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Replacing leaky carb likely your best bet

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DEAR TOM AND RAY: I have a ’68 Chevy pickup that I love and want to keep running for as long as I can. I live on a farm, but I only use it when I have to go to Home Depot to pick up duct tape. The truck runs beautifully, but the last time I started it, it began to sputter and die. I opened the hood and, to my horror, saw that the carburetor was spewing gas. I immediately called the mechanic who lives down the road, and asked him if he would look at it. Unfortunately, he had just retired, and he held firm even when I offered to rebuild the carburetor myself under his tutelage. However, he did give me a tip that works like a charm: He told me to tap it lightly with a hammer, because the needle valve gets stuck. Sure enough, it worked, but I’m concerned that it might happen while I’m driving and the gas might ignite on the hot manifold. Would you say that this is a good fix? – Hali the librarian

RAY: It sounds like your carburetor is flooding and liquid gas is coming out the vents.

TOM: Your instincts are correct: That’s not a great long-term situation, and you’re right to look for a more permanent fix.

RAY: But since you can’t get help rebuilding your carburetor, I’m going to suggest that you try to replace it.

TOM: Go online, and see if you can find an already-rebuilt carburetor for your 1968 Chevy truck. I’m guessing you have a V-8 engine, and probably a Rochester carburetor. Ideally, you’ll find a remanufactured one for a few hundred bucks that will be just as good as new.

RAY: And the needle and the floats will all be brand-new, and should work perfectly. Or at least no worse than they worked in 1968.

TOM: And if you were game to rebuild the carburetor, swapping it out is even easier.

RAY: You simply disconnect the linkage and the fuel line, which is no big deal. Then you unscrew about four nuts that bolt down the carburetor, and you’re pretty much done.

TOM: Well, you’re done when you successfully put those four nuts back in, along with the new carburetor, then reattach everything and see if the truck starts. But it’s a pretty simple job, and you sound like you’re up for it.

Got a question about cars? Email Click and Clack by visiting the Car Talk website at cartalk.com.

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