Ducato Cold Start / Flame Start system explained

The 8140.43 2.8L Diesel engine used in various Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer, Citroen Relay and other vans and MotorHomes uses a fairly unusual cold start system, here we’ll look at how it works so if you need to do any troubleshooting, you know where to start!

Firstly, there are two separate cold start systems, one that advances the diesel injector timing whenever the engine is started from cold, and another ‘Flame Start’ device that operates whenever the ambient temperature is around freezing or lower.

Injection timing advance:-

On the diesel injection pump there is a lever that when actuated advances the diesel injection timing a few degrees. This is because the actual fuel burn when injected is slower in a cold engine so injecting it a little earlier allows more time for a complete burn. The lever is actuated by a ‘wax stat’ type device that is supplied with 12V when the engine is running, as it warms up the wax expands and moves the lever from the advanced timing position back to the normal running position. In the photo below (shown looking up from the bottom of the engine) you can see the wax stat circled in red – the electrical connection is on the left of the unit:-

Because this defaults to the advanced timing position if for example the electrical connection fails the diesel timing will stay at it’s ‘cold’ setting, regardless of engine temperature (in reality you may not even notice this has happened, though it will probably have a negative impact on your fuel economy). Over the course of a few minutes after starting the engine you should see the lever get slowly pulled towards the wax stat if everything is working properly.

Flame Start device:-

This is the more unusual part of the system. This engine does not have glow plugs like most diesel engines (electrical heaters in the cylinders that help ignite the fuel when the engine is cold), instead it has a ‘flame start’ device in the inlet manifold. This is a single heater plug and an additional diesel supply, when it is operating it puts a small amount of fuel on the heater, setting fire to it directly inside the inlet manifold! This was instead of the engine drawing in cold air it the air is pre-heated by the flame starter.

In this picture you can see the device in the top of the inlet manifold (the inlet air hose has been disconnected for clarity):-

The heater plug is the rusty unit in the middle of the photo, with the electrical connection to the top of it. The solenoid that controls the fuel supply is the cylindrical unit lying on top of the inlet manifold, with the electrical connection to it on its left hand end.

Here is a photo looking into the inlet manifold where the air intake hose connects, you can see the end of the flame starter poking into the manifold on the left hand side:-

This is the flame starter, just after the engine has started, you can see the flame starting to build

And here it is a few seconds later, once the flame has properly got going

With this system it is important to not wait until the glow plug light has gone out before starting the engine, as you would with most diesels. Instead turn the ignition on (glow plug light will come on constantly if it is cold enough to need the flame start) and allow a few seconds for the heater plug to heat up, then crank the engine. Once the engine has started the glow plug light will flash while the flame starter is operating, and go out once when the flame starter turns off.

The glow plug light will look like this, it’s in the bottom right of the instrument cluster

Note – this is on an 8140.43 engine with a Bosch VE pump style fuel injection system, if you have the later 8140.43s engine with a common rail injection system I don’t know if they have a flame starter (and the ignition advance is probably done electronically, rather than using the wax stat as mentioned above). If you know whether they have a flame starter or not please let me know in the comments below!

UPDATE! – Alan (a Motor-roam visitor) has been in touch to say his 2006 8140.43s 2.8l JTD (common rail) engine also has the flame start device – many thanks Alan!

For interest, here is a short video of the flame starter running:-

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UPDATE – see comment here for info on a readers manual control solution for the flame start system – thanks Patrick! 🙂


  1. My 2006, 8140.43s, 2.8 JTD engine does have a flame start device.

  2. Hi, i have a 2005 (55 plate) Ducato 2.8JTD with flame start and upon ignition the Glow plug light will go on but only for a couple of seconds , it has never flashed, is this correct? I have had the flow plug renewed recently and having difficulty starting in cold conditions recently (will start with a bit of cold start in the airways) thanks

    • Hi Paul, if you system is the same as mine the light will only start flashing once the engine has started, and if your light is going out after a couple of seconds it sounds like the engine is not trying to run the flame starter. It may be the ambient temp is not cold enough (it needs to be near freezing or below) or the temp sensor is faulty so the engine thinks it is warmer than it actually is. With the intake air pipe removed you should be able to observe if the flame starter is trying to do anything.
      Also, as the flame starter is more to speed warm up than actually help starting it may be you have an issue with the cold start fuelling, or in-cylinder glow plugs (if the JTD has these?)
      Hope this helps, let us know what you find and just shout if you have any other questions! Cheers, Dan

  3. Hi Dan, this is brilliant explanation of how both cold start systems operate and are fitted to my 1995 Ducato motorhome. My engine is worn and during cold weather takes longer to start putting more strain on my battery. The problem with the flame starter is that it will not operate until it is below freezing. I have read much about bypassing the temperature sensor/relay and wiring the plug directly to a push button on the dash. I think this would be great on the cold but not freezing days but how would it power the fuel solenoid and how would I wire it?
    I would value your comments and recommendations.

