How to Start a Carbureted Car Engine: A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you someone dealing with a carburetor car? Where the world is evolving with the revolutionized technology rapidly, there are still many car engines that use a carburetor. Using carburetors is not a totally washed-out practice today. Carburetors are inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Many car enthusiasts prefer its analog settings and find them easier to tune than modern cars.

Many manufacturers started using fuel injectors in place of carburetors in the late 1980s. These newer technologies are more efficient for the engine. Moreover, since the times have shifted, you cannot use carburetors with engines that run on diesel since they have different mechanisms. Although you might not hear about it too often, people still own old cars that run on a carb engine. However, since information is quite limited on the concept, we hardly find any guides online. So, we decided to compile the steps for your ease. They will help you start your car without the need to replace the carburetor.

How to Start a Carbureted Car Engine?

How To Start A Carbureted Car Engine

Throttle the Engine

Throttling is an old technique used to start carbureted engines. All you had to do was turn the throttle and when you reached the quarter cycle, press the key. However, this does not work now since cars have developed better engines with the advancement of technology.

Hence, you must avoid touching the pedal for the first time; instead, use the cranking method. When cranking, use the thick fiber gaskets between the manifold and the carburetor. It helps the engine take the fuel and get started immediately. However, if you are dealing with a cold engine, you might need to try another method. Give it any pedal to bring warmth, and once done, turn the key, which should start it up almost instantly.

Replace the Fluids

Another standard method of restarting a carburetor engine is using a good-quality lubricant. You also need to ensure that all the liquids and oils are in their proper flow. Moreover, if something has evaporated, you might need to replace it immediately before it damages the engine further.

Replace The Car Transmission Fluids

Since oils and gasoline ignite pretty quickly, they also wear off easily if left for some time. It is one of the primary reasons that prevent the carburetor from starting. You can take the old fluid out and clean the tanker thoroughly before replacing them with fresh ones. A fuel stabilizer might help here as it contains certain additives that help the liquid last longer.

Inspect the Electrical Components

The most surprising part of dealing with a carburetor is that when the mechanical parts get damaged, the electrical components get affected. The most sensitive part that gets affected here is the car batteries. When you let your car sit idle for a long time, the chemical reaction in batteries can lead to several issues. What you need is to check the resistance level of the coils. Use the user manual and match the reading with the one mentioned in the guide. This way, you would find out whether the battery is damaged and needs a replacement or it is good to go.

Check for Vacuum Leaks

Vacuum leaks may cause problems in old and new cars. However, it is pretty evident in the car engines that have been idle for quite some time. The vacuum hoses may develop small and large leaks depending on how long you have kept your engine idle, and even a minor one prevents the carburetor from starting.

The best tool to determine a vacuum leakage is to use a smoke generator, and professionals widely use it, and it shows results within seconds. A compression leak is often the main issue, so it is better to take your car to a nearby mechanic and get it checked. You would not have to remove unnecessary nuts and bolts. Plus, it would prevent any further damage.

Let’s know: How Much to Fix a Vacuum Leak on My Car?

Warm the Engine

Another method is warming up your car’s engine. Unlike modern vehicles with sensors, carbureted engines usually need some warming up to get them to work. When the weather gets cooler, engines start acting up. This problem usually occurs due to uneven combustion. The car’s engine needs a carburetor to help run the engine as smoothly as possible.

However, when the fuel does not evaporate, it makes it thicker, forming a layer and preventing the engine from starting. Hence, it is helpful to warm up the car and give it a few pumps before starting it. When you push the pedal, make sure to crank it when you reach halfway through it, and this would make a noise. Usually, it would help get the carburetor going, but if not, try adding some fuel and then repeat the process.

Pour Gas

Pouring gasoline is the last alternative option if none of the above works. However, it would be best to be extra cautious as it is a hazardous procedure. This method needs professional care since gasoline can ignite immediately if the engine backfires. Before pouring it in, try starting your car a few times, and maybe you would not need to do this step. Next, you should test the carburetor barrels and ensure they are completely dried up. You can do this by pushing the accelerator on your gas pump. Also, detach the inlet that leads to the car’s fuel.

Before purchasing gasoline for your vehicle, check the user manual for its specifications and the type of oils it supports. This way, you will know if you are going on the right track or not. Pour the gasoline into your tank and ensure that the carburetor gets enough of it. Lastly, you need to set all the plugs removed and check the car carefully. In addition, when you add gasoline, try using a 10% additive mixture for better results.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do I Start an Old Car’s Carbureted Engine?

There are two types of carbureted engines, so you need to check if it is cold or warm. For the first case, you need to press down on your gas pedal and ensure that you hear the acceleration. Then, gently release the pedal. Repeat this method a few times till the engine starts. You need to perform the same technique for the latter, but the engine might need some lubrication before you start pressing the gas pedal.

2. Do I Need to Pump the Gas Pedal to Start a Carbureted Car’s Engine?

Unlike fuel-injected car engines, carbureted engines do not need extra fuel to get them started. However, you might need to pump to the gas pedal due to cold weather since machines usually freeze. This way, it would help build up enough pressure, and after a few pumps, the engine would start.

3. how Do You Start a Warm Carbureted Engine?

Generally, it would help if you cranked it up to start a warm carbureted engine. Hence, for cold weather, you will have to go for the gas pedal and press it a few times until you feel it starting to warm up. Then, press the Start key and check if that turns on the engine. Otherwise, you might need to add fuel and repeat the same process.

4. Why Are Carbureted Engines Hard to Start in The Cold?

Carbureted engines make the fuel volatile enough to evaporate in a shorter period. It helps fire up the engine for the combustion process but can be hard to start during cold weather. It is harder to form vapors out of the fuel when the temperature decreases. That, in turn, affects the burning and slows down the engine to the extent that it starts to freeze. However, the carbureted engines readily start when given a proper restart.


This article will help you start a carbureted engine using safe and effective techniques. Who wants to spend extra money on replacements when you can start the engine yourself at home? You have to bear in mind the make and model of the car before you proceed with the procedure.

The modern era has replaced quite a few valuable components, but there are several cars still running on carburetors. Most of these are vintage cars that hot rodders have modified. Where carbureted vehicles have their advantages, there are some drawbacks too. They come in handy for fuel combustion and take care of the car’s engine. However, it is often hard to start a carbureted car, especially if the weather is cold or the car has been idle for a while.

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