Q&A With AAA’s Car Doctor: Old Cars Sometimes Need Old Mechanics

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A couple of years ago, we had a mechanic tell us: “I don’t work on cars older than I am.” This week, AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul sings the praises of decades of experience with an older car.

Q. I have a 1976 Buick with a four-barrel carburetor, and the car starts hard. I have taken it into repair shops but haven’t had much luck getting it fixed. Most of the young mechanics don’t seem to understand these old cars and how the fuel system works. I believe it is a carburetor problem, how do I get it fixed?

skylark

A. The carburetor could certainly be the problem. I would start by leaving the car overnight at a repair shop where they work on older cars. The shop may not have many customers with older cars but the mechanics may have older cars themselves.

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The Rochester Quadrajet (sometimes called quadrabog) was a very popular carburetor that had some inherent problems.

quadrajet

The fuel float over time would deteriorate and cause flooding and poor performance. The other issue was the check valve in the accelerator pump chamber would allow fuel to drain out overnight and make the engine hard to start. Even once these problems were fixed the choke needed to be set properly with a choke angle gauge to prevent hesitation and bogging when the engine was warming up.

If you love the car and had the extra money you could also replace the carburetor with a late model non Rochester replacement or even fuel injection. If this were my car I would try to get the factory carburetor back to proper operation.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.

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John Paul

John Paul