Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

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alice the camper
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Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by alice the camper »

Hi. I've had my current T25 for four years. The first 3 years she ran beautifully, never a hiccup and only a bulb replaced at MOTs. The last year she's broken down LOADS.

July 2013 she cut out 2 days before I was due to go to France and wouldn't start. The breakdown guy reckoned it was the fuel pump and towed me to a local garage. The fuel pump was replaced the next day and I collected her, packed up, ran some errands, filled up the tank, drove to Newhaven, went through passport control and waited in line. When I restarted her to get on the ferry she died. As I had European breakdown cover, the nice ferry people towed me on to the ferry and arranged for me to be towed off at the other end. The French breakdown guy who came out in Dieppe sprayed some 'starte pilote' into the carb and off I went.

He thought if I stopped I wouldn't get started again but I had no problems until a couple of days and a few hundred miles later when I was on the motorway heading to the south of France. I had pulled into a service stop for a picnic lunch with my son, dog and cat. After lunch she started fine but died without warning about 200meters onto the motorway. Breakdown came out and towed us. Mechanics couldn't find the problem and we ended up being driven to my sister's in the Lot Valley on the back of a truck.

The mechanic there told me I was out of fuel. Said he'd put in 25euros and it worked fine. This wasn't true - I hadn't been out of fuel - but he was so pissy that I paid the 60euros he was charging for nothing and took my van, thinking my sister's partner was with me and has had lots of bays and splitties so I'd get him to check it out.

We filled the tank right up (costing far too less for there to only be 25euros in there already!!) and drove back to their house, whereupon, reversing up the incline of the driveway she cut out and wouldn't restart. Mike and I took apart the fuel lines. His buddy came by and said we should put in an electric pump. We didn't have one, but, without apparently fixing anything we got her going after a couple of days

She drove fine for a week and then I was taking my son out for the day. We'd filled up on petrol. We'd been to the supermarket. We were pulling out and she broke down. Called Mike. He looked everything over. We replaced the fuel filter as you can buy them in the supermarket there for a few euros. Eventually she started. Got home without further problems. Mike and I still couldn't work out what was going on, but Mike thought the pin that pushes the fuel pump may be a bit short.

Eventually we set out for home a couple of days in advance - just in case. It was now early August. Drove all the way back from the Lot Valley without issue, got the ferry home, drove a few hundred miles in England without problem. Then one day in September, again on a full tank, she broke down leaving Sainsburys. Got her started without the breakdown guy doing anything. Got the fuel pump pushpin replaced and mechanic said he'd checked all the fuel lines (but I'm not sure he did).

No more issues (at least to do with this!!) until April this year when she broke down on camping trip in Kent. She'd struggled pulling out of a roadside parking spot and then broke down a few hundred yards down the road. Called out breakdown. Hummed and ha-ed, got her started without any fix.

May, heading to a course in Bath, pulled in for a break at services on M3, started easily, idled while I sent a text, died as I went to pull out of parking space. Called out breakdown. Breakdown guy said 'knew it'd be fuel pump soon as I heard it was a T25'. Really? Well, in 7 years of owning T25s, a 1982 1.6 diesel for 3 years and this one, a 1990 1.9 petrol for 4years, it's only been this one over the last year that's had a problem. Told him pump was only 9 months old. Got her started without 'doing' anything.

Started to think there was a pattern between filling right up before a trip and her breaking down as there'd been no long trips over the winter and just put in the odd £30 or £40 here and there. But then, in July she broke down again,... 2days before going to Cornwall for our holiday! Just like last bloody year! Breakdown service arrived after 1.5hrs - during which time she'd failed to start - and she started first time. New mechanic felt could be electrical rather than fuel problem so replaced distributor cap and rotar arm, and, while at it, did oil change and replaced filters and checked spark plugs.

