The Volare with the bad ballast resistor

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1976 Volare that's really been a great car. In fact, it's the only car I've ever owned. However, one small problem is that it won't start on cold days. I have to park on an incline so that it will roll, and then pop the clutch to get it to start. The battery is fine, and the car will start if I jump the starter relay with a screwdriver. Why won't it start with the key?

RAY: The problem is your "ballast resistor," David. The ballast resistor controls the amount of electricity that goes from the battery to the ignition system.

TOM: And the ballast resistor has two modes--one for "start," and one for "run." Your "start" mode is kaput. So when you turn the key all the way to "start," you don't get any spark at all.

RAY: But when you bypass the "start" mode and jump the car (by either jumping the relay or rolling the car and popping the clutch), your key is in the "run" mode and the car starts just fine.

TOM: A new ballast resistor is all you need, David. But we will issue one warning. Since this '76 Volare is the only car you've ever owned, and since you seem to be perfectly happy with it, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, drive any other car while yours is being repaired. If you do, you will never use the words "'76 Volare" and "great car" in the same sentence again.

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