My Lister’s got a bit lackadaisical in the cold
QWhen starting my Lister LPWS4 I turn the key to ‘pre-heat’, wait until the glowplug light goes out, then engage the starter; until recently I had no problems, but now the engine fires and then dies. I got it running by moving the throttle to half open, but on easing back, it stalled or ran quite roughly. After a minute and a half, it settled down and ran normally – but the whole process was repeated at every subsequent cold start.
I changed the glowplugs but the problem persists. I did notice a lot of dark smoke and a high-pitched whine / squeal on start up, both of which disappear once running normally. Could it be an injector problem?
IVAN CHAMBERLAIN, via email
ATONY REPLIES… If a diesel has its speed held down by external means it will produce smoke, but only in gear. Your problem happens out of gear, so something on the engine itself could be slowing it. It could be an alternator seizing up, or flat or faulty batteries (which would explain the squeal). Try without the alternator belt(s) fitted. It will be safe if you only run the engine for a minute. Try turning the alternator(s) by hand.
That engine, I think, uses hydraulic valve lifters. On a cold start it can take a while before sufficient oil enters the chamber for the valves to be fully opened. If the oil gets too dirty it can clog the mechanism in the valve lifters, so unless you have been scrupulous with oil and filter changes, this might be the problem. The lifters also malfunction if the engine oil pressure is too low.
I would use automotive engine cleaning additive before oil changes. Also check the oil pressure just in case the pressure relief valve has jammed open.
On cars with such lifters it was not unusual to have to dismantle them to make sure a little ball valve is free and sealing. Dark smoke could also indicate injectors that need overhauling. First, I would investigate the alternator, the batteries’ state of charge, and use flushing additive.