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Defender non-start troubleshooting

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2008 Defender 2.4L TD

Has run for years with annual servicing and no issues.

Gave it a pressure wash outside and underneath - let it dry off and sit overnight.

Next day started fine - drove for 90 minutes. Went to start again and dash lights up on key position III and nothing on crank position - lights on dash go dark with final rotation of key to start. Ignition barrel is not sticking - or at least I cannot sense that.

Notes in my mind as to a  anything recent as cause: the pressure wash of course; also I did use air conditioning (rare) the day I drove before non-start. It was daylight so had not used lights. I did leave driver's door ajar for 30 mins with dome light OFF. Weird but Car radio had been reset so had to re-enter code when I came back to car - at time of non-start. Which I assume was a flat battery? Or immobilization - even though immobilizer lights not illuminated? I plugged in code for radio.

After market gear: 4 high power LED driving lights; Big WARN winch

My checks so far:

Immobilizer lights on dash are off when unlocking car, and also are off when turning key to position II etc. I replaced FOB batteries just in case.

0. FOB's work fine - I have done the 4 lock presses followed by 1 open press to resync FOB's after each battery disconnect.

1. Battery voltage at terminals: 12.6V and no load drop when moving key to crank position

2. Battery voltage from positive battery terminal to chasis: 12.6V

3. Battery to Starter Solenoid large guage positive: 12.6V

4. No voltage on key position III at solenoid trigger wire (at solenoid)

5. Cranks and starts if I bridge solenoid large wire to strater motor terminal (with Key at position III)

6. all fuses are good. I have checked ohms across most relays and they look OK - all aroun 80'ish

7. I've replaced all bulbs in indicators/parking lights/reverse light/number plate light.

8. I removed starter and solenoid and had auto electrician test off vehicle: tests OK.

9. I've removed all fuses and relays and done a lot of wiggling - no change. 

10. I removed chasis earth strap and grinded it to bare metal on all surfaces and re-installed

11. Earth on gearbox is a good 12.6 and chasis is the same

12. Car starts and is drivable with a screw driver start using starter terminal and solenoid positive terminal (not trigger wire)

What I have not yet done:

A: Pull of ignition switch (read forums re ignition switch or barrel issues) and test that with multimeter - no idea how to do that

B: Remove all after market connections at battery and try without those connected...

😄 I have ordered a starter relay, and an ignition switch, and am thinking I should probably just replace starter and solenoid, and battery.

Pardon my ignorance but is the Alternator a possibility? I just assumed this was not really startup phase - more to do with once the vehicle is running - loss of voltage - which I didn't get upon driving - I have not checked alternator power generation yet.. 

I would be most grateful if I can access the combined wisdom of the forum - I've been at it for 3 days now - TBH I have had almost no luck with Landrover Service crew (other than me telling them waht part numbers to order) who are 4 hours away - most of them are the age of the car...

Thanks in advance


Screenshot 2023-12-14 141234.png

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5 hours ago, bennoclark said:

 I have ordered a starter relay, and an ignition switch, and am thinking I should probably just replace starter and solenoid, and battery.

While you're throwing money away I'll have some if you like? If it starts with the screwdriver across the terminals it's not the starter or battery, so feel free to send that money to me instead :D  you can prove the solenoid by bridging 12v to the small terminal and see if that makes it start.

#4 on your list is the problem, there's a few things that could cause that and that's where you should be looking - I'm not 100% up on the puma wiring but broadly you have 12v going into the ignition switch, 12v that should come out on position 3 to signal you want to start it, you have an immobiliser and a relay between there and your starter solenoid.

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From all you have said and the testing done it is almost 100% a failed ignition switch. 

It's a bit of a fiddly temporary rig up but connecting a test button from ignition live to the start wire off the back of the ign. switch would both confirm the full circuit from the ign. switch to the starter and also that the ign. switch start function has failed.


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Thanks FridgeFreezer and Steve b, much appreciated - 

FridgeFreezer, thanks a mil - I have just proved the solenoid bridging small terminal to 12V and it turns over and runs (the only issue is I now hear a high pitched whine ao I assume the starter motor gear is not retracting - ahhhh). Yep #4, will pull the dash off and get in behind there and start that process.

Steve, thanks - I will re-use my driving lights switch to do that and revert.

What is the likelihood of it being an ignition barrel itself/as well? The only reason I am jumping ahead and spending the money is I have no phone reception at the vehicle (but a good view) and best case I have some spares up my sleeve if/when needed. The vehicle is 1400klms in the middle of nowhere offroad and parts here take 2 days to arrive via a mate - after ordering/shipping to town address 🙂

 Thanks again for narrowing it down -


Day 4 Friday.png

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Get that bypass rigged on the start key position and that will prove the ign. switch. 

The starter can just spin and not engage when bridging off the solenoid main live. 

I hope you will hang about here when fixed and feed us all a few more pic's and tales of your LR activities in such amazing terrain 


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Hi Steve, thanks again - I wasn't sure if that switch needed to be a momentary one or full on/off (that you just flick on and then off once cranked and started?) so before I fry anything just want to check:


Back of Ignition switch  - 4 quadrants/connections/wires:


Top left: Green cap (white wire with Orange stripe)                               Top Right: Clear Cap (White wire)


Bottom left: Red Cap (White wire & Red stripe)                                      Bottom Right: Black Cap (White wire with brown stripe)


Any idea which to bridge?

Screenshot 2023-12-15 215203.png

Edited by western
Huge space edited out
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Pressed send too soon...

I am assuming:

2. Top left: Green cap (white wire with Orange stripe) = Aux on/Acc on                             3. Top Right: Clear Cap (White wire) = Ignition on

4. Bottom left: Red Cap (White wire & Red stripe) = Crank signal to starter solenoid                                     1. Bottom Right: Black Cap (White wire with brown stripe) = From Battery +12V

With the key at pre-crank (pre-spring) position I assumed 1., 2. and 3. would have +12V so I bridged (very briefly) 2. + 4. and got a clean start (albeit with that starter motor whine...)

So I assume that proves the 'Wire' out from 4. via Starter Relay and on to Solenoid and finally starter, is a functional route and as you noted the ignition switch doesn't produce the same so it must be the fault

Or have I overlooked another possibility/wire combination? 

Another Pic from further up the road at Kakudu National ParkScreenshot2023-12-15221953.thumb.png.d8dc1de4b685f3e5764f6b7bfe273081.png

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White with red stripe is your starter wire, yes it's momentary so you need to touch it to 12v to engage the starter and then remove the 12v to disengage the starter.

I don't know if there's a relay in the way - if there is you can use almost any 12v source that comes handy, you could even jump it to the cig lighter socket or similar.


Nice pictures, there's definitely worse places to break down!

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Many thanks for confirming the correct wire/process - I have ordered the ignition switch component. I don't have the tools to get those shear bolts off the ignition assembly anyway - and worst case should be able to start/run the car with this replacement.

Still concerned about the starter motor whirring noise - even with momentary switch. I'm guessing I've ruined the starter motor from all the testing... 

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