Things to Check When the Car Won’t Start

Things to Check When the Car Won’t Start

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  1. At some point in our lives, we all fall victim to a car that will not start. This can happen in cold, rainy, hot, and stormy conditions. We may be running late for an appointment or on our way to work. There never seems to be a convenient time for your car to break down. Many of us have no clue what to do when this happens. Your first response might be to call a friend, family member who knows about auto repairs, or roadside assistance for help. In many cases, you do not need to call for assistance. You can figure this out on your own. In this article, we will discuss the most common problems with cars that will not start.

    Check Your Battery Cables

    Basic auto repairs start with preventative maintenance. Over time, cables can succumb to corrosion. Dirty or corroded terminal cables can restrict the flow of power through the cables. If your terminals have a white residue on them use a wire brush to clean them off. Brush off the battery terminal as well as the cables to remove all traces of corrosion. When completed, make sure that the cable connection is tight. If you can twist the cable off, then it is too loose. Follow the positive cable to the solenoid and make sure the connection is tight. Then follow the negative cable and make sure that there’s a proper ground. If a poor connection exists, the car will probably not start.

    Test Your Battery

    In warmer climates, the cells inside the battery can dry up. Using a flat tip regular screwdriver pry open the two caps on top of the battery. Wear a pair of protective gloves when doing this to protect your hands from battery acid that may discharge. Look inside the cell holes to check the water level. If the water level is not towards the top add enough distilled water to fill it to optimal capacity. Dry cells can cause the life of the battery to diminish sooner. The average life of a 12 volt car battery is between 3 to 8 years depending on the type and manufacturer. Most auto parts stores and auto repair shops offer battery testing.

    Test the Starter

    The life of a starter can be determined by its use. If you frequently start your car several times every day, then the starter will eventually go out. If your car makes a “clicking” noise when you attempt to turn it over, you could have a malfunctioning starter or low battery. If the car still makes a “clicking” noise while you are jumping the battery, odds are the starter is defective. There is a way to check the starter. Using the end of a screw driver or a small hammer lightly tap on the starter housing one or two times. If, the car starts, then the starter is going out and it will need to be replaced immediately. (This method is not always recommended by auto repair specialists. If there’s nothing wrong with starter, tapping on the housing could damage the porcelain plating inside.)

    Test the Ignition Switch

    In many models, the ignition switch can be located in the steering column. Replacing this component can be a real hassle. Auto repair manuals can give step by step instructions on replacing the ignition switch. To test the ignition, put the key in the ignition, and try to start the car. There is nothing wrong with your ignition if the car cranks over. To determine the state of the ignition switch, turn the key to the “start” position, and listen for a single “click.” If you cannot hear the “click,” then check the fuse box for a blown fuse. If the ignition fuse is okay, the ignition switch is defective and needs to be replaced.

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