Diagnosing the Reason your Car won’t Start


There can be several reasons why your car won’t start. However, there are many ways you can start to troubleshoot the situation and then identify the problem. If you turn your ignition and nothing happens then the engine isn’t going to crank. This more than likely indicates some type of electrical problem. The first place to look will be the battery as your connection may not be doing the job correctly.

Check those connections to make sure they are tight. Check the battery too so that you can determine if it has a full charge or not. If the battery is fairly new and the vehicle easily jump starts then it is likely you need to replace your alternator. This will keep your battery from losing the charge.

If these things are good then you may want to check the fuse box on your car. If you have blown a fuse for the ignition then your car won’t start. Yet it is very simple to replace that fuse with a new one to see if your vehicle will then start up.

A loose wire on the starter can prevent your vehicle from starting. It can give the same type of scenario as the battery not working. With a loose or broken wire on the starter, the electrical current is broken so it prevents your vehicle from starting right up like it normally would. Tighten up the wires if possible or replace one that appears to be broken.

If you turn the ignition and you can hear the engine crank but then it doesn’t fire, there could be a couple of different things wrong with it. One of the more common is that you may have a bad fuel pump. To check this on most newer vehicles you will need to crank the engine for a few seconds. Press on the bleeder valve located on the fuel line to see if it is building any fuel pressure or not.

If you have sufficient fuel in the vehicle and the engine seems to crank fine but won’t start then you may want to check the electrical system. This will ensure that you are getting fire to the spark plugs. The easiest way to do this is to remove a spark plug wire and place it close to the tip of a spark plug. Have someone crank the engine while you check to see if a spark bounces between the tip of the spark plug and the wire.

If this isn’t possible you may need to remove the spark plug, hook it up to the spark plug wire, and set it somewhere safe. You don’t want it to fall into any belts or pulleys. Then have someone crank the vehicle and see if there is a spark bouncing between the electrodes on the spark plug.

If there is no spark then you more than likely have a problem with your electronic ignition module. Another common occurrence is the neutral safety switch on cars with standard transmissions. This switch is mounted somewhere along the clutch pedal arm. This switch prevents the engine from cranking if the clutch isn’t engaged. These switches are usually easy to change with one or two small screws and a snapping style wiring harness.

Automatic transmissions have these same switches and they can be mounted in various places along the linkage. They are designed to prevent a vehicle from starting when they aren’t in the parking gear. These are also mounted in a similar way with one or two small screws and a wiring harness.

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