Tata Telcoline - LoadBeta - TL 4 X 4

"Junior" Australian kelpie cross

Maintaining the 2.0 TDI Tata Telcoline 4x4.

(and Tata Safari)

The Telcoline is a variant of the long running Tata 207 commercial vehicle, made in India.

Representative of vehicle production by developing nations, and cheaper than the major players, it's a tough, and maybe a bit rough around the edges, good value vehicle.

Some "experts" attempted to denegrade these vehicles as being technically inferior, however this is total nonsense. 

Tata Telcoline had an electronic transfer case long before most other major 4x4 manufacturers, who adopted and now use the very same BorgWarner system in virtually all new 4x4s.

The Telcoline also had the excellent Dana Trak-lock limited slip rear diff as standard, at a time when most of the opposition still ran open diffs.

Foton Tunland make big noises about having a BorgWarner transfer case, Getrag gearbox, and Dana Spicer axles, however Tata Telcoline has had this same component system since 1999. 

In no way could the Tata be called a soft roader or "image vehicle".

In fact if you compare the load carrying ratings of the latest offerings from other twin cab manufacturers, the Telcoline beats them all hands down - absolutely no contest.

Seeing as there's virtually no service or aftermarket component information on the web about this vehicle, and having some spare web space going to waste, I thought I might as well share information I've gleaned from fifteen years ownership of a 1999 Telco 4x4.

The vehicle has never been under cover, and here it is in 2017 still going strong, but with body rust starting to appear.

Tata Telcoline

My previous ute was a Daihatsu F25 4x4, and in comparison the Tata is quite luxurious.  The no frills little Daihatsu was tough and fun to drive though.

Both are relatively low power, but very capable units.

We have also owned or still have Izuzu D-Max, Toyota 4x4, and Datsun traytop utes.

I take no responsibility in any way for the accuracy of the following information.

All distances and service points are quoted in kilometers (one mile = 1.6 km).

As the Tata Safari uses the same engine and running gear (except for the rear suspension) much of this information is also relevant to that vehicle.


NOTE:  The turbo engine is a significant upgrade from the earlier non turbo unit.

The cylinder head, head gasket, and glow plugs are different, and not interchangeable.

This may apply to other components as well.

Toothed timing belt  - THE TIMING BELT MUST BE REPLACED EVERY 50,000 Km.

This service point is clearly listed in the warranty and service book accompanying the vehicle.

The change over point is earlier than many other Gilmer belt engines.

This hard working belt drives the camshaft, fuel injection pump, and the water pump.

ESSENTIAL - If you purchase a second hand vehicle, ensure that proof of timing belt replacement exists.  If unsure, change the timing belt immediately at the point of purchase.

If the belt breaks, the motor will be destroyed and the repair cost will be more than the vehicle is worth.

I suspect that many of the blown up/supposedly faulty Tata motors mentioned on the web resulted from owners not being aware of the shorter service interval.

Similar comments about a weak timing belt in this engine are also incorrect - the timing belt should not break within the scheduled service period.

Dayco PI 136 SP 254H  will fit.

Also  Gates Powergrip HTD belt P/N 5049XS-58136 x 1" HSN  is listed.

Click here for instructions on timing belt replacement.

Timing belt cover spring clip

Check the spring clip indicated by the yellow arrow below is correctly seated and secure.

spring clip

If it comes loose and flips back, it can (and will) foul the injector pump throttle linkage in the fully open position, and not allow the throttle to return.

This happened to me once, and for a few moments life got very interesting.

Water pump  - Replacement is a major job.

See the link above detailing timing belt replacement, for location and access.

Check that any coolant leakage is not comming from the bottom radiator hose/water pump connection.   This clamp is difficult to access and easily overlooked.

If the water pump retaining bolts are not adequately tensioned, cooling fluid can also weep past the sealing gasket.

Cooling system

Air leak indicated by air bubbles in expansion tank or airpocket in top of radiator 

Can be caused by porous cylinder head, leaking cylinder liner or head gasket, or leaking coolant hose.

ChemiWeld or similar coolant treatment can cure very small cylinder/head leaks.

Coolant capacity of 10 litres.

Temperature  - despite the very large radiator and coolant capacity, the turbo engine generates a lot of heat and the temperature can rise noticably in 35+C weather.

Fit a "summer" rated thermostat if using in mild to hot conditions.

Change the coolant at least every 3 years to keep the radiator in good condition and avoid overheating and head gasket problems.

Glow plugs - life span of between 70 and 100k depending on degree of stop/start use.

Hard  starting, missfiring, and surging when cold is generally caused by bad glow plugs - replace the complete set. 

Remove the two front fuel injector lines for easier access - everything must be kept perfectly clean.   Prime and bleed the fuel system at the injector unions after re-fitting.

Bosch part number  0 250  201 032 11V is a direct replacement for the OEM original.

Torque at 2.2 kgm.

NOTE:  12 volt alternatives in the same size can be used, however you must wait a few seconds longer after the dash light goes out before cranking the engine.  This allows the plugs to fully heat up.

The glow plug controller will continue to apply voltage for approximately 60 - 90 seconds after the dash light goes out.  This feature assists starting in very cold weather.

Injectors  - put a 0.25 litre of Redex or proprietry injector cleaner in the tank if vibration becomes noticable.

Faulty injectors can cause (metallic) engine knock - eg. injector stuck open.

Air in the injector/fuel lines can also cause severe diesel knock.

Irregular idle or engine hunting can be caused by an air leak in the high pressure fuel system.

It is recommended to prime/bleed the fuel lines, including at the injector union, to remove all air from the system following reassembly.

Oil filter - same as for a Peugeot 505 2.5 diesel engine.

Ryco list this as Z305

Tata later replaced this with a smaller capacity unit - part number 2789 1813 0104 seen below.

Tata telcoline oil filter

The Z305 is twice as large in capacity, but both sizes work OK.

From my experience, genuine Tata oil filters are cheaper than aftermarket units.

Fuel filter - same unit for pre and final filters.

Ryco list  R2294P for the Safari.  It should fit the Telcoline.

It is NOT necessary to fill the filter bowls with diesel before re-fitting with new filters.  The fuel will pump up and fill both bowls completely with the manual priming pump.


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