Car wont start 1
Car wont start 1

Car Won’t Start? What to do Before Calling a Mechanic

13th February 2024

Picture this: It is a hectic morning when you are running late. The moment you attempt to ignite the engine, the car doesn't respond!

In such moments, it is important to not let stress or worry overwhelm you. In this article, we are going to answer the question “Why is my car not starting?”. We will delve into the different scenarios to help you understand whether it is a problem you can fix yourself or if you need emergency car repair from a mechanic.

Case 1: No sound, no light

If the car is dead and not responding at all, the problem could be with the battery. There might be two possible scenarios:

Dead battery

If your battery is dead, you could try to jump-start your car. For this, you might need to connect your battery to another car.

If you aren’t sure how to do it yourself, please call a mechanic.

Battery connection issue

You can check this issue by yourself. Gently try to turn or twist the cables by hand. If they turn – this means that the connection is loose.

To solve this, simply take a paper or a rag and clean the cables with them. Then, reconnect them and try to start your car again. Most likely, you will need a wrench to tighten the clamps properly.

Case 2: Dashboard lights on, but the sound is off

There are two possible scenarios in this case:

Stumbled starter motor

If your car is not in neutral gear or parked, or if the transmission switch in the park position is broken, do this:

  • Shift the gear to neutral and try to start the car.
  • Alternatively, press the brakes (or clutch, if you have a manually transmitted gear) and try starting the car again.

If that doesn't work, it's time to call a recovery service to tow your car to a nearby garage.

Key fob issue

If your key fob isn't working, it could be because of a dead battery or a bad transponder.

However, there might be a way to start the car with a dead fob battery. Check your car's manual for instructions on what to do.

Case 3: The engine cranks normally, but won't ignite

In this case, there might be three reasons why your car won’t start:

Low on fuel

If you find yourself low or out of fuel, there is no need to panic. Just call a service, and they can bring you some to get you back on the road.

The engine could be flooded

If you have an old car with a carbureted engine that won't start, it could be because of flooding in the engine. This happens when too much fuel has entered the engine. As a result, the spark plugs get wet and your car won’t start.

Here's what you might do:

Press the accelerator fully and crank the engine. This helps to clear out the excess gas from the combustion chamber and can get things going again.

A blown fuse of the ignition circuit or the fuel pump

Identifying a blown fuse is simple: just look for a broken metal strip with some black residue.

To fix it, consult your owner's manual to find the fuse box, and replace the blown fuse. Typically, car manufacturers include spare slots within the box for your convenience.

Case 4: No ignition and the keys won’t turn

If you're having trouble turning the key in the ignition, it might be due to a jammed steering lock. This can happen if your wheel is pushed against a curb or if you parked with the steering wheel fully turned.

In this case, The AA recommends to:

  1. Try to move the steering wheel slightly even with the steering lock on.
  2. Rock the steering wheel back and forth to find a point where the key might turn.
  3. It could be easier with two people.
  4. Avoid forcing the key, as it might break.

Most times, you can resolve a jammed lock on your own without needing a mechanic.

Case 5: Sounds that are not normal

Clicking from the engine

It is most likely because of a weak battery.

Here's a simple test to check – turn on your headlights. If they shine brightly, your battery is most likely fine and the clicking noise may point to a bad connection or a faulty starter. However, if the lights appear dim, it might mean that it is because of a weak battery. You can try giving your car a jump start.

If it is not that, it might be due to an issue with the alternator.

Single click when you start

This might be due to an issue with:

  • Starter relay or the starter itself.
  • Circuit issues, like a bad earth connection

Cranking noise that is slow and dying

Most probably, it is a weak battery. You should try a jump start and take it to the mechanic as soon as possible. Try not to delay because it has a high chance of repeating itself.

Cranking with grinding

This might be because your car's starter is not connecting with the flywheel.

Here's a simple fix – try turning the key on and off 3-4 times. This should help the starter engage the flywheel and start the engine.

However, if you need to do this, it can indicate damaged teeth on the flywheel. Please take your car to a professional mechanic quickly to address the issue.

Fast cranking with spinning

If your engine cranks super-fast with a spinning noise, it could be a sign of a broken cambelt. This part of the car connects the upper and lower halves of the engine. When it breaks, the pistons lack resistance, causing them to move rapidly, even when some valves are open.

If this happens, stop the cranking right away and arrange for a towing service. This is a big problem. To avoid this problem from happening, you might replace your cambelt during routine maintenance.

Other common problems:

Low AdBlue

If your AdBlue runs out, it might not be possible to start the engine. In certain car models, you could require software assistance for a restart.

However, preventing this issue might be simple. Most cars display a warning with a countdown on the dashboard. Keeping track of this will give you ample time to refill the AdBlue.

Engine intake issues

Engine intake can cause issues from defective components such as fuel injectors, throttles, fuel pressure regulators and sensors. If you face difficulty starting the car along with whining or sputtering noises, this may indicate a fuel system problem.

Issues with alternator

Troubles with the alternator may arise from the alternator drive belt and wiring complications. It is responsible for generating the necessary electricity to power the lights, radio, heating system, and charging the car battery.

Wrapping Up

Car trouble is always a difficult and undesirable situation. It is important, however, to remain calm so that you can make the right decisions. These tips can help you narrow down the source of the problem. And if these fail to work, don't hesitate to get professional help.

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