Brake (stop) lights

Travelling up the coast last weekend back to the finca, Adrian noticed the electrics seemed to be playing up.

He couldn’t tell whether the dashboard lights were coming on and couldn’t see if the headlights were working in the tunnels.

As the tunnels are pretty well lit, it’s virtually impossible to tell whether your lights are working or not.

Plus, the ammeter seemed to be swinging around a bit. Maybe it was a fuse somewhere – always nice to hope for something simple.

Anyway, we got there ok, but before setting off on the return journey, we went methodically through the light check. It seemed the brake (stop) lights were the culprit and weren’t working.

Now – some two years ago, we had a problem with the brake lights. We had been checking everything before we took the vehicle for the Spanish ITV – and, the brake lights weren’t working.

At the time, we had no idea which was the fuse for the brake lights. In fact we didn’t know what any of the fuses were for. There is no manual with the vehicle and we have not been able to find anything remotely resembling one.

Santana fuse box

So trial and error was called for, and we methodically went through the fuses, trying to identify what each one was for. Out of 14 fuses, we managed to identify nine of them. But even with a full set of working fuses, the brake lights still weren’t coming on.

We posted on LRUK asking if anyone had any idea about the Santana fuse box – hoping it might be similar to a Defender one, because it certainly is nothing like a Series III one. We discovered it is nothing like a Defender one either.

But, help came our way, with a suggestion that we needed to check the brake light switch and see if there was any current going through it. There wasn’t.

Brake light switch – really convenient position…..

The next day Adrian cycled into town to see if he could get a switch. He did, at a cost of 9€. So far, so good.

Then all we had to do was to work out how to replace it. There was no way we could do it without a dismantle job, so off came the wing, out came the pedal box, the reservoir, servo, brake master cylinder blah blah…… All for a nine euro switch.

Everything out

Pedal box on kerb complete with new switch

Anyway, job done and back in and on. Auto-electrician was well impressed with our efforts and he told us it would have cost hundreds because he would have needed to pay a mechanic to do the dismantling job.

All back

So back to the present, and when the brake lights still weren’t working we had that nagging feeling that the switch might have gone again.

But, after the fuses, the next step was the bulbs. Checked those, no, not working either. Not looking good at this point.

Adrian jumped in the Landy and shot into town to see our favourite auto-electrician.

“Arranque,” said the auto-electrician. Adrian started it up. “Ponga los frenos.” Adrian put the brakes on.

“Muy bien,” said your man. “Funcionan.”

Adrian jumped out looking puzzled, so the auto-electrician duly demonstrated to him that they were working.

At which point the penny dropped. The second time we had tested them – after changing the fuse – Adrian had turned on the ignition, but not the engine. So the brake lights didn’t come on. Everything else did – but not the brake lights.

Anyway, he made up a really cool story about how his useless woman couldn’t even tell which lights were brake lights……… and drove happily home.

At least we know which fuse is for the brake lights now.


Glow plugs/heater plugs (1)

Back here I wrote about our Diesel Woes. And said that we would be checking through to see if we could find the source of the problem.

We couldn’t see any loose cables, so armed with our trusty new circuit tester with both a lamp and audible warning, we decided to go check the ballast resistor and then onto the heater plugs.

The resistor on the Santana is in the dashboard, under a nice plastic cover. It looks totally different to the Series ones.

Unfortunately Adrian had virtually put it all back together before I found the camera and I decided it wasn’t a good idea to ask him to undo it all again.

Then I went off to check the heater plugs, following Big Sandy’s clear and simple article at LRUK Forums.

So I started at the one nearest to the radiator, while Adrian held the ignition on. The top feed was fine. The bottom one wasn’t. Wondered if I wasn’t doing it right. Checked all the others, all top and bottom feeds had current to them. We would have checked how much voltage to each one if the battery in the volt meter hadn’t been dead. The first one seemed to be the culprit though, so out he came.

Even with our limited electrical knowledge we figured it would be pretty difficult to complete the circuit when the element at the bottom has snapped.

He looks like he’s had copper slip on him and he certainly came out easily enough. So now we are waiting for some new ones, part no 568335, ie one to replace the faulty one and some spares. NB Do not throw away the washers, ceramic insulator, and threaded top (incidentally this has a slot in the top for a screwdriver when you want to undo it to take out the plug).

Part 2 to follow when the new plugs arrive.

Diesel woes

What happens when you don’t move your vehicle?

It doesn’t start. Naturally. Especially when it is a cantankerous 3.5 diesel.Anyway we got some great advice from LRUK so set about sorting the filter first and then bleeding the system.

Old filter

New filter

When we changed the filter, emptied and cleaned the sedimenter, the fuel was clean. Then we bled the system. Didn’t work. Still wouldn’t start.


The lift pump was not pumping. At all. This then became the main suspect. Had a look round on internet for prices. Some cheap, some dear.

Lift pump

Still wasn’t convinced it was the lift pump though, but couldn’t work out what it was.

Went into the back of the vehicle and took off the cover plates over the fuel tank. Checked all the pipes were clear, they weren’t gunged up and then re-tightened all the jubilee clips. The fuel in the tank was clean.

