I have a 1986 Dodge Aries with a 2.2L engine. When I was first given this car in January of 2006 it had been sitting for 13 months. I changed/replaced the following: oil, battery, timing belt, fuel pressure regulator, fuel filter, distributor cap, distributor rotator, thermostat, spark plugs, air filter, power steering belt, and catalytic converter. I drove the car from Florida to RI (roughly 1400 miles) with very little problems. As my trip progressed I noticed that it took a little while longer to get the car to turn over when starting it. Once in RI, I started to have problems getting the car to start but once it was started it ran fine. I did some troubleshooting and replaced the coolant temperature sensor and fuel pump. It is now April and I have gotten to the point where I can barely get the car to start and it is stalling on me. I have already checked the timing belt. When I do get the car started, it idles radically and usually will get so iritic that is stalls. I have talked to a few people and researched the problem online and with a hayes service manual and have the problem down to probably a blown head gasket, an improper vacuum at the throttle body/intake manifold, a bad sensor, or a vacuum leak elsewhere in the emissions system. Most mechanics I have talked to have not been able to give me an idea of what the problem is and I have been told that it will be very expensive to find and fix the problem if I take it to a garage, which I cannot afford. The car has about 64500 miles on it and I was told by several mechanics that the engine is in really good shape when I first got it. Any idea of what the problem might be or how to narrow down the list of possible culprits?
I'd check all vacuum lines. I got a recently purchased (back in September.) Dodge Aries and had a similar instance; when I first got the car, it worked GREAT, then 1 day it just would not start, I had to pump the gas to finally get it to start. Took it to the dealer and they found a great many of the vacuum lines were dry-rotten and cracked, resulting in many large vacuum leaks.I went through many months driving it like that though, thinking it was a gunked up fuel/pcv system, from sitting so long (2+ years.), So I threw anything I could buy into the tank and changed the oil many times, alternated Seafoam and MMO in the crankcase as well as the fuel tank, with no dice. Then that's when I decided to take it to the dealer and they revealed the underlying problem. Lol.
Once I got it running, and in gear, it drove GREEAT on the highway, no problems at all, other than the fact I was only getting like 150 gallons to a 14 gallon tank. Definitely was running rich, but it was not spoking black smoke or anything, but I had the heavy black soot on the tail pipe.