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Which of the two is correct:

  1. I was not sure whether it WAS the other car's coupler or mine that had suddenly had trouble connecting.

  2. I was not sure if it WERE the other car's coupler or mine that had suddenly had trouble connecting.

This is a story told by a car (trains).

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In third-person past-tense singular subjunctive, you use were to describe an unreal or imaginary scenario that didn't happen in the past. You might say,

If the other car were moving faster, I would not have had trouble connecting.

But since in your sentence you're just using third-person past-tense singular, non-subjunctive, you should use was, because the example is not a hypothetical or unreal scenario, it is merely unknown.

I'm not sure if it was the other car.

I recommend inspecting the fascinatingly convoluted definition of be, to see how it's used in different tenses and forms:

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/be?s=t

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