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Warm hearts, cold engines

Subject: Warm hearts, cold engines
From: William Eastman <>
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 16:12:07 -0600

Your car was flooded.  I'll bet it fired a couple times then finally
caught.  It slowly spooled up on 2, then 3, and finally four cylinders all
the while throwing out clouds of white smoke.  This is a very common
problem for internal combustion appliances when it is cold out.  It takes
more fuel to start so we pull the choke and / or prime the beast.  Then it
doesn't turn over fast enough to start.  We add more fuel hoping to bring
the beast to life.

What happens is you get the spark plugs wet with raw fuel.  The fuel acts
as an insulator and won't let the plug fire.

The next time you get think it is flooded (the chug, chug, chug is a good
indication) do the following:

If the car is not turning over fast enough, get more juice to it.  You are
responsible for an MG, buy a 2 / 50 amp battery charger.  Although this
won't work on an A because of battery location, you can take the battery
inside and warm it up.  I have been known to give my battery a warm bath if
my car won't start.  Just don't cover the top of the battery with water!

Push in the choke.  Hold the throttle completely open and try to start the
car.  If it doesn't fire in 5 to 10 seconds, stop.  Wait 30 seconds and try
again.  If it starts to turn slow again, wait until the battery is

If the car doesn't start in two or three or these cycles, pull the spark
plugs.  Replace them with new if you have them.  Otherwise dry them
somehow.  I like to take them inside and hold the business end in the flame
of my gas range burner for 15 to 30 seconds each.  

Before you replace the plugs, crank the engine for about five seconds with
the choke off and the throttle open to clear all the excess gas out of the
cylinders.  If you have some, squirt a little starter fluid into each

Replace the plugs.  The car should start right up.  If not, pull one plug. 
If it is wet, you either flooded the beast again or you have an ignition
problem.  If it is dry, try to choke the engine or, prime it with gas or
starter fluid to see if this helps.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it takes less time than the
"crank the pig untill it starts" approach.  Besides that, it keeps you busy
trying to find the problem so it keeps the frustration level down.

I would also recommend replacing the starter or at least the starter
bushings.  An A should start at 28 degrees.  Wind chill does not effect
cars.  In the future, I would try starting the car first without priming or
choke and add gas slowly if the car doesn't start.  I have had quite a few
cars that started at 20 below if you followed the right sequence but would
flood at 40 above if you did it wrong.

I hope this helps.  Good luck in the future.  If it makes you feel any
better, I have flodded my '95 Integra twice already this fall.  It seems
that if you just fire it up then shut it down again right away like you
would if you were pulling it into the garage, the bugger floods.  Does the
same thing your A did.  I haven't had to pull the plugs yet but it was
close the first time.  The second time, I recognized the problem, buried my
foot to the floor, and cranked in 10 second intervals until the pig

Bill Eastman
61 MGA that I am not going to try to start until it is at least 50 (it was
2 below yesterday morning)

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