Drove over 1000 miles to and around Cornwall, then broke down back in Sussex. Never had problem with real frequency so felt safe driving to seafront next day, but afterwards, after pulling out of parking spot, she just died. New breakdown cover meant couldn't call out again without proof of work done so went for pizza and, when we came back, she started. Mechanic replaced the coil. Next breakdown was only a week later. I'm now afraid to rely on her at all. I can't keep spending money on stuff and waiting to see if it's fixed only to break down again after some indefinite amount of time or miles!!

Any clue? Anyone?

There is no juddering, she just goes quiet. When she is going to break down like this, it does feel like she has no umpfh from starting, like she hasn't properly woken up. And, so far, touch wood, she's never broken down mid-journey, just always within 2/300 yards of starting up.

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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by AdrianC »

alice the camper wrote:Breakdown guy said 'knew it'd be fuel pump soon as I heard it was a T25'. Really? Well, in 7 years of owning T25s, a 1982 1.6 diesel for 3 years and this one, a 1990 1.9 petrol for 4years, it's only been this one over the last year that's had a problem.

TBF, the fuel pump on a diesel is VERY different to a carb petrol.

There is no juddering, she just goes quiet.

Has anybody ever actually done any proper systematic diagnosis? Or have they just poked around and - ooh, look, it started, so I must've prodded the broken thing?
Suddenly cutting certainly sounds more electrical than fuel supply. Fuel'd cough and splutter and fart then die, usually, as the level in the carb float drops.

When it fails to start, remove the fuel pipe from the carb inlet, and get somebody to crank the engine over. If fuel comes out the pipe, it's not the pump.
Check you've got +12v to the coil. Check the -ve to the coil is being switched as the engine's cranked.
Check you've got a spark at a plug.
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by T25Convert »


This reads like you fuel pump / pushrod is not quite up to the task in hand - had very similar issues.

When you first start the van it runs on the fuel in the float chamber of the carb - it can run a surprisingly long time at idle like this. Then, as you give it some welly to move off it burn a whole lot more fuel and then cuts out as it runs dry. This can be quite abrupt, mine didn't cough or splutter it was just running, then not running.

When you try to start it again after its stopped there is nothing in the float chamber so it doesn't start. However, a blast of 'easy start' or similar gets it running, as does cranking it for a while until the pump finally primes.

To diagnose this issue, when you next have a cut out there is a slightly easier way to check that doesn't involve removing the fuel pump - take the air filter connection off the top of the carb and peer down the throat - give the accelerator a hard prod and see if fuel is squirted into the carb throat. If it isn't, its because your float chamber is empty and the van won't start until it fills (or until you use easy start!) If it squirts, then its not the pump so have a good look at the electrics instead as above^^^.

The £15-£20 GSF/Just Kampers type pump lasted me less than 6 months, and the £70 'luxury one' only managed 2 months even though the pivot was well greased. The replacement pushrod was also only 98mm long rather than the 100mm required. I have now gone with an electric one, which primes in an instant.

Good luck, its a pain when you have issues like this!


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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by CovKid »

I wouldn't be without my electric one now. When mech ones work they're great but when they don't work properly you'll often get intermittent probs that cause very frustrating breakdowns. Good pump, good fuel line and you'll be good to go but as Alex says, check for fuel at carb when it does conk out - ideally straight away when it does it.
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by marlinowner »

Could be crud in the tank, if it does it again check at the carb as above and if no fuel there disconnect at the filter by the tank and check a good stream of fuel comes out. Ideally let it flow into an empty petrol can and then you can watch the flow for a minute or so and then put the fuel back in the tank if OK.
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by Ian and Lins »

Adrian is right, you have to do a systematic check through the fuel system.
I had a very similar problem that was compounded by some unusual events.

