Car­bu­re­tor care for a 1966 Chevy Nova

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Puzzles - BY RAY MAGLIOZZI

Dear Car Talk: I have been work­ing on my 1966 Chevy Nova II. I re­cently re­placed the fuel pump (me­chan­i­cal), all fil­ters, all spark plugs and liq­uids. I’ve also tried tun­ing the idle speed and idle mix­ture screws on the car­bu­re­tor.

The car still stalls on oc­ca­sion when try­ing to ac­cel­er­ate quickly or brake quickly. Could it be that the car­bu­re­tor needs bet­ter tun­ing? Or per­haps it needs to be re­built and cleaned? — Peter

If you can find a new car­bu­re­tor for this car, buy it, Peter. In fact, buy two, and save one for 2029 be­cause it sounds like you have two car­bu­re­tor prob­lems.

If it’s stum­bling or stalling on ac­cel­er­a­tion, that’s prob­a­bly a bad ac­cel­er­a­tor pump. That would cause a lack of fuel when start­ing from a dead stop. And if it’s stalling when you brake hard, that could eas­ily be a bad car­bu­re­tor float, which be­comes por­ous, gets submerged and causes flood­ing and stalling.

While you could take it apart and clean it and re­place the ac­cel­er­a­tor pump and float, car­bu­re­tors are no­to­ri­ously finicky. It’s not only a lot of painstak­ing work with lots of small parts, but it might be one of those jobs where you have parts left over when you fin­ish and have to won­der if they were im­por­tant (hint: they were).

It’s much eas­ier to sim­ply re­place the car­bu­re­tor, and I can pretty much guar­anty that’ll solve both of your prob­lems. You might be able to find a new, orig­i­nal Rochester car­bu­re­tor for this car if you search on­line. They used to be a dime a dozen. If you have trou­ble find­ing one, or it’s too ex­pen­sive, a pro­fes­sion­ally re­man­u­fac­tured car­bu­re­tor would be al­most as good.

And if you can’t find ei­ther of those, you can buy an af­ter­mar­ket car­bu­re­tor for this car from a com­pany like Hol­ley. That would prob­a­bly re­quire you to change the in­take man­i­fold as well.

So, de­pend­ing on your level of me­chan­i­cal skill, it might be some­thing you want to have a me­chanic do for you. Or, if you have enough sur­plus va­ca­tion days and Band-Aids, you can tackle it your­self. Good luck, Peter. ***

Dear Car Talk: I bought a 2010 Toy­ota Prius last year. It is a great car, re­turn­ing 45 to 50 mpg.

How long will the hy­brid bat­tery last? The pre­vi­ous owner said that it had the orig­i­nal hy­brid bat­tery. Thanks. — John

Well, Toy­ota war­ranties the hy­brid bat­tery for 8 years or 100,000 miles in most states. In Cal­i­for­nia, due to state law, the war­ranty is 10 years or 150,000 miles. But that doesn’t tell you how long the bat­tery lasts in real life.

We don’t have a pre­cise an­swer for you, John, but I can tell you that we’ve had a num­ber of Priuses in the shop with over 250,000 miles on them, with the orig­i­nal bat­tery still do­ing fine. And there are plenty of taxi and Lyft driv­ers that put hun­dreds of thou­sands of miles on Priuses with­out bat­tery fail­ure.

That doesn’t mean the bat­tery will last for­ever. At some point, you’ll see that dreaded warn­ing light.

If you plan to keep the car for an­other 10 years or 200,000 miles, you can go to your Toy­ota dealer and have them put in a brand-new Toy­ota bat­tery. The price keeps com­ing down on those, but it’s still an ex­pen­sive re­pair. Ex­pect it to cost you a good $3,000, in­clud­ing the credit you’ll get for your old bat­tery.

An­other op­tion is to price out re­con­di­tioned, af­ter­mar­ket bat­ter­ies. They might cost you $1,000 to $1,500 less. But you should ex­pect them not to last as long as the orig­i­nal Toy­ota bat­ter­ies. If you’re only plan­ning to keep the car a few more years, and you can get a good war­ranty with an af­ter­mar­ket bat­tery, it might be worth con­sid­er­ing. Maybe.

Fi­nally, our auto writer pal John Gore­ham from tells us that individual cells can be re­placed. If one or more cells go bad, a me­chanic trained in hy­brid bat­ter­ies can re­place just that cell and then bal­ance the bat­tery and ad­just all the volt­ages.

That’s a good so­lu­tion if you have a sin­gle de­fec­tive cell or two. But if you’ve got 200,000 miles on the car, it’s prob­a­bly the be­gin­ning of the end for the bat­tery any­way, and you could end up spend­ing more on cells than if you had just bit the bul­let and bought a new bat­tery.

So, we can’t tell you ex­actly how long your bat­tery will last. But just like with in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines, we do have ex­pec­ta­tions. For ex­am­ple, we would ex­pect a Toy­ota Corolla en­gine to last at least 150,000 miles. Some fail sooner, many go much longer.

Given their track record, we now ex­pect Prius bat­ter­ies to last at least 150,000 to 200,000 miles. We hope yours lasts even longer.

Got a ques­tion about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Fea­tures, 628 Vir­ginia Drive, Or­lando, FL 32803, or email by vis­it­ing the Car Talk web­site at

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