Dear Car Talk Folks,
I just bought a car that seemed to be working fine, until I went to get it safety checked at our local gas station yesterday. I drove a very short distance (>2 miles) to the station, left it parked in front of the gas pumps, and when I came back an hour later it was still in front of the gas pumps. The car would not start, and the folks at the gas station hadn’t been able to get it to start to do the safety check. I tried, with no luck. The engine would crank and try to catch, but it couldn’t get started. I had to call a tow service, and when the tow truck got there, the tow guy had me try to start the car. It cranked, tried to catch, and the tow guy did something under the hood–it looked like he was pinching something close to the windshield–I didn’t see what exactly, since I was in the car, and the car finally started up. I did not turn it off, and I was able to drive home. This morning my nephew and uncle came to try to see what was wrong with it. The car started when they first got there, but after a few times, it would not start after it was turned off. They changed the distributor, changed a fuel relay hose, cleaned the carburetor, and tried some other stuff, but the “not starting” problem didn’t get resolved. If they let the car sit for a period of time (15-30 minutes?) then the engine would start, but it would not start reliably and would begin failing to start if the car was turned off and on again more than a few times. Do you guys have any idea what could be causing this problem, and is it (hopefully) an easy (and inexpensive) fix? Mahalo (thank you) very much for your time and kokua (assistance).