My 1993 Jeep Wrangler has about 200,000 miles, in good shape. It usually starts right up, but it's started intermittently flooding, so that I have to crank and crank with the accelerator all the way down before it roars to life. Sometimes on acceleration from a stop, or when changing gears (and applying light accelerator), the motor will stall, and then it's always flooded. Luckily the battery is strong enough I've always been able to get it started, but it'll soon leave me stranded.

Does it sound like water in the fuel line? May be worse in wet weather (currently 20-40F in February New Hampshire). Does it sound like the air filter needs replacing? Can't tell if it's worse warm or cold, there may not be any correlation. It does "seem" more like insufficient air than insufficient fuel. Guessing. Amateur mechanical abilities, with some tools, follows directions well.

Edit: a squeaking belt turned out to be a clue.

2 Answers 2


It doesn't sound like a fuel line problem ( though there's a small small chance it's a fuel pump ), it sounds like your engine isn't getting enough air on one end or the other. It might be a dirty air filter, or it might be a clogged cat or bad O2 sensor. Sometimes it's easy to tell if the cat is clogged, it will get extra hot and turn red and that's your indicator that it need to be replaced. Sometimes it's a little harder and you would need to take out an O2 sensor and test it, or take out an O2 sensor and put a pressure sensor in it's place and test for excessive pressure, I think anything over roughly 3 psi spells trouble.

  • Thanks, @hillsons! What's a good way to test if the cat is getting too hot? Other than the obvious, bone-headed way of course. The next time I drive for a while in the dark I will look to see if it glows. I will replace the air filter. The O2 and pressure sensor experiments are probably above my pay grade.
    – Bob Stein
    Mar 4, 2013 at 0:04

Turns out it was the water pump. Jim at Watson Automotive in Thetford VT replaced it ($400) and it's not stalled or flooded since.

In the question I left out one clue that Jim used — a belt was squeaking. He found that was from a leak of radiator fluid from the water pump.

Jim theorizes that low coolant caused portions of the engine to get too hot, so the temperature sensing computer thought it was very cold outside, and made the fuel-air mixture too rich (less air).

The moral of the story is that installing computers in cars significantly increases the intelligence of mechanics.

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