Cuts out, turns over but refuses to start.

Questions specifically about a Petrol powered Citroen C3 (usually engine or fuel related problems).
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Petrol engine related faults, like injectors, error codes, overheating.
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My Name: BraamN

Contributor
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 156000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD

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Hi All
My 2004 C3 petrol 1.4 cuts out and then for weeks refuse to start. Then suddenly it will start and run for a few days. It even cuts out during normal driving. The engine turns over fine but no starting. [email protected] could possibly be wrong?
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My Name: Arfur Dent

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Posts: 3303
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:47 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (52)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 100000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
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BraamN wrote: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:25 pm Hi All
My 2004 C3 petrol 1.4 cuts out and then for weeks refuse to start. Then suddenly it will start and run for a few days. It even cuts out during normal driving. The engine turns over fine but no starting. [email protected] could possibly be wrong?
Are there any codes stored?

Use a cheap OBD reader (here) to read them.
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My Name: BraamN

Contributor
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 156000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD

Post

Arfur Dent wrote: Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:52 pm
BraamN wrote: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:25 pm Hi All
My 2004 C3 petrol 1.4 cuts out and then for weeks refuse to start. Then suddenly it will start and run for a few days. It even cuts out during normal driving. The engine turns over fine but no starting. [email protected] could possibly be wrong?
Are there any codes stored?

Use a cheap OBD reader (here) to read them.
Hi ArFur Dent
The worst of it all is that no codes are stored. We have checked this numerous times but the system indicates everything is fine.
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My Name: Arfur Dent

Guru
Posts: 3303
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:47 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (52)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 100000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
Has thanked: 258 times
Been thanked: 111 times

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If there are no codes stored, it could be caused by a system not monitored, so that narrows it down.

Fuel supply, the purge valve and become faulty, does the car start ok with the fuel filler cap removed?

It could be an electrical fault in the major power department where a loss of electricity to the ECU means it can't run the engine or store any codes.

Those sorts of things :D
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My Name: BraamN

Contributor
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 156000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD

Post

Thanks for this information. I will do some basic checks as you suggested and revert.
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My Name: Ozvtr

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Posts: 936
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:31 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (53)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 80000
Trim Level: Other
Gearbox: Automatic PRND
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
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The cars engine needs four things to work; compression, oxygen, fuel and a spark.

We'll assume there is no blockage in the inlet? So there should enough oxygen getting in?

It's unlikely the engine is so worn out that it wont support enough compression.

So you have spark and fuel left. The fuel injectors and coil pack are controlled by the engine ECU and it could withhold both for no apparent reason. Typically problems with the spark and injectors are logged in the engine ECU but you don't seem to have any fault codes so we'll assume spark and injectors are OK but I'll get to that in a minute. Apart from the coils in the injectors, the entire fuel supply system is unmonitored (as Arfur said). So that seems to be a good place to start.
Does the fuel pump run for a few seconds when you first turn the key to ignition?
I would remove the air cleaner and while attempting to start the engine I would spray "starting fluid" (aerostart, startyerbasted ETC) into the throttle body.
If the engine "pops and farts" you are getting spark, the problem is fuel.
If nothing happens I would guess a fundamental problem with the engine ECU (power?). As I said, if it was the coil pack or something else, that would be logged.
My Name: BraamN

Contributor
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 156000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD

Post

Thanks for this information Ozvtr. I will try this all today and see if I have any luck. I have in the mean time cleaned all the connections in the engine fuse box as well.
My Name: BraamN

Contributor
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 156000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD

Post

Hi Ozvtr
I did exactly what you suggested and it became clear that the problem is the fuel, We even disconnected the fuel lines from the fuel pump and made sure they were not blocked. Fuel was flowing to the injectors without problem. We then checked the pressure in the injector line. There is pressure although I have no clue what this pressure should be. Eventually we started pushing normal fuel into the line and at long last the engine started. Knowing that the fuel system is the problem, my logic tells me that there is not a constant supply which leads to the car cutting out. I left it running for a while and it would seem the problem sorted itself out - until next time. Any suggestions what this could then be?
User avatar
My Name: Ozvtr

Moderator
Posts: 936
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:31 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (53)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 80000
Trim Level: Other
Gearbox: Automatic PRND
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 250 times

Post

The fuel pressure regulator works at 3 bar so that’s about 43 PSI. If you have some way to measure it, the value shouldn’t be more than 20% (at a guess) either side of that. Although, for the engine to cut out altogether I’d expect a more dramatic fall.
If there were some sort of a blockage I would have expected the fuel flow to stop (or reduce) and that would be it. Blockages aren’t typically intermittent. They get blocked and that’s it.

You can get water in the fuel and that can stop the engine and it can be intermittent. You could take a sample from the port at the end of the injector rail. Water will sit as “blobs” in the bottom of your sample container. Small amounts will “slosh” around in the tank and get picked up by the fuel pump. This will cause the engine to hesitate or miss but not usually enough to stop the engine. Typically if you got enough water in your petrol to stop the engine it won’t start again…at all.

The next suspect is the electrical system, with respect to the fuel pump. The circuit would be something like this: from the battery, through wiring, a fuse, wiring, the BSM (engine bay fuse box), wiring, fuel pump, wiring to chassis. With a connector between each wiring connection. The major suspects here are the BSM connectors, the fuel pump and the relay in the BSM. One of the biggest problems is that the engine ECU will cut power to the fuel pump the moment the engine stops rotating. This is a safety feature so the fuel pump doesn’t keep running in the event of a crash. This means the fuel pump will stop when your engine stops irrespective of whether the fuel pump is the failure or not. See? However the fuel pump runs for a second to prime (pressurize) the system each time you turn the ignition key from accessory to ignition. The residual fuel pressure in the system is enough to squirt fuel into the cylinders. Once the starter motor starts rotating the engine, the engine ECU will switch the fuel pump on. Most of us just turn the key all the way to start but if you stop short at the ignition position you should hear a whooshing sound from the rear or the car, under the passenger seat. So if your car stops again, turn the ignition key to off, wait, then turn it to ignition (NOT START), see if the pump runs. If the pump runs see if the engine will start. If the pump doesn’t run you have an electrical problem in the pump circuit. If the pump does run but the engine doesn’t, then you have a mechanical problem I.E. a blockage or failure of the pressure regulator.

One question, did the engine slowly begin to run (cough and splutter) or did it suddenly begin running?
My Name: BraamN

Contributor
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:17 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 156000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD

Post

Hi

Thanks again for this detailed information. The engine stuttered for a while, typically like a misfiring. After a while it started running smoothly. I have noticed that the engine light on the instrument panel stays on. I have checked a few times afterwards and the engine starts quite easy.
Regards
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