200Tdi white smoke on cold start


I'm hoping that I can find somebody that has had a similar problem or might have some ideas on what to look to address. I purchased a 1991 Defender 110 with a 200Tdi engine with about 60K miles on it. There wasn't any service history known to me so I went through and did a number of maintenance items. It was starting and running perfectly before all the work and now, on cold start, it has the normal black smoke but then will have white smoke (pretty heavy when applying throttle). If I drive right away, the white smoke is gone after driving less than a half mile. When blowing white smoke, it sounds a bit rough...but after the smoke is done, it sounds great. Here is the list of work that was done:
  • Replaced timing belt (kit included tensioner & gaskets)
  • New coolant
  • Oil change
  • New oil filter
  • New fuel filter
  • Checked air filter (looked almost new)
  • Checked transmission, transfer case and diff fluids (all good)
At first I thought that the IP timing might be just a touch off, so I set to TDC (per flywheel notch), pulled cover to expose IP pulley and it was just a touch off. Loosened the 3 screws and then tuned the 22mm nut just a touch until the pin went in and tightened the 3 screws back down. After all this, it still has the same white smoke.

I've tried to read up on possible issues and I've read it could be a bad injector leaking fuel or it might be air getting into the fuel line. A bad injector would seem almost too coincidental. I would think it would have something to do with something I did somewhere during the process to cause this issue.

Any thoughts out there?

Thanks in advance!

Uncle Douglas

Well-known member
Tdi injector tips are a consumable item and should be replaced every 65-80k miles. White smoke is unburnt fuel. Your injector tips are likely toast and not properly atomizing fuel until they have warmed up. Sounds like you retarded your timing which would effect performance, often considerably. The pin sliding in isnt indicative of correct timing. The pin is only meant to keep the pump from turning while the belt is off. Once the belt is changed the 3mm of movement via the three bolts is to fine tune the timing. Sliding the pin in the hole is only a check after belt change after you have turned the engine by hand 4-6 complete revolutions, before trying to start it. Once up and running and fine tuned, the pin sliding in is no longer an expectation, or way to check things.
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NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
I have white smoke as well. But I also have new injectors, and I’ve done the timing as well as I can (with dial gauge) and also had it done by Ship’s in Portland. I would say that the overall performance of my truck is pretty good, it drives and accelerates well, but it does have white smoke when cold, it takes a long time to get up to 180 degrees, gets low MPG, and really won’t go more than 70 mph.

I spent many hours of my life trying to solve the issue, but have decided that I have to live with it as long as the truck is getting me to work and back.


Well-known member
This means that you have one cylinder that is not firing until it is warm enough to ignite. That first load up as you drive gets it going. Bad injector pattern, retarded timing or low compression.


Ok thanks to both of you. I'll look to do a deeper dive on the IP timing. Like mentioned, the pin position may not be trusted at this point. I'll report back when resolved.


Wet oil on the cylinder 2 glow plug. I think we found the smoke cause...but still need to find out the root cause.


That just means that glow plug is not working. Nothing serious.
Ok, yeah...there was not connectivity for the glow plugs so I replaced the relay and we're good. A couple glow plugs broke so I'm replacing the set.

New concern though...and it sounds weird. Since changing the oil and driving 100+ miles, the oil on the dipstick is still nice and golden brown. New truck for me so I haven't change the oil in this one before, but in my experience, the oil is black almost instantly with these motors.


Well-known member
Only one relevant comment, on the oil change. I changed the oil for the first time on my rebuilt 300tdi this weekend. What came out was as dark as it gets. After 300 miles this weekend, it is still golden clear.