    • Hi Chris – thanks for the comment! 🙂
      If you are having trouble starting in cold weather I’m not sure hot-wiring the flame starter would help much, as it doesn’t really do anything until the engine has actually started (it’s more for helping warm-up than actual starting). I would look first at your fuel system, particularly injection timing, and perhaps get the injectors checked/cleaned?.
      If you do want to hot-wire the flame starter then I would take a fused feed directly from Batt+ and use a high power relay to switch it to both the fuel solenoid and the glow plug, and control the relay from a switch on the dash (you are unlikely to find a dash mount switch/button that could handle the required current directly). You could get fancy and incorporate a timer circuit, so you don’t forget and leave it running continuously!.
      Hope this helps – let us know how you get on! Cheers, Dan

      • Thanks Dan,
        Thanks for that, I’m off to Spain tomorrow in my van for the rest of the winter (slightly delayed this year) but on my return will do some work on my engine, while I’m away I will try the direct wiring to see if it helps on the cold parts of the journey. I will let you know how I get on 🙂

  4. Hi Dan,
    -2 this morning so thought I’d try the cold start. Ignition on, cold start light solid, waited for about 12 secs light started blinking and could hear fuel solenoid firing after couple of secs cranked it over and hey presto, it started just like it’s supposed to. light continued to flash for about 8 secs then went off, brilliant!
    Now, my next question is, as this is all working, what detects the temperature and sets off the procedure and can I do something to bypass it, or fool it into thinking it is below zero so I could use the system manually when its a few degrees above zero? That would be more effective that wiring the plug and fuel solenoid directly as there is clearly a timing issue here with the solenoid continuing to pump the fuel after it’s started for a few seconds. It would be great to have a manual control if possible. Thanks for your help

    • Hi Chris – there will be a temperature sensor located in the cylinder head somewhere – I don’t know where exactly on this engine but you should be able to trace the wiring back to it. It is likely to be a single wire resistive/PTC sensor. If you wanted to modify the behaviour you could characterise the sensor by measuring the resistance of the sensor to earth with the engine cold and again with it hot – the temperature/resistance plot is roughly a straight line between these points (if you can measure the resistance at a few different temperatures even better, as it’s likely to be a curve rather than a dead straight line). You can then modify the sensor with additional resistance in series (if you want to increase the resistance) or resistance in parallel (if you want to decrease the resistance). This should adjust the operating temperature of the flame start (you could even put a variable resistor in to allow you to change the behaviour with a dial). Note: If you have any electronic diesel controls on your engine the sensor may also be used for these, but if it’s a simple mechanical fuel injection the temp sensor is unlikely to be used for anything else other than the dash display. Hope this helps – Keep us posted! Cheers, Dan

      • Hi Dan, that’s just the information and explanation I was looking for. I will have a play and see how I get on over the next few weeks while I’m away. I’ll let you know what happens.
        Thanks again for the detailed info

  5. My 93 Ducato has this system
    Is there anything on my ducato that helps it actualy start when cold ? Only asking as seems to struggle to start, it’s been sitting for year , I only run it around around the block now and then.
    Used to start on the button.
    Battery is good.

    • Hi Paul – depending on engine variant you have probably got a cold start injection advance wax-stat on the injection pump and/or glow plugs. Glow plugs are the main thing that will effect cold starting, they should be powered at ignition on for a short time and should heat up quickly. It’s worth checking they all get power and that non of them have failed open circuit or high resistance (you can check this with a multimeter). Hope this helps, Cheers, Dan

  6. Patrick Holland

    May 4, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the excellent explanation Dan. I have a 1992 Fiat 2.5TD. It has the 8140.27 diesel engine. The 2.8 is also an 8140. Varaint. My relay unit broke some time back and I could not source another one. I drew a wire from the +ve at the inition to a push button in the dash and then into the gate of the transistor connecting the flame plug and slenoid to the battery. There is no feedback or timer doing it this way. My engine stuggles to start at lower than 6C without the glowplug. It works well except the glow plugs can burn out very easily. Initially I had a toggle switch and left it on. Bad. Now I press the push button at the same time as I crank the engine for no longer than about 5 seconds. Repeat if necessay. Thanks for showing the wax advance. I will check if mine’s working properly. This might help with smokingbwhen cold.

