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Sounds like a fuel starvation issue. You may want to start with something simple like changing the fuel filter, and move on from there. After replacing the fuel filter, check fuel system pressure to ensure it's in the right range (around 47 PSI for most fuel injected gasoline (petrol) engines). If the fuel pressure is low, it may be the pre-filter on the fuel pump, or the fuel pump itself.
when you drained the fuel was it from the tank only and was fuel pump tested --if you didnt drain fuel lines and changed out fuel filter than your have water /fuel mix going into engine just a little water is enough to damage engine -foul up spark plugs -clog/damage throttle body
it is probablly either from a sparkplug not firing due to brocken/damaged ignition lead or dirty plug or if has a ditributor it may have dirty points as backfiring is from unburnt fuel going into the hot exhaust. could also be either the fuel pressure regulator or dirty injectors if it's fuel injected. also may be from a faulty air/fuel ratio sensor.
It sounds like it's either your fuel filter or your fuel injecters. If you change out your fuel filter don't forget to release the pressure in the fuel line before you take off the old filter. The pressure may be strong enough to knock the filter from your hands, & the spraying gas could harm you too. As for the fuel injectors the best stuff I found is Lucas brand injector cleaner. It's $5.99 at Auto Zone. pour a bottle in a full tank & take a 15min drive down the highway. You may see a light smoke coming from your tail pipe but that's what you want. It's the sludge & gung you don't want coming out.
Are you sure you ran out of petrol? It might be that the petrol pump or something else had died. The only way to tell is to undo the fuel line from the carb and turn it over, check if it pumps fuel (have someone help you with this.) You might also find that you've got a blockage in your fuel filter, caused maybe by **** left floating at the top of the tank that was sucked in when you ran out of petrol. Check the filter first and see if it's OK, then check if fuel is flowing. Also, on a 97 Alfa, I'd imagine it was fuel injected though I could be wrong. If it is then you'll want to be more careful wit the fuel line.
In may be the fuel pump. Check recalls on your year make and model. My girlfriend has a 2004 S60 which had the same problem. I changed the fuel filter at first assuming that that was the problem but the smell persisted. I then took it to the volvo dealership and had them replace it for free. The only bad thing is that they may keep it for a few days to do it.
NOPE, THEY SHOULD FILL UP WITH THE PUMP AUTOMATIC.
MMM. PUT THE SWITCH ON " NOT ALL THE WAY TO START " JUST WHEN THE DASH LIGHTS COME ON, WAIT A MINUTE WHILE THE PUMP FILL THE LINES, DO THIS TWO OR THREE TIMES AND THEN START IT AND SEE IF THIS WORKS. IF NOT LET ME KNOW