1977 Regal running rough all of the sudden, not sure why

Discussion in 'Sparky's corner' started by berigan, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. berigan

    berigan Well-Known Member

    well, suddenly while driving home from downtown Atlanta Weds. A few miles from work, felt like it has in the past with a bad plug/plug wire where it feels like you are running on 7 cylinders. Then it was feeling like 6 cylinders a few more miles down the road...was worried if I would be able to make it home or not. When I got on the 75 south, I stomped on it, and....it seemed to clear things up for a mile! odd, usually a fouled plug stays fouled. A bad wire stays bad. but, after that mile, it started to feel like I was driving on a bumpy road. Floored it a few times, cleared it up for a short while. Wondered if I got bad gas the day before (but how did I get to work without an issue?) put gas in, stopped at a store...seemed like the car was running better...but, then back to shaking and quaking. Got home, looked at the wires, seemed tight at cap and plugs. too tired after work to mess with it. Got "cold" and rainy here for a couple days. Car seems fine when it is first started. Garage at work is not heated. I can go 2 miles before the issue starts up. So, can't be gas flow issue (99% sure ;) )
    Oh, left car out til dark, started it up, didn't see any arcing, whathaveyou under the hood.
    Do I probably need plugs and to replace the wires? Most likely cap too....thing is, money is quite tight right now, and am worried I may have a worn distributor, or some issue outside plugs/wires/cap...and as I mentioned before, plugs usually stay bad. I would hate to have spent 90, 100 bucks on those 3 items only to find the distributor was shot (car only has about 115,000 on it)
    I put it in neutral, and revved it, slight roughness.
    So, suggestions? Seems the few times I have had a bad coil it's kept the car from starting.
    First car I have had with HEI, so perhaps I could kinda/sorta clear the plugs stomping on it, but they quickly stop firing?
    I guess I should also ask, how do you get to the plugs on Regal on he passenger side? Jack up and remove the wheel?
  2. berigan

    berigan Well-Known Member

    Ok...well, guess the questions were too....vague above...
    so, got the plugs in on the drivers side. Some looked fairly grim, and worn down. Thought that would be the easy side, but between dipstick being in the way, and the brake booster, I couldn't even see one plug hole.
    Again I ask about the passenger side, how do you get to them on a Regal? I don't recall having this kind of issue with a 1969 Lesabre that had a 350. Not sure if Jacking it up will really give me any more access, do you have to take the A/C bracket loose/off?
  3. johnriv67

    johnriv67 Well-Known Member

    Having never seen it, my best guess would be to get a universal socket and weave your way into the engine bay to change the plugs. Even with A/C it can't be too tight
  4. LARRY70GS

    LARRY70GS a.k.a. "THE WIZARD"

    berigan likes this.
  5. Electra man

    Electra man Older and Slower

    Something you can check is the pickup coil inside the distributor. It triggers the coil to fire and it sits on the advance plate like the points did. There are 2 wires coming out of it. The wires get brittle and fail. As they are failing the conductors in the wire break one by one from the advance movement. You may have just a couple of conductors left making contact. The result of this is losing spark like the coil is failing until the wire breaks completely then it dies and won't restart because of no spark.
    When you got into it the vacuum advance moved the pickup coil making better contact on the failing wire. To repair this the distributor has to be pulled gear taken off and shaft pulled out in order to replace this part. Pull the cap and rotor off its under the weights on the plate, get in close with your phone and take some pics where the wires come out of the coil itself. Then enlarge them to see if there are any broken conductors sticking out from under the shielding (wire cover). If so that's your problem. - Bill
    berigan likes this.
  6. buick64203

    buick64203 Just plum crazy Staff Member


    The only way I change spark plugs is with a Snap On Dual 80 flex head ratchet. Its an 80 tooth ratchet. Awesome, like jewelry. And the Snap On 3/8" swivel 5/8" spark plug socket. Its expensive but well worth it. Makes a 2 hour job fiddling with inferior tools into a 15 minute job.


  7. Electra man

    Electra man Older and Slower

    What ever happened with your Regal, did you find the problem?
  8. berigan

    berigan Well-Known Member

    I did! I'll try to dig up photos later. Suffice to say that whoever claimed to the little old lady that owned this car that the plugs had been replaced under the compressor and to the back, lied! Huge gaps, basically little tips left. and, the wires under the compressor were...rusty! Yikes!!!
  9. Electra man

    Electra man Older and Slower

    Its always best for a simple solution to a problem. It makes my face red when I hear about mechanics ripping people off like that. Gives them all a bad name and the majority don't deserve it.

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