What should you do if your car won’t start? Is there anything you can do? Is it a simple fix that you can do yourself? If not, who should you call? These are a few questions that every driver needs to be able to answer.
Fortunately for you, we have put together a list that highlights the many things that can prevent your car from starting up and what you can do about them.
First and foremost, we need to understand what “my car won’t start” really means because having an understanding is especially important if you’re calling someone for help.
To diagnose why your vehicle isn’t starting, pay attention to what is happening when you turn the key. Two things can happen:
- When you turn the key, absolutely nothing happens
- When you turn the key, the engine turns over but doesn’t start.
Let’s start with the first scenario: If you turn over the key and the engine doesn’t crank — no noises, nothing at all — that probably means there’s an electrical problem, which can be caused by the following:
- The car’s clutch isn’t depressed: Many modern cars have lockout switches that prevent them from starting if the clutch isn’t depressed. Make sure your clutch is depressed before turning the key.
- Weak or dead battery: If your car battery has died, turning the key in the ignition will do nothing. It might make a weak clicking sound, but nothing will happen. Your car’s battery will usually die if you don’t use it for a long period of time or the headlights or an internal light are left on by accident. The solution is to jump start the car with another vehicle using a set of jumper cables.
- Poor battery terminal electrical connections: This doesn’t happen often but sometimes battery terminals get loose and corroded. To resolve this problem, just give the terminals a good cleaning and securely place them back into their homes. In fact, giving the terminal a twist will sometimes get the engine humming.
With the second scenario, the engine turns over rapidly but just doesn’t start. This usually means something is wrong mechanically. Here are a couple common reasons why the engine is cranking but won’t turn over:
- Vehicle out of fuel: This might seem obvious, but a car’s engine needs fuel to run. If you’re one of those guys who runs their tank with little fuel in it, chances are you have gone just a little too far and run out of gas. Do we need to tell you what the solution to this problem is?
- Broken Starter: Obviously, this is something you should leave to your mechanic to fix. Starters are beefy electric motors that turn the engine over to get it started and they are prone to failure on high mileage cars. According to the service techs at East Hills in Greenvale, NY, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep Ram car dealer, it’s fairly easy to tell if a broken starter is the issue — your headlights are bright when your car is off, but the starter just clicks or does nothing at all.
Now that you know the various reason why a car might not start, having your car not start ought to be a less scary prospect. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.