Cold Starting

Pajero Cold StartingAs the mornings get colder I’ve noticed the Pajero isn’t enjoying getting going so much. This has previously just been a problem with getting away from a standing start. The first couple of yards from where I park is a very slight incline and it’s coughed a little and lacked power until on the flat where it’s fine.

This morning my outside thermometer read 6 degrees and it felt pretty cold. For the first time since I’ve had her she actually coughed a little on starting the engine – before even setting off. I could imagine that if we were down near 0 degrees she might be struggling to start at all, though I’m only guessing of course.

I’ve had it in mind to check up on this for a while, but it looks like it might be a bit more urgent now. So I need to read up on Pajero cold starting and glow plugs and all the other bits I haven’t a clue about. Then I’ll have a go at servicing it to hopefully make things better. Check back soon to see how I get on!


I started reading up on this on the Pocuk forums and realised that I wasn’t even starting the truck correctly. It’s a long time since I had a diesel, but I always thought it was just a case of turn the ignition key until the dashboard lights come on, wait for the glow plug light to go out and then turn the engine over. This is what I’ve been doing since I bought the Pajero and it must have been working out alright because the weather was pretty warm.

Here’s what I should have been doing:

  • Turn the key until the dashboard lights up
  • Wait until the glow plug light goes out
  • Wait about another 5 seconds until you here a click from behind the glove box area
  • Now turn the key full to start the engine

So what we’re waiting for is the glow plugs to heat up fully. The click that comes from behind the glovebox is from the heater relay – once it’s clicked it means the glow plugs are heated sufficiently to fire up the engine. Which leads me to wonder what the point of the glow plug light is really? And on the 2.5 models I believe there isn’t a light at all, you just wait for the click.

Anyway, having tried this technique on several cold mornings now I can safely say that my Pajero starts perfectly. I’m still getting a slightly lumpy getaway but that’s fine too if I let the engine warm up for a minute before moving.

So the servicing of the glow plugs will wait until next spring as originally planned and my Pajero continues to run beautifully.


I have to add to this post at this point following a comment from a reader that you can see below – comment number 3 and my answer, comment number 4.

This leads me to point out that my method of cold starting when having problems is only working around a problem with either the glow plugs or the bus bar. So really in this post I have gone full circle and as soon as possible I’ll be thoroughly checking my plugs and bus bar for any problems.

As the truck is generally in very good condition I would make a guess that my glow plugs simply need replacing due to wear. Another possibility is that they may have already been replaced and are not exactly the ones they should be. Someone else told me of having the same problem and when he replaced his old glow plugs he found his new ones were longer, which apparently makes starting easier.

If you’ve got problems starting a cold Pajero, you might also be interested in this post – Tony’s Pajero Cold Starting Trick

19 Comments on Cold Starting

  1. maurice beaton // December 15, 2007 at 11:43 pm // Reply

    hi there, been looking at your site since i got my pajero in october – very well presented i must say! well done! have had few probs myself though – not nice – but hey, that’s motoring for you! following the instructions you’ve published – and the ever helpful haynes manual! – i proceeded to change the oil and filter,fuel filter,air filter and grease and lube all the joins i could find. i also changed the transmission fluid and diff oil. my model is a ’95 2.8td by the way! problems came in the seemingly common starting nd cutting out faults! new fuel pump seals,glow plugs and now a new starter – which goes on next week – will hopefully see me thru what is sure to be a cold and wet winter! thanks for the site again – it’s good to have a view similar to my own – keen amateur mechanic and new to the pajero! keep up the good work mate! M

  2. Many thanks for dropping by Maurice. It really makes it all worthwhile to hear comments like that. I’m not just talking to myself here after all!
    Glad to hear your DIY servicing is going well and good luck with the cold starting. Pump seals, glow plugs and a new starter motor should just about have everything covered!
    Cheers – Tim.

  3. Hi Tim,

    Just found your website, excellent stuff – I’ve had my Paj for four years and never looked back.

    However, I have to correct you about your “cold start” procedure. The glow plug light goes out when the glow plugs are at the correct temperature for starting. They will take power and remain at that temperature until you hear the click that you mentioned. The click is the relay shutting off power to the plugs and at this point they will start to cool. You should start as soon as the light goes out, you’re just wasting power otherwise. However, if you have one or more dodgy plugs, the additional few seconds may help to get you started but you MUST start as soon as you hear the click – you’re better off –

    – making sure the bus bar is clean
    – the plugs are all in working order

    Keep up the good work.


  4. Hi Chris
    Thanks for your comment and glad you’re enjoying the site.

    I’ve had a good think about what you’ve said and it really makes sense to me. The only thing that put me off your opinion at first is that the method I’m using for cold starting definitely works. In colder weather my Pajero definitely starts easier (in fact with no trouble at all) when I wait for the relay click. Having done some more reading around I can see many places where people recommend using this method, but only one or two that point out that if you have to do it this way there is probably something wrong with the plugs or bus bar.

    My conclusion now is that this method of cold starting has become accepted by Pajero owners as simply what you have to do in cold weather, no matter what condition your plugs and/or bus bar are in. I always thought it was a weird idea that when using this method the glow plug light effectively means nothing. And another thing – I have the owners manual which gives you lots of information about running these trucks and when you read the starting procedure it simply says wait until the glow plugs light has gone out, even when cold starting. So I’ve added another note to my post above regarding this.

    I must say many thanks to you Chris for pointing this out.