  7. Hi, Excellent article and has shed some light on cold start smoking issue that has plagued my 2000 Renault Master 2.8td.
    Wax stat for timing advance was inoperative, and the advance lever was in it’s relaxed state (wax stat actuator extended). I replaced the wax stat and there was no change. Upon testing the new stat the center pin pushes out of the device as it warms up. I stripped the actuator housing and the springs had worn the housing causing it to stick. Polished housing, freed up, greased and refitted…all ok!
    Advance lever is now held towards the actuator when cold and before starting. Upon starting (12v present) the wax actuator extends releasing the advance lever into it’s natural state away from the actuator (towards cam belt side of motor). Engine now starts clean and smoth but smokes (unburnt fuel) and misses as wax stat warms up and extends, until engine is warm.
    Your article says “Over the course of a few minutes after starting the engine you should see the lever get slowly pulled towards the wax stat if everything is working properly” which is opposite to what I have, as mine pushes out, releasing the lever.
    Pls can you confirm what is the cold and hot positions for the timing advance lever. Should the wax actuator have 12v permanently (Ign+) applied (doesn’t seem logical for the life of the unit, when it could only actuate in cold temps), or should it only be when ambient temp is cold. Mine has 12v permanently, but trying to work out if relay has welded closed. Do you know where relays are situated or what controls it. I can’t find a wiring diagram of how it it wired.
    Want to get to the bottom of this cold smoking issue. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Alister – I just filmed a 20min video to the wax start during engine start & warm-up (and cool down afterwards) to try and clarify the operation – only to discover that since I last checked my wax-stat has ceased operating! I have however gone back over some old notes and it appears you are correct regarding the direction of actuation, at least on some variants (the actuator should be retracted when cold and extend as it warms up, on some info I found for this engine in an Iveco Daily), Looking at mine however the lever on the pump is clearly pulled by the actuator, with a spring to return it to its rest position – the plot thickens!
      My issue appears to be a lack of power to the wax stat (note I believe it should be D+ rather than IGN, so only live when the engine is running), so there is either something wrong with my wiring or there is some additional control I’m not aware of (my understanding was it is simply a permanent supply from the alternator D+ terminal without any additional control). I’ll do some investigation and report back if I find anything. Cheers, Dan

      • I’ll double check mine to see if it is indeed ign+, or D+ with engine running.
        Mine appears to be working ok now, just warming up and moving the actuator before the engine appears ready for it, causing it to smoke and miss until engine has warmed up properly. I may fit a switch inline with the wax stat live to interupt supply until the engine is a bit warmer before switching back over.
        New wax stat for mine came from ebay https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/254194498170.
        Bosch part number 1 467 202 320, same part for 2.5td and 2.8td.
        Would still be nice to know what state the actuator arm SHOULD be in hot and cold states, as we seem to have 2 engines working completely opposite to each other.
        I’ll keep searching for a wiring diagram in the meantime.

        • Hi Alister – It’s interesting to hear how much of an impact the cold start timing advance has on the running of your engine – on mine it is unnoticeable whether the system is working or not! (I had the van for about a year before I discovered the wire had fallen off the actuator. I repaired it and watched the wax-stat move the lever as the engine warms up, but it made no noticable difference to the engine starting or warm up performance, it was fine in either state!)
          I’ll do some more digging and report back if I find anything….
          Cheers, Dan

          • For reference I checked the feed to the wax stat and it is an ignition live and not a D+ live. Still unsure if there is supposed to temperature controlled or not though.

  8. hi there work allot with the Sofim engines from early 90s through to about 2010 at present, and yes all of the common rail variants i have seen still have flame start, and the advance and such is done in the program, and i was told that on the common rail engines that the cold start operates at a much lower temperature to the mechanical injection, this is mainly because of the gains of direct injection over the indirect injection the mechanical system had to use to overcome diesel knock

  9. Hi! My ducato 1995 based hymer has this system. Im new to the motor and it seems there is an aftermarket button on the dash connected to this system. When I press the button when the engine is off I can hear voltage running to the solenoid area. What might this button be doing and how should I use it? Many thanks

    • Hi Josh – I can imagine two reasons there might be an aftermarket button wired into the system:- 1) The automatic control has stopped working so someone has added a manual button to activate the flame start when required 2) Someone wanted to either start the flame start before cranking the engine, or leave it running longer once the engine has started so has added the button to over-ride the control. (Both of these are just guesses 🙂 )
      Does the system work OK without needing to use the button on the dash? (note: you will have to wait until it’s near freezing or below to test it!)
      Cheers, Dan

      • Hey Dan, thanks for the speedy response!

        Unless the temp outside is warm, the engine can take a few seconds to get going. Even on a cool summer morning. When the temp outside is roasting like the heatwave we had a few weeks back it would start on the first turn. I have tried pressing and holding the button for a few seconds before starting it up but it didn’t make a difference, not too sure when I should be pressing it or holding it.

        It’s my first van so getting used to everything, it might be that the system itself has a fault.

        Cheers Josh

        • Hi Josh – no worries 🙂
          The engine shouldn’t need the flame start to get going unless it’s REALLY cold, so I suspect there is something else causing your starting problem. Does your engine have glow-plugs? – if so these would be the first thing I would look at. They should all get +12V when the ignition is turned on, and you should be able to feel them warm up if you leave the ignition on for ~30secs without cranking the engine. You could also use a multimeter to measure the resistance between the terminal and the body of each glow plug, any that are open-circuit suggest a failed plug. Hope this helps, Cheers, Dan

        • Hi there the flame heater only works after the engine has started. The solenoid opens but diesel doesn’t eject fuel until the pump is running.

