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Old 17th April 2007, 17:05   #1
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Default "Help, indica does not start" solutions

Indica is a very cheap to run car with cheap spares. It sips diesel frugally and sane driving
will see you getting 16kmpl in traffic with AC. It is also serviceable everywhere, and the older ones
did not have ECUs, turbo-intercoolers etc., to complicate things.

But there is no free lunch. Indica comes with its own peculiar headaches. Most of these headaches are
electrical in nature, and manifest themselves in starting problems. This short guide will help you
trouble shoot the fault, and prevent service centers from taking you for a ride, or unnecessarily making
you buy a new battery. You need some technical knowledge to use this guide, and if you can log on to TBHP
and make a post, that much knowledge is sufficient. You also need a digital multimeter, which costs 100Rs.
Since you spent 3 lakh+ on your car you may as well spend 100Rs more.

Also note, all this is written from the point of view of a diesel indica, though many things are common
to petrol too. If you are wondering, why am I writing this, and how accurate is this info.
Well here is the answer. I own a indica which has done 80K till now, and has had almost all electrical problems
that can be had with this car. Infact I consider myself an expert now. You can read my reviews for detailed
info. For example earlier it took me weeks to diagnose the problem, now it takes less than a few minutes.

As for the why of this article, I see so many threads about
"My indica has starting problem".
"My dealer says its a common problem".
"I bought a new battery and still this problem remains"
"My dealer says with AC in hot weather I will get starting problem"
BLAH BLAH.

So to help such tormented souls, this article is here. Please note that this article also stands for many
other low tech diesels, without the wizardry or luxury of attaching a computer to tell you whats wrong.

So lets now start with the details. First step is how to start an indica.
1. Put key into ignition, turn to on, an anaconda shaped light in lower right corner of console glows. Its orange in color, and stays on for around 5 seconds
2. AFTER the light goes off, crank the engine. The key word here if after.

Simple. As long as the car starts fine, you are happy. But sometimes problems come. We will first start with problems which are not really self diagnosable, except in some cases. If your car has such a problem, you have
to trust your mechanic.

ENGINE CRANKS FINE, BUT NO START
Many reasons
1. Glow plugs
Is your car cold? Well the anaconda is the heater symbol. There are glow plugs in your car which preheat the combustion chamber. Got bright sunlight and a black car? 10 minutes will solve your problem.
Drive straight to a roadside mechanic if your car is not in warranty. Its a simple job. you can also go
to your service center. Set of four costs 1200 approx for the entire job. Usually not all four go.
If you don't have sun and its a bleak winter morning, call the helpline. Tell them the problem, they carry
glow plugs, because in such cases this is a common reason. If you don't fancy giving in to exorbitant labor prices of TASS, boil a pitcher full of water. Make sure its steaming hot, and put it where the injectors go into engine block. More often than not, the engine will sputter to life. If you are at Hatu Peak in January with snow falling and temperature 10 degrees below zero, replace that pitcher with a bucket, and keep pouring
2. No Fuel
If you ain't got fuel getting to your engine it wont start. There may be no fuel in your tank. Your fuel pump may be bust, or you ran out of fuel, engine died, you put in new fuel, but air in your system. If its air in your system, you have to remove the rubber pipe feeding the injectors and prime the hand primer. See how it is done. Next time you do a diesel filter change, see how that guy does it. Its simple, but cannot be really explained here.
3. Solenoid related, etc., There are mechanical/electrical switches in the starting process. I won't go
into details, and it will not help you either. So if its not glow plugs it could be this
In one case I remember our very very old indica did not start(1999). It was a new car. Kept on cranking but no start. Near the place where accelerator cable ends there is a mechanical switch. Tapping that with hand led it to falling in place and car started. So you can try gently tapping things near the accelerator cable. If some
switch is jammed there it may work. But I am not an expert in such issues.

