Car Trouble
October 31, 2004 7:20 PM   Subscribe

CarTroubleFilter: My '84 Dodge has started stalling out every once and awhile. I don't know much about cars, but I'm guessing carburetor problems? [more inside]

I have a '84 Dodge Rampage (think a small El Camino) with about 120k miles. It normally runs really well, as the one previous owner took very good care of it, and I do the best I can for it. Last week it stalled on a freeway on ramp, a slight incline, and started back up about ten minutes later and then ran fine. Tonight I was out and it was running weak like it was going to stall again, so I parked and shut it off. Same thing where it started up after about five or ten minutes. But when I started it, it ran a really high idle in park, about 2500 rpm. The idle dropped to normal in drive, and it made it back home okay.

Any ideas what the problem is? All I can think is that there's something wrong with the carburetor since its been stalling when I give it gas and idling strange. I'm probably gonna take it somewhere to have it checked out tomorrow if I can, but I'd like to have an idea of what the problem is (and how much it'd cost to fix) before I go.
posted by dogwalker to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
I don't know much about cars either, but my old car had some similar issues and IIRC it was carburator or fuel filter related. A fuel filter should be under $10. Maybe a carburator cleansing would help.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:53 PM on October 31, 2004

Ten year veteran of a K-car that frequently needed a spurt or two of carbuerator cleaner to keep it starting.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:14 PM on October 31, 2004

Easiest fix to try first is a bottle of "Carb & Choke Cleaner". You dump it in a nearly-empty gas tank, fill 'er up, and after a few days' use you'll know whether things have improved or not.

More ambitious things to try are actually taking the carburetor filter off (changing the air filter while you're at it), and squirting some carb cleaner in and around the metal flap that actually controls the air/fuel mixture. It might be sticky. You can also look at the linkages outside, which are much more likely to be very gummy. The cleaner will work on those, too (silicon lube isn't recommended here), but you may want to just wipe accumulated grime off with a damp paper towel.

You might also look for the idle linkage here, which will be two screws and a see-saw, to vastly oversimplify. Adjust it (slightly) one way or the other until it runs better.

If these don't do it, then as a rank amateur you're going to be out of your league. Have a shop look at it.
posted by dhartung at 9:28 PM on October 31, 2004

From my experience with my own old car, it could also be an ignition timing problem. At least, my car behaves a bit like that when I have been putting off taking it to the mechanic for too long. Adjusting the timing should be one of those basic bits of maintenance that gets done along with changing filters and checking oil levels and so on.
posted by hattifattener at 10:17 PM on October 31, 2004

This sounds like a fuel delivery problem.

Definitely start with the fuel filter(s). There should be one under the hood, and another on or near the fuel pump, which should be located in or near the gas tank (this is assuming that your car has an electric fuel pump. It might be mechanical, meaning it's nowhere near the gas tank. You really should spend the $15 and get a Haynes manual to learn more about basic repairs on your car.) In any case, a gunked up filter will cause fuel starvation, which will in turn lead to a racing idle and occasional stalling, amongst other problems, as you've described. If you're at all mechanically inclined, swapping both filters is cake, and if you're mechanically retarded, swapping the under-hood filter is still a walk in the park.

If the filters don't do the trick, the pump itself might be going, which again is a fairly easy and cheap repair (again, this is assuming that it's got an electric pump. A mechanical pump will be a bit trickier.) Get a Haynes manual either way, to guide you through the process.

If neither of these work, replacing all of your basic ignition components is cheap (and necessary) maintenance that just might chase out this gremlin. Distributor cap and rotor, breaker points (if it's got them), coil, wires, and spark plugs all together shouldn't cost much more than $50.

And if none of that works, well, then your carb might be due for a rebuild, but I would definitely try out everything I've mentioned before tearing into the carb.

Good luck!
posted by saladin at 11:21 PM on October 31, 2004

If the previous advice doesn't pan out for you, I've found in the past that a decent source for brand-specific questions like this is newsgroups or brand-specific web forums. You could try,, or the web forum at
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:22 AM on November 1, 2004

The home world for dodge is at they have a rampage page at

The rampage isn't an EEK but is instead based on the Omni. But if you've got the 2.2 it is the same engine as used in the EEK platform.
posted by Mitheral at 7:51 AM on November 1, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all the advice and links. I'm gonna replace the fuel filter later today and then run some cleanser through the line.

If that's not it, then I'm probably looking for a shop.
posted by dogwalker at 11:59 AM on November 1, 2004

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