Troubleshooting a Classic Car That Just Won’t Start

Author: Jason / Date: October 6, 2022 / Tags: classic cars

Troubleshooting a Classic Car That Just Won't Start

( – You’re getting ready to head out when you get in your classic car and turn the key only to find it won’t start. While it may be very inconvenient and worrisome, this is one of the more common afflictions of vehicle ownership. More often than not, it’s an easy fix to get you back on the road. Here are some tips to help troubleshoot a classic that cranks and cranks but won’t start. 

Before jumping into the nitty gritty, let’s cover the three things every engine needs to run: 

  • Fuel
  • Spark
  • Compression

A car that’s cranking but won’t start is having a problem with one of these three aspects. In the video below, Uncle Tony does a great job of showing how a person can check for sparks without any fancy gizmos, gadgets, or tools. 

First, make sure there’s fuel in the vehicle and that it’s getting to the carburetor and each cylinder. Again, Tony does a good job of showing how you can do this by checking the spark plugs for wetness. 

Testing for compression is a little more in-depth. You’ll need to know how to properly remove and reinstall spark plugs and have the necessary tools to conduct the test, such as a compression tester and some hand tools. Autozone provides a nice explanation for how to conduct a compression test properly. 

One of these three aspects will be the problem; it’s just a matter of determining exactly where the issue is coming from. Run through the entire engine starting process and begin looking for fail points. Also, be sure not to crank on the engine too much as you’ll drain the battery and have a car that won’t start for more than one reason. 

With modern cars, you can use an OBD II scanner, and the car will tell you what’s wrong. With older vehicles, you don’t have that luxury. However, at the same time, classics don’t have all the electrical components of modern-day cars, so they have fewer fail points.

Copyright 2022,


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