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4 tips for when your car won't start away from home

My 1969 Austin Healey Sprite has been generally reliable, starting every time I turned the key during my few months of ownership. After the third turn of the key without hearing the engine sputter to life with that signature British burble, it was clear the Healey had a problem and I was going to have to deal with it stranded at a gas station. 


In the end I managed to drive the car home. How did I avoid the tow truck? Check out these tips for how you can remedy basic trouble on a future drive.


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Like your car and the article. As a person experienced with these vehicle that has owned and worked on the 1275 engine and its variants in MG's, Austin Healey and Austin MIni Cooper I have found that it is simple and generally if it does not start or run properly the problem is also pretty simple to solve if you take the time to think about it. The tools to fix these cars are also generally also pretty simple i.e. a nail file in your instance. But you have to have them on hand when you are on the side of the road. I always carry a simple tool roll. Phillips and flat head screw drivers, pair of pliers, adjustable wrench, small piece of emery cloth, roll of tape and a rag. The tools do not have to be good tools just good enough. Garage sales, bargain table at the hardware or parts store are good sources.

My car on the side of the road story also involved a British car a '67 Jag XKE. When I parked it in the driveway of my home it was running great. A few hours later when I went to start it cranked fine but no fire, nothing not even a pop. I could hear the electric fuel pump run and slow as pressure built up. Opened the bonnet and did smell fuel but not like a flooding situation. SU carbs are pretty simple and the throttle linkage worked fine. Checked the coil, distributer and wiring everything looked good.  Started to do the "spark test" . I went to pull the number one spark plug wire and happened to look down and see water pooled around the bottom of the plug. It turned out that a rain shower had taken place and the car was parked on a slope in the drive that allowed water to flow through those beautiful louvers in the hood right on to the spark plugs located in the well between the cam towers. Shorted the plugs. Fortunately I was home and had access to a vacuum which reversed to blow the water out and dry things. Started just fine after that.

Pit Crew