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"The mechanic also said though that the glow plugs shouldn't really come
intto play to start the engine until the weather gets much colder. As
an example apparently Vauxhalls glow plugs only kick in at -18c!

Does that sound right?"

It doesn't sound right to me! Otherwise, why would the glowplug warning lamp come on? Have you checked the fuse and relay? Basic I know but that would stop the plugs operating. Normally a diesel will still start with only three working plugs (ask a Citroen Xantia owner...the fourth plug is so hard to get at that it just gets left....) it'll chug a bit but it will start. You can check yourself if power is getting to the plugs, you need to remove the intercooler (compress the hose clamps with a mole grip or welding clamp, then just pull any pipes off and unbolt it), then take the big plastic engine cover off and you can see the plugs along the back of the engine, switch on and check with a bulb or multimeter, you'll then know for definate if power is getting to them which is half way to solving your problem.
 
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