Issues Starting Up

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gigabytejr

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Right now my RV takes two attempts to start the engine. If it fails to start the first time I turn the engine off and push the gas for about 1/2 a second and try to start it again and then it fires right up.

I've got an appointment for a tuneup and inspection with a reputable shop but it's a few weeks out (everywhere nearby is booked out for 2+ weeks right now it seems). The previous owner had it winterized until I test drove it and purchased it the other day (4/15/2021 to be exact) so it was sitting for a few months. I should note that there was about a half tank of gas in it and now that I think about it I completely forgot to ask if he had put any fuel stabalizer in before closing it up for the winter :confused: I'm hoping it just needs a tune up and maybe a new fuel filter and spark plugs or something along those lines.

I was thinking of firing it up and letting it idle for a few minutes each day until my appointment. Is there anything else I should/could do until my appointment?

Thank you!
 

scottydl

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If the gas pedal helps with startup, then it sounds like a fuel issue. But hard to say without having it looked at and a few things tested. I agree with the advice to DRIVE the rig. These things don't like to sit still for long periods of time. Fuel, fluids, belts, hoses, tires, metal parts, switches, etc. all fare much better when they're warmed and operated regularly. Plus when there is a problem, it's easier to identify when the rig is maintained regularly.
 

Matt_C

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As stated above, it should be a carburated engine. As such, when starting, stroke the throttle all the way once and release it, turn the key to crank. Crank for no more than 15 seconds (two full turns of the engine). If it does not light and go, try two pumps of the throttle and crank. It should not take more than that. Do not pump more than twice per crank. More than 30 seconds of crank can kill the starter.
When you can, fill the tanks with new fuel and take her for a scenic drive. This will get the new fuel mixed and in the system.
Nothing good happens to an idling engine.
I know more about engines than most people, so work it this way.
You can come back and tell us what you have learned.
Matt
 

Utclmjmpr

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Local WallMart and buy a can of seafoam,, add to fuel system and drive it until it's distributed thru the system..>>>Dan
 

DonTom

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Right now my RV takes two attempts to start the engine. If it fails to start the first time I turn the engine off and push the gas for about 1/2 a second and try to start it again and then it fires right up.
A 1987? Is it a carb engine?

If so, BEFORE you try to start the engine, press the gas pedal all the way down. And then try to start. That sets the choke for starting.

If fuel injected, you just start and no need for above.

-Don- Cold Springs Valley, NV
 

Arch Hoagland

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Once a year I add 6 cans of Seafoam to my 75 gallon gas tank just before a long trip where I will burn a whole tank of gas.

During that trip I run the generator for at least an hour so it gets cleaned too.

I've been doing that for the past 16 years and 95,000 miles...so far no problems related to fuel systems.
 

Utclmjmpr

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You also shouldn't worry about stabilizing jacks,, they were not installed during your years of manufacture because your chassis sits on leaf springs at all 4 corners and is very stabile as is..>>>Dan ( You may want to carry some blocking to level the rig when off level buy driving onto them.)
 

Larry N.

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I was thinking of firing it up and letting it idle for a few minutes each day until my appointment.
Don't!

As others said above, if you fire it up then you should drive it for a while (15 minutes might be short), enough to warm the engine thoroughly and drive out moisture -- moisture is added to the oil and, somewhat, elsewhere, when you start the engine and it must be warmed up to minimize corrosion. It's actually better for the engine to let it sit for a while, perhaps a month or three, than to start and idle for a few minutes.
 

scottydl

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I realized after posting that 1987 could be a carb or fuel injected... is yours on a Chevy or Ford chassis? If it's not EFI, then you probably don't have any problem at all. You just need to put the pedal all the way to the floor once, and/or pump it a few times to get fuel into the lines before starting. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to initially start since the fuel retracts all the way back into the tank... a long distance away on a Class A! ;)
 

gigabytejr

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Thank you for the feedback y'all! Glad to know that I should be taking it out for a drive instead of letting it idle.

I took it to Les Schwab to get new tires and batteries this afternoon. When I went to start it, I gave it 2 pumps right off the bat and it fired right up!

Local WallMart and buy a can of seafoam,, add to fuel system and drive it until it's distributed thru the system.

I'll also pick up some Seafoam the next time I'm out as well! I didn't realize that was a thing and it seems like something I'd want to keep up on. That's definitely a good tip that I'll have to write down!

A 1987? Is it a carb engine?

If so, BEFORE you try to start the engine, press the gas pedal all the way down. And then try to start. That sets the choke for starting.

I believe it's a carb engine. The previous owner mentioned he replaced the carberator while I was kicking the tires but I can't remember if he said it was for the vehicle or the generator.

When you can, fill the tanks with new fuel and take her for a scenic drive. This will get the new fuel mixed and in the system.

