Panda won't run witout choke

My 18 year old Panda now is a devil to start and when started, won't run with the choke pushed in. Have checked the obvious jets, filters, but no go.
All advice appreciated. Derrick
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At that age I'd do a compression check, you just screw the gauge into each plug hole, and crank. What's the state of the plugs, tan, or sooty? Two things to try, raise the tickover, just one screw on the carb, or adjust the mixture. What did the last MOT say on the emission printout? DIY mixture adjustment can best be done with a Colortune (glass topped plug). As you get near correct the engine speeds up, and runs smoother. Adjust until you are slightly in the yellow flame region. You don't say if it is miss firing. With an old coil, points, distributor system, check the plug leads with a meter, one of the five quid digital ones with resistance ranges will do. Or just replace them. Capacitor, and the breaker points, may be past their sell by date. At this age the vacuum advance may be have a leaking diaphragm. Attach a pipe and suck. The hooked spring that moves the timing advance plate should move. Check the timing, this is fairly critical for good running, and although you can do a static timing, using the 5 quid meter in voltage mode, you really need a timing light. If it's using oil, and gives smoke on the overrun it may be just engine wear and old age. And, once an engine has, at sometimes in its life, been cooked by loss of coolant, your get soft piston rings, and hardened oil seals that leak. A not uncommon situation with older s/h cars where you buy someone elses problem. So what is the cars history, and did the problem suddenly appear?
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Thanks for the reply. I have had the car for 16 yrs, and replaced the distributor 12000 mls ago. Plugs are black. I will take your advice about compression check. I think timing is OK as I have a multimeter and can check dwell which was correct. It has never used much oil. The mileage is 100300, so if compression is lost I think it's time to say goodbye. Derrick
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To answer your other questions, yes, it came on suddenly, and no, it does not misfire. Derrick
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You could have an air leak into the manifold. This will weaken the mixture which has to be compensated by choke.
The leak could be due to:
a) split/loose/unseated brake servo vacuum hose b) split in bake servo diaphram
To test these remove the hose from the inlet manifold and cover/seal the inlet hole
c) vacuum advance circuit air leak. This could be a single hose from the carb to the distributor or you could have a complicated arrangement of hoses which allow for different advances during engine warm-up. Complete overkill! I removed all of these on my Uno.
d) cracked inlet manifold e) broken inlet manifold to head gasket f) broken carb to inlet manifold gasket / spacer
You almost certainly have a large brown plastic/composit spacer bewteen the base of the carb (f). These have been know to deteriate. On common fault is corner comprssion where the carb mounting studs are. Over time, especially with overtightening this compression results in a bowed plate AND carb base. This is fairly easily fixed new gaskets AND refacing of the plate and carb. A little Hylomar (Blue non setting) gasket seal will work wonder if you have difficulty in refacing the parts. (Don't get any Hylomar near the small holes / channels located around the base plate to carb interface).
Finally, listen for a pssible air leak before your start. Manully adjust the thottle whilst listening for rushing air. Also wet your finger a feel for air leaks around the carb and hose interfaces.
Nick /////

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