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Difficulty starting my car

I have a 1986 Toyota Tercel station wagon, single owner, with a little over 72,000 miles on it. When I picked it up, it registered 13 miles, just the distance from the Port of Los Angeles to the dealer in north L.A. When new, it got 20/40 and now runs 19/37. It cost me about $10,000. It has been my companion and the love of my life (well, sorta) and the engine is like new. The original paint job is still looking good. I have had to replace the carburetor twice. The body reflects its age, with window rubber deteriorating and squeaks and bumps escalating. Besides the fact that I would like a new car with automatic shift and a few modern conveniences, I don’t have the money to buy a new one and I fear getting a lemon for a used one. My primary concern now is that when the engine is cold, it is extremely difficult to start. It whines but won’t turn over until I pump the accelerator over and over and pray a lot. When the engine is warm, it starts like a brand new car. Any suggestions?

I think you can get a few more miles out of the old girl.

Try to find an OLD (like me) mechanic who knows how to fix a carb.  With luck it is going to be a cheap fix.  The only hard part is finding someone who knows carbs.

Carburetor Replacement Number 3 ?

Do you know enough to be able to check the choke on the engine when it’s “cold” to see if it’s functioning ?


Remove the air cleaner.

Check to make sure the top butterfly turns smoothly. When it’s cold, you should only have to hit the gas pedal once, and the choke should engage. It’ll close that butterfly, which will richen up the fuel mixture, and put more fuel into the air/fuel mix. They can get sticky, and the choke only has so much pressure to move them. You can (carefully) stuff the end of a rag into the mouth of the carb, and clean it with carb cleaner, and also use silicone spray to make sure it stays lubricated. The rag is to prevent an excess of cleaner and silicone getting into the intake.

My 1986 Corolla had that problem. Never had to change the carb, though. The above fixed it for me.


Don’t spray silicone anywhere around the carburator. If any of it gets injested into the engine and burned it can damage the O2 sensor.


I had a 1984 Toyota Tercel and I can tell you I faced this same issue. It was the automatic butterfly on the carb that was bad. I bought a $12 manual choke at the auto store and installed it by knocking the broken automatic butterfly opener off the carb and screwing this onto it. The cable ran through the firewall and I screwed the knob onto the underside of the dash. When the engine was cold I pulled the choke shut to start it. Once it idled for a moment I cracked it open. Once it ran for a minute or two I pushed it wide open. The car ran four more years and 60,000 miles this way until it succumbed to rust.

The linkage in carburetor’s is a dry linkage. There is no need for any lube. Just clean it with car cleaner…and that’s it. Silicone will actually make it worse. Silicone will leave a layer of film on the linkage…and this film will attract dirt quickly…