Trouble starting

Have trouble starting when engine is cold. Turn ignition for a few seconds, then stop, then try again and it starts. Will start if engine is warm - go into a store for a couple of minutes then come right back out. Changed spark plugs and wires and the fuel filter. Still having trouble. Is this fuel pump trouble? Help.

How old is the truck, and how many miles? Of course, engines are much harder to start when it is cold, especially the bitter cold most of the country is facing right now.

Try this to see if there may be a problem with the fuel pump or check valve. Turn the key to the ‘On’ position, just enough to get the indicator lights on the dash to glow, but don’t start it. After a couple of seconds, turn it off. Then, try to start normally. If it starts much easier, the check valve may be leaking. This valve is a part of the pump, and is designed to keep the fuel pressure in the line after the engine is shut off. If it is leaking, the pressure will drop off after it is shut down for a while. Then, when you try to start after leaving it overnight, the fuel pump must first re-pressurize the system before the engine starts.

If this technique makes no difference, then it’ a combination of the cold and engine wear.

Why don’t you do a fuel pressure test and find out if it might be caused by the fuel pump? Connect the fuel pressure gauge, turn the ignition switch ON once, and look at fuel pressure, ON twice, On thrice. Each time the fuel pressure will rise about 20 psi (normal). Turn the ignition switch off, and observe the fuel pressure. The fuel pressure should hold for several minuets (could hold for hours). A fast fall in fuel pressure indicates a fuel pump leakdown, or fuel pressure regulator not holding, or the fuel injectors leaking.

I do not have extensive knowledge of automobiles. Can I get a fuel pressure gauge at a parts store? Where do I connect it?

You can get one at a parts store and it will come with instructions. Low level, basic gauges are about $40. You could also call around to a few local shops just to see how much they would charge to check out your fuel pressure.

But I would also guess that if a key on…key on…key on…then key to start reliably gets the car going then it is most likely the check valve on your fuel pump and if the problem is new then the fuel pump (given a new fuel filter) is likely on its way out.

Your troubleshooting suggestion helped greatly. Along with the other suggestion posted below at least I know where to start looking.