I put in about 3/4 of a tank when I was driving it home earlier this week. I will be taking it out tomorrow on a drive to show it off to some family so it'll be a perfect opportunity to get the new gas mixed in with the old :)

is yours on a Chevy or Ford chassis?

I believe it's a Chevy. I was reviewing the owners manual earlier and I think it said it was a Chevy... though the keys have a GM logo. I'll double-check the owners manual when I get it back from the tire shop.


I gotta say, I'm very happy I decided to make an account here and ask these questions. I was a little hesitant to do so at first because I have 0 experience with this stuff but you guys have been SO helpful. I'm going to have to keep a journal with all of these tips and have it with me in the RV at all times!
 

scottydl

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GM (General Motors) is the parent company of Chevy, so yep that is confirmed!

And this is definitely for RV newbies because we were all there once! ;)
 

DonTom

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It's actually better for the engine to let it sit for a while, perhaps a month or three, than to start and idle for a few minutes.
That depends on who you ask. Many different options. I made up my mind to start them once in a while and get them up to operating temperature for ten minutes or so if they cannot be driven (for whatever reason). I decided this after a couple of in-tank fuel pumps crapped out on me after not being started for a few months. In this case, both were Ford Mustangs, a 1997 and a 2002, V6 engines.

-Don- Reno, NV
 

TheBar

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In my factory service manuals Ford recommends starting every other week to operating temperature cycling the transmission between drive and reverse, then backing up 15 feet then back forward cycling the brakes as much as possible. Same for any brand not just Ford.

The engine is not an hermetically sealed unit. Letting an engine sit too long causes internal cylinder rust from oil draindown to the oil pan. Draindown is another problem. When starting and there is no oil pressure for a few seconds it is running dry and you let it sit too long. It still might last 300,000 miles but it might last 400,000 miles if stored properly.
 

Larry N.

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Letting an engine sit too long causes internal cylinder rust from oil draindown to the oil pan. Draindown is another problem. When starting and there is no oil pressure for a few seconds it is running dry and you let it sit too long.

I decided this after a couple of in-tank fuel pumps crapped out on me after not being started for a few months.

My main point was don't start and idle for a few minutes -- that's inviting corrosion, MUCH more quickly than letting it sit, IF it was at normal operating temperature when shut down.

The more often you run it up to operating temperature, the better off you are.
 

Charlie 5320

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While you have verified that it is a GM chassis, it will have a carb, and it will be a quadrajet. They have a famous reputation for leaking bowl wells. That means when it sits, the carb will MT itself from the leaking wells. It may leak very slowly or it may have had the wells repaired, depending on who rebuilt it. When the engine is cold, take the top of the breather off so you can see the top of the carb. Check the air filter while you are in there. While looking at the top of the carb, press the throttle all the way to the floor and verify that the choke flap does go closed. If it doesn't it will need to be adjusted so it does close, or you will have a tuff time getting it to start easy. Have the cap and rotor checked too, another thing to keep it from starting easy. They do corrode inside and will keep it from starting right.
 

Kirk

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I believe it's a Chevy. I was reviewing the owners manual earlier and I think it said it was a Chevy... though the keys have a GM logo.
You have the P30 chassis that was built by GM and sold by Chevrolet. I had an 87 Allegro with that same chassis. Keep in mind that the chassis has a 16,000# maximum gross weight when you start adding things for travel.

GM did not go to throttle body fuel injection until the 1988 model year so yours is definitely a carbureted model, the same as mine was. Before spending the money for a tune-up, I also recommend you run a full tank of fuel with a good carb cleaner product added to it. Quite likely you will not need to do more at least for now. Carburetors have a pump designed into them to supply fuel to start the engine so the need to pump twice when cold and perhaps once warm is a very normal thing. They are different than fuel injected engines.

Starting your engine when you will only sit still is a very bad idea. When we bought our 1998 Ford chassis motorhome, I spoke to the Ford Motorhome Hotline about what to do and they stated that I should put a fuel stabilizer into the tank and fill it completely, then drive for 20 miles or so to distribute it and then shut it off and do not start it at all until time that I would drive it. They say that starting an engine with oil drained down is the hardest thing ever done to one. They suggest a short test run a day or two before travel, and always drive for at least 20 minutes when it is started after storage. Warming and cooling an engine and transmission when not driving them will draw warm air into them which will then condense moisture into each.
 

Charlie 5320

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You have the P30 chassis that was built by GM and sold by Chevrolet. I had an 87 Allegro with that same chassis. Keep in mind that the chassis has a 16,000# maximum gross weight when you start adding things for travel.

GM did not go to throttle body fuel injection until the 1988 model year so yours is definitely a carbureted model, the same as mine was. Before spending the money for a tune-up, I also recommend you run a full tank of fuel with a good carb cleaner product added to it. Quite likely you will not need to do more at least for now. Carburetors have a pump designed into them to supply fuel to start the engine so the need to pump twice when cold and perhaps once warm is a very normal thing. They are different than fuel injected engines.

