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My car is struggling to Start properly

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#1: we can’t be too much help if you don’t give us the year, make, model and engine size. We could help a lot more if you described the behavior of the car more than your behavior. Is the check engine light on when you are driving.
#2: A properly running car should only be started with your foot off the gas pedal. Pumping the pedal has bad effects for starting. The only reason to use the gas pedal to start a car is if it’s flooding. Then you just put the pedal to the floor until it starts.
It sounds like you have something wrong with your car though. Please list everything you can on how it’s performing in as much detail as you can, and we may be able to help you.

Thank you for replying!

I thought I listed that in the description. I’m new to the site sorry. Its a camaro and the year is 1982. Chevy

With what engine? The small 2.8 liter 6 or the 305 V8?

And for the record…

That advice is for fuel injected cars. Yours is not fuel injected, it will have a carburetor

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I will tow it directly to the junkyard

Until you get this thing repaired by a actual shop stay out of drive throughs. And what do you think this bouncing up and down will accomplish ?

Also why doesn’t your mother realize that this is a dangerous situation ( stalling in front of a train for instant )? Providing this is not an exercise in fiction writing .

When a vehicle is approaching 4 decades of use, the number of potential problems is almost endless. And, you are essentially the victim of however badly its maintenance might have been neglected over the years, and/or whether it was abused by the previous owner(s) . Plus, things simply wear-out over time.

The sputtering probably indicates a fuel delivery problem, but from afar we don’t know whether there are other issues, including ignition problems. The bottom line is that none of us–no matter how helpful we want to be–could possibly give you an accurate diagnosis via cyberspace.

You need to take/tow the car to a good, older mechanic. I want to stress “older” because many younger mechanics have never worked on a carburetor, and may not be able to properly diagnose a carb problem. Additionally, start thinking now about your maximum budget for repairs, so that you can make a good decision when the mechanic calls you with a diagnosis. IMHO, it wouldn’t be worthwhile to spend more than a few hundred $$ on repairing it, but if you have an emotional attachment to the car, you might be willing to spend more.

Good luck, and kudos on your writing skills–even if the drama at McDonald’s was not really pertinent to a diagnosis. :wink:

Please report back to us when you get a diagnosis of the problem.


Sometimes she gets stubborn. And the bouncing isn’t something I really do on purpose. I know it doesn’t help…

Sorry idk if my last reply tagged you. I’m new to the site

that was completely unhelpful. If you are going for “Least productive comment” badge- you get my vote.

@KaraDiana- did you ever get the car running at McDonalds? Or is it still there or was it towed away?
If it did eventually start- what are the circumstances for it starting again? Sitting a while? Foot on gas? Etc.

When the car won’t start, does the engine turn over nice and strong? Or does it sound slow & weak and struggle to do anything? Do you have a voltmeter on your dash? What does it read while driving and while trying to start?

be sure to tell us the engine size, and if any modifications have been done over the years that you know of with this car. As was mentioned, your car should have a carburetor, and the seals on those go bad and don’t allow for proper air/fuel mixtures. My old work service van had a carb, and I was having to replace the seals on it every couple of years before we got rid of it. I imagine it had something to do with gas mixtures being different now than when the carb was designed, but never verified that.

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Hey thank you for answering.

Eventually I was able to get it started after I waited a while and tried to compose myself…

I did have to work the gas pedal a little then too…

The engine is usually strong enough, i just can’t get it to catch… it’ll try and crank and sometimes it’ll crank faster and skip like its reallllyyy trying.

I don’t think there were any big modifications made to it. It was my grandparents and they didn’t use it much tbh

I hope that helps

And I’m sorry if the extra details about the issue at McDonald’s were irritating or not needed like the others are saying… it just was on my mind cause it was so embarrassing! I guess I was venting a little…

You may be dealing with a faulty ignition control module in the distributor.


Sometimes when these modules get hot they fail and the ignition system produces no spark and the engine stalls.

Then when you let the vehicle sit for a while the module cools off, it starts working again and the engine starts.



What did you expect a part time worker at a fast food place to do anyway ? You drove a vehicle with problems through the drive through .
You don’t appear to have mechanical knowledge so your only choice is to put the vehicle in a shop or stop driving it . Surely your mother can see what a problem this vehicle is.

Sorrywhat I meant was she got mad like right away and it was embarrassing is all. I didn’t expect her to come outside and help. She didn’t get paid enough for that and it isn’t her job

That does make sense… would there be a way maybe to test it once more to be sure? Or is there more information i could give, another event perhaps?

Sorry too if all the extra information was irritating, I was just frustrated and embarrassed when I wrote the OP. It just totally sucked… the worker didn’t help either

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Start the engine, and as the engine idles, take a heat gun/hair dryer and heat the distributor.

If the engine suddenly shuts off, the ignition module or pickup coil,

in the distributor could be bad

No,I tell it like it is. The OP will find out soon enough that its going to be a endless money pit.

I think OP is fictitious. And posting as a scheme to annoy folks.

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@KaraDiana Hi, I’m Marnet, a frequent regular here on the Car Talk forum.

To start with, I’m an older woman and not mechanically skilled. However, I do know what it was like to be a young woman your age, have had my share of car problems, have experienced my share of public embarrassments, etc. And I have spent years reading here in the forum and learning basics of how best to maintain my car and how to deal with inevitable car problems when they do arise.

So if I may, I’d like to offer you some advice how to handle this current situation with your car and future problem situations you will face in life. You likely won’t like some of what I have to say but I hope you will stop to think.

  • First and foremost, stop the emotional drama. Just stop. That means stop the drama in your actions, your words, and your mindset. Such drama only gets in the way of problem solving. And, frankly, it marks you as an immature juvenile rather than as a young woman capable of coping with life’s challenges. Choose which to be; a juvenile drama queen or young woman ready to learn and solve problems. It takes deliberate will and intentional effort to transition from girl to woman. It requires a commitment to yourself to achieve but is so worth doing. Start now. You CAN do this.
  • It’s okay to feel embarrassed. I guarantee it won’t be the last time you will be. What matters is how you deal with it.
  • Two of the best pieces of advice ever given to me also apply to you and everyone else:
    “Not everything is about you.”
    “That was the past. You’re going forward now.”

Now, here are tips how to effectively present a problem such you communicate accurately and effectively, thereby establishing a positive impression and more likely getting good responses.

  • Define the problem/question succinctly without extraneous storytelling.
  • Give all pertinent facts up front.
  • Provide straightforward pertinent details and context but do not toss in non-relevant story clutter.

As prime example, it is relevant that your car sputters and stalls while the engine is idling. It is NOT relevant that you were embarrassed, that you had a hissy fit bouncing up and down, that the employee and drivers behind you were impatient with you blocking the drive-thru, and that you think your mother unsympathetic.

Specific to the current problem with your car sputtering and stalling, here is information to succinctly provide up front:

  • Year, make, model of vehicle
  • Which engine, if you know
  • Whether it has a manual or automatic transmission
  • Mileage
  • Any warning lights lights lit up on dashboard and, if so, which ones
  • Car sputters and dies and under what conditions such as only at idle and/or while driving, any difference when it occurs on cold or warmed up engine, etc.

Start again here in this topic thread by providing the applicable details. Respond with succinct replies to questions without any embellishment of personal details.

Be prepared to not like the costs and efforts involved in solving the problem; that goes with having a car problem. And be prepared to find other transportation as may be needed either short term while your 39 year old car gets fixed or long term until you can replace the car. You do have options. You may not like any of the options, none of them may be convenient, but making practical decisions is part of life. Realize the important distinction between needs and wants.

Good luck.