Car won't stay running, what should I check first?


Asked by Jun 16, 2012 at 12:31 AM about the 1969 Ford Thunderbird

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 69 T-Bird starts right up when I spray starter fluid in the carb. but wont stay running. It has been sitting in a field for a number of years.

7 Answers


Well since it was sitting in the field for a long time, you'll need to add dry gas or fuel stabilzer to the fuel tank. You probably have water from condensation built up in the fuel tank. Then do an oil change and full tune-up. Clean the carb up real good too.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Where do I start? Sitting in a field for two years? Drain the gas tank. It probably evaporated itself dry over that time. Not a good condition for the fuel pump. Check it out. Contaminations and gunk could have entered the fuel lines. Make sure they are clear. I am sure the carb is completely gummed up. I sould suggest removing the carb as a complete unit from the manifold (usually four bolts_ Submerge the entire carb in a metal bucket and cover the carb completely in carb cleaner (about 30 bucks a gallon) and let it sit overnight. Reinstall and try again. Your problem is in the fuel system since it will start with starter fluid. The problem with unused vehicles (expecially one sitting for two years) is when gasoline breaks down it forms a varnish like substance which clogs up everything. Expecially the small jets and ventury holes in the carb.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

yeah, the above answer woudl be very helpful *BUT* u could now have a vacuum leak from. u definitely need new gas tho. when u fill it up again, i'd use the highest octane p;ossible. but idk, it should still run on olddd gas and idle. thats why im saying vacuum somewhere. i just started my brother's RX7 for the first time in 4 years and after feathering the gas for 5 min, it idled. no gas additive.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

All three of these answers are correct. It is definitely fuel since it does run with starter fluid. That eliminates electrical and timing. I don't recommend dunking the complete carb in cleaner over night. You need to take it apart first. Clean the metal parts but do not put any non-metal parts in the tank/ Buy carb overhaul kit from any parts house or go to Mac's. on the internet. they have just about everything for Bird's/ I am sure Varnish is going to be a problem in the whole fuel system. You may also need to replaced the fuel pump as the diaphragm may have dried up

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

oh, another thing. The carb will be gummed up all to hell. u'll probably have to take it all apart and use over 1 full bottle of carb cleaner (and a mask hopefully :p ) to clean all the jets out and whatnot. IMO carbs are worse vs injectors for parking a car for over a year. carbs have bowls, injectors dont

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Let me tell you what I did to get mine running. I bought a T-bird that hadn't run in over two years. I trailored it home and I began trouble shooting. I drain the tank of all old fuel ( as was suggested ) I poued a 1/4 cup of gas down the carb and lo and behold it fired off till the gas ran out. First of all I made sure the oil and filter had been change squirted some oil in each of the cylinders before attempting to start the engine. I put fresh fuel and still didn't start. I checked the fuel lines for pinched or leaking fuel. Like I said the truble shooting took a while I found the fuel pump was bad although I had be told that it had been replaced. So I hope this helps.


You poured a 1/4 cup of gas down the carb and lo and behold it fired off till the gas ran out. Then you say, you squirted some oil in each of the cylinders before attempting to start the engine. Didn't you already run the engine? Any time you get an engine that has sat for months or years, the first thing to do is remove the plugs and put a teaspoon of Marvel Mystery Oil in each cylinder, let it sit at least overnight and then try to start it..

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