Sluggish starts? Check these three things.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

My 1986 Renault Alliance (1.7-liter) has more power in
Reverse than in Drive. What can I do to stop the sluggishness
when starting from a stopped position? -- Ariel

RAY: The truth is, most cars feel zippy in Reverse because
the Reverse gear ratio is often larger than the forward
gear ratios. Plus, it feels faster because you're not used
to driving in that direction!
TOM: But if it's really sluggish off the line, then
something is probably wrong; 1.7 liters ought to be enough
to push around a little car like this.
RAY: I'd start by asking a mechanic to make sure you're
running on all four cylinders. Because if you're only
running on three, then you don't have 1.7 liters ... you
only have 1.275 liters, which is a little on the light side.
TOM: Have a compression test done, too, to make sure all of
the cylinders are living up to (at least most of) their
RAY: If all four cylinders are firing, and you've got
decent compression, I'd go on to check the ignition timing,
and make sure the catalytic converter isn't plugged up.
TOM: But if there's nothing obviously wrong, you may just
have to accept that this is as good as it gets. Or, start
doing neck exercises so you can drive backwards for longer
periods of time without cramping up.

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