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Old May 14th, 2016, 08:46 PM
DefenderDave's Avatar
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2004 Defender 110-TD5
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Renwick, Marlborough, New Zealand
Posts: 3
Water in Fuel, lines and motor - ouch!

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to share my recent Defender 110 -TD5 experience.

Last week I set out 4WD'ing along one the rivers here in Marlborough, NZ. Everything was going well until the sun started to go down and I slid into a water hole whilst trying to climb up the river bank. In addition to the water hazard, a protruding tree branch scraped and snared the back door and along the rear quarter which meant I could not drive forward or reverse without causing more damage - ouch! However, this was the least of my worries as there was a major weather event forecast for that night which meant the river could rise and could potentially drown the vehicle further!@#

After a quick assessment and pant change(?)I made a call to a family member for the chainsaw, and, within the hour had cut away the tree from the vehicle and then reversed the vehicle out of the hole and onto a section of dry river bank. I decided to leave the vehicle there for the night and recover the vehicle in the morning which meant I gambled on the weather forecast. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep due to the heavy rain during in the early hours of the morning.

The next morning I went to recover the vehicle, it started as per normal and proceeded let it warm up. After one minute the vehicle blew white smoke(steam?) and then after 20-30 sec's ran quite rough with no power.....I immediately turned it off. I assumed that because my fuel tank was now completely full(!) I had been trying to run the vehicle on a fairly balanced diesel/water mix.

The Fix

With the kind assistance of a friend, we towed the vehicle back to the home work shop, and:

1/ syphoned the tank (70L's+/-)
2/ removed the tank, fuel lines, fuel filter, fuel pump
3/ cleaned and dried the tank using methylated spirits
4/ blew out all the fuel lines with compressed air, then methylated spirits, then compressed air again.
5/ disconnected the 'easy/quick snap' fittings on the motor and purged the injectors using the same method as above.
6/ inserted the new fuel filter


7/ filled the tank with 20L's of new diesel fuel
8/ turned the vehicle to the ignition position and primed the system using the electric fuel pump in the tank(you can here when it's at pressure and cuts out). Once primed, I turned the motor over for 10 seconds.
9/ repeated the above step(8) 3-5 times, each time waiting for the electric fuel pump to reach pressure. THEN...........the vehicle then turned over and started idling! phew!

The motor then blew some white smoke for approximately 3 mins. I then took it for a drive and filled the fuel tank completely and now everything is working well. However, I did have some questions I'm hoping someone can help me with:

1/ Where did the water enter my fuel tank? (the vehicle fuel filler cap was just under water(100mm) for about an hour with the vehicle running, also the tank breather was not under water)

2/ My defender is not fitted with a 'water in fuel' sensor is this common for the 2004 TD5 models?

3/ Is there anything else I should check that could be damaged?

Well, that's it. I don't wish this situation on anybody but if this does happen you may want to try the above procedure - total time 4-6 hours with 1-2 people. Additionally, I was extremely thorough ensuring all fuel fittings and exposed fuel lines and connectors were carefully protected and covered if exposed.

Pictures below. (1) stuck vehicle(you can see the tree!) (2) fuel water mix from fuel filter

Cheers, Defender Dave
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