Starting your engine when you will only sit still is a very bad idea. When we bought our 1998 Ford chassis motorhome, I spoke to the Ford Motorhome Hotline about what to do and they stated that I should put a fuel stabilizer into the tank and fill it completely, then drive for 20 miles or so to distribute it and then shut it off and do not start it at all until time that I would drive it. They say that starting an engine with oil drained down is the hardest thing ever done to one. They suggest a short test run a day or two before travel, and always drive for at least 20 minutes when it is started after storage. Warming and cooling an engine and transmission when not driving them will draw warm air into them which will then condense moisture into each.
GM didn't go to throttle body injection in medium duty trucks untill 1991 along with the 4L80 transmission. Ford went to injection much earlier than GM. 88 was the first year for cars and pickups, 87 TPI injection for Camaros, Corvettes, Trans Ams. They did have a what was called cross fire injection in the sports cars in late 85 and 86 but it was junk and never worked right or was reliable.
 

gigabytejr

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Washington
Hello all!

Apologies for the delayed response, it's been a super hectic week so far!

They have a famous reputation for leaking bowl wells. That means when it sits, the carb will MT itself from the leaking wells. It may leak very slowly or it may have had the wells repaired, depending on who rebuilt it.

Is there a way I can check for a leaking bowl well? Also, what is a bowl well and what does MT stand for?

When the engine is cold, take the top of the breather off so you can see the top of the carb. Check the air filter while you are in there. While looking at the top of the carb, press the throttle all the way to the floor and verify that the choke flap does go closed. If it doesn't it will need to be adjusted so it does close, or you will have a tuff time getting it to start easy. Have the cap and rotor checked too, another thing to keep it from starting easy.
I'll check this out tomorrow, thank you!

---

Before spending the money for a tune-up, I also recommend you run a full tank of fuel with a good carb cleaner product added to it. Quite likely you will not need to do more at least for now. Carburetors have a pump designed into them to supply fuel to start the engine so the need to pump twice when cold and perhaps once warm is a very normal thing.
Is there a carb cleaner that you recommend? It looks like Sea Foam has one and they have a video that goes over how to use it as well - link to video - are the steps in that video similar to what I'd do in my RV?

-
--

Speaking of Sea Foam, I threw 2 cans of Sea Foam in with half a tank of gas on Sunday and have been driving for about 45 minutes on city streets, a nearby highway, and up and down some pretty big hills every day this week since then. I filled up all the way last night and was thinking of adding another can of Sea Foam or two to get close to the 2oz:1gal ratio cleaning ratio mentioned in the instructions. Would that be overkill or should I wait until I go through this tank of gas, fill up again, and then throw 7.5 cans in to get 2oz:1gal?

It still has a tough time starting on the first go but it doesn't immediately die like it used to. Now it will start fine but gets progressively rougher until it dies unless I put it in reverse and give it a little gas immediately after shifting into reverse. If I don't hit the gas right after putting it in reverse it dies. Once I get it going though it seems to run great and it feels like it's driving a lot smoother since I've been taking it out.

The only weird thing I've noticed since I've been taking it out (aside from it dying after I put it in reverse and don't immediately tap the accelerator) is a faint buzzing/humming when I hit 50mph. It's not super loud but I'm able to notice it (though I'm actively listening for bumps, buzzes, clanks, etc. as I'm driving). It sounds like it might be coming from the front-left of the vehicle but I'm not entirely sure.

I also reached out to the gentleman I bought the RV from and he confirmed that he changed the air filter, fuel filter, changed the oil, and rebuilt the carburetor.
 

Lou Schneider

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Is there a way I can check for a leaking bowl well? Also, what is a bowl well and what does MT stand for?
The fuel bowl is a small fuel reservoir in the carburetor (holds about 1/2 cup) that the venturi sucks fuel from. MT = empty. If you prop open the choke plate and look down the carburetor throat you should see fuel spurting out of the accelerator pump every time you open the throttle. After the engine sits overnight or longer, if it doesn't spray at all or only sprays a little bit and then quits after 1 or 2 pumps the fuel bowl is empty due to a leak. You may also see discoloration around the bottom of the carburetor from the leaking fuel.
Is there a carb cleaner that you recommend? It looks like Sea Foam has one and they have a video that goes over how to use it as well - link to video - are the steps in that video similar to what I'd do in my RV?

Speaking of Sea Foam, I threw 2 cans of Sea Foam in with half a tank of gas on Sunday and have been driving for about 45 minutes on city streets, a nearby highway, and up and down some pretty big hills every day this week since then. I filled up all the way last night and was thinking of adding another can of Sea Foam or two to get close to the 2oz:1gal ratio cleaning ratio mentioned in the instructions. Would that be overkill or should I wait until I go through this tank of gas, fill up again, and then throw 7.5 cans in to get 2oz:1gal?
Berryman's B12 Chemtool works the same as Seafoam and usually costs about half as much.
 

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