K Series turns over but won’t start

  1. Check that the immobiliser (if fitted) is responding to your key fob transmitter by checking that the alarm indicator light on the dash has stopped flashing. If not, most commonly the fob may be faulty or have a flat battery. However, some cellphone towers emit signals of same/similar frequencies which interfere with the transmitter signal and prevent it reaching the alarm/security computer. If you suspect this, hold the fob near the computer (LH footwell in MGF) and shield it with aluminium foil or a metal sheet over your hand to screen the interference as you work the fob.
  2. Check the fuel pump inertia switch hasn’t been triggered
  3. You should be able to hear the fuel pump for a second or so when you first turn the key on as the pump pressurizes the fuel system. Note that subsequent activation of the key within a relatively short time of turning it off may not activate the pump as pressure may still be in the rail.
  4. Check you are getting fuel pressure to the engine: remove the fuel pipe from the fuel rail, you should get a small squirt as the ignition is turned on the it should stop, more fuel will be sent when the engine starts. In an MGF this is not all that accessible, so first do the ignition/electrical checks under 4,5,6,7.
  5. If you have a distributor cap, then remove it and make sure it is dry, condensation and water will prevent the spark getting to your plugs. Check the carbon brush is still in good order and fitted (inside centre of cap), and check for any hairline cracks, as this will track the spark to earth and not the plugs.
  6. If your engine hasn’t a distributor, the wasted spark version used in early cars, in which the coil packs are mounted at the bottom of the block under the inlet manifold, is very prone to damp affecting it thanks to the very long plug leads – to the extent that the car won’t start. To fix, remove the leads and warm them to dry them out (or buy new ones as it is old leads which are more problematic – however they are expensive so trying to sort the old leads first is better).  Also ensure that the coil packs are properly dry.
  7. Remove the spark plugs and check their condition, they could be sooted up or corroded.
  8. Check any fuses you have for your ECU
  9. Another thing that can happen is that the injectors stick closed after sitting for a while. Check the injectors are working by undoing the inlet manifold from the head and, with all plumbing still attached, pull it back far enough to hold a sheet of card an inch or two in front of the ports. Disconnect the low tension feed to the coil so there is no risk of stray sparks then get someone to crank the engine while you watch to see if there is any fuel spray from the injectors. If there is, then you have an ignition problem.
    If there is no fuel spray, and you carried out the test above to establish there is fuel getting to the rail, then the injectors are sticking. When we started our K Midget for the first time we had all but one injector stuck on. It was cured by tapping lightly on each one in turn until that cylinder cut in. One was quite persistent and took quite a bit of tapping. With a sprint the next day we were sweating! If this fails, then you need to remove the injectors and soak the end (while keeping the electrics clear of) in a suitable solvent which can dissolve gum deposits. Over here they are marketed as carburettor cleaners and are based on MEK. Or just get more injectors.
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