  10. Hi, We have just purchased a MH Fiat Ducato 2003 244 2.8JTD. Starts fine in these mild temperatures.
    When I turn the ignition on, the coil light flashes up and goes out. Starts fine. Then after about 15 seconds or so the coil light flashes for 30 seconds. I checked the Fault codes and it comes back with P0382 Thermo Start Solenoid Valve relay. There isn’t a relay for the solenoid (that I can find) but there is one for the Flame plug. The solenoid seems to switch ok when I apply 12v direct, connection was a bit loose, so tightened it up (same flashing), and the flame valve is not down to earth. Any idea what the resistance of this flame plug should be?
    I’m at a loss of what could be causing it, any ideas?
    Yet to try in really cold conditions.
    Many Thanks

    • Hi Perry – is the flame start hardware exactly the same on your 2.8jtd engine as on my 2.8tdi? (i.e. is it the same as shown in this article?) The diagnostics are a lot more sophisticated on the JTD engines – I don’t have anything as fancy as fault codes :-p
      I don’t know the exact resistance spec of the flame plug but I would guess at a few ohms – possibly even less than 1ohm. Anything above about 10ohms or a dead short would indicate an issue.
      I doubt it’s a problem with the flame starter itself as it shouldn’t be being activated at all until the temp gets near freezing?
      Can I ask what diagnostic software you are using? – P0382 usually refers to the glow plug circuitry but your software may have given it a more specific description for your particular vehicle/engine. Does the JTD engine have a glow plug for each cylinder? – if so it’s probably worth checking the resistance of each of these in case that’s the problem. (A single faulty glow plug would probably not causing significant starting problems in mild temperatures)
      Hope this helps, let us know how you get on. Cheers, Dan

  11. Hi,
    I have this system on my Iveco daily.
    A quick question if I may.

    On mine the wax stat is fed via a temp sensor in the water way near water pump. On testing it when engine is cold ( but over 0c) no voltage passes the sensor to the stat. Not had a chance to test as the engine warms up to see if it then sends power to the wax stat. Reading the posts above it seems you all have12v to the stat as soon as you turn ignition on. Do you think my sensor has failed?

    • Hi Richard – I would expect power to the wax stat at ignition on, but it’s possible there is more intelligence in the system than we give it credit for!….
      In your case you have power to one side of the temp sensor but not the other (that goes to the wax stat)? It would be interesting to monitor the sensor as the engine warms up and see if there is any change, but as (if my understanding is correct!) the pump is advanced when the wax stat is cold and the heating of the was stat removes the addition timing advance I’m not sure how the temp sensor would interact with with system?
      Keep us posted on your progress with the diagnosis! Cheers, Dan

      • I ran it today with out power to the wax stat and it ran fine. I then ran it with power direct to it. It ran worse at idle. Did not have meter to see if stat switch closed but i think it will be a cold stat not a hot one so normally open and closed when cold.

  12. Hi Dan, I am coming in at a tangent but have an issue with a fuse blowing on the nearside lighting circuit (Tail, Brake, side lights). I have been directed to a cable on the heater element on the inlet manifold with the suggest the heater goes short circuit with age and causes the nearside lighting fuse (7.5) to blow.
    I have a 1999 Ducato 2.8 JTD. Just wondered if you had any thoughts on the circuit and the perhaps common fuse.

    • Hi Ken – I would be surprised if those two circuits shared a fuse but I guess nothing’s impossible! You should be able to prove it by disconnecting the wiring at the heater element (tape up the wire while it is disconnected in case it comes into contact with anything grounded) If this stops the lighting fuse blowing then you know you are on to something. Hopefully you won’t need the manifold heater again until next winter so there is plenty of time to sort it :). Keep up posted with the progress of the diagnostics/fix. Cheers, Dan

  13. What a great article and found it just at the right time. I was just starting to investigate an old problem of needing 2 turns of the key to start my 2.8jtd. On the wiring diagram I have (eLearn Ducato) this is called Heat-Flange. My thinking was it came in to play during the glowplug symbol phase to warm the inlet but didn’t see the ECU pulling the Heat Flange relay coil to earth during the glowplug phase. Now I see that is not an issue. Do you know anything about Thermal Start Relay and Thermal Start Resistance? Otherwise I think the ECU might control the fuel at start-up but have yet to look if I have the wax stat solenoid.

    • Hi Bill, can you send me wiring diagram. I have Ducato 230 2.8 idTD (TDI). Someone disconnected the entire glow plug control unit. My email is olline@seznam.cz
      Thank you very much!

    • JB - Jumper 2.8HDI

      November 29, 2023 at 7:02 am

      Hi Bill, did you find the problem that causes 2 key turns to start? I have the same problem! It is enough that i make the smallest turn on the starter – for it to immediately start at the second. If i dont, i can turn the engine forever on the first try… It wont start without 2 key turns! (unless i just have turned it off).

  14. Martin Oxenham

    May 10, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    Does this flame run when the engine is warming up or all the time.
    I have a 2.8 Boxer Camper with this system and have a problem that no one can cure after four years. On light throttle at exactly 1500 and again at 2000 I get a slight misfire/surge and the throttle seems unresponsive at certain points, Sometimes it hits this point and surges off and sometimes it hits this point and sort of sticks. The throttle pedal has been changed Four times over the life of the van. It does it more when you stop for a while and restart.
    The van always starts on the button with no problem.

