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Troubleshooting a spring no-start on a car with a mechanical fuel pump

So, your car ran in the fall. You take it out of storage after a winter snooze, and crank and crank and crank it, and it won’t start. What’s up? If it’s a carbureted car with a mechanical fuel pump, it may have a priming issue.


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Great article. Just like to add some backyard mechanic advice. Besides using your eyes for a visual check of the fuel system use your nose to pinpoint possible leaks or seepage not seen. A strong raw gas smell in the area of the trunk or fuel tank might be the tip off of a rotten hose or corroded steel fuel line. Same goes for the engine compartment. There should not be a raw gas smell except coming from the carb if fuel is flowing. I am old enough to remember sight glasses in the fuel line leading to the carburetor. If it wasn't filled with amber liquid you had no fuel. It also acted as a sediment or water indicator. In that vein of thought using a cheap clear plastic inline filter temporarily spliced into the fuel line above the pump will tell you if the pump is working. If the engine will not start the first thing I do is check for spark. Then with the coil disconnected look in the carb to see and smell if fresh gas is flowing. If not disconnect the fuel line from the carb and carefully crank the engine to see if fuel is coming to the carb. I connect a length of fuel line to the car fuel line then poke it through an appropriate sized hole in the lid of a clear fruit jar to capture any gas. This system was put in place after starting a fire in the engine compartment of my K10 Chevy pickup when the aforementioned disconnected coil wire threw a spark that ignited the spilled fuel that I was attempting to catch with a shop rag. The truck did not burn and I did not get hurt but I did have my heart rate go to about a thousand and had to replace some burned wiring and vacuum lines.

Pit Crew