Q: Takes 3-7 tries before engine stays running

asked by on

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.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1,000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Takes 3-7 tries before engine stays running

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Car revs in drive, doesn't move.

With the car warm parking brake set and in park (automatic) neutral (manual shift) while on level ground check the transmission fluid level, it should be within the hashmarks. If it's low this could be your problem, the amount of...

Q: Car starts up then cuts off two seconds later in cold weather

Anytime a car doesn't want to idle, the first thing you want to do is check for air leaks. There are a handful of vacuum lines and large rubber molded parts under the hood that air passes through and if...

Q: My engine rattles while idle and losing power while driving

This is a common sign of a failing mass air flow sensor. The mass air flow sensor is a unit in the intake system that monitors air intake as it is mixed with fuel prior to being injected into the...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...