    • Hi Martin – the flame start only runs for a short period on start/warm-up, and doesn’t operate at all unless the temperature is very low, so I suspect your problem is unrelated to this system……Cheers, Dan

  15. Hellos,
    Thaks for the article. I’ve a 2.5TD Fiat Ducato and warning light shows up/ blinks while running uphill on hot conditions, at the same time i felt lack of power and engine overheating quite a bit.
    Do you know or can you point some faulty system component?
    Cheers from Portugal.

    • Hi Pedro – what is the warning light you are seeing? If it is the glow-plug light it is very strange for that to be blinking while driving uphill! Cheers, Dan

      • Hi Dan.
        I have a 1995 Hymer Fiat X230, 2.5 TDSD. It has the more simple « flame start ». It always starts at once even if below zero. Many thanks for continuing the updates that I seem to read every 6 months. It is always enlightening, even if a bit too technical. Just enjoy learning.

        My question is:…. A few years ago on a cool November morning while on a motorway the flame start flashing light came on for about 15 minutes while driving. I stopped and there seemed to be oil/diesel around the flame wiring. Never happed again. Any thoughts in case it happens again. Main worries were using too much diesel or an overheating around the manifold.

        • Hi Edward – thanks for the message!. I don’t know why the flame start light would com on during driving?? – perhaps another reader will have a suggestion…..
          If there appeared to be diesel around the wiring it’s worth checking you don’t have a leak around the solenoid etc. – you don’t want your internal combustion engine to inadvertently turn into an external combustion engine!
          Cheers, Dan

          • Hi Dan.
            Apologies for not responding to your reply as I have just found it.

            Yes a leak could cause problems…a bit like a flame thrower!


  16. Dr.Anthony Williams

    May 22, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Dan,
    Glad to have found you and I hope that you might be able to help an old timer with a Fiat Ducato 2.5 DTI ( 1998 ) camper. I fitted a new fuel filter and since then have not been able to start the engine. I bought a brake vacuum kit, and sucked the air from the injector pipes return manifold, and the engine fires intermittently on one or two pots but the strain on the starter motor worries me, and I wondered if I might get the engine started if I tow it with my old range rover up a private road where the camper is kept. There was never any starting problem before the filter change and I assume that all is well on the glow plugs / flame warming device, do you have any suggestions please ?

    • Hi Anthony – thanks for getting in touch. It can take a bit of cranking to get all the air out of the system after changing the fuel filter, tow-starting may help but there are a couple of other things that may help. One is to ensure the fuel filter is full of diesel when fitted (if possible). If it can be kept upright you can fill it from a clean container of diesel before screwing it into the housing. Another thing to try is to loosen the fuel pipe union at each injector in turn and crank the engine until fuel comes out at the union. A rag wrapped around the union will help collect any leakage and protect from high pressure diesel which can be very dangerous. (please only try these things if you are confident with the procedure and all necessary safety measures etc.!) Hope this helps, cheers, Dan

      • Dr.Anthony Williams

        May 22, 2021 at 5:43 pm

        Thanks Dan, Excellent suggestions, and I shall go back to check those points.
        I will update you on the outcome, and perhaps try the towing too, as I suspect that if I had a long enough hill, I could get the old girl to fire up with a bump start. Right now, I am in The Netherlands, and the nearest long hill is Eau Rouge on the Spa racing circuit Belgium !!
        Best wishes ,and thanks for your prompt reply. Anthony.

  17. Dr.Anthony Williams

    May 24, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for your advice, and I have now started the engine on my camper, and there was no air in the system, but I disconnected the return pipe from the intercooler , squirted easy start into the inlet manifold, and it fired up and ran well . I have since then restarted the engine many times, and if still warm, it starts first time. However, if cold, I have to disconnect the air inlet to the manifold and start it that way, after a few minutes I can reconnect the return from the intercooler and all is well. However, when the engine is warm, I put my foot on the accelerator, and it takes up to thirty seconds before the engine speed rises, and even if I keep my foot to the floor, maximum rpm does not happen for at least a minute. I have taken all the air hoses off, and looked inside the mass air flow meter ( it is an old unit with a flap inside it ) and that is clean and moving freely, the connector terminals are clean, and I am wondering what next, as the engine has never given a problem until the fuel filter change two weeks ago. Any suggestions please ? Best wishes Anthony.

    • Hi Anthony – it definitely sounds like a fueling issue, though I’m surprised to learn your engine has a mass air flow sensor, I didn’t know 2.5 litre engine used these! As I’m not familiar with your engine it’s hard to know where to look but perhaps there is still air trapped in the fuel system somewhere? Do you get clean fuel out of each injector union now? Cheers, Dan

  18. Dr.Anthony Williams

    May 24, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    Hi Dan, I have started the engine, by removing the big hose from the intercooler to the inlet manifold. The engine runs fine and starts well, but with the aforementioned hose re-fitted, it takes around twenty seconds to rev. the engine with the accelerator pedal fully to the floor. Even so, I can’t get the engine to rev cleanly, with a rapid uptake of speed, it’s as if it slowly climbs to around three thousand rpm, and of course on the road, acceleration is painfully slow. There is no smoke, and all the vacuum hoses are fitted , but I have no idea why this should happen after a fuel filter change, there has never been a problem before. Any ideas? Thanks again. Anthony.

