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I have been having a problem starting my car for several months now. One interesting thing about it is that it is never in the morning, it always happens after the car has warmed up. I have had a distributor cap changed, main relay changed because of that and the problem still keeps coming back. It cranks but does not turn over. The battery was also changed and checked several times. It is the battery and the oil lights that stay lit on the dashboard when this problem occurs. I also have been smelling fuel while inside my car and my miles/gallon has gone down very noticeably by about 50-60 miles per tank. Can anyone help? Thank you

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Mulu, Thank You for writing into AskPatty! Your description may be a leaking seal on a fuel injector. When your key is off you may have a fuel injector seal that is leaking into the cylinder. This may also explain the raw fuel smell that you are getting. This raw smell can cause you not to start your vehicle right away when the key is turned as well. I recommend have a fuel pressure test performed, which can indicate whether you have a seal that needs attention.

Kerri Papajohn, Marketing Director at USA Sealants, Inc. I would need to know the year, make and model of your vehicle to specifically answer your question. Though, generically speaking, you are describing what is known as a loss of rest pressure after the engine has fully warmed up. When the pressure leaks off too quickly after shutdown, the fuel injectors lose their prime as bubbles form in them. This is caused by the fuel pressure bleeding down, usually from an internal leak. But since you smell raw gas, the leak in your case is probably external. Anytime you smell fuel, it means there is a very dangerous situation lurking under the hood. Better carry a fire extinguisher until you get the problem fixed!

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Mulu, You didn't mention if you had the fuel pressure checked. Since you're smelling fuel and having a starting problem I would get someone to do this. It's possible that you have an intermittent fuel pump problem. Most likely the battery and oil lights stay on because the vehicle is not starting. The vehicle needs air, fuel and spark to run. If any of these are compromised the vehicle may fail to start. Check your air filter as well. Lori Johnson www.ladiesstartyourengines.com

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