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Q: My car has recently been taking about 5 minutes of cranking to start - do I need to replace the engine?

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Recently my car has been taking about 5 minutes to start. It doesn't always do this. Also, the code P0171 has came up saying "system too lean". My father has been trying to remove what he believes to be a sensor in the back of the engine directly under the freeze plug. He has given up trying to get the part out and thinks the engine needs to be removed for the part to come out. I can't afford to have the engine removed. I would just like a second opinion

My car has 199000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Before resorting to removing the engine, have a certified technician properly diagnose your hard starting condition. Hard starting or a long cranking situation can be caused by a number of things. The "system too lean" code can contribute to a hard starting issue and can be caused by a number or components. A large air/vacuum leak in the engine compartment can be caused by things like a loose/broken vacuum line, leaking intake manifold gasket, or even a loose/broken air intake boot.

Other things like fuel pressure can also cause a long cranking condition. The fuel system is designed to maintain pressure in the fuel system after the car is shut down so it will start quickly the next time. If a failed fuel pressure regulator does maintain pressure, or a failed/stuck fuel pump check valve allows the fuel to drain back to the fuel tank when the vehicle is parked, then it can take a while to re-pressurize the fuel system and start the vehicle.

It would be best to have a technician diagnose this condition before randomly replacing components that may not resolve the issue and once installed, you may not be able to return them for refund as most auto parts sources will not accept electronic components or parts that have been installed, for refund.

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