How do you get a flooded FUEL INJECTED car started...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

How do you get a flooded FUEL INJECTED car started? I know with a carbureted car, you're supposed to push the gas pedal all the way to the floor and then turn the key. But what about with fuel injection?

RAY: You do the same exact thing, Glen. But for different reasons.

TOM: We should explain what flooding is. When your car is cold, it needs a very rich fuel mixture in order to start ("rich" means lots of gas and very little air). But if all that gas pours into the cylinders, and, for some reason, the engine doesn't start, the spark plugs can literally get all wet. And when they get too wet, they can't make sparks and the car won't start. That's "flooding."

RAY: When a carbureted car is flooded, you "floor" the gas pedal while you turn the key. That opens the throttle (and, to some extent, the choke), and sends in as much air as possible.

TOM: On a fuel injected car, you also floor the gas pedal while turning the key. But what you're doing is sending a message to the computer (which controls the fuel-air mixture). When you press the gas pedal to the floor in the "crank mode" (when the engine is trying to start), you let the computer know that the engine is flooded, and the computer automatically cuts the fuel flow in half.

RAY: These methods will work if the engine is slightly flooded. But if you've flooded it badly by repeatedly trying to start it, or if it's flooding due to some other problem, there's not much you can do on your own except wait or call a tow truck.

TOM: Of course, you could take the spark plugs out and put them in the oven at 325?? for an hour...or until golden brown. But my wife's still mad at me for the last time I did that. The kitchen smelled like Frank's Gas Station for about a year and a half.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter