Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Rough idle and dies

My son and two buddies are on a cross-country adventure in my old, '83 Tercel wagon. They are currenlty in New Mexico, after having been to NYC, Boston, Tenn, ‘Bama (wrestlin’ gators!), and TX. While on the local highway car began losing power, and rough idle, and finally died. Had to be towed in. The next day a local mechanic got it started, liberally treated the carb with carb clean, adjusted the idle up a bit and all seemed well. A new fuel filter adn air filter were added. Oil was changed the day before all this happened. Could this be heat related, since they are now in the Southwest? If so, is there a cure? Temp gauge reads normal to maybe just a touch toward hot. The boys need to continue the adventure! Any suggestions?

There’s a lot of things that it could be but we do not know why it died. Lack of fuel or lack of spark? Not knowing puts us at a severe disadvantage when guessing.

As to the heat theory, yes it’s possible that it could be heat related; as in vapor lock.
That’s not uncommon with unleaded fuel on carbureted cars in this part of the country although generally this will happen shortly after the engine is turned off instead of at speed on the road.

These cars are mechanically simple and since the guys are apparently not mechanically inclined it may be difficult to help them out.
Do any of them have the ability to get through a few basic tests with a minimum of or no parts and tools?

(If for the sake of discussion this problem was vapor lock there are a couple of things that can be done to aid in this problem. Removal of any steel fuel line on an engine and replacement with a rubber one and installation of an insulator block under the carburetor are a couple of things that would help IF vapor lock is the cause. Vapor lock is essentially boiling gasoline.)