The Car Coach: What to do when your car won't start
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
We’re all in a rush these days, but what should you do when your vehicle won’t start? This frustrating experience can put a wrench in your day.
What To Do If Your Car Won't Start
Over the years, cars have become much more reliable. But with so many moving parts, even the most well maintained vehicles are occasionally temperamental. Assuming you're not a mechanic, let's take a look at the most common situations and how to deal with them.
• You Turn The Key - Nothing Happens
Listen to your car. Even though it has betrayed you by not starting, it's still considerate enough to give you hints as to why. If you turn the key and the engine doesn't crank at all, things may not be all that bad (believe it or not). The problem most likely lies with the battery, especially in cold weather.
When your car responds with silence or clicking:
• Turn on the car lights. If they're dim, you may have poor battery connections or a dead battery. Did you leave your headlights on last night or leave an interior light on? It happens to the best of us.
• Tighten and clean the battery connections and try again. They could just be corroded or loose. This can be done with baking soda, water and an old toothbrush
• Jump start the car.
If this works, immediately have your battery tested, especially if it's old. An auto parts store will often test your battery for free and can replace it if you need a new one.
Things could still be worse; you may have a bad starter or alternator. Unfortunately at this point, you'll need a tow truck and a mechanic.
• If the Car Cranks But Doesn't Start. Now What?
If the starter turns, but the engine won't start, the problem can be much harder to diagnose. In the winter, one common problem is a frozen fuel line, so be sure to always keep your fuel tank half full. If water accumulates in your fuel line, the condensation will freeze and your car won't start. If you've been driving in wet conditions or deep snow, wet spark plugs or other engine components can prevent your car from starting.
If you still have no luck, you'll probably want to turn the problem over to your trusty mechanic.Bottom line: If your auto won’t start, the problem is either spark or gas.
Preventative maintenance and preparation can be the difference between a car that starts versus one that becomes the world's biggest paperweight.