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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has been a pet peeve with this car for ages. If it rains hard enough, something grounds out and the car won't start until it's dried out (the starter turns, but there's no fire). And like with the cold weather starts it doesn't take long to run the battery down trying. The last month or so it's gotten worse to where if it's even just humid it won't start. Even if I throw a tarp over the hood.
My course of action was taking a hair dryer and drying out the electrics, which would get it going again. For ages I thought it was the coil, but I checked and the electrics are fine from the coil to spark plugs. Then I also tried drying out the carburetor with the hair dryer, and that also seems to work. When it's close to starting the motor will turn over once after you release the key, and smoke belches from the carb.
So I don't know if it's a carb problem, electrics problem, or both.
 

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Have you looked inside the distributor cap when it won't start? Look for any condensation.Water can condense there even if you have the hood covered.

If warming the carb works, it's also possible the choke is sticking shut. When it won't start, remove the air cleaner and look at the choke. If it's completely closed, no air gets in and it won't start. I used to keep a small flat screwdriver handy that I'd stick in to hold the choke open (be careful, as you have to do this with the air cleaner lid off. Once running I pulled the screwdriver out. Long term, I'd work on the choke adjustment until the screwdriver trick wasn't necessary.
 

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I had a '79 Monza (2.5L 4 cylinder) that did the same sometimes. The choke would be stuck in the closed position. I'd do like Mark did - stick a screwdriver or anything with a flat blade to hold the choke open and it would start.
 

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Clothespin works crackerjack.
 

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Put a new cap and wires on it, if more than a few years old.
 

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1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
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On vehicles with suspected secondary (high voltage) leakage, I have viewed the engine while cranking in dusk or subdued lighting.
Listen for 'snapping' noises like an arc would make. Look for a spark at the outside of the coil, coil wire or distributor cap.
I had one car where the coil wire was arcing against a harness. Simply by moving the harness out of the way, the car started right up.
Always diagnose first.
 

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On vehicles with suspected secondary (high voltage) leakage, I have viewed the engine while cranking in dusk or subdued lighting.
Listen for 'snapping' noises like an arc would make. Look for a spark at the outside of the coil, coil wire or distributor cap.
I had one car where the coil wire was arcing against a harness. Simply by moving the harness out of the way, the car started right up.
Always diagnose first.
I have also seen sparks dancing around on the top of the coil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Have you looked inside the distributor cap when it won't start? Look for any condensation.Water can condense there even if you have the hood covered.

If warming the carb works, it's also possible the choke is sticking shut. When it won't start, remove the air cleaner and look at the choke. If it's completely closed, no air gets in and it won't start. I used to keep a small flat screwdriver handy that I'd stick in to hold the choke open (be careful, as you have to do this with the air cleaner lid off. Once running I pulled the screwdriver out. Long term, I'd work on the choke adjustment until the screwdriver trick wasn't necessary.
The distributor is always dry when it happens. And the choke is open. When it's sunny or no high humidity it starts fine.

I have also seen sparks dancing around on the top of the coil.
I'll have to check it when I get a chance (and we have rain the next 2 or 3 days so it will be awhile :/).
 

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Take it somewhere dark and lift the hood with all the lights off. Use a flashlight to light up any areas where spark leaks are observed.
 

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I used to spray my distributer cap and wires with silicone to keep the moisture off my 73 dart's /6.
 

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Going with what DC-93 suggested, have you ever changed the spark plug wires? If not, then you definitely need to do so. They wear out just like everything else on a car and will cause starting nightmares due to temperature changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well I didn't drive it for about 30 hours because of the constant rain we had. It finally ended today so I went out to try and get it started. The battery was almost dead from just sitting there, and it wouldn't start despite how much I used the hair dryer. Said heck with it and went out on my bike to get a new set of wires, distributor cap, and rotor. After I got back I tried again and it still wouldn't start. So I first replaced just the wires and then tried again.
And it started.
Those were the original wires (and distributor) so maybe that was it. I'll find out the next time it rains. I'll hold off on the cap and rotor for now.
 

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1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
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The battery shouldn't discharge from just sitting there for 30 hours. You have a current draw issue somewhere, either internal (battery) or external.
39 year old plug wires? :eek:
 

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Sounds like you MIGHT have found the issue. I'd go ahead and put all of the new parts on and I'm going to make a silly suggestion here. Why don't you have a look at the bulkhead connector? Those things do sometimes get corrosion inside them and can cause all kinds of "quirky" problems with the Mopars.
 

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Another location, other than the wires, distributor cap things, is the bulkhead connector itself. Its location can have water drip onto it, and they corrode over the years, preventing good electrical connection. Pull it off and look at the connections, if green, it needs to be cleaned. I've found vinegar to be a very good cleaner for corroded green copper connections. Get a container the whole end can be submerged for about 15-20 minutes, get them nice and bright, then use dielectric grease to prevent them from corroding in the future. Do both male and female parts, getting inside under the dash and pulling that out can be fun, but at least it is a one time job and finished after the dielectric grease is used. Disconnect the battery before you do this, and use your hair dryer to dry the vinegar afterwards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well it rained overnight, and everything was still damp when I got up an hour ago, but I went out and tried it.
It started on the first crank. It might have been the plug wires after all. The bulkhead connector is one of the things I dried out with the hair dryer, so I'll take a look into it.
 

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Well I didn't drive it for about 30 hours because of the constant rain we had. It finally ended today so I went out to try and get it started. The battery was almost dead from just sitting there, and it wouldn't start despite how much I used the hair dryer. Said heck with it and went out on my bike to get a new set of wires, distributor cap, and rotor. After I got back I tried again and it still wouldn't start. So I first replaced just the wires and then tried again.
And it started.
Those were the original wires (and distributor) so maybe that was it. I'll find out the next time it rains. I'll hold off on the cap and rotor for now.
You're welcome. :cool:
 

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Good to hear that the wires seem to have solved the issue. Don't neglect to have a look at the bulkhead connector though. It MIGHT save you some headaches in the future if you just do what Dana suggested. If you don't want to get under the dash and remove it in order to submerge it for cleaning, you can just put some white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the male connectors. Let it sit for a while and then dry it off with the hair dryer.
 

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The good news is these cars had a much better bulkhead seal than the older cars. I had bulkhead connection problems on my Valiants, but never on these newer cars, but it never hurts to check. Though I did have the problem on my 1993 Dakota.
 
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