  19. Hi,
    Excellent read! Very helpful. My wax stat isn’t working. Thinking of replacing it with a choke wire.

    Or because it’s a motorhome that is only used in the summer just fixing the lever in warm mode. Would that be a solution?

    • Hi Andreas – the wax stat is more for engine warm-up rather than accounting for ambient temperatures, so summer use only doesn’t really make that much of a difference. Having said that a faulty wax-stat often doesn’t have much effect on the running of the engine either hot or cold! Are you noticing any running issues with your faulty wax stat? Cheers, Dan

      • Dan, thanks for the quick response!

        I feel a lack of power in the engine, it’s a 2,5tdi 85kw ~114bp. But struggle to keep 90km/h uphill. Read somewhere that the cold start advanced timing can affect the performance. Hence thinking about trying to fix it in warm mode.

        Can’t fint any other obvious reason….
        Pressure tested the intercooler with no issues and no issues with the Waste gate. Increased the amount of diesel a bit but just below black smoke =). Runs excellent and does always start without extremely easy, even after 6 month of winter storage. But thought it to be more powerful.

        Best Andreas

  20. Dr.Anthony Williams

    June 9, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Dan,
    An Update.

    I took the camper ( 1998 Hobby with six wheel chassis fore and aft configuration this camper has around 70,00miles from new, and I have serviced it myself for the last six years, ) for the first run today.
    The new starter motor was fitted, and whilst I was underneath, I disconnected all the earth strap leads to engine and chassis, and re-fitted them with copper nuts and washers, with a liberal coating of Vaseline to protect them in future.
    The key was inserted into the ignition, and the moment of truth came, when the engine turned just once, and fired up clean, tickover was perfect, and the throttle pedal was clean and responsive.
    I went out for about an hour through the town, out onto the motorway, and back again through the town, there was no smoke, beautiful hard acceleration, lots of power, and the engine pulled like a train.
    On my return I checked underneath for oil leaks, as I had changed the oil with a new filter, and it was perfectly dry.
    To think that a week or so ago, I was struggling to make the engine rev up with my hand on the gas pedal pushing it to the floor, with tone of black smoke, and really bad running, and all the time the problem was the Exhaust Gas Recirculating Valve. !!!! The valve was taken off, and it was not easy as the bolts had been in place untouched for twenty years, and I cleaned the valve throat with Mr. Muscle oven cleaner, but then decided that the two flanges connecting the valve to the exhaust and the inlet manifold should be blanked off. I found a piece of aluminium sheet one millimetre thick, marked it with a builders pencil and cut it out with a pair of tinsnips, drilled a couple of 8mm holes and without gasket cement, I bolted it al back together. Disconnected the vacuum pipe and blanked it off, and Bob’s Your Uncle !!!
    The valve is now just another ornament under the bonnet, and the engine runs like new. So much for the California Air Research Board, that stipulated that all European Diesel imports should be fitted with exhaust gas recycling. I would bet that there have been a great number of owners of Fiat Ducato derivative vans and campers that have paid good money for repairs that have been needed because of that valve.
    Anyway, I am most grateful to you for the follow up emails and I send thanks and best wishes to my fellow travellers for sharing their knowledge and experience in the lovely world of Fiat Ducato fans.
    Best wishes,
    Dr. Anthony Williams.
    The Netherlands.

  21. Regarding wax stat on 2.5 Fiat Ducato Auto Trail, I recently purchased my 1999 Autotrail . Yesterday whilst underneath doing some investing I noticed the wire to the wax stat had broken, having repaired wire I checked in this forum about function of wax stat. Mine is at full extension (it has a wire not a rod) engine starts and runs fine, I waited for engine to warm up ,no change to wax stat so I manually moved wax stat lever which made engine labour, on releasing lever engine runs fine. I do feel engine is noisy when driving (diesel knock) so thought possibly pump to far advanced, it has done 68000 miles.

    • Dr. Anthony Williams

      October 12, 2021 at 12:47 am

      Hello Don,
      If your engine is starting and running well without the wire being connected then I would suggest that you leave it alone, and just give a thought to isolating the EGR valve as I referred to in my previous mail. My Hobby six wheeler is almost four and a half tonnes in weight, and with the EGR valve fitted , it returned around 22 mpg. which was acceptable given that it has 130,000 kilometres on the clock, but recently we have put another 10,000 kms. on this summer, and the mileage per gallon has jumped up to more than thirty!
      This is amazing given that the EGR valve is supposed to recirculate exhaust gases into the combustion chamber, and therefore increase overall efficiency, I firmly believe that the EGR valve is ruining performance and fuel mileage, and suggest that owners isolate the thing to improve both miles per gallon and performance.