I can't think of any more in this case, so now we get to the case where I have adequate confidence and experience

No crank, or half hearted crank
1. The running stop with no restart
You are cruising comfortable when you see that your AC is not cooling. After some time your engine in missing and you are wondering. And then suddenly the engine dies. You are middle of traffic and people are honking, you crank, but it looks as if the starter motor has no juice coming.
Don't try again. You will waste battery which you may need. Turn on your hazards, and grin cheerfully at the guy behind you so he pushes you to the side. Keep the key in on position, and see where is the temp gauge. If you have a working temp gauge/thermostat(these parts can be problematic) you will see that you have a hot car. If there is no water in the system, your temp gauge will not show hot.
Once you park, open the bonnet. See if there is water in the coolant reservoir. If it is full with water keep the key in on if the fan is on. Most probably if the fan is not on you are lucky. You blew a fuse which costs 20rs. Or it could be a more expensive relay etc., but still those things are cheap. Let your baby cool down,
change fuse if you can do yourself. Worst case you fan may be busted.
However if your fan is working, there is coolant in the tank and your car is hot, this is serious. You may have anything from a faulty cooling system to a busted engine(Big big money $$)
In this whole thing DO NOT PUT WATER on your engine block. Remember PIG Iron? Do you want your engine to be
made with that? So let it cool slowly. Don't touch anywhere, plastic surgery is expensive.
2. My car stalled in neutral
So you were idling at a traffic signal, AC was working, no missing and your car dies. If you have enough fuel, looks like something jammed the engine. Something like putting car in gear, pressing the brake, leaving clutch.
Simple case, your alternator bearing has jammed up. You can push start the car. There will be smoke, an explosion sound, your belt with snap and you will go to the service center with almost failed brakes and no power
steering. This is rare and may happen just once or twice in your entire car history. Reason is tight belts.
Over tight belts rather. When you go to TASS ask them to inspect alternator bearing. Otherwise they may change your starter motor too.
3. Non heated parked car not starting.
So your car is parked for some time, or you picked a wrong gear and stalled. You cant start, and it looks as if your battery is not supplying the load.
Well welcome to Tataland. If you go blindly to a TASS, you will pay 3000 for a new battery and your problem may not go away. So now its your turn to be detective.
Get another car, and jump start. Or push start the car.
If your car push starts but does not jump start, means your starter motor has gone for a toss. You can stop debugging now, if it both jump and push starts, go on, the starter motor is fine.
Once its started take your multimeter. Connect it to the battery terminals. At idle you should see something like 12.6+ voltage. High rev will take to 13.9 volts or so.
Switch on the headlights, and the AC too with blower at full. Turn on your stereo at moderate volume.
The voltage should not go below 12.6 or so at idle and on revs should touch 13.9
In case of faulty alternator you will see voltage stays at around 12.1 or even below. Sometimes voltage
will stay low only when the alternator is loaded, but otherwise it will be fine.
Go to TASS, who will insist on changing battery, but tell them to put meter instead and show them the light.
If you have a case where alternator does not perform under load, it could be either very loose belt +
faulty bearing combo or the rectifier plate. It could also be the regulator.


Most probably here your quest will end, but in rarest of rare cases, it may be the battery too. So if all voltages are fine, go to a battery guy. Go to authorized battery repair center, if in warranty, or go to the center of new battery you want to buy.
They guys will check specific gravity etc., Most probably one of the cells has gone bad.

The worst case is that everything is fine. The battery, the alternator, the starter motor. Means you have a leak somewhere. Happy hunting. Could be your stereo, or some shorted wire, but the latter manifests itself with burning something. So its some accessory gone bad.

So there you go. That sums up. This is all I can recollect now. If you have a different type of starting
problem, ask here and thou shalt be enlightened.

