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My cranky 1984 Oldsmobile wont start

I drive a 1984 oldsmoblie as my everyday driver. Being a female, I’m pretty clueless about cars. The only thing I really know about my car is to pump the gas twice maybe 3 times and she usually starts. Well, this morning not the case, as has been more frequently recently. I had a no start morning. I tried everything, pumping the pedal with the key off, pumping the pedal while cranking and finally holding the pedal to the floor with no luck. It is very cold and my car is usually harder to start in the cold which may require me to pump the gas more, but not this hard. Any suggestions for me? Thanks Lynn

Need more info. That is the year some cars switched to EFI. Pumping the gas on a fuel injection car does no good. Is the motor turning over when it doesn’t start? Or does it just go “click, click, click?” What type of Olds is it? Is it fuel injected or carburated? Does it spin slowly when cranking? Or normally?

It is a Olds Royale…It is turning over and it is carbureted I know. Normally, 2-3 pumps and it starts…Not today. It started to spin slower the longer I tried to crank it this morning, probably from the drain on the battery. But I did not kill the battery. The battery actually stayed strong for about 10 minutes before it finally started to fade on me. It was about 25 degrees out this morning, so I am perplexed as to why I am getting a no start??

There are and have always been three things necessary for a motor to run. This hasn’t changed since the invention of the internal combustion engine. O2, fuel, spark. We’ll assume its getting air. That leaves fuel and spark. The fuel, if it had water in it, could be freezing prior to getting to the carb, and not able to get to the cylinders. That can be verified by removing the air cleaner and watching for a spray from the fuel nozzles down inside the carb with a flashlight. If it is getting fuel, that leaves spark. Something like a cracked distributor cap, allowing the spark to find a closer ground than the spark plug would be a good place to start. (this gets back to the path of least resistance). If your ignition system hasn’t been checked, tuned up recently, that might be something to consider. Plugs, wires, dist cap and rotor. Any moisture inside the dist. could cause a no-start condition. If the choke isn’t working, that will cause a fuel starvation problem. This isn’t likely something you’re going to diagnose yourself with outside help if you have limited mechanical knowledge. Good luck to you.

You do have carburetor problems, but this morning something else may have happened to your car to prevent it from starting. It will be hard for anyone to say. I can only address the carb issue.

First off, it should not take several pumps to start the car at 25 degrees F. Your owner manual has the starting drill for this car. It is probably to push the pedal to the floor and release, relatively slowly. That sets the choke. Pumping repeatedly squirts a lot of fuel into the carb which might be necessary if it gets really cold (sub zero).

That said, your choke may not be getting set properly because the carb needs a little (or a lot) of work. That would force you to pump it to get it started. You can easily overdo it and get the engine flooded this way.

Holding the pedal to the floor (and absolutely not pumping it at that point) is how you get a gasoline-flooded engine to clear. Maybe you are aware of that.

You have two choices. Do you want to find a mechanic that understands carburetors or do you want to trouble-shoot yourself? If the latter. Take the air cleaner cover off before you start it on a cool morning. Is the choke plate open? Now, pump the accel pedal slowly, all the way down, once. Is the choke plate fully closed?

Thanks for all your suggestions. I decided to let her sit overnight last night thinking maybe I had flooded her from pumping too much and decided to give it a go again this morning. Well- today being colder, 10F with snow, was no easier. I tried a couple of time through the day with no luck of getting it to turn over for me. The end result- I sore right calf muscle from pumping the pedal and putting the battery on a charger. I definately have something wrong with the carburetor i’m pretty sure. So, it was close to catching for me on the last try so I am going to keep trying to avoid a tow then take my car to see the mechanic. Thanks Lynn

Just an update and hoping for suggestions- I have been trying and trying this morning to get it started to get to my mechanic. No luck yet and it is sooo close to catching for me. I have the battery on a charger from all the cranking it has taken without getting the motor actually turned over. I probably now am pumping the gas pedal out of fustration- so that’s why I give it plenty of time between tries. Starter fluid maybe will help me does anyone think? Just want to get it too mechanic to look at. Thoughts and suggestions? Thanks

I would have given the starter fluid a whirl a long time ago. Go for it.

Take the lid off the air filter and in the center of the carburetor will be the “Choke Butterfly”. It should be closed but move freely with your finger. Open it, and prop it open with a clip-type clothes pin (half-way open is fine) and try that. Still nothing? Try one shot of starting fluid. Still nothing? Have it towed to a shop. It’s probably some sort of ignition failure.

Today, reliable, decent, fuel-injected cars can be had for less than $2000. It will cost almost that much to “rebuild” the nightmare 'feedback" carburetor on your car. It might be time to let it go…

Although it was suggested, the poster never once said she DID remove the air cleaner and check for fuel coming into the carb.

All you have to do to activate the choke and watch for fuel entry is take hold of the throttle linkage and move it back and forth once or twice at most. If the choke is working that is.

The problem may be a dirty fuel filter. Isn’t there a paper element fuel filter where the fuel line enters the carb on this engine?

Like was mentioned already, clean air intake, clean fuel delivery and good spark.

1984 Olds. Model and mileage? Which engine?

I don’t have $2000 right now to spend- the starting fluid finally got me going- don’t know whay i didn’t think of it sooner- besides- believe it or not I LOVe my car!!

My baby is an oldsmobile royale with 160,000 miles on her. Not sure of the engine being a female LOL- A damn good engine- she usually is realiable for me except in frigid temperatures- she doesn’t like to start so easy then:(

I wouldn’t advise you to keep using starting fluid every time you want to start the engine.

Starting fluid is mainly ether and strips the oil off the cylinder walls. One way to SLIGHTLY reduce the amount you use is to crank the engine over as you spray just enough ether to start the engine.

Get it fixed as soon as you are able. I’d hate for you to ruin a good engine.

I certainly won’t be using the starting fluid sweety everytime I want to start the engine- Usually (except in colder temperatures) it’s a couple pumps on the pedal and away I go. So, with that said- in the colder temps it will just require more pumping on the gas for the time being until I get the problem fixed. Just might have a sore right calf muscle from pumpin the pedal for a little while- hey if thats the worst of my problems I’m fortunate:) Thanks again