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I have a 1981 1.6L rabbit that will crank but it won’t start. I am relatively new to working on diesels so this one has been a constant learning experience for me. There are a couple of things to note when trying to start. Firstly, when I try to start it, the fusible link located on the firewall which I believe to be the glow-plug Fuselink (correct me if I’m wrong) becomes quite hot, hot enough to melt the plastic it’s mounted to but not hot enough to melt the link paired with smoke. Secondly the glow plug dash indicator remains on forever (or extremely an long time) when I go to start it. I have also primed the injector pump as well as I could find out how by removing the banjo bolt labeled out on top and filling the injector pump to the top, (feel free to inform me if I was priming it incorrectly please). As far as fuel goes I went to drain the tank but there was hardly anything in it. Should I just throw some new fuel in the tank or fully drop it to clean it beforehand?

Any advice or knowledge would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
 

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If you have the wait forever glow plugs Verify that the Bus bar has 12V on it.
Replace the number 4 glow plug and if the car starts then change the other 3.

If you have the Seven second GP's then change the Number 4 plug, and see if it starts. If it does, then change the other 3.

For the seven second plugs after I changed out mt wait forever ones, I found out that they usually go bad one at a time and until the 4th one craps out, you can start your car on one plug. So after getting stranded once I started to carry a spare GP in my boot along with the wrenches to remove the number 4.

Seven Second plugs should be changed about 1-1 1/2 years as they don't last as long as the wait forever. To verify which type you have look at the Glow Plug relay.


 
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If the fuse gets hot the glow plugs are working. Wait until the lamp goes out. Should go out after about 20 seconds. There is a knob o. The dashboard to left of the radio, pull it out to start cold motor. Put a batt charger on to help get the rpms up while cranking.
 

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For the fuel tank, if the rubber fuel lines are old, replace them. Any cracks will introduce air and prevent fuel flow. When you have the hoses unhooked from the hard lines use a cheap fuel pump to circulate fuel in the out and drain out the return. I put the pump in a large pan and ran it through the tank until the return flow was clear of debris. I had about 5 gallons diesel in my tank that I burned in the fire pit after flushing. This will clean the filter screen and tank without dropping it. If it has been sitting for a while you mite want to add some algaecide to the new fuel. If your mechanical pump has fuel in it, it should produce enough suction to fill an empty fuel filter and the pump line. I don't like cranking for 30 seconds after filter change so I prefill the filter. If the pump seals are shot it will not start or if it does it may not restart when hot. If your injectors are clogged, it's a no go.
Bad battery cables and poor ground connections will spin the starter/engine but not fast enough to kick off.
The slow glow relay will keep the plugs on for 20 seconds. New seven second plugs are just that. You need to match the relay and the plugs. I use the 7's and change the plugs in the fall so I don't have to when it's snowing.
 
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