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Q: My car won't start - Chevrolet Celebrity

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I had to fix blown head gasket on brother-in-law's 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity 2.5L "Iron Duke" Station Wagon. It was doing fine, until the other day it would crank, but wouldn't start. It is getting spark, but seems to be getting too much fuel, flooding. The reason I say flooding is because I can see plenty of fuel pumping into Throttle Body from injector when I had breather cover off. Plus, also, my brother-in-law said once he held the accelerator pedal to the floor and kept cranking, key turned to start position, it finally started with a puff of smoke coming out the tail pipe. He said that he drove it to the store and when he got back into car it started fine. He drove it home, and it hasn't started since. I need to know what to do to fix this no starting problem since both he and his wife are disabled and need this car running/dependable. I was told that it is most likely the Temperature Sensor, but if not that, what else should I check? Thank you!

My car has 180000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hello - A bad engine coolant temperature sensor is a reasonable diagnosis; it could certainly cause the engine to run too rich if it’s sending a bad signal to the engine computer. Before purchasing a new temperature sensor, you can check your current sensor for valid operation by comparing the resistance values of the sensor as well as the temperature of the engine to resistance/temperature tables that can be found online. It’s also possible that the throttle body injectors are leaking or the fuel pressure regulator has malfunctioned, resulting in fuel pressure that is too high. Fuel pressure can be verified with a gauge before purchasing parts. It is also possible to extract diagnostic codes from engine management, even though this is a pre-OBD II engine, to help guide diagnosis without "throwing parts at it." I would recommend having an inspection completed by a mobile, professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, who can come to your location, diagnose your no start condition, give you an accurate assessment of damage, and provide a cost estimate for any necessary repairs.

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