I have a 1989 Hoonday Civic Wagon with 184,000 miles. Yesterday the car developed a new “feature”. When I try to start the car, the engine starts then immediately dies. The car usually starts on the third try. Twice the car has died when idleing. The engine has not quit while I have been on the highway. Since the car otherwise runs great and the engine cranks and eventually starts, I suspect it may be a fuel pump or fuel filter issue. What say you?
Try turning the key to “ON” and waiting about 5-10 seconds before turning to "START.’ That will give the pump time to pressurize the fuel system. If it helps, it may mean the pump is OK but the check valve is worn and not holding pressure in the system.
Changing the fuel filter certainly can’t hurt, and if the problem persists have the fuel pressure measured. At this mileage the pump may well need replacement.
Is this a carburated vehicle? If so, it could also be that the choke is not setting.