How to Know When Carburetors Go Bad

Written by david montoya
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How to Know When Carburetors Go Bad
Carburettors are often found in older vehicles. (vieux carburateur image by Olivier lhommais from

A carburettor is a device within a car that supplies a mixture of fuel and air to an engine. This auto part served this important function in every commercial car until fuel injection replaced it. If you have an older model car (usually dating back to at least the mid-1980s), then you definitely have a carburettor under the bonnet. A bad carburettor results in several specific problems that are pretty obvious. If you're having car problems, keep an eye out for some of the most common signs of a bad carburettor.

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  1. 1

    Pay attention to excessive stalling. If your engine is stalling all the time, there's a good chance the carburettor is not feeding enough fuel to the engine. This is what is referred to as a "lean fuel mixture." The engine receives excessive amounts of air when this happens.

  2. 2

    Feel your car for shaking while it is idling. This is a sign that your carburettor is still feeding fuel to the engine when it's not supposed to. The culprit in this situation is a broken choke (the device that cuts off fuel to the engine).

  3. 3

    Listen to your engine while you are idling. If it sounds like your engine is still active, it's probably receiving fuel as a result of a broken carburettor choke.

  4. 4

    Watch your speedometer while driving at high speeds (65mph or higher) to see if you are able to maintain the speed. If your engine cuts out even though you are pressing on the gas, your carburettor may not be feeding enough fuel to the engine. The engine needs more fuel as it works harder. Not enough fuel is another sign of lean fuel mixture.

Tips and warnings

  • You should take your car to a mechanic if you notice any of the above problems. While these symptoms are closely associated with a bad carburettor, you may have other problems with your car as well. Take your car in to make sure everything else under the hood is in good working condition.

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