Embarrassing car trouble.

Okay… I’m honestly embarrassed. Today, while I was headed home, I had car trouble. Now, honestly I haven’t had the car for very long, but I’m trying to become attached to it. I got it from a family member who didn’t drive much…

While I was driving home after making a store run, I pulled up to a solid red light. As I started to stop, I could hear the engine kinda struggle a little…my heart stopped, knowing I was NOT dressed for car trouble (I’m a bit modest tbh and i… kinda… um didn’t have a bra on…)

I could feel my heart beat as I asked the engine to keep running, but it shuddered and stalled out RIGHT THERE IN THE STREET!

I Felt my heart drop and I immediately grabbed the key and turned it, hearing the engine crank “reerrrerreerreeer…” but it didn’t start! I was starting to sweat already and I tried again, “rerrrerrrerrrerrerrrr…” not even a sputter. I looked behind me and saw headlights approaching. I was honestly embarrassed and a little scared and I started pumping the gas pedal, begging softly “come on… come on…” still I couldn’t get the car to start. My heart was going crazy and I saw this car pull up right behind me just as the red light turned green, green light reflecting across my car’s cab. I tried the key again and pumped harder…I kept holding it starting to feel desperate. I pumped the gas pedal again, feeling myself bounce just a little there in my seat (Idk why I’m told its a girl thing) the car behind me started honking! Like really? It embarrassed me soooo much more! It was clear I was having troubles (my hazards were on too) I tried to wave him around and he actually yelled at me as he drove away!!

I was starting to panic by then… I was so frustrated and embarrassed that he did that. I shifted forward in my seat and tried again m, pumping the gas harder still. I felt like my heart had stopped beating and I needed it to start just like my car…

“Rererwr…” sput sput sput" the engine sputtered and tried to catch so I started pumping even harder. My leg got sore and I was about crying… four more people drove right around me and not one stopped and asked if I needed help…no matter how hard I tried in front of them…

Idk what I did wrong honestly or what might have caused this… I eventually got it but just barely before the battery almost died…

There are a whole lot of things that can make a car stall and without having hands on the car, it is impossible to say. You also did not say what year the car is. If it is a mid 70s to mid 80s, they pretty much all ran like that.

Just curious, why is it not embarrassing to go in a store in your state of dress, but embarrassing to break down that way?

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Oh sorry its a 1983

I didn’t actually have to go inside I was doing curbside too

That is the rarest of all Dodge Chargers but not the most valuable.

For that era, the old 2.2L Omni/Horizon based vehicle is long forgotten, it is unlikely that you will be able to find someone willing to diagnose your problem.

The problem may be a simple fuel or ignition failure but from the posts here the independent repair shops fail to find timely solutions to these problems.

There is so much wrong with a 1983 car that it is hard to know where to start. The automatic choke heater may have failed. It’s sometimes called the choke thermostat. “If so equipped” is the key word here. Yours may not be electric but it could fail anyway. If that’s the case I’m surprised you could restart the car.
There is also the ballast resistor, if so equipped. I had an 85 Charger that was small and had a four cylinder engine. You may never get it running right. It wasn’t raining or I’d say to replace the plug wires.

I know it was running fine before that and I haven’t had issues before. It was so embarrassing and people could tell I was stalled out… I was trying the key over and over pumping the gas like crazy and bouncing in the seat enough to be seen… but they would honk and drive around… i had the flashers on too

These engines had a carb. heat tube that came up from the exhaust manifold. If the sheet metal base rotted off, the carb could Ice up and run rough and stall between freezing and 50F /

The thick rubberlike base gasket on the carb would get porous and let air in and stall.

The neoprene floats would absorb gasoline, get heavy and cause flooding and make the car stall.

I don’t remember if the 83 had the electronic feedback carb, but they were terrible and no one could keep them running right. Earlier Ford Pinto carbs were sometimes installed as a cure.

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Thing about cars is you never have issues until you do.

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That is also true with people.
Countless times, I heard parents of my counselees tell me that their child couldn’t possibly have failed a particular course because “he never failed anything before”. :roll_eyes:

Everything in the world–whether it relates to cars or people–can have a first occurrence.

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" child couldn’t possibly have failed a particular course because “he never failed anything before”. :roll_eyes:"

As long as we’re hijacking this thread…

I once had an product acquisition manager say that we knew they were using the right vibration test because none of the products had ever failed it.

He also said that the way to improve reliability in the product was to tighten up the AQL in the contract. (“Acceptable Quality Level” – how many are allowed to fail out of how many tested).

