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Defender won't start.

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My Defender has been parked in a garage for over 4 months. I tried to start it – it won't start.

The power locks work, interior lights come on and the battery indicator seems normal when I turn the key (everything lights up on the dashboard at one point).

First off, when I turn the key to just before starting I hear a whirring sound at the back of the Defender which sounds a bit tired and then finally stops.

Then when I try to start the engine it makes rapid clicking sounds and lights flashing in the dashboard. I'm not sure if the engine actually attempted to turn over but I don't think so.

Is this just a low battery? or something else. Any other advice would be appreciated.


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That's just a flat battery, enough power to bring on the lights but not enough power to turn the starter which takes a huge amount more.

Get it on charge for a few hours or so, (depending on what capacity charger you have,) or jump start it from another vehicle if available.


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  • 4 months later...

So, finally(!) I had my Defender 90 (2014 TD4 2.2) repaired, after 8 months of sitting in the garage. Just needed a new battery and it started easily and sounds normal. According to the mechanic it's in "excellent condition" (probably because I never drive it!). But as my wife and I slowly/carefully emerge from our self-imposed lock-down due to Covid-19 we are considering taking some drives again. Which makes me curious about a few things: how frequently should I drive the Defender to keep the battery in good condition? The mechanic said the battery needs "regular discharge and recharge cycles" but didn't specify how frequently that might be. He also mentioned we could get a battery switch, but I'm not crazy about that idea. My next question is more general, and comes from a fear instilled in my from an old friend – that vehicles have to be driven regularly.. otherwise... (not sure what actually -- that the engine is going to seize up!?). Any truth in this advice? My assumption is a new-ish vehicle parked in a garage can stay there for long periods without issue. But maybe I'm deluded.

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Yeah, use it, at least every couple of weeks, or things start going south.

And by use, I mean fully used, up to temp for an extended period to evaporate off all the moisture that has got places it shouldn't be. A series of short journeys could well be worse.

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Our ambulance spends the vast majority of its life parked up -  most recently it had been parked for the best part of a year, started 1st time albeit slightly sluggishly.

A battery cutoff switch means there is zero drain while it's parked which I think helps greatly. I'm wary of trickle-chargers left permanently connected with vehicles that are unsupervised as a fault with the charger or battery can start a fire. I'd rather have to jump-start it than worry about it burning down. It also has decent quality batteries fitted.

The mechanical parts certainly are at risk of deterioration especially from moisture, there's "laying up" or "fogging" oils for engines etc. (aimed at the marine market where boats get left for long periods in moist salty environments) that can help but they are a faff to apply to engines. For chassis / body, a decent treatment with Dinitrol or similar is just generally a positive move all round - I've noticed exposed metal parts show surface rust where drips of condensation gather, that doesn't happen on vehicles that get used even semi-regularly. Happily the ambulance has roof vents we can leave open that keep the interior from going musty.

All I would do is reckon on bringing the servicing forward - if it's been stood for a long time, check/top-up the oils etc. before starting it, and then aim to do all the oils & filters as a routine thing after a long period standing as the protective additives in the oils may well have "gone off" after a long period.

One failure I did experience on my 109 after a very long (years) lay-up was the selector rod in the LT230 corroded due to condensation inside the box to the point I couldn't get it out of low-range - the rod isn't submerged in oil when standing and clearly after a long time in a less than arid shed, enough moisture had gotten in to cause a problem.

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