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Classic Mustangs Tech Forum

Technical discussions specific to 1964-1967, 1968-1970, and 1971-1973 Classic Mustang. Discuss all tech related to in-line six cylinder and V8 powered Vintage Mustangs here.

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Unread 09-02-2012   #1 (permalink)
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Default Engine sputters and dies at stoplights

67 convertible, 289, automatic. When I'm at a stoplight for a while, the engine will start to sputter and fire erratically, as if it wants to take off, and then shut off. The car will not turn over at all after that for a while. The car doesn't lose power, because the hazards and all the other lights work. When I turn the key, the fuel pump starts up very briefly then stops.

Not sure if this is related, but the car has always been a bit rough to start. Turns for a bit, then sort of halfway wants to start, then stops. Usually on the third try it starts up.

Any ideas?
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Unread 09-02-2012   #2 (permalink)
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You say the fuel pump starts briefly then stops, does it have an electric fuel pump? Please tell us what you have and the mods that have been done. I understand you have a 289 automatic in a 67, 2b or 4b carb, what brand carb, what cam, what exhaust, what cooling system, like stock, or electric fans, what ignition system like points and cond or pertronix or msd? Too much information is always better, than not enough, we will sift through it. From what you describe it has either a fuel starvation problem, or vapor lock, and an ignition problem. Good Luck.

Last edited by rex1965; 09-02-2012 at 06:17 PM. Reason: more info
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Unread 09-02-2012   #3 (permalink)
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It's a Holley Red electric fuel pump. I had made a couple threads about it a while back because it's very noisy.

MSD ignition, Carter brand 4b carb. I'm not sure what else. I think the exhaust is stock...certainly looks old enough to be stock.
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Unread 09-02-2012   #4 (permalink)
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Well, it seems to me that if it was a fuel delivery issue (that is, the fuel pump), it would show up more during heavier load conditions (when more fuel is required). If it runs fine during normal driving and only acts up at idle, it's probably not a fuel delivery issue.

It could, however, be a problem in the carb with the idle fuel and idle air circuits. Does it have a dashpot on the carburetor for the idle?

How is the vacuum at idle?

Open the hood after dark while the engine is running. Do you see any blue traces down the plug wires, or any arcing between the wires?

My grandfather used to preach to me, "90% of your fuel problems are ignition related." So did my father. This rule applies particularly to engines with breaker point ignition systems.
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Unread 09-03-2012   #5 (permalink)
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You say it wont turn over at all for awhile, do you mean the starter wont turn the motor or that it wont fire?
Besides that it sounds like its maybe running rich, any traces of black smoke? If it were vapor lock I would guess it would starve for fuel at higher rpms, not just at idle.
Also check your carb gasket.
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Unread 09-03-2012   #6 (permalink)
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Had a similar situation on my 65 289 with a petronix elec. Ignition. The coil was not maintaining 12 volts. Added a relay to maintain constant voltage and the issue has disapeared for now.
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Unread 09-03-2012   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mustangman1965 View Post
You say it wont turn over at all for awhile, do you mean the starter wont turn the motor or that it wont fire?
Besides that it sounds like its maybe running rich, any traces of black smoke? If it were vapor lock I would guess it would starve for fuel at higher rpms, not just at idle.
Also check your carb gasket.
When I turn the key, I don't get any click from the engine. I can just hear the fuel pump start for a second or so, then nothing.

No black smoke, and it runs fine when it's actually running.
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Unread 09-03-2012   #8 (permalink)
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sounds like you could have a few issues possibly
1. poor starter connection( battery cable) or weak starter
2. intermittent problem with the ignition circuit (check all wiring connections).After market tach wire interference with ignition system or component failure in ignition system in MSD system module
3. Could be a vac advance issue( not working)
4. Timing advanced too much and in need of good tune up with adjusting manifold/carb vac and proper timing adjustment set up at correct idle to rpm at operating temp.
5. fuel delivery problem with not keeping consistent CORRECT psi fuel pressure to carb through the fuel regulator after electric fuel pump.
6. Heat issues with fuel boiling in carb. Vapor lock. Possibly need spacer to cool fuel
down in carb.
7. Possible vacuum leak from hose or carb gasket, or intake gasket.