      • Hi Both – I don’t believe the EGR valve was ever intended to increase overall efficiency, typically they operate at part-load to re-circulate exhaust gas through the combustion chamber to encourage complete combustion of any unburnt fuel/soot etc. In this sense they are a device to reduce levels of harmful pollutants in the exhaust, rather than improve efficiency. That said – they should certainly not be reducing efficiency so by-passing a faulty valve that is harming engine performance may well be a good idea. Cheers, Dan

  22. I have a Fiat 1995. It has a 8140.47 engine with the flame start and wax stat. Engine has always start great.

    1. Can I thank all the contributors to this on going thread . It has been so enlightening to read again … catching up. I have learn so much.

    2. I was wondering if the black smoke that used to puff out when starting from cold, un-burnt diesel, could be a symptom of the wax stat not adjusting the timing correctly or a flame start issue. After about 2 years going to Spain in our Winter the black puffing smoke stopped? I did no remedial works.

    3. On the same holiday on about day 4 the flame start dash symbol started to flash intermittently for a couple of hours when driving and the engine was hot. I was concerned as I did not want anything to burn out or keep pumping extra hot diesel while driving. It never happened again.
    Does anyone have any thoughts. I did wonder at the time if a perished wire was shoring out or maybe a relay was on the way out.

    Just try to understand if it should happen again. Thanks to all.

  23. Siniša Stanojević

    November 5, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Here is a detailed explanation of how preheating system work. First, there is two system: one with dedicated temperature sensor and other without it. This one (older version) measure resistance of torch (Thermostarter) itself, which vary with temperature. So, Thermostarter is a sensor. You can recognize this system with two green wires, thick and thin.
    SOFIM indirect injection motors have ordinary 4 glow plugs.
    System kicked in at 2 +-2 degrees. Thermostarter warming for about 35 seconds with yelow control lamp steady on. After that lamp started blinking or goes off on some version. This is when you should crank the engine. The flame is created and the engine starts. The system is active for some time after that, depending on the temperature, a minute or more.
    Every engine have one of these systems, but some older have no KSB – wax operated timing system. It is not needed for easy starting, only for less smoking while engine is cold.
    The preheating system can perform a self-diagnosis and reports error (if any) by flashing the yellow light. There is two types of errors – internal and external, represented by slow (1Hz) or fast (4Hz) blinking.
    Possible errors:
    – solenoid stuck or disconnected
    – Thermostarter disconnected
    – Relay stuck
    – no power
    – ….
    I have a error table but there is no way to upload it.

    • Siniša Stanojević

      November 5, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      “You can recognize this system with two green wires, thick and thin.”
      Connected on Thermostarter. The power supply is thick and it is thin to resistance measure.

  24. David (Roxanne Quimper-Vannes)

    December 5, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    This is a great thread, I’ve enjoyed reading all of it. I have a 1999 Renault Master Ambulance/Campervan conversion which I bought as a lockdown project in 2020. It was originally a 2.9tdi but someone fitted a 2.5 non-turbo engine at some point and it simply refuses to start if the ambient temperature is below 5degC.

    The flame starter wasn’t connected when by whoever replaced the engine (it’s missing the diesel solenoid and associated plumbing) but it got four fresh glow plugs last year. It won’t start with Easi-Start and it has a separate button on the dash to operate the glow plugs and no amount of time on the glowplugs will start it if the outside temperature is below 5deg. Above 5deg and it fires first time every time, runs like a champion and returns 32mpg from a 2.6 tonne van.

    Here’s the funny bit; if I put the heater from my shed (a small oil-filled Dimplex) under the diesel pump, in front of the sump and leave it for 20 minutes the engine will start without any difficulty. It isn’t heating anything significantly, I can’t feel it having much of an effect on the metal parts of the engine or diesel pump but it will start the poxy van in the coldest weather. I’m utterly stumped and it means I have to be near 220v if I want to start the van on a cold morning.

    Thanks for reading this far, the injectors are clean, the waxstat appears to be seized but it doesn’t affect normal running and the van runs like a Swiss watch apart from it’s inability to start when its cold. I left it with my mechanic for a month last January and he couldn’t find anything (I don’t know how hard he looked, he didn’t charge me anything).

    Any ideas? I will fund a round of beers for anyone who can solve the mystery without suggesting I change the engine or fit a 220v generator into the back of it…

    • Hi David – thanks for the comment! A couple of quick things to check:- is the van in regular use or is it still being converted? (i.e. when did you last put diesel in it?) If it’s still got ‘summer’ diesel in it just buying some fresh diesel may help as diesel sold in the winter is usually blended to help it not go waxy at low temps. Also, have you been able to confirm the new glow plugs are working properly? – a clamp-on DC current meter on the supply cable will be able to tell you what sort of power they are drawing, and if you can get the meter onto each individual glow plug supply cable you can compare them against each other. Hope this helps!, Cheers, Dan

  25. Very interesting thread you have going. This explains a lot 🙂

    If a car with normal glow plugs doesn’t start immediately (within half a second I would say) when the outside temperature is close to zero you would start thinking about compression issues or faulty plugs….I was on this path until I read your posts.

    When it’s 2-3 degrees outside my 2005 Jumper 2.8 JTD (4140.43s) cranks for 2-3 seconds before it starts and I was not happy about it.
    But considering the thermostart hasn’t kicked in yet at this temperature it may just be normal…what do you guys think? It has done about 130 k miles.

