Everything is running great….then it just…died!

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Sigh….driving an older car as a daily driver. That means that sometimes you can’t avoid the breakdown. As much as you do maintainence and upkeep it’s impossible to avoid breakdowns occasionally.

The breakdown:

I was on my way to work and a few blocks from my house. Made a right onto a major street and I stepped on it like I normally do.  Speed limit is 55 on this street so to redline in first….to recline in second…then into third and like a brick wall the engine died.  Watched the tach go from 5k rpms to nothing.  Stepped on the clutch and pulled over.  There were no noises, no strangeness at all.  It’s like a switch got turned off.  Called a tow truck and had it towed back home.


Diagnostics and repair:

So my initial thoughts were,

1) Voltage to the coil.

2) Pertronix Ignitor failure

3) Fuel Pump

There are 3 things that make a car run, fuel, air and spark.  Unless the air filter is completely clogged, it wouldn’t cause it to die.  So that leaves fuel and spark.  I put a meter on the coil and checked to make sure it was indeed getting spark.  It read completely normal.  I replaced the roar with one that I had from on old tune up.  I remember once my sisters Honda Civic died and it was just a cap and rotor.  I looked at the fuel filter and it looked dry.  Hmm…maybe its not getting fuel and its the pump.  One way to test it was to spray carb cleaner, or starting fluid directly into the carb and see if that would start.  If so the car should start, then die when the carb went dry.  I did this for a few minutes and then suddenly, it started to fire up!  Then it started and ran.  Rough but it ran.  I looked around the engine a bit more.  With the motor off, I checked the linkage and the carb operation and noticed fuel spilled out of the accelerator pump when I opened the throttle.  I also noticed the manifold and side of the engine showed signs of fuel leaking from the carb.  I grabbed a screwdriver and tightened a few screws with fixed the leak.  I also got a new cap and rotor and put them on.  I replaced the plugs a few weeks ago and retimed the engine so to essentially has now gotten a full service.  Started it and it ran ok.  Decided to drive it around and really push it…see if I could get it to repeat the failure.  I seemed to get a few hiccups and hesitations, but it never died.  Then the hesitations only showed up at high RPMs…just before redline.  Everything else felt normal about the car…it actually felt really good.


Day 3:

After driving it around a few days, the stumbles have stopped.  The car is peppy and runs great.  So what happened???

No clue.  I am gonna replace the carb as its leaking and needs a rebuild and I bought another one practically new. I’m gonna replace the fuel pump as well for peace of mind. I’m also going to replace the pertronix ignitor. The old fuel pump and pertronix ignitor will be used as backups just in case something goes wrong with the new ones.




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