Starting and embarrassing stalling! Help

I hit a red light and as soon as I stopped, not only was the traffic light red but now my dash board was red in front of me. My car has been stalling quite often on me and I have been having with to deal with it. I immediately put my flashers on as I had a bad feeling I would be there a couple of light changes. The good news, it was so late at night and this road is not heavily traveled anyway that no cars were around or coming. So, my right leg now beginning its usual routine that it usually does everyday lately of bouncing off the seat when beginning to pump the gas pedal. The usual 5 dry deep thrusts of the pedal all the way to the floor and back up before turning the key first only to be met with a not so promising ?rrrrrrrrrrrr? that was lackluster at best, in other words my car didn?t even tease like it was trying for me. Release of the key and the only sights and sounds were the hazards resuming there ?blink blink blink? in the road and the sound they made in the car when it was not being cranked, and me beginning to bounce as the sound of the pedal squeaking thumping the floorboard began again while I continued pumping it. Now I sat in front of a green light, bouncing and pumping on a dead motor, looking in the rear view mirror as the first sight of head lights were about 150 yards behind me moving my way. They didn?t seem interested in stopping to help me because they blew by me and my stalled car pretty fast shaking us even more then we were already shaking from all the bouncing I was doing now cranking it over again. I am sure they probably could see me through the window bouncing up and down trying to get it started, especially since the hazards stop blinking when I start cranking the motor, so they saw the hazards blinking, then not blinking, then blinking again along with me bouncing like crazy!! They could have cared less, why are people this mean?? That?s ok though, I didn?t need there help anyway! I would get it started with my barefoot thumping the pedal and me bouncing up and down on the seat. Wrapping my left arm around the steering wheel and pushing the cigarette lighter in on the ash tray, I prepared myself for a third attempt at cranking my motor over as the red light above me now changed to red again to start the 2 nd cycle that I was stalled in the middle of this road late at night with no help. I stopped cranking it, dry pumped it very aggressively another 10 times and turned her over again to finally hear ?RRRRRRvrrooooom? as it staggered to life for me.

Knowing nothing about cars and being female, could somebody give me any ideas on what might be going on with it. It’s a 1984 oldsmobile delta 88 carbureted. Thanks

Are you using gasoline that contains ethanol?

If so, the fuel system may be damaged.


No not that im aware of

At what gas station do you buy your gas?


Shell when i can. This is really embarrassing tbh

There is not much of a chance of diagnosing this one without car in hand but I tend to agree with Tester. It sounds like a carburetion and/or Ethanol issue. Carburetors on any vehicle from this era were cluttered up with various controls; all controlled by the ECM or computer.

With carburetors, even a tiny piece of trash as small a straight pin head can get inside a jet inside the carb or an air bleed and cause the engine to stall. May be a one time thing or it may not.

Don’t beat yourself up over being female and knowing nothing about cars. Many males also know little or nothing. One reason that many people do not stop is because they never really know who may be waiting with intent to cause them harm. Do a net search for Roger Dale Stafford here in OK and you would see what I mean. Nine dead over something that began as an allegedly stalled car with the hood up; 3 at the car and 6 at a steak house.

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Geeze thsts horrible. I guess i just wanna know if im doing anything wrong when i tried to start it back up. I couldnt believe nobody stopped! I know they could see me bouncing in the seat and struggling

Shell gas contains ethanol.

You need to use gas from a pump that states non-oxyenated or ethanol free, which is way more expensive.


The weird thing is i dont always have trouble

About all I can suggest if this happens again is that you might try holding the accelerator pedal down and do not pump it. This is based on an assumption (right or wrong) that the carburetor is a Quadrajet (you did not state which engine the car has) and those have a few quirks.

As I mentioned, an errant piece of trash in a jet or air bleed could have made this a one time event. Really need to think about this Ethanol issue though and QJ carburetors have gotten pretty expensive; as in 4 to 500 dollars + filters + labor. The last thing you want to do is spend money on a remanufactured carb and unless it has been rebuilt with Ethanol friendly parts you would end up with the same problem.

I can definetely try that. Shes acting up on me rn tbh so lets see if that helps. This is embarrassing. I do appreciate your help

You might try changing both fuel and air filters just in case. I have no rebuilt carbs in a long time but I remember one I rebuilt and it had an absolutely filthy air filter. The customer did not want the air filter replaced at that time (no labor) and said he would do it himself the next day. He lied.