The part where you mention the car does not even click under the hood after it the motor shuts down leads me to believe you have a possible short or loose ground connection somewhere.
When you changed to the new MSD ignition did you do away with the resistor wire from the original point set up?
good luck
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Unread 09-03-2012   #9 (permalink)
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When I bought the car, the MSD was already on there. Sounds like I have two separate issues then. Sorry I can't offer more info, I'm still trying to learn as much as I can.
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Unread 09-04-2012   #10 (permalink)
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I believe you have multiple problems, 1st the starter solonoid not clicking, could be the neutral safety switch, try starting in neutral instead of park or hold the key in the start position and move the gear selector around, be sure to hold your foot on the brake in case it starts in gear. There is a wiring diagram at the top of the forum, this will show the wires with their colors and where they go, if you have a voltmeter this would help also, they are about 20 bucks at W-mart.
2. Not staying running until the third try, this sounds like a choke issue, remove the air cleaner and make sure the choke plate is able to open and close easily, you may have to open the throttle to check this, the engine needs to be off, to start your car normally you would press the accelerator to the floor one time, then let off, this sets the automatic choke, then turn the ignition key to start the engine. Post your results. Good Luck.
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Unread 09-05-2012   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for that! I had been wondering how to work the choke, since the manual choke lever doesn't do anything! I'll try it and see what happens.

A thought just occurred to me. My electric fuel pump is loud enough to hear when I'm stopped. When I have my blinker on, the sound dips in tune with the blinker. Someone here said that it's likely a drop in voltage to the fuel pump every time the blinker flashes. Could it be possible that since I have both the brake lights and sometimes a blinker light on at a stop, that the fuel pump isn't getting enough power, leading to fuel starvation?
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Unread 09-10-2012   #12 (permalink)
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Update: I've noticed that this problem only happens when the car is in Drive. When I put it in Park the engine runs strong. But when it's in D and I just have the brake on, the car idles (kinda weak, I might add), then starts to hiccup a bit, then starts to get jerky, then it dies. And doesn't want to do anything when I turn the key for the next 30 mins or so.

And when I'm actually driving, it runs smoothly. Doesn't seem to be any hiccups until I stop at a light.
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Unread 09-11-2012   #13 (permalink)
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What carb are you running? If it runs fine in park and dies in drive it sounds like there might be problem with your idle fuel delivery system. Like others have suggested, your carb might need a rebuild, or your idle screws aren't set right. Need more info. It doesn't have anything to do with your fuel pump.
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Unread 09-12-2012   #14 (permalink)
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That Holly Red pump is a beast!!! You need to put a regulator in the system and turn down the pressure. Those Carter carbs (my personal favorite) cant take much more than 6-7 psi on the needle and seat. anything over that will push them open and richen the mixture. While those pumps are good for race applications, it is most likely overkill on your ride. There are better options out there, or a regulator..... just my .02 You most likely have a weak alternator causing your voltage fluctuations. Lets face it they were not real heavy duty power plants to begin with. Check your charging system with all lights on and motor running to make sure that you are not drawing on the battery due to a weak charge system. This would also explain some of your starting issues, waiting for the battery to surface charge for enough oomph to turn the motor. Ask me how i know.................
Good Luck, R.
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Unread 09-12-2012   #15 (permalink)
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Just gonna offer this again. My 65 would die at stops and as you de accelerated into turns. I'm running a Pertronix elec.ignition set up.

Played with the carb, fuel pump, timing, etc. A mechanic buddy did an electriral check and found I was getting a voltage drop at the coil which caused the engine to die. He added a relay that kept a constant voltage running to the coil. No more issues since then.
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