I have a 1989 S10 Blazer. The temperature here in Calgary drops to -30c during winter. It started up fine during the first week of this awful weather, but now it seems to struggle quite a bit. So I started plugging in the block heater to warm her up. It worked for a bit and now the engine struggles to start up again. I just changed the oil 3k with synthetic oil. What else can I do to help it start more easily?

Engine is a 6 cylinder 4.3L TBI


Also noticed that it goes through coolant like crazy. I have to top it off every month during winter. Is that expected on an old car?

UPDATE 1 Got an induction check done on the battery. There is more than enough power. Checked the coolant level and topped it up again.

Cleaned up the throttle linkage with carb cleaner to make sure there is no gunk. Added some fuel injector cleaner as I though it could be due to a clogged injector.

  • 1
    Does it crank slowly or crank normal but not fire quickly?
    – mikes
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 0:50
  • It cranks slowly and i can hear it struggling to fire up. It caughed a couple of times before the final try to fire up. I thought it was because i flooded the engine ,so i stepped on the gas pedal for 10 seconds and then tried to crank it up again.This time it fired up,but was struggling .
    – goodcat
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 2:00

4 Answers 4


Take your car to a local parts store and have them check the battery. Old batteries lose cold cranking amps and it may just not be getting enough amperage to turn the engine and start the car. Often a battery on its last leg will work fine while its warm but not have what it takes in cold weather.

In answer to the second part of your question, it sounds like you have a leak in one of your cooling system components. These wear out with time and need replacement. You should definitely find the leak and get it fixed, leaking coolant can damage other parts of your car, or at the very least make a mess under your hood.

  • If it's only doing it as it gets cold(-20C or lower), I'd definitely start here...Most places (NB at least) will check it free, hoping you buy a new battery from them.
    – s1ns3nt
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 18:06

You mentioned you changed the oil with synthetic. If this was your first time using synthetic oil on this engine, typically your first load will pickup a lot of gunk and you need another oil and filter change very quick (1000 km is what's been suggested to me).

But do have your battery checked. PartSource does it for free in Calgary, they have multiple locations and can test your battery while it's still in the car.

  • Had the battery checked. There is enough juice . should I do a full oil flush ?
    – goodcat
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 6:36

I agree with the other posters that your battery is a good place to start. However, if the battery is fine or if a new battery doesn't solve the problem, this..

It caughed a couple of times before the final try to fire up. I thought it was because i flooded the engine ,so i stepped on the gas pedal for 10 seconds and then tried to crank it up again.

..leads me to question the fuel delivery system. It's possible the fuel filter is clogged and/or the fuel pump may be failing.

If you can't remember the last time your fuel filter was changed, I'd change it as a next step. It's a cheap part, $10-15 here in the states, and although the repair can be messy (gas will spill out), it's relatively easy. If the filter has indeed been in use for awhile, apply some penetrating oil and let it set before you remove the old part.

Amateur tip: Supposedly it's difficult to blow air through a clogged fuel filter. So just before you change your filter, take a breath and try blowing some air through the new filter...this is for reference...then repeat with the old fuel filter. If it's clogged you should perceive resistance as you blow air.

If the old filter is not clogged, troubleshoot the fuel pump. I have a '97 and it makes a perceptible high pitch humming noise when I turn the key to the ignition position. (Don't turn entirely to the crank position or you may not hear the noise over the cranking.) That's the sound of the fuel pump priming the engine. Does yours make this noise...or does that noise sound weaker than you remember? I don't know if an '89 should or shouldn't, but I've had to replace my fuel pump before, and my '97 had similar hard starting symptoms prior to its fuel pump failure.

As a final thought...particularly if you're burning a little oil...how are your spark plugs? Hard starting can suggest fouled spark plugs, and that's another relatively easy thing to address.


Over the summer , i had an issue of crank no spark no fuel situation. Trying to trouble shoot by throwing new parts at the thing, i changed the oil filter. When i turn the key i can hear the pump go off. It sounds the same as it used to in the summer. I started keeping the tank filled up at all times to prevent fuel related issues.

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