Two weeks and 400 miles later the car came back on a tow truck with a refusal to idle. He never changed the air filter, a piece of debris came loose, and just happened to wedge itself into a primary air bleed on the carburetor. A quick shot of compressed air through the air bleed and the car was fine again.
He was upset with me although it was all his fault. I broke that filthy air filter in half and threw it in the trash; followed by telling him to go straight to the parts house and get a new one.
This kind of illustrates how the most insignificant of things can be a problem.

just a thought. does this happen when it is really hot out? I was thinking vapor lock. If you are in a safe spot when this happens, loosen the gas cap and see if you hear a whoosh of air.

It has happened in a hot place before. Then again the night it happened it was only like 60.

It happened again today at a stop sign. Its really embarrassing! I was there for about 8 minutes cranking and bouncing like crazy! Its hotter today so…

Your bouncing up and down just might make people think that you might have mental problems that they want to avoid . There is no need for that bouncing . you can just pump the gas pedal with your foot .


Probably…ill be honest, its kinda a habit. I dont do it on purpose…i just get really anxious when my car wont start

have you ever had the fuel filter changed? if not it can be blocking fuel from going through.

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Ok, I’m sorry but I just couldn’t make it through the post. Given the other comments though, I think a general overhaul of the carb is in order. The kits used to be $20 and a couple hours of work and like new again. Who knows what they cost now or finding an old guy that can even work on a carb. So yeah could be dirt, a leaky float in the carb or even the accelerator pump worn. But it needs to be taken apart and a new float, jets, and pump replaced. You could also have a leak in the fuel bowl which was a common problem. Find someone in a car club or hot rod club and ask them who to recommend for carb work locally.

Now for the rest. Yeah people don’t stop anymore and can’t blame them. I lost a timing chain at a stop light. Flashers on, hood up while I called for a tow and a guy in back of me actually honked. Like ya wanna help push the car to the shoulder or just be a jerk?

As far as the bouncing goes, I had to do that with my 59 Pontiac in the late 60s. Only way it would start when cold. Had to pump the heck out of it. Overhauled several times but no change. Never figured it out and the mechanic was a racer so no slouch. I suspect now it had a leak in the bottom of the carb that allowed the gas to leak out over night.

One morning on my way to school it stalled after two blocks. A mechanic who happened to know my room mate stopped, took a screwdriver and rapped the top of the carb. Said a dirt particle was lodged in it. On my way in a couple minutes. So yeah, those dang carbs. Much prefer fuel injection now.

Good luck.

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1984 carb, got to expect a few problems now and then. You know they’ve invented something called fuel injection, installed on most every car since 1990’s, right? … lol … ok, just teasing. I have a 50 year old Ford truck w/carb and have experienced this problem several times. Usually it is caused by a vacuum system leak, causes fuel mixture to be overly lean, and most apparent when idling or low speed driving. Every hose and vacuum operated device that connects to the intake manifold vacuum is a suspect. You need a shop with a geezer mechanic who knows how to find vacuum leaks w/a hand-held vacuum pump. I’ve had split hoses, disconnected hoses, failed diaphragms in vacuum actuators, including the vacuum advance/retard gadgets on the distributor, as well as the one that opens/closes the air intake temperature control valve.

Could be something else, but if I had that problem, and car tune-up maintenance was recently performed (new spark plugs, new spark plug wires, new distributor cap & rotor, new ignition points & condenser if your car uses that ignition method), checking for vacuum leaks is where to start. Good idea to eschew ethanol containing gasoline if possible, as mentioned above.

Concur, fuel system …pump, line blockage or most likely carb.

On a 40 year old car fuel pumps routienly fail due to age or corroded contacts but so do carbs, floats no longer float and most likely valve’s start sticking due to varnish/crud buildup.

As preventative maintenance I’d replace both the fuel pump and carb after running several pints of Techron to clear the lines but there is good news,

Fuel pumps can be found for under $100 and carb rebuilds can be done for less than $300 and installation (although messy) is possibly within your ability level.

And as an Old Fart who’s also a father of a daughter, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER doubt or allow anyone else to doubt your competance or ability or allow anyone to intimidate you simply because you’re a girl!
You’re driving a Cool Old Boat, they breakdown and if anyone has a problem with that just smile and let them know where to stick their “problem”.

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