How come my car sputters on restart if the engine doesn't cool off completely?

So I have recently found myself in possession of a 1985 Chevy Corvette. It runs alright, except if I go somewhere, i.e. the grocery store, and I turn the car off to let it sit for a while, when I come to restart it, it will never start on the first turn of the key. It almost always starts on the second turn, but if I let the engine cool completely during the day, or overnight, it will start fine. I think I saw a question similar to this answered in a previous column in a newspaper, but that was so long ago that I was unable to locate the answer. Thanks for your help!

Something is overheating. My guess with a 1985 car would be the fuel supply. A weak fuel pump could be part of that problem. The other likely issue would be the ignition. The coil or distributor may be overheating. As parts age and wear, they may become more sensitive.

If it is a problem with cranking, your starter might be getting too hot. On many cars these sit near to the exhaust, and bake after the hot engine is shut off. It might just be time for a starter, but you might also look at adding an aftermarket heat shield.

It would help to know whether you are cranking without starting, or whether the engine just won’t turn over. Do the lights dim when you try to start?

-Bob C.

When you say “doesn’t start” does that mean doesn’t crank? Your post header mentions sputtering but the body of your post says nothing about sputtering, can you provide a explaniation?

I know this is a little late for the initial post; but it may be beneficial to others trying to figure out their own version of this problem. I had the same issue with my Oldsmobile , if I ran to the store and was there for under two hours it would randomly decide to sputter and violently shake when I came out to restart it. Several mechanics had difficultly figuring out the issue. Finally after taking the car to a local dealer and leaving it with them for a week it was found to be a faulty fuel pump. After replacement, the car ran perfectly. hope this might point some of you in the right direction.

My experience with a GM product of this vintage was similar. Wouldn’t restart easily when hot most of the time. It was the ignition control module. I small inexpensive piece. Someplace like AutoZone SHOULD be able to test the module free of charge if you take the part to them. Hopefully this answer isn’t too late to be beneficial.

“It almost always starts on the second turn”

Be thankful for that, considering its age and the technology at the time.