Reader Question: My sister was driving her 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera car, very low on fuel dangerously low in single digit temperatures here in Dayton, Ohio. She was on the highway and she says it felt like it was running out of gas, it was sputtering. She pulled over and turned the car off. Then she could not start it.
It is sitting at an auto repair shop, but they want to do diagnostic tests for US$69. Yesterday, we got some antifreeze for the gas line and pumped 2 1/2 gallons into the tank.
We hooked up jumper cables for a good fifteen minutes with me revving my engine (I own a 2002 Buick LeSabre). I would not even turn over. Before we pumped the gasoline and just tried with the cables, at least the Serpentine belt tried to turn. This time that did not even happen and we noticed as we locked her automatic locks, they made a funny sound.
Her battery was replaced with the last 2 years. She has had a new fuel pump, brakes, and muffler in the last 6 months. Is her problem related to the lack of gasoline, or do you think it is a different problem.
The car only has like 130,000 miles. Should we let the guy do the diagnostics? We asked him to try to charge the battery first but he, and I do not think that is the problem. What do you think we should do? We do not want to be taken advantage of.
I would FIRST figure out why the engine will not turn over. Sounds like a bad or dead battery to me. So fix that issue first, and then look into the original complaint. I am not sure if they are related or not but they could be.
You can sometimes jump start a weak fuel pump by banging on the bottom of the fuel tank with your fist or with a rubber hammer AS someone cranks the engine over. If the engine starts, you must likely need a new fuel pump.
The US$69 fee is a reasonable price, but I wonder why he is not concerned with the new problem.