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Q: My vehicle has a Starting/Sometimes running issue. What's wrong?

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When trying to start my car it takes about 5 full seconds. It is making almost a light screeching sound and pauses for a second then starts. It is not a clean start and sounds very rough on the vehicle. Also when I'm driving the vehicle, it is rough when coming to stops where the RPMs get low. I've had the engine light read by Auto Zone and one of the problems was something like the vacuum pump to the engine. It also came with a few others, but that one seemed most logical. What's wrong?

My car has 194000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hi there. Check to see if the vacuum pump ...

Hi there. Check to see if the vacuum pump has seized up on the engine. If the pulley is not turning then the belt will make a screeching noise and put a huge load on the engine. The extra load will make the starter work harder to engage the engine and create pauses during the start cycle. If the pump is working and is not making any noise, then there could be an issue with the engine its self or there could be an issue with the flex plate. The flex plate could be cracked causing this symptom and noise. Remove the inspection cover to the transmission and watch the flex plate as the engine is cranking over. If it is wobbly, then the plate is cracked and needs replaced. If not, then there could be a starter issue. Make sure that the battery cables are tight on the starter. If the starter is not working properly and the cables are tight and everything else checks out to be in good condition, then the starter needs replaced. As for the computer having a code stored for the vacuum pump, then the pump seal may have blown. If that is the case, then the vacuum pump will need replaced. If you need further assistance with your hard start issue and vacuum pump replacement, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you.

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