleeving the join. So that’s four different types of pipe so far. Then at the lift pump end, I’ve got this clear hose sleeved with black rubber and connecting to the pump (it’s a 300tdi pump).

At the point half way along the chassis where it changes from orange pipe to black rubber and then clear pipe I can see bubbles when the engines running and these are big bubbles, more like lots of air with a bit of fuel in between.

So my plan is... To drop the tank, replace the feed and then just run one pipe all the way to the lift pump. If that doesn’t fix it, I’ll be back asking more questions or fill it with petrol and toss a match into it. 

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the fuel feed from tank to lift pump comes from the sender unit on left side of tank, the spill return goes from injection pump to top centre of the tank, maybe worth buying proper diesel fuel nylon hoses insted of using rubber hose.


what state is your glowplug timer unit & glowplugs,  I replaced my plugs a few weeks ago & had to replace the timer asit wouldn't put the dash light on, all starts much eaier now.

sent you a PM yesterday to.

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Hi Ralph,


thanks for your help on this. I've replied to your PM.

And my landy is not normal. There is no feed on the sender. It's blanked off. I've got two pipes, one metal from the top middle of the tank which I think is the feed and one going in to the right hand side which I think is the spill.





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I think dropping the tank is a good idea and taking a look at what you have. I think it is probably pulling air from somewhere around the tank. Does it make any difference if the tank is full to the brim? Might be worth taking the fuel feed from the sender and the return back to the top. Replace the fuel lines too as Western says. 

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41 minutes ago, western said:

The sender pipe lifts from the tank bottom, don't think the other 2 are low/close enough. 

Looks a bit of a mess with different pipes/hoses.  

I agree, It's been a little while since I renewed the tank and fittings on my 110 and I think I remember how the fitting into the top (part 20 [NTC2156] on the picture below) of the tank didn't go that far down. I think it will either be pulling air from here or from the joints in the fuel lines.




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