Before we close up, some tips
1. You diagnosed the alternator problem. TASS also says alternator. If your alternator has done 50,000+
instead of changing one part ask for a new alternator. If you are out of warranty they wont mind. The reason is that alternator failures happen in series. First your regulator will fail, then rectifier plate will fail, lastly winding will fail. I changed so many parts in the alternator that it cost me almost as a new one. Lucas TVS makes lousy alternators(Starter motors too) so might as well get a new one.
2. If you have a normal stereo(no high power stuff), it should not go off while cranking in your diesel car.
The battery has enough juice to parallel play your stereo while cranking in diesel vehicles. If you see that
your stereo is turning off while cranking(this test is for basic models like 4750) it means that 5000kms later you may get starting problems. This is true for diesels only
3. If your battery has gone bad, spend 500Rs extra and get a long warranty battery with atleast 65Ah. Normal is 60Ah in diesels. The more the juice the better. Also get one with indicators which tell whether battery is fine or not.
4. If your car is out of warranty, and you are unhappy with your TASS, look for other mechanics. Ask taxi
drivers. Look out if your city has a good Castrol/Bosch service, but remember big name does not equate talent.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 12th March 2008 at 22:10.
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Old 17th April 2007, 17:50   #2
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This is great guidelines thread, you really have done a great deal of research. Would be really useful for any new Indica/Indigo owner.
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Old 17th April 2007, 17:56   #3
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A very useful post. Being an Indica owner (Petrol) I understand and appriciate all what you have written, esp pt 4 of the closing tips. Very true in my case.
Just one quick question. I may sound dumb, but what is a multimeter?
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Old 17th April 2007, 18:09   #4
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good job !!

I hope newer D owners don't have to refer much on these guidelines.
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Old 17th April 2007, 18:24   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you see that
your stereo is turning off while cranking(this test is for basic models like 4750) it means that 5000kms later you may get starting problems. This is true for diesels only
So, is it ok to see the stereo go off in petrols? Do the petrols have lower AH batteries or the starter motor draws a lower current?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriverR View Post
Just one quick question. I may sound dumb, but what is a multimeter?
Simply stated, a multimeter is a device that can be used to measure voltage, resistance, perform continuity tests etc. You must have seen them with TV/electronics repair guys. Here is how a good one looks like:
Fluke Test and Measurement Tools
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Old 17th April 2007, 18:43   #6
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Can someone advise me on the Squeeky Belt problem:

My XETA squeeks, for 5-10 min, till the engine is not warmed enough, after that silent as ever..! Got the belt adjusted , still it happens..!
The TASC advisor says its common to all Indicas, you were just lucky that its happening after 9 Months and 13000 Kms..!

Happened to bump into RishiBravo at the TASC, rishi advised on using brake oil to solve the issue, I had seen the process long time ago for our Lancer, the belt din't squeek once after that..!

But I'm wondering-The manual says not to oil or drop any lubricant on the belts-Damages them or something...!

Can we also put in the cure for a squeeky belt, which is common fault for most cars..!
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Old 17th April 2007, 18:57   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfinstein View Post
Can someone advise me on the Squeeky Belt problem:

My XETA squeeks, for 5-10 min, till the engine is not warmed enough, after that silent as ever..! Got the belt adjusted , still it happens..!
The TASC advisor says its common to all Indicas, you were just lucky that its happening after 9 Months and 13000 Kms..!

Happened to bump into RishiBravo at the TASC, rishi advised on using brake oil to solve the issue, I had seen the process long time ago for our Lancer, the belt din't squeek once after that..!

But I'm wondering-The manual says not to oil or drop any lubricant on the belts-Damages them or something...!

Can we also put in the cure for a squeeky belt, which is common fault for most cars..!
Plz be careful when u get the Belt tightened,I got mine tightened and the next day it just broke and caused extensive damage.The Power steering and brake was tough to handle.
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Old 17th April 2007, 18:59   #8
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Excellent work tsk1979,I was just looking out for something like this.
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Old 17th April 2007, 19:05   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Su-47 View Post
So, is it ok to see the stereo go off in petrols? Do the petrols have lower AH batteries or the starter motor draws a lower current?
Petrols have lower Ah batteries. I have seen petrol cars with 45-50Ah batteries. Indica comes with 60Ah in diesel. That could be the reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfinstein View Post
Can someone advise me on the Squeeky Belt problem:

My XETA squeeks, for 5-10 min, till the engine is not warmed enough, after that silent as ever..! Got the belt adjusted , still it happens..!
The TASC advisor says its common to all Indicas, you were just lucky that its happening after 9 Months and 13000 Kms..!

