Teenage driver stalls her 78 Ford Fairmont


Does anyone have any ideas why this car stalls for my daughter when the light turns green? None of the adults that have driven it have any problems. What could she be doing?


Wouldn’t it be easiest if you rode with your daughter to observe first hand?


Hasn’t happened when we are together. Only when she is alone, of course at a busy intersection.


It would help if you told us whether the car has an automatic transmission or a manual transmission, and it would also help if you mentioned the weather conditions when the stalling occurs.


She’s probably punching the gas pedal, quickly on and off. Pokes it hard, the car jumps, lifts off suddenly in reaction, the car stalls. This is an old car and it wasn’t too swell when new, by now it could be pretty easy to stall. She needs to squeeze the gas, not punch it.


Get rid of that bucket of bolts before somebody suffers.


Who on earth would have a teen driving that thing !?? … more likely she’s trying to kill her self … I can only hope this is the zepher with the wood-grain sides ! Seriously, this car had a really poor carb. at this age might need to be replaced

I am going to disagree with some of those how have suggested that the car is not right for your daughter.  I may or may not be, but we don't know nearly enough to say.  

It may have something to do with the age.  It may just be tired.  However I would like to know what condition is it in and is the maintenance current?  Like fuel and air filters, plugs and wires.  Is it manual or auto transmission?

Does this happen more often in damp weather?  

Frankly my guess is the accelerator pump based on some very limited information.


I’ll second Mr. Meehan.
A weak accelerator pump circuit, an aggressive driver stomping it down, and it’s probably bogging out on her.


I have seen defective accelerator pumps that were sensitive to how fast you hit the throttle. Hit the throttle too slow and the pump seal leaks instead of delivering fuel. Hit it faster and it’s OK.

Try experimenting and see if you duplicate the problem


It’s an automatic transmission and the weather has been in the 60’s and 50’s. Clear.


The car has 52,000 original miles, it was her grandmothers(Sat in a garage for 10 years). Has new fuel pump, spark plugs, belts, filters, fluids. It is an automatic. Our weather is close to no humidity here.


I have seen her drive like a turtle, when she is at a light could she be not hitting the gas ENOUGH?


I hate to shock you, but teenagers have been known to drive (and to do other things) differently when they are not under adult supervision. And, under the theory that she may be driving somewhat more aggressively when she is not under your gaze, I tend to agree with the idea that the accelerator pump may be at fault here.

Old carburetors can be problematic, and the accelerator pump can be one of the most troublesome parts on an old carburetor. Try to find an older mechanic who is actually familiar with carburetors, as the younger guys who grew up with fuel injection may have never worked on a carburetor!


I understand the teenager comment. My father has an experienced older mechanic and I believe he may run it by him on friday. I will mention the accelerator pump. Thanks everyone for your help.


Just experience . . . remember when YOU started to drive? Ride around with her in it . . . take a trip (well, maybe not with that car) . . . allow her to gain the experience she needs. Rocketman


I also agree with the teenager comment. When my daughter was first driving, and using my car, she’d drive very carefully just the way I taught her. Her brother, who’s 6 years older than her, was home one day and I commented that she was a careful driver…he almost fell off his chair laughing! She was driving totally differently when I wasn’t in the car with her.

Come to think of it, I drive more aggressively when I’m alone!!! Perhaps it’s genetic?

I also agree about the accelerator pump.


Hopefully we figure out something soon. Now she’s refusing to drive it, and I don’t blame her. Personally, I would get rid of it, but dad and step dad say it’s fine.


Open the hood and try revving the engine quickly using the accelerator linkage. If it bogs down then starts slowly climbing when you do this, shut the engine off, remove the air cleaner, prop the choke open, look down the carb with a flashlight, and rapidly cycle the accelerator linkage with your hand. You should see and smell gas being squirted from the float bowl into the venturi. If there’s none, the accelerator pump is bad or the linkage is stuck or otherwise broken.

Another possibility here is the vacuum advance for the ignition timing. With a timing light you should see the timing advance when you manually activate the accelerator linkage. If not, look at the vacuum advance system. That should be a diaphragm on the side of the distributor with some hoses attached. The problem could be a split hose, a ruptured diaphragm, of even simple corrosion.

If either of the two above are true, the car could be driven without stalling by conservative adults but stalling when the accelerator is quickly pushed. These cars were not power wagons to begin with and slow acceleration caused by either of the above could be dismissed as being normal.

Post back.


In case anyone ever wondered what happened, it took longer to get it in than I thought, but we just got it back. They put in a carb kit and fixed the accelerator pump. A lot of you were right on. It’s really running good and my daughter got right back in the saddle!