Car Won't Start When Raining


I’ve been noticing for the past few months that my 99 Chevy Malibu will not start immediately if it is a rainy day or if it has been washed in the last few days. If I wait about 30 minutes and try again, then it starts? Any ideas how to fix this problem or what it might be?

This post has been moved to the new Car Talk Discussion Area, by a Car Talk Lackey. The original poster is Broodawg .

A common cause of starting difficulty during wet weather is bad spark plug wires.

…Or a cracked or warped distributor cap. Or a distributor cap gasket, if your distributor has one.

That is, if your car has a distributor.

If this is a DIS system, faulty coil packs or a bad gasket can be to blame.

And yes, wires too. Matter of fact, check them first!


I had a similar problem - in fact the car would stop running in the rain, and restart when it dried out. Turned out, there was a small crack in the coil. Once it was replaced, the problem went away.

Yeh…what they all said. I once had an MG that could only be started in wet weather after I popped the bonnet, removed and dried out the distributor cap, and dried each plug in turn. An interesting British ritual.

My guess is that there is a crack in the distriutor cap or a plug wire is worn, thereby allowing moisture to seep in. Change the distributor cap. It is difficult to see hairline cracks and besides, they are cheap.

A complete tuneup including wires, plugs, and distributor components is in order. This is normal, routine maintenance stuff. Old wires can arc, old distributor caps can leak.

An outside possibility is a coil with a leaky case. Leaking in this definition could also mean a bad outside case insulation that allows current leakage when wet.