Happened to bump into RishiBravo at the TASC, rishi advised on using brake oil to solve the issue, I had seen the process long time ago for our Lancer, the belt din't squeek once after that..!

But I'm wondering-The manual says not to oil or drop any lubricant on the belts-Damages them or something...!

Can we also put in the cure for a squeeky belt, which is common fault for most cars..!
Quote:
Originally Posted by werfish View Post
Plz be careful when u get the Belt tightened,I got mine tightened and the next day it just broke and caused extensive damage.The Power steering and brake was tough to handle.
Don't put any oil.
If the belt squeeks just at start, its okay. Tighten it, it wont squeek and will damage alternator bearing which will result in werfish like problems and a 2000rs bill. However you can experiment till you car is in warranty.
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Old 12th March 2008, 20:02   #10
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I think we should merge another thread with this one, as they both are for comman problems in Indica.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...roblems-6.html (Tata Indica - List of problems)
Tanveer - Any idea about my problem, mentioned in this thread.
I faced this problem twice In last 25 days, the RPM niddle dies twice and battery light comes on. The car still runs and after 200-300 meter running, the battery light goes off and RPM niddle starts dancing. TASS guys told me that it could be alternator problem (The car has clocked 80K so far) So any idea and if its alternator, should I replace it completely instead of replacing any defective part, as you suggested here?
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:20   #11
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Wonderful tips tsk1979!

One of my friends car did not start at our office car lot. So we tried push starting. Key with ignition on, car in gears, clutch in and when my friend pushed, i tried to crank the engine.

It did not start. So we found a cabbie, he came sat and we both pushed. The cabbie managed to push start. We gleefully got into the car and drive away. Forgot to ask the cabbie, how he started.

Can you explain how to start?

Last edited by druva : 13th March 2008 at 12:20. Reason: Formatting
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:51   #12
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Engage first gear, depress the clutch.
Ask somebody to push. When car gains speed, release the clutch and press the accelerator.
Make sure your Key is in "On" position during this circus
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Old 13th March 2008, 13:08   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you don't fancy giving in to exorbitant labor prices of TASS, boil a pitcher full of water. Make sure its steaming hot, and put it where the injectors go into engine block. More often than not, the engine will sputter to life. If you are at Hatu Peak in January with snow falling and temperature 10 degrees below zero, replace that pitcher with a bucket, and keep pouring

I do not know exactly which place you mention, but isn't there a danger of this steaming water splashing onto some plastics/wires ? Is it such an easy job ?
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Old 13th March 2008, 13:11   #14
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Quote:
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I do not know exactly which place you mention, but isn't there a danger of this steaming water splashing onto some plastics/wires ? Is it such an easy job ?
Well, when I say boiling water, by the time you bring your pitcher down to the car its already cooled to 80-90 degrees.
Moreover when the engine is running, the engine bay is extremely hot, and it does not spoil the plastics right.
you also don't need to splash water all over the engine bay, just on the injectors, where all pipes are metal.
Few stray splashes won't do any damage. I have started the car with boiling water once, when 2 out of the 4 glow plugs went kaput and it was a cold morning(3-4 degrees above freezing) in Delhi.
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Old 28th March 2008, 18:06   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you have a normal stereo(no high power stuff), it should not go off while cranking in your diesel car. The battery has enough juice to parallel play your stereo while cranking in diesel vehicles. If you see that your stereo is turning off while cranking(this test is for basic models like 4750)
Interesting. Earlier when I had only HU and 2 Speakers in my Indica, it wouldn't go off, while cranking the engine but later on when I upgraded to some high power set (HU+2 Compos+AMP+Sub), the HU started to go off.
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