I'd got it down to the fuel pump, so I bought a new one. I also replaced the pump pushrod, fuel lines and filter as a matter of course.
The problem returned and it turned out the brand new fuel pump had failed. New good pump on and fine for about 1000 miles. The problem came back. After checking every thing again it turns out the new pushrod has worn to an unserviceable length. So I'll be swapping that with the supplier.
Don't assume because you've replaced a part that the new (brand new in my case) parts work or cannot have failed or worn out in such a short time.
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by Aidan »

When it won't start you have to check the basics, fuel air and spark, I'd be guessing at TCi unit myself so looking for lack of spark primarily but checking that when turning over there is fuel and air filter is good and intake pipework clear, could be diagnosed as coil failure incorrectlyas same result no spark

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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by LeeCarey »

We have 1984 Devon conversion (CU) and had many occasions when the engine would stop for no reason and then after being left for a while could be re started.

We found it to be a vacuum occurring in the petrol tank, you can check for this by undoing the petrol filler cap and hiss will be heard.

The petrol cap in non vented and I believe that the breathing system is achieved by other means (which must be blocked). Our van has a Webber conversion and only one fuel pipe from the tank (not sure if this is relevant).

The way we cured our problem was to cut a narrow slot in the petrol cap rubber washer to allow air into the petrol filler to prevent a vacuum building up in the tank.

From what you say that the problem tends to occur when you fill the tank which means that there is less air and the problem will occur sooner than with an empty tank.

This happened to our van about 4 years ago and we have had no further problems.

I hope this may help
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by sarran1955 »


Yes.. check tank breather...

though there is a strong chance that the filler neck hose is sufficiently perished to do the job for you.... :roll:

Just one point on the above postings.. for me..I would want to put some petrol into the float chamber from a seperate feed..
and then check to see a 'healthy squirt' :oops: of petrol though the accelerator jet tube.. on full depression of the operating arm
.it is about 0.8 cc.. so you will see it..

Later Solex carbs have an atomiser jet at the end of the tube...prone to blocking..

Earlier, and Aircooled have just the tube and spraybar tube.

Spares available.. Gower and Lee.

If during a 'non starting ' incident you check as above.. and all is well....then your problem may well be electrical..

Usually coil or distributor.. :wink:

If you have an old 'Hall effect' ignition.. you may want to think about this..

(different motor..same principle)..

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Hope this helps..



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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by a1winchester »

It's worth renewing the fuel line. That sorted my van with similar symptoms. It only takes a little pin hole to allow air in. Sometimes the pump gets enough to the carb, but occasionally not.
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by Wardieb »

It sounds very similar to my problem. I'd assumed it was a problem starting a warm engine. Mine would cut out just after restarting after stopping on a journey. It doesn't always happen but when it does, I have to manually override the choke, which is a two person job.
I assume there's not enough fuel getting to the carb.
I know it's been driven to empty a couple of times and I don't think the fuel filter has been changed. If the problem reoccurs after the filter change I'd like to get an electric fuel pump.
Any ideas about where to source one?
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by ermie571 »

usual places...brickwerks (do the facet one...reliable but £££), ebay do a universal one. Not so much ££ but NOT facet. Look like facet. I has the ebay one, as ££ didn't allow the facet at the time.

Run on lpg and seems to be ok at the moment...but not expecting it to last very long.

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alice the camper
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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by alice the camper »

Thank you to everyone who took time to respond to my post.

After calling around, I took advice to get a new control unit. Wasn't very expensive and easy to install. So far - fingers crossed, touch wood - she seems to be running ok. :ok BUT, as she has sometimes driven great distances and gone long periods of time without breaking down, only time will tell.

A lot of replies had ideas that had already been considered, but there were some new ones so, if she does break down in the same way again, I'll have all your comments to work through.

Thanks again

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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by Rford »

Hi there, just wondered if you had any problems after the control unit or did it work properly? Mine is doing the same...already had a new fuel pump, fuel tank, distributor cap, rotor arm and finally hall sender changed a few days ago, thought it was fixed but now broken down again i the garden centre (seems to happen shortly after restarting a warm engine)!

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Re: Engine silently cuts out - entirely intermittent

Post by Oldiebut goodie »

Hasn't been back for 6 years!
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