Access plates to fuel tank in back body

Electrical connections and pipework

Pipe feeds, note the clips in the metal frame –
exactly the same as on our Series

Then we followed the pipework through, checking there were no breaks, there was no intermediate filter on the chassis that could have been blocked. Everything seemed in good order. Had another go at bleeding just for luck, but still no joy.

We wanted to get it moved so in the end we got one of the local garages to come and have a look. They walked down but they couldn’t get it started either, so towed it back to the garage.

How embarrassing.
Small van tows giant Land Rover Santana

How many guys does it take to push a 3.5 truck?

Fast forward to the solution. The fuel system was in order, no problems with lift pump or injector pump. As we knew, the fuel was clean – there was no obvious pipe blockage or build-up of gunge. The nasty diesel bug didn’t seem to have taken up residence either.

So according to the mechanic, the problem was a faulty cable that ran from the ignition to the injector pump. It had no voltage on it. So they replaced it.

And she happily started so we drove her away.

But the next day, would she start? Not without Easy Start. Although only a very tiny spray. Of course, she does start when she’s been warmed up. So naturally when we had picked her up from the garage she had started good as gold as they had driven her out onto the street – she was still warm. Don’t know how they had started her though..Easy Start?

At the time, we had pointed out the glow plug light was not working, but the mechanic said not to worry about it.

Should glow red – doesn’t

So now apart from anything else we have to screw back the dashboard which the garage didn’t bother putting back. And then we have to work out whether there is a loose cable, a loose connection, a cable totally pulled off, or a blown fuse.

Then when we have gone through all that we will be checking the glow plugs.

Glow plugs and injectors

A serious big thanks to all the people on LRUK Series Forum who have put up with our inane questions and patiently answered them all.

When it stops raining we’ll be tackling it. Sometime after Christmas probably, given the three days continuous rain we have had.

The starter motor

Idle Adrian decided to drive down to the beach – rather than walking. I suppose because it was late morning and hot.

So he got in – and discovered the starter motor was jammed. He did the usual stuff, whacked it kindly with a hammer, and put it into gear and rocked it backwards and forwards. No joy.

He took it out. Pretty quickly. And then had a beer. It was Sunday so he couldn’t do any more.

The next morning he put it on the back of the bike and cycled the 8 or 10k to the local town to get prices for a new one.

He went to the truck motor factor on the industrial estate that he had discovered when he was helping Bedford Truck Man. Cost 665€ plus IVA at 16%.

He cycled round the town. It’s one of those spread-out sort-of towns with a few hills to add variety.

He managed to get a few more prices. One went up to 776€ plus IVA and transport. But the same shop had another dealer and got a price of 540€ all included.

Poor old Worn-Out Cycling Adrian decided it wasn’t a good idea to come home and tell me this. So he stopped at the auto-electrician on the way home. It happens to be opposite a good bar too.

The auto-electrician is a good old boy. When we first came we had problems with the alternator. He checked to see if it was beyond all repair and sadly it was, so we had to stump up for a new one. We’ve used him ever since and he’s always seemed ok.

Anyway the jefe said he would take it apart and have a look – it would take half an hour or so. Best to wait at the bar opposite, thought Thirsty Adrian.

What a poppet (the old boy). Turned out the starter motor was ok, might need new bushes in a while, but he would clean it up for us. The solenoid was stuffed though. But 55€ for a new solenoid is a lot better than 540€ for a new starter motor.

Very Fit Cycling Adrian came happily back to pick up some money and went back to pick up the starter motor. The old boy wasn’t there. Critical Adrian went to the work bench and took a look at the insides of the starter motor. He stuck his finger on the suspicious-looking stuff. Oil.

“¿Qué pasa aquí?” One of the young urchins came to attention. We think it’s the grandson working in his school holidays.

“I’ve cleaned it,” he said, helpfully.

“Not with oil, you haven’t. It will just chupa the polvo.”

One of the not-so-young ones roared at him.

The jefe came back. He roared at the grandson even more. “It will chupa the polvo.”

“That’s what the foreigner said,” (the young one was catching on fast).

“That’s because the foreigner isn’t an idiot. You are though.”

Old jefe rolled his eyes, and said, “These young ones. They just don’t understand. I’ll clean it up properly for you. Sorry about that.”

Another beer called for. It’s pretty hot at the moment and cycling around with a heavy starter motor isn’t really that much fun.

When he went back to pick it up, the jefe had left it apart so that Critical Adrian could see it was cleaned up.

“I’ve used four litres of solvent to get rid of the oil. That would cost 40€.” Sad Spanish face – this job had become not very cost-effective, even allowing for the exaggeration. Then he connected it to the power. And it worked.

Happy Adrian handed over his money – no extra charge, obviously – and cycled back. New solenoid, cleaned-out starter motor, and a couple of beers and some chat.

And put it in this morning. Using a variety of props to support the motor while he screwed on the nuts. It worked when he turned the ignition too. Vrrrrm. In fact it starts up much better than before.

That’s probably why he had problems with the starter motor last year when he drove back to the UK. The solenoid had been slowly dying. A good result though. Another electrical fix – but the cost is always in the mechanical work for taking out and putting back. Today – Smug Partner.

But the bad news was that he had to throw away his 21-year-old T-shirt from Laura Ashley. When he took it off it ripped. And it was his best mechanicking one too. Gutted.

Any queries about what to do though – please ask in comments.