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Q: Takes 3-7 tries before engine stays running

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My car is running very poorly and naturally one would expect that since it is such an older model, however I feel that I can fix it up to perform well again. At present it runs rough and is difficult to start. In the mornings it does turn over and then run for a few seconds, but then it shuts off. It takes 3-7 tries before it will start and stay running. First, it starts off idling at 500 RPM and once it warms up, it idles at 1000 RPM; it should be idling at 700 RPM. Sometimes to help it along, I rev it and it backfires. At times, the engine dies at this point. I have replaced the battery, alternator, spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor rotor and cap. Once my car is moving, then it runs just fine. Can you tell me what I should do next to get my car to start properly?

Hello. The symptoms you are experiencing, hard starting and an unstable idle speed, can be caused by a variety of issues. You mention that you replaced a few parts, namely ignition components, so they should be alright. The next things I would check are the fuel system and the idle air control valve. A faulty fuel pump or clogged fuel filter can cause hard starting and stalling, while a faulty idle air control valve can cause an unstable idle speed. I would look at the vehicle’s fuel system first, as you mention that the vehicle misfires as well, which can be caused by a faulty fuel pump. After checking the fuel system I would then move on to the idle air control valve, as a faulty idle air control valve can cause an unstable idle, as well as engine stalling. As these components can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, a proper inspection of your car starting problem by a certified technician from YourMechanic would help determine the exact nature of the issue.

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