He also said a certain safety failure (the device literally exploding if dropped just the wrong way) was impossible. So we ran a reasonable drop test (on an inert unit), and it failed. He said, “I meant it was very unlikely.”

How did I get from CarTalk into Dilbert?

Not to go too far off topic, but if I understand correctly, you’re driving a 37-year-old car, you were embarrassed by it not working reliably, and you didn’t dress appropriately for the possibility of such an event? Where do I start?

This being the website started by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, I feel a bit justified in starting with your clothing, because they would not have shied away from discussing it on their radio show.

There are different philosophies of car ownership, and the one that is typically the least expensive is to drive an old heap until the wheels fall off. It’s a philosophy with which I can identify being as frugal as I am, but it comes with risk. In order to follow this philosophy of car ownership, you have to accept that there will be times when you don’t get to where you’re going on time, and there will be times you have to take the car to a shop and spend more than the car is worth to get problems diagnosed and fixed. This also means you should be prepared to deal with a breakdown in other ways, such as apparel. For me, that means carrying rags and a towel in the trunk so that I can kneel down or sit on concrete or asphalt wearing nice pants. For you, it might mean carrying a spare bra in the car somewhere, and maybe a pair of jeans or shorts.

As loathed as I am to mansplain to a woman about her choice of apparel, this wouldn’t apply if you were to drive a 4-year-old car and carry a roadside assistance membership, like AAA, for example, but if you’re going to drive an old heap, it pays to be prepared. My mother was never one to lecture her children to “always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident,” but it’s something that occurs to me when I ride my motorcycle.

Regarding how you handled the situation, I don’t think you did the car any favors by pumping the throttle. In fact, you might have flooded the engine. Even with early fuel injection and late-stage old fashioned carburetors, most cars of that era were designed to simply be started without touching the gas pedal.

I suggest you take the car to a local shop and have it properly diagnosed before this happens again, and ask the mechanic whether you should pump the throttle when you start it. If you haven’t budgeted for repairs, it’s time to either start doing that or buy a newer car, because a car this old is going to need professional help to keep running. In the short term, companies like Goodyear and Firestone offer high interest credit cards that might help you fix what is wrong with your car. With an average size repair bill, you can often get zero interest for a number of months if you pay it off within that period, but if you don’t pay off the bill within that time, they will hit you with interest for the whole period, not just start charging you interest when the deal expires.

Lastly, if you’re going to keep driving a car that is this old, you need to be prepared to handle breakdowns without stressing out or being embarrassed. Jerks are going to be jerks, so don’t let it get to you. In addition to turning on your hazard lights and waving people to go around, it also helps to open the hood and the trunk, but try to push the car out of traffic if you can first. Someone who is driving by is a lot more likely to stop to help you if your hood is open or you’re trying to push your car to the side by yourself.


What difference does it make? If you have an accident on your bike, your u-trou won’t be clean for long.

I couldn’t resist…

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Yep by the time you say it you do it.

I think @oldtimer_11 is correct but I’ll also add back then, (maybe a few years earlier) there was a little coin shaped heat sensor that was troublesome. Time to ditch a car that old if you want dependable.

I’ll have to say that your experience was also my experience. One Friday night stopped at a red light and my Riv stalled. Wouldn’t start again. Hood up, flashers on and guy behind me honks-like oh I just woke up. Everyone just drives by. This was before cell phones. Turned out a timing chain so it was going nowhere on it’s own.

HI kid, when the engine stalls when it has been running pumping the gas is the wrong technique. Pumping the gas one time when cold sets the choke on the old carb stuff and puts a prime into the manifold. In a hot engine pumping the gas will flood the engine and make it fail to run. The proper technique for a warm engine is to just push the pedal about halfway down and crank till start. Good luck with the hand me down car.

I bought its sibling, Dodge Rampage, brand new 1984. During the first year of ownership they were recalled to change the fuel system from mechanical to electric fuel pump. Reason not given but I suspect vapor lock problems. Had carburetor problems at less than25000 miles. Frankly, I am amazed yours is still on the road.
If you wish to keep it, your entire fuel system needs to be inspected.

You make a lot of great points and I will definitely do that! I admit I haven’t had the car for very long and haven’t had trouble really until that happened.

I don’t usually go without a bra and I don’t plan on making a habit of it! I will put one in my glove box though just in case! I guess the trick will be putting it on though if needed huh?

I know I sound like an idiot but I didn’t know that… I honestly pumped like a lot… bouncing and my foot was hurting

It isn’t being an idiot to not be informed-from your description I realized you didn’t understand how they were designed to function. I hope things are going better.

More unhelpful info: EGR valve stuck open is another maybe.