How to start a car with a flooded engine

Some cars are prone to a flooded engine, particularly when it's extremely cold or very hot. You can also end up with this problem if you pump the accelerator too much. In many of these situations though, if you follow just a few quick rules, you can often get your car started with minimal difficulties.

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How does a flooded engine happen?

Simple. When you start your car and press hard on or pump your accelerator, you send too much fuel into the engine and, if you're driving an older car, you flood your carburetor. Once the engine is flooded, your car won't start again unless you follow certain procedures.

How do you know if your car is flooded?

If you've experienced that in the past, you'll realise immediately when it happens again. That sinking feeling will hit your stomach and you'll know you'll be late for work.

If you've never had this before, there are a couple of things to look for that will tell you if it is. If you turned the key and the starter motor began to turn but your engine wouldn't start, chances are it's flooded. If there's also a strong smell of petrol, you can just about guarantee it.

How to start a flooded engine

First of all, don't panic. It happens to everyone at one time or another.

Your first course of action should be to stop trying to get the car to start and leave it alone. Get a coffee, watch TV, in fact do anything but mess around with your car. Once it's flooded, you must leave it for a few minutes to give the petrol time to evaporate.

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Be Patient

After 15-20 minutes, go back to your car, put your foot on the accelerator and press down on it... firmly. Turn the key and attempt to start it. If it doesn't start immediately, do not turn the key back to the starting position. Just leave it in the 'on' position and wait for the engine to start.

Remember too, leave the accelerator pedal pressed down until the engine 'catches' and your car finally starts, but do not pump the pedal, if it's taking longer than you'd like, as you'll just end up flooding it again.

Most cars will start after just a few seconds of trying.

Give your car a good run

When your car finally starts, don't just turn it off and go back to what you were doing. That will cause it to not start again the next time you need it.

Instead, once your flooded engine has dried, out, your engine has 'caught', and your car is ticking over nicely, take it for a drive around the neighborhood. This will warm up it, and cause the rest of the fuel to evaporate, and your car to return to normal.

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