Riley Automotive Repair Manuals

Interesting Facts About Riley You Probably Don’t Know – Common Problems – and PDF Manuals for Download…

William Riley Junior was an entrepreneur and ingenious manager and as such took over the family weaving business in 1870.

Following his entrepreneurial knack, he promptly took ownership of a local cycle manufacturing outfit in 1890 known as Bonnick & Company Limited.

Later, in 1896, he acquired cycle gear manufacturer Sturmey Archer and merged the three businesses to create Riley Cycle Company Limited.

When his brothers Cecil and Stanley left school they joined the company and together, in 1899, unveiled the first internal combustion engine powered Quadricycle and Tricycle called ‘Royal Rileys’.

Meanwhile one of William’s sons, 16 year old Percy, was busy building the first of Riley cars, all by hand, in his father’s workshop.

Although the prototype never made it to full production it featured a manufacturing first, a mechanically operated inlet valve.

In a bid to match the growing demand for motorised cycles, the company delved into developing an engine that could operate a petrol powered tricycle which would be dubbed the ‘Tricar’.

Percy, together with his two brothers Victor and Allan, founded the Riley Engine Works company in 1903, a company dedicated to engine design and manufacture.

The 1905 Tricar was so phenomenal that it took lead in all motorised tricycles motorsports. Tricar production ceased in 1907 when the more modern 4-wheeled Rileys got into production.

Through the next 6 years, Riley Cycle Company Limited created several 4-wheeled Rileys that outdid all their competitors in terms of reliability, manoeuvrability and efficiency.

To top it off, the Rileys featured the first detachable wheel that could be removed and replaced.

The success brought on by the Riley cars led the company to close down its bicycle manufacturing department permanently in 1911.

Following the success of its patented detachable wheel design, Riley Cycle Company Limited was renamed to Riley (Coventry) Limited in 1913 and was left with the sole duty of manufacturing and selling the detachable wheels to other car manufacturers.

Additionally, the Riley Motor Manufacturing Company was created to specifically handle the manufacture and sale of motor vehicles.

Post-war business was not good for the Riley family and consequently some of their companies were wound up and merged to create a sole business that would purely focus on engine and vehicle manufacture.

By the end of 1931, the entire business was now run under the Riley (Coventry) Limited. The Riley family suffered major blows both in the business and in the family when the company founder, William Riley, died in 1944 at the age of 92 following the death of his 58 year old son Percy in 1940.

Similarly, the last Riley car rolled out of the factory in 1969, no other Rileys were ever produced after this.

After being placed under receivership, Riley (Coventry) Limited was sold to Lord Nuffield who transferred ownership to Morris Motors in the same year.

Over the next 40 years, the company ownership has gone through different owners and mergers.

Today, the Riley trademark is owned by BMW.

Common Riley Problems

Since Riley motors ceased production several years ago, there may be few and varied reviews on Riley cars.

For those with classic Riley cars it may also be a challenge to get a service repair and maintenance professionals who understands all the inner workings of the cars.

This therefore means that having a service and repair manual handy will go a long way in helping to solve any car problems.

Although minimal, below we analyse some of the common problems reported by Riley car owners.

  1. SU Electrical Pump Fault

Over years of use the electrical pump may wear out or get blocked. This mainly happens because the contact points are burned and thus do not receive the necessary instruction to pump the fuel. Such a fault may cause the engine to malfunction.

Experts recommend that burned contact points should be repaired as soon as possible. Also, the diaphragm should be replaced and the electrical pump unit should be as good as new.

If the damage is too great then the entire pump should be replaced. Similar pumps are available from Morris Motors.

  1. Faulty Float Level Indicator

Carburettors may give a false float level reading indicating inaccuracies in transmission fluid. This may cause the vehicle to drive poorly or a very high fuel consumption, and in worst case scenarios, a total engine failure.

By following the instructions on the service repair manual, the float level should be calibrated accurately whenever a faulty reading is suspected.

Regular service checks will also help ensure that the vehicle is in good condition at all times.

  1. Fuel Gauge Faults

The fuel gauge may stop functioning or malfunction thereby giving wrong fuel level readings. This may cause the vehicle to either run out of fuel or be filled beyond the recommended maximum capacity. The service repair manual gives a clear guidance on how to read and interpret fuel level gauge.

A complete diagnostic of the car will help narrow down the problem with the gauge. Check if all the relevant sensors are working as they are supposed to.

  1. Engine Failure

Some RMF and RMH engines may give out after years of service by making the dreaded sound of a loud knock.

This issue is mostly related to failure of the lubrication system which keeps all the engine parts moving as designed.

The service manual stipulates that for every 10,000 to 12,000 miles travelled the sump should be removed and cleaned to get rid of any sludge and deposit build up.

The crankshaft should also be cleaned to avoid any future problems.

  1. Electronic Ignition Problems

The most common problem with classic cars like Rileys is the ignition system and the contact breaker system which basically burns out due to the repeated arcing.

This essentially causes electric ignition system to become slow, unresponsive or malfunctioned. Perform regular maintenance on the contact breakers and ensure they are in good shape.


Maintaining a classic Riley car takes time money and determination. It is therefore important for owners to get hold of a service manual to assist them when they encounter a car related problem.


Purpose of this is to catalog and include one of most comprehensive, useful and accessible “automotive repair manual” database on the web for all Riley models.

It’s your go-to source for learning all about Riley – when you can’t find it elsewhere.

To get started, select the intended car model below…

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