Classic Car Basics

We do all the normal and regular servicing and problem sorting. Engine, Electical, Brakes, etc. But there are a few simple things you can do yourself.

Easy Start

Starting Problems

These simple things are something that every owner / user should know !

So, you are trying to start your car which will not start (Only because you don't use it often enough.)

There are only two things that make an engine run:-
Fuel/air and electricity/spark.

If you have not used your car for a while, the more volatile components of your fuel will have evaporated and the fuel will be old.

Before you do anything else and start to worry, get some Easy Start, press the accelerator so the carburettor is open and spray in some. (This is just a volatile high octane fuel, and will give the dry engine a kick.)
Alternatively you can take off the air filter cover and squirt some in there, or perhaps just spray it all around the air filter.

Chances are the engine will now fire up and do something when you try to start it.

The Choke

There is usually a choke control on a classic car. Use this as sparingly as possible, only if the the car will not start, then push it gradually back in as soon as possible. Otherwise you will drown your engine with excess fuel.

Two spark plugs
Spark plug tool Testing the spark plug

Spark Plugs

The first thing to do is to take out the spark plug for examination, using the spark plug tool shown below to the right, ( turn it anticlockwise ). If the spark plug is too tight to turn, stop before you break it off! Try a bit of penetrating oil to help loosen it.

Always put some grease on the spark plug thread before putting it back. Always.

Spark plugs tell you all. The ideal spark plug should look like the one on the left when the engine is hot and running well. The dirty sooty one on the right is running rich - receiving more fuel than necessary, perhaps from excessive use of the choke or the choke not closing fully.

Spark plugs need to Spark !!

(Once they're knackered they're Knackered!)

With a plug out, connect it to its HT lead, rest / hold it on the engine ( something metal not plastic ), ask a friend to try starting the car, and see if it sparks. (You will not get a shock if you hold it down on to a metal part of the engine.)

If you are sure that you have a good spark, then look at Fuel supply.


When trying to start from cold, it's time to have a closer look at the spark plug itself.

If it's dry, it is not getting any fuel.
Solution: Check the fuel supply. Use the Choke or choke it by putting your hand on the air intake whilst someone tries starting.

( Double check that you Do have enough fuel in your tank, if you are confident you can undo a fuel supply pipe to the carburettor and see if fuel is coming out but fuel is highly flammable so no leaks and be very careful. )

You have to get the happy middle between too much or too little fuel.

If it is wet and / or blackened, you are trying to drown your engine.
Solution: Clean dry plugs.
Stop excessively using the choke or Easy Start. Once it starts, don't let the engine sit around idling, get going as soon as possible or switch it off.


We have this basic starter kit to offer, to give you everything you need for annoying starting problems.

starter kit