    • Nyamka Idema // March 16, 2011 at 10:51 am //

      Hey tim, Love your site. I live in Mongolia and here there are no 100% secure services. So I end up doing everything on my pajero myself with the help of a friend (who knows car very well and works as a mechanic). About your cold starting, You have to wait for the click to make the process of cold starting work proper. The 1995 to 1999 models of the pajero have 2 starterplug relays. 1 is visible between the two batteries, and the other one I haven’t found yet.
      So a working starter plug should become red hot in 8 seconds, but most cars it’s 10sec. If you keep the starter plugs connected longer than that time (because of faulty relay) they go bad (getting red hot in 20 sec or even longor or not working). With the working relay’s when you hear the click that is when the connection between the starterplug and the accu are terminated so you can start your car properly. If not done this way 8 out of 10 people broke their starterplugs. I know this very well, cause I had the same problem and because I didn’t find the second relay (which is faulty) I connect my starterplugs directly to the accu now. Hope it was helpful.

    • Hi Nyamka

      Many thanks for your input. I’m sure it will help other readers who are having cold starting problems with their Pajero.

  5. hi, great information, well done. now i need to pick your pajero knowledge…
    just recently during this cold spell when the temp guage reaches its running temp the engine shudders and cuts out, after a few turns of the key she starts and the problem has gone, ie no more stalling, this happens daily to and from my house to place of work, any ideas what i can do to rectify the problem.
    thanks richie

    • Nyamka Idema // March 16, 2011 at 10:54 am //

      Hey richie,

      That should be because you are not heating the starterplugs long enouhg.
      Ussually you should heat the starter plugs about 4 times before starting at cold weather. More then 4 times is oke, but the oil in the engine need enough warming up, otherwise it will not start.

  6. Hi Richie, glad you’re liking what I’m trying to do here.
    First thing I’d look at is the fuel system. Have you changed the fuel filter recently and do the fuel pipes look in good condition – not sucking in any air? Let us know how you get on.

  7. Hi guys, Im new on here as iv only had my pajero for 2 months. iv a very simlar problem as Richie! only that mine will start after a few lumps and bumps, shel run fine for little while but after 100 yards or so she start to lose power as if shes starved of fuel and cut out! shel start again after a long turnover and run but again after a few 100yds shel do it again? this will happen upto 4 times after a cold start, then i get the odd day where i have no problem what so ever? once shes nice and warm shel not cut out at all!

    • Hi,I had the same problem with it cutting out usually the first time you slowed down at an intersection,from cold if you let it warm up for 10 minutes it seems fine.A lot of blogs suggest it is the fuel pump seal letting oil into the diesel but I suspected I had a fine crack in the filter housing or poorly sealed hose letting fuel siphon back to the tank after sitting for a while and letting air in the line so I have just put a one way check valve immediately before the fuel filter so air can’t get sucked back into the filter and it seems to have cured the and easy. (2.8 TD)

  8. Tom Hanniffy // March 2, 2011 at 11:06 am // Reply

    Hi everyone
    Just looking for a solution to my problem with my pajero which is exactly the same as Chris when Icame across your site. Any help would be greatly appreciated

  9. Hi ive got a 97 pajero it had all the faults common with 2800 diesel, cold start ups glow plugs for a start then look at ECU RELAY.If truck stalls after starting pump the primer, this will tell you if there is air in system. ps The radiators clog as they have thin cooling cores and can kill ur motor Ive got a mitsi challanger radiator it never got hot again.

  10. Hi, I’ve been having cold starting problems despite overhauling the head after a badly worn camshaft! I’d completely forgotten about the ‘choke’ hidden down by my right knee!

    Usually I have to try the key off & on to get the glows going from 1st to 2nd click about 4 times and then I have to let the engine turn over for about 20=30 secs each time then it finally coughs into life and is horribly lumpy for ages.

    Just tried the ‘choke’ with one blast of the glow plugs this morning – (-2 degC) and bingo – about 4 revs of the lumpand she was firing solidly – must be a fuel starvation issue as apart from the fact that the glow plugs I bought were the £20 cheapskate set from Fleabay!!

    Many thanks for the reminder!!!

  11. brian thurlborn // February 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm // Reply

    after reading so much crap about starting a diesel engine (over a period of two yrs)it appears that a pajero is shite!! i had a volkwagen passat (1988 1.6 diesel)never had a problem it had done 500,000 miles when i sold it and it would still start in the coldest of weather!! so why does this jap engine have problems (i have one now,which i like BUT the cold start problem—well??)

  12. hi there i have a 1997 mitis v6 gdi and had the trans mission replaced. since then it just cuts out whenever the vechile slows or comes to a stop. it gets worse the longer you drive it. any ideas guys cause i am a solo mum and cant afford to do all the things the mech has suggested.

  13. we have a 95 pajero and although I love it for space and towing we have had major issues with over heating. It was sold to us with sealant in it and so when it over heated we found this to be a damaged head. We have spent a small fotune getting it fixed (way more than the car is worth) but we couldn’t bare to scrap it and start again. However since having the head fixed we have had it over heat 3 times. It is always for little things like a water hose but still leaves you a little frustrated and wondering if it will ever run well. If anyone has any experiences of them having an over heating issue I would love to hear about it.

  14. I have a pejero 2,5 I have changed heater plugs 2 heater realay and really temper swith and still take loads time 2 start anyone got this problem when I get it started it ok the rest of the day

  15. Hi when it’s reall cold and my shogan won’t start…..I apply heat to the manifold area using my wife’s hair dryer…for about 5 mins until dinner plate hot …turn it over and hey presto..starts ….try it ….you would not do all the time ..but it’s a quick fix …to get you going regards

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