As it got colder - starting got harder


20th February 2012

In a way this is a continuation of the glow plug problem. Engine started to get difficult to start just after I sheard a glow plug.

I changed the filter and sheard the glow plugs at the end of last summer. As the winter drew in the van became more and more difficult to start.
Yesterday I turned the engine for 20 seconds before it started.
This morning it wouldn't start at all and I had to charge the battery.

I had already changed the battery for a new one.. didn't want to put another one on.
I have changed the clear fuel line from the top of the filter to the pump, along with the pre heater thermostat(the black plastic thing on the top of the filter) because I was convinced that this was letting air in and causing the problem. I could see the bubble racing around the clear tubes.

I even changed the fuel line from the tank to the filter after I found it chaffed where it rubbed against the bodywork at the back of the engine. This gave me false hope, as it started a lot better after changing the fuel line. But this only lasted a day.

I rechecked everything I had done with the engine and found nothing untoward - But still it refuses to start when I want it to.


After a few months of head scratching, I decided to bite the bullet and take it to an expert.

The mercedes van dealership in Leeds (Northside) were talking 4 figures to solve the problem

Mercedes 311 InjectorMercedes 311 Injector diagram

I took it to an independent garage at Knarsborough with an experienced Sprinter Van mechanic- Keith, at Roundwood Garage

On the phone he told me it was either the injectors (probable) or one of the rubber seals on the fuel line (possible) or the sensor (unlikely)
On arrival he had the plastics off the top of the Sprinters engine in about 5 minutes. A diagnostic check revelaed that injector number 3 was open causing the starting problem. Within an hour the old injector was out and new one put in. £222 thank you.

The problem is solved. Starts first turn now.

Keith is very knowledgeable - you could say 'expert' - he even tweaked the gear linakage which was causing first gear selection to be a small concern

My Advice

If, as it gets colder, the engine on your Mercedes Sprinter Van becomes difficult to start or even refuses altogether - get it tested for injectors. The internet is full of advice about fuel lines, sensors, air leaks it 'fills yer head up'
Whilst the cost was a bit of a hit - its worth it to know the bloody van will start on a morning.

One thing Keith did say that may be of use to you, the reader ...
if it won't start when cold - look at the injectors.
If it won't start when hot - look at the rubber seals.