How to avoid flooding your car’s engine and what to do if it’s too late


You’ve moved your car a few metres to open the garage door, shut off the engine after a few seconds running and now it won’t start.

Chances are, it’s flooded.

When your engine is flooded with petrol, it means that there’s too much fuel and not enough air in the engine. This causes the spark plugs to become wet and as a result they won’t be able to ignite the fuel.

AA Roadservice receives many callouts due to similar situations. Sometimes this means vehicles need to be towed to a garage so the spark plugs can be cleaned or replaced and the excess fuel can evaporate.

It’s common for cars to be unable to start if you’ve just turned the engine on and off in a short space of time.

If you’re only moving your car a short distance, it’s best to leave the engine running for a few minutes to bring the car closer to its normal operating temperature and to use up the fuel left in the combustion chamber, preventing the risk of flooding.

If the deed is already done you still might be able to get your car rolling.

Try pushing the accelerator flat to the floor and holding it there while cranking the engine to start. This forces more air into the engine to counteract the excess fuel.

This might not work for some modern cars because they have electronic throttle control rather than a direct link with the engine via a cable.

It’s always worth giving this a go yourself but, if that fails and you’re an AA Member, give us a call on *222 from your mobile and we’ll sort out the rest.

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