My carburetor is flooded & won't start

Written by gregory crews
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My carburetor is flooded & won't start
A dirty air filter can also cause the engine to flood. (American v8 engine image by kenmo from

A flooded carburettor occurs when too much gasoline flows into the carburettor and keeps the car from starting. The flooding is actually the result of an air pocket that prevents the adequate amount of gasoline from entering cylinders of the engine so the spark can ignite it to start the vehicle.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Raise the hood of the engine compartment. Take the cover off the air filter housing by unscrewing the butterfly nut on top. This will give access to the top of the carburettor. A flooded carburettor will have a strong smell of raw gasoline.

  2. 2

    Turn the ignition key to the "Start" position. Hold the accelerator to the floor.

  3. 3

    Attempt to start the car while pressing the accelerator to the floor. Hold the "Run" position for no more than five seconds. The fuel should flow through the carburettor and provoke a "rough" start.

  4. 4

    Feed gas by pumping the pedal by foot. The car will eventually work through the vapour lock and idle smoothly.

  5. 5

    Allow the car to idle for five minutes. Listen for a smooth consistent sound to ensure fuel is going to the engine appropriately.

  6. 6

    Allow the car to sit for an hour with the engine off. This will help the fuel settle and push out any air vapours if pushing the fuel out was unsuccessful.

Tips and warnings

  • A flooding carburettor is an indication of a faulty fuel system. Have the carburettor inspected for issues such as a sticking float, bad filter or an adjustment problem. The carburettor is pushing too much gas into the engine and needs repair.
  • Use caution when working around the fuel system. A flooding carburettor can cause the fuel to overflow on top of the hot engine, creating a severe fire hazard.

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