My Dodge Van (1988) Hates the Cold

It’s not that it won’t start, but it accelerates like crap when it gets “cold” out. What do I mean by “cold”? Apparently 60F or less. During May and June my van worked great. Now, just with a bit of nip in the air, she doesn’t drive the same.


  • When in Drive, the van lurches while idling.
  • Accelerating from a stop is VERY slow and risks stalling every so often. I could literally floor the accelerator and she’ll go a couple MPH.
  • Between 1 and 45MPH the van will occasionally buck. Meaning the acceleration will either dip or spike so the drive isn’t “smooth”.
  • If it’s real cold, when accelerating from a stop (or rolling stop) something goes “pop”, almost like a mini-backfire.

Van is a Dodge Ram Van B250 1988. V8

During May and June she drove like a dream (well, as much as a 1988 Van that probably needs some extra care).
I’d love some ideas because I miss the smooth driving. And come Winter I know I’m it’s going to take the van forever to get up to 50MPH on the highway.

I will assume you have the 360 V8 in this van. That engine would use the Rochester Quadrajet. Make sure that the air cleaner is unclogged. If in doubt replace it as that would be a cheap fix. Also change the fuel filter if this has not been changed in a while.

This carb has an automatic choke so make sure that it is operating freely. Use carb cleaner spray to clean up theshafts and linkage. Also, this has a choke pull off (vacuum break assembly) that pops the choke open a little after starting to lean out the mixture. Make sure it is working and that the vacuum lines from the carburator base are intact. The diagram shows a T in the vacuum line so make sure that vacuum is not being lost due to the device connected to the T.

Then, check the fuel pump pressure and volume. You could have a problem with the fuel pump. The bucking and chuffing indicate a lean condition. If a full tune up has not been done in a while that would be the next place to start. With all the cold driveability problems, the plugs could be fouled.

Get back to us with the results of the above.

If the engine uses the Q-jet carburetor as @Researcher suggested, tie the choke open and attempt to drive the van a short distance. If holding the choke open eliminates the problem adding this ----- the ('76 and up choke pull off) will likely eliminate your grief.

The O-jets were drilled and tapped for that pull off and it is easily installed and adjusted and attaches at the 7 o’clock position when faced from the front.

Thanks guys. I’ll mull this over and see what I can find out.