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200tdi slow to start

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1991 defender 200tdi is slow to start, especially when cold.

Each morning (whether warm or cold out) I start after the glow plug light has gone out. It cranks slowly (almost like a duff battery), then fires up and runs fine.

The head gasket was replaced 4k ago and there's no white smoke or milky oil to suggest its the culprit.

On that first start, the battery light stays on until I prod the accelerator. It goes off and stays off after that.

Battery is new, battery terminals are good, clean and tight. 

Alternator is tested and charging as expected.

I have a real mental block when it comes to electrical gremlins, so next checks/assistance would be greatly received! Pics of wire locations would be a great help too.

Cheers all



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First thought is the condition of the earth straps. 

Stick a jump lead between the engine and the earth side of the battery. Does the engine spin up any faster? If yes, sort the earth straps. If no, then it's probably something else, like a tired starter.

(Something similar caught me out in France in 2019, when my LR110 wouldn't start on the key; final conclusion, dying starter). 

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Thanks all. I've had the battery on an optimate overnight. I've disconnected it and will leave it a few hours before trying to start.

Which is earthed - neg or positive battery post?

I've not checked the starter motor yet. Will pop out at lunchtime and see if I can find a name on it

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20 minutes ago, Defendern00b said:

I'll start with earth straps then! Can anyone provide me with pics and locations for these little beasties? Searching the forum I found posts but images are no longer available.


1) - follow the earth cable from your battery through the battery box hole... it should be attached to a stud/bolt on the back end/side of the transfer box. - Something like the below picture (taken from google) (this is a later set-up) -  you can see the later type passenger side rubber mount for the box.

Defender earth cable

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A couple of years ago I had complete electrical failure caused by this very earth. I spent the best part of 6 weeks in and out and under during the constant 3 months of rain we had that autumn trying to track down the cause. I had checked that this earth was secure, and it most certainly was, but that wasn't the problem. It was the poor conductivity. I almost cried with joy and relief when I yanked hard on this cable and heard the wipers start to move [set to on so I could detect when things came alive whilst underneath]. On taking the lead off and inspecting the surfaces they still looked fairly good, but I guess not good enough. 

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There will be an earth from your engine and / or gearbox too. Do those.

My 200tdi was slow to start - especially in cold weather. So I’ve just renewed the earth from the engine to the chassis - and run an earth direct from the battery negative to that same point on the chassis and it’s starting brilliantly now. 

Everytime I turn the key it makes me smile 😊 

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