Are glow plugs to blame for non-start?

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My Name: Suzie

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Hiya,

I have quite a big problem with my Citreon C3 HDI Desire. I bought it from a garage, it got home fine. Later that same day the engine struggled to turn on, after about five mins of trying it worked. Two days later it would not start at all. I called a mechanic out, he said two of the glow plugs were snapped with the tips stuck inside the head. And the other two were dead. The dealer is now accusing my mechanic of snapping the glow plugs, which he swears blind he did not! My question is could the glow plugs have been snapped before I bought it? Does the car work with snapped glow plugs? The dealer is now refusing to pay to fix the car because they claim the damage was caused by my mechanic.

Please help :-(
My Name: Missing Lincs

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Posts: 844
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:29 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (04)
Engine Size: 1.1
Fuel Type: Petrol
Trim Level: Desire
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
Location: United Kingdom
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Hi Suzie

Difficult one. When you saw the car in the garage you bought it from did you see it being started with the engine cold?

So long as the part of the glow plug inside the cylinder is intact, the engine will run but starting will be difficult. The glow plug is the thing that ignites fuel in the cylinder, when the engine is warmed up the process works without any electrical input (unlike sparkplugs in a petrol engine which need power while ever the engine is running). However when the engine is cold, glow plugs have an electric heater inside which pre-heats the plug and makes starting easier.

When the mechanic says the glow plugs are dead, I presume he means the electric part is not working, and the broken ones have snapped off outside the engine leaving a stump which is difficult to remove.

Its possible the mechanic did snap the glow plugs, its also possible that the plugs were dead before you bought the car. Both are difficult to prove, however glow plugs last a long time, and if they were duff, the garage selling the car would have almost certainly known about it because of the car being very difficult to start.

I suspect that the reason two of the plugs snapped when being removed was that they haven't been taken out for a long time and are seized which says to me lack of regular servicing.

My advice would be to go back to the garage and if possible take the mechanic with you. Did the garage say the car had been serviced before you bought it?
If at first you don't succeed, destroy all the evidence and pretend you never tried :lol:
My Name: RC3D

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Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:42 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 140000
Trim Level: Rhythm
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
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My advice would be to go back to the garage and if possible take the mechanic with you. Did the garage say the car had been serviced before you bought it?
I would ask the mecanic to give you a report of the faults, then put it writing, attaching the report to the garage quoting 'RE: Supply of Goods & Services Act 1982', for further advice ring Local Trading Standards, which will probably re-direct you to CAB. Here is a sample letter https://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/c ... rvices.htm
I'm sure you'll gat satisfactory results.
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My Name: C3driver52

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Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (03)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 79984
Trim Level: VTR+
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
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Suzie wrote: Later that same day the engine struggled to turn on, after about five mins of trying it worked
I guess the engine turns over, but the engine doesn't fire. The causes of this can be many.
Suzie wrote:My question is could the glow plugs have been snapped before I bought it?
Yes, they could have been broken and the engine would still start. In the UK, wit its temperate climate the glow plugs are unlikely to be used to aid starting, but will be used after the engine has started to reduce emissions during the initial warm up. The glow plugs do get used in sub zero conditions to aid starting, but not at current UK temperatures.

Trying to remove glow-plugs can cause snapping, they can be very difficult to remove :cry: but they can easily be tested without removing them, so I don't see why your mechanic would have tried to remove them to test them, its more work than is needed.
Suzie wrote: Does the car work with snapped glow plugs?
I would say, yes. They need to provide a good gas seal, and if they are sealing ok, then the lack of electrical power isn't my first thought for the non starter.
Suzie wrote:The dealer is now refusing to pay to fix the car because they claim the damage was caused by my mechanic.
The non starting may not be due to the glow plugs. If its got high mileage, I suggest the injectors with a high leak off causing low pressure in the common rail. Considering I have not even seen the car or know its mileage or history, its only a guess :)
Missing Lincs wrote:Difficult one. When you saw the car in the garage you bought it from did you see it being started with the engine cold?
That's good advice for buying any car! Start it from cold, an overnight standing, on a cold morning and see how it fares.
RC3D wrote:I would ask the mecanic to give you a report of the faults, then put it writing, attaching the report to the garage quoting 'RE: Supply of Goods & Services Act 1982', for further advice ring Local Trading Standards, which will probably re-direct you to CAB. Here is a sample letter https://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/c ... rvices.htm
I'm sure you'll gat satisfactory results.
Sound advice, you could try to reject the car asap, get a refund then be much more careful next car you buy (a C3 can still be a good choice, just take the mechanic with you when you buy it.)
My Name: Suzie

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Joined: Sun May 05, 2013 10:40 pm

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Thanks all for your advice. The mechanic told me that he found the two glow plugs snapped in the engine. After testing the other two he removed the broken ones and the ones just didn't work. The car had only done 51,000 miles and had just had an MOT, a service not for a while though. When I went to view the car it was at lunchtime and had been taken out that morning. I bought it two days later and it obviously started fine then. I tied to reject the car days after I bought it but the dealer wouldn't accept it. They agreed to fix it, they have had it for two months now and only just told me they will not be fixing it as they believe my mechanic caused the damage. Unfortunately it looks like I will have to go to court now to get my money back, but I'm a bit worried that I can't prove the glow plugs were snapped when I bought it. But the car still wouldn't start in the first place!! Grrrr
My Name: Missing Lincs

Moderator
Posts: 844
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:29 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (04)
Engine Size: 1.1
Fuel Type: Petrol
Trim Level: Desire
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
Location: United Kingdom
Has thanked: 46 times
Been thanked: 35 times

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I think Trading Standards would be a good place to get involved.

"We started the car before you came to clear the windows", "Its all warmed up, ready to go" are classic bad seller ways to cover up a car which is a poor starter, I've even heard "We'll drive it round and pick you up". Anything like this suggests the garage knew all along.

Have you written to the garage? As suggested above, put things in writing, at least then you have something to refer to if it does end up in court. I would give the garage 7 days to fix the car or give you your money back. Mechanic or no mechanic, the car didn't start, you had to get someone to look at it because of a fault I would say they were aware of - how could they reasonably not?

Coming back to you two months later is just compounding the problem, disgraceful!!

I hope you can get this resolved quickly now, sounds like a nightmare car purchase, possibly a case for Watchdog (or at least the threat of :roll: )
If at first you don't succeed, destroy all the evidence and pretend you never tried :lol:
My Name: Suzie

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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun May 05, 2013 10:40 pm

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Thank you. I've reported them to trading standards. We have only been communicating through letters now as everything they were telling me turned out to be rubbish. I have threatened reporting them to everything under the sun but they just don't seem to be budging. I have now sent them a letter before action saying I have no alternative but to go to the courts now, unless I hear from them in them in the next couple of days. I've asked them for a refund and they have just said no. I am now getting three quotes for the work to show how much the job would cost and citroen is putting in writing that the car could have worked with broken glow plugs and that that if driven this could have caused more damage to the valve, meaning it is best to get a full refund rather than to get them to fix it. I have zero trust in them and wouldn't even want them to fix it now! God knows what else is wrong with it!!!

Thanks for the advice :-)
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