1996 Renault Clio Is Hard to Start When it Rains – Starts OK In The Sun

Reader Question Hi there mate. Im 17 years old and have a 1996 renault clio 1.2. Its been running great since i had it in Febaury, but since i changed the plugs everything started going wrong. When i come home at night and park the car up, if it rains during the night the car wont start the next morning.

This happened today and it still hasnt started from 8 o clock when I first tried and its now 01.05pm.

I bought ” damp start ” from Halfords and sprayed it on the plugs as told to and it didnt make a slight bit of difference. The only way it does start is if the sun is out, i have to open the bonnet to heat up the engine from the sun then it will finally start.

This is causing big problems for me with college and work and i love the car but it just wont seem to go when it rains. If you could be any help at all and suggest what i should do i would be EVER so grate full.

Thanks for your time


Hello Mate,

Hummmm, interesting problem. Since you say this happened immediately after your replaced the spark plugs, I would TRIPLE check your spark plug installation. Did you loosen the distributor cap or take the distributor cap off? Did ANYTHING else get unplugged?

When it does not start….the engine is turning over….right? It is trying to start but wont, or does it do NOTHING when you turn the key to start?

I am not familiar with your vehicle, we don’t have those here in the US.

Austin C. Davis

Reader Follow up

Hi there mate, i didnt know that you was from the U.S. I just need help so badly because its causing bad problems for me, the engine does try to start, it turns over but wont start if you get me, it does try though. When i changed the plugs, the only thing i lossened was the leads on top of the old ones and put them all right back in the same place, it only doesnt start when it rains, when the weather is fairly warm or hot it starts no problem
at all.

oh ye, and another problem with it, it DRINKS the fuel as if there is no tommorrow, £10 does about 30-40miles and its only a 1200cc.

I read your article were it said ” FUEL, BATTERY AND COMPRESSION ” battery fine, compression fine, its just because it drinks the fuel so much i dont often have the money to re-fill it as often as i woulld like, but there still is fuel in there, i know that for shaw. Im not shaw if Renault make cars in there U.S but there fairly good cars, there a French company like Peugeot.

Very widly known over here and the ” clio ” model is popular as hell. My friend about his car becuase he has the same and he has no problems at all, but his is a 1800cc though. that wouldnt matter would it?

Any way, if there is any more ways that you could help me i would be ever so grate full, because all my mates go out in the rain and im stuck in thinking what could be the problem ( laughing ).!!!

Cheers for your time so far

Much appreciated


Hello again chap
The “only” thing I can really think of is that the distributor cap is either not fully clamped to the distributor, or the distributor was moved slightly ….which causes the ignition timing to change, or the ignition rotor…which is underneath the distributor cap is worn out, or a plug wire is not completely seated on the spark plugs, or the “gap” on the spark plugs is too close.

I would completely re-inspect the job again. Pull out each plug one at a time and inspect the “gap” on the electrode end, also make sure they are clean and dry. Then pull off each plug wire off the distributor cap one at a time and reattach it firmly. Also try to slightly move the distributor SLIGHTLY clockwise to counter clockwise…you might want to mark its current location so you get it back in place.

If you can move the distributor by hand, you might have accidentally moved it when you did the job. If you “retared” the timing…meaning you decreased the ignition timing, you would get a loss of power and poor fuel mileage complaint.

“Advancing” increasing the timing would increase performance, improve fuel economy etc. etc….to a point, you can get to far advanced and cause negative affects.

I would then remove the distributor cap (don’t remove the plug wires) and inspect or replace the ignition rotor, and if you did not do so last time….you might as well replace the distributor cap (removing one plug wire at a time so you don’t get confused).

Keep me posted

Austin C. Davis

Posted in: Won't Start Issues

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