    Regards, Mikkel

    • Hi Dan
      Don’t know if this is still a live chat but though I’ll ask anyway I also having problems starting are motorhome when’s it’s cold or even at the moment and it’s warm most days dose the system also still have common glow plugs as well as the flame start and Advanced wax stat

      • Hi Stephen – Some engines have traditional glow plugs, but no all so it depends which exact engine you have. If you are having problems starting in warm weather I suspect you have a different problem, perhaps a small air leak somewhere in the fuel system? Cheers, Dan

        • Thanks will have a look tomorrow night bother in law coming round to take a look but he more petrol engine mechanic so we both doing bit of research she is a 2005 2.8 jtd
          She start but you get some funny looks and people say need new battery been there done that also been told could be a tired starter motor so we just trying one thing at a time

          • Good luck with the investigation! If it is cranking slowly (like it would with a tired battery or starter motor) then it’s also worth checking the engine earth straps and cleaning their connections to the engine & chassis. Cheers, Dan

  26. Very very useful thread.
    My camper used to have a 1.9tdi engine which was replaced by a 2.5 TDI having a flamestart in the manifold but was never connected :(.
    I can add the electric wiring but where is the fuel pressure coming from , electric pump from the diesel pump ? Any guidance highly appreciated

    • Hi Bart – thanks for the message! From memory the flame start is fed from the fuel supply to the injection pump (i.e. it only needs the low pressure supplied from electric pump, not the high pressure supplied from the injection pump). Hope this helps, Cheers, Dan

  27. Hello guys, i have a b544 fiat hymer 2.5 tdi with this system.
    I checked everything , the fire plug and the “wax stat” and i saw that my wax stat is broken. I want to know when the engine is warm what wax stat should be pulled or is relaxed? I uninstalled the system to clean it and to check if is working and know i realised that i don t know how it should work and i m strugling ,i found this post and i hope some help.. sorry for my bad english.

    • Hi Corne – it’s been a while since I looked at this system but from memory the wax stat is pulled in when cold and relaxed when warm. If anyone knows any better hopefully they will reply here! Cheers, Dan

      • Thank you,Dan ! Today I fixed my solenoid. the wire was broken.
        I can’t see a difference on a winter cold start… after the fireplug sign is start blinking I try to start the engine and after 4 seconds it starts followed by a cloud of smoke.Is that normal for this type of engine? After the first start when is cold is starting very fast but only cold start seems to be slowly and smoke. What do you think ?

        • Hi Corne – it sounds like these is still a problem somewhere in the system. Have you been able to confirm if the flame starter is working now? (if you remove the rubber intake hose leading to the flame starter you will be able to see if it is injecting/igniting fuel during a cold start – it should look something like the video in this post) Cheers, Dan

          • Yes, I checked and everything works fine. However, I don’t understand why it still emits a lot of smoke until the engine warms up and starts hard when cold. it takes about 3-4 seconds for the engine to start after the light goes out…I will also change the diesel filter. Thanks for your response.

  28. Im also curious if anybody have the manual of the fiat ducato 230 tdi 2.5 1994?

  29. Look, I uploaded some videos on my youtube channels right here to see everything.
    video 1 :

    video 2: ( without starting the engine)
    video 3: ( after engine started )
    I have to stay ,after the engine warms up , everything work fine. no smoke, i have power, consumtion looks fine, maybe i did dont adjusted the wax stat right ? I looked on other forums and they said that need to remain 0.5 cm after the engine is warm.

    thank you in advance.

    • Hi Corne – I can only see one of your videos (2 & 3 seems to be set to ‘private’) I wonder if you have a problem injector who’s spray pattern is not quite right? – this could be causing poor combustion until the engine has warmed up a bit?

  30. Hello everyone.
    I fixed the smoke by changing the fuel filter. I set the wax star and every is perfect as the manual said but the problem is that the first key in the morning is still slow. I think to make an manual flamestarter switch because when is above zero degrees C is starter harter because the starter is not appear. Any sugestiong how to make a manual switch to starter ?

  31. Hi y’all
    Can some please direct me to where the ambient temperature sensor is please.
    2.8 jtd 2005.
    The read our on the analysis machine states it was 28⁰ when in actual fact the outside temperature was 14/15⁰.

  32. Hi Dan, I have a 2.8idTD in a Ducati based motorhome. A couple of months back it started misfiring a little when hot and at higher engine speeds. No rev counter but I’d guess 2000rpm +. It runs absolutely fine when engine is cold. It also runs fine at low engine speed at all coolant temps.

    Thinking it may be to do with the timing retard as the engine warms.

    Any thoughts?

    No EGR on my engine


    • Dan

      February 15, 2024 at 11:22 am

      Hi Russ – it could be related to the timing, but the wax-stat on my engine was disconnected for quite a while (the wire fell off & I didn’t notice) and it made no perceptible difference to the running of the engine?
      You can see the wax-stat and linkage operating on the side of the fuel pump from underneath the engine, have you been able to check if everything is moving as it should as the engine warms up?

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