I have a Ford Fiesta 1.4 tdci 2003 that was working without issues since yesterday.

Just stopped at house after work to eat, 2 hours later I went to the car and it wouldn't start.

I tried hard but it just doesn't, lights are fine and all the electronics, no lights on the panel other that expected, the start engine sound is perfect so it must be something else.

Just took a bus and this morning I tried again without luck. Took it to a shop where they tried pumping to take out the air and tried, nothing. Then they put a vag-com (I think) and told me that they can see errors but are no able to read them and therefore they sent me to a Ford shop.

Took the card to Ford, gave the mechanic the keys, and it just starts perfectly fine like always.

He was unable to give me a explanation and since it just came the same way it just went away I took the car with me.

The car now seems to work fine, starts and stops well, but I'm afraid of it coming again tomorrow morning, for me there are only 3 things that has changed.

Pumping Could be that pumping a lot, since it was done before going to the shop without and done in the shop much more again, but maybe the movement of taking it from shop to shop?

Vag-com Is possible that they have done something without knowing and fixed it? They didn't test again afterwards.

Temperature I noticed the temperature was around 12° when it didn't work for the first time, when they tried in the shop it was maybe 16° and the car was under sun for a long time, when it finally worked it was maybe 18, it has shown a little bad sound when starting in the morning at -2° but always at the first time.

So what can it be, what reasons are for a engine not starting and suddenly doing it?



It has just started fine this morning, and it was much cooler than yesterday, I think this cannot be related to temperature, but one of the other options has solved it.


2 Answers 2


It's very possible that you have a problem in the glow-plugs of your diesel engine. Glow-plugs are used to preheat the combustion chamber on a cold engine. If you're having problems starting the car when it's cold, the glow plugs are probably not working, or there not on long enough to heat the chamber properly. You also mention that it has a bad sound when it's -2 deg, it's probably a knocking sound, and you get black smoke from the tail pipe, when the car warms up it goes away. All these symptoms point to an issue with the glow plugs. My old Mercedes diesel allowed the driver to hold the start switch in the 'glow' position as long as you wanted to, so you just had to know to glow it longer on a cold morning. Your car most likely has a sensor/computer controlled glow time, so maybe it's just an adjustment or a bad sensor.

  • Are Glow-plugs really needed to start at 15º? and about the sound, its much about vibration, it seems to take a little longer to get to normal rpm.
    – Nanoc
    Dec 22, 2015 at 21:45
  • Only at the 1st time driving the car, after that the glow plugs aren't normally needed. This can very depending on the overall condition of the engine, an older engine with lots of wear and lower compression may need the glow plugs on every start. Also the specific design of your engine may be different. Yes, the vibration will be worse, because you're not getting complete combustion from one or more of the cylinders. You could have a problem with the overall compression, possibly a broken or worn ring also. Dec 22, 2015 at 22:06
  • It has started well at cold, it must be another thing.
    – Nanoc
    Dec 23, 2015 at 8:06

it has shown a little bad sound when starting in the morning at -2° but always at the first time.

This tells me you should leave the car at the mechanic overnight and have him check it first thing in the (cold) morning. Anything else is pure speculation and a waste of time. :)

  • How does this even start to answer the OP's question. Most people do not come on here to be told to go to a mechanic. They come to the site to understand what has gone wrong with their vehicle and most of the time how they might go about fixing it. Telling them to go to a mechanic could be considered insulting ... do you think they haven't thought of that already? Dec 23, 2015 at 0:27
  • I think investing a bit more time and sharing some of your hard earned knowledge will yield more productive answers. This site is designed to create and give s body of knowledge that can be shared and built upon for years to come. Helping people understand us the key. It's a bit demeaning to tell everyone to take it to the shop. There are some very capable individuals that participate here. Assuming everyone's ability is null isn't fair or productive. Dec 23, 2015 at 0:34
  • I do get the point of sharing knowledge and I respect that. On the other hand, I feel that the OP should do as I posted earlier. It is a safety issue because a no-start on cold temperatures can turn into shutting down while driving issues. Is sharing knowledge more important than telling the OP to take the issue seriously and not wait for answers here? I don't think so. :)
    – race fever
    Dec 23, 2015 at 2:21
  • I think doing both would be optimal. Answering the question is paramount ... giving the additional knowledge is bonus material. Telling them to go see their mechanic is what their already doing here on this site (in a manner of speaking). Dec 23, 2015 at 17:02
  • Telling them to go see their mechanic is what their already doing here on this site (in a manner of speaking). -- That's where I disagree. This website should not be seen as a replacement for a mechanic. It is general advice and discussion. Anything more puts people at real risk. Is there a way to meet in the middle? Maybe a tag that we can add to a question that lets the OP know this is a serious issue?
    – race fever
    Dec 23, 2015 at 17:16

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