A clear case of a leaky carburetor.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm having a problem with my 1966 Buick LeSabre. If I let is sit for about a week without using it, I have a hard time starting it. I have to pump the gas many times and try several starts before it gets going. It sounds like it isn't getting enough gas. Can you offer any suggestions?

TOM: Sure, Marvin, we can make a suggestion. This sounds like a pretty clear case of a leaky carburetor.

RAY: You happen to have lucked into my brother's area of expertise, Marv. There are only three carbureted cars left on the planet at this point. You have one of them, and my brother has the other two.

TOM: Actually, a lot of people think that the gasoline in a carbureted car goes right from the gas tank to the engine. But it doesn't. There's a little bowl in the carburetor, which is always supposed to be full of gas. So whenever the engine needs gasoline, it takes it from the bowl, and the then the bowl is refilled by the fuel pump.

RAY: If you want to see an oversized version of how this works, go take the cover off the porcelain reading-chair in your bathroom. The toilet has a tank, which is just like the bowl of a carburetor. It's always full of water. And whenever the toilet needs water, it gets it from the tank. Then the tank is refilled from the water main.

TOM: What's happening in your car is that the carburetor bowl is leaking--probably because it's cracked. So that when you go to start your car after it's been sitting for a few days, all of the fuel has leaked out.

RAY: And the car won't start until the bowl can be refilled. And from those rare occasions when we have to flush twice, we all know how long it can take for the bowl to refill!

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