What To Do When Your Car Won’t Start


Did you ever consider those wonderful days when your car won’t start? Or some other electrical gizmo on as soon as you parked the auto, you know what the trouble is, if you left yourradio and lights: Your battery is dead. Of course, there are more possible reasons that your car won’t start.

Won’t-start symptoms

Your car may not start for many reasons. These list outlines the most common circumstances and lets you know what action you can take to try to remedy each situation:

The car is silent once you turn the true secret in the ignition. Check the battery terminal cable connections. (Discover How to Check Your Car Or Truck Battery.) Once they look very corroded, force the point of a screwdriver (having an insulated or wooden handle) between the connector and the terminal twist and post it to lodge it firmly. Then try to start the engine. You need to clean or replace your cables if it starts.

The car will make a clicking noise but won’t start. This sound usually means a dead battery. Check the wiring to and from the starter for a loose connection or else.

The car cranks over but won’t start. Check the fuel supply to the engine. Check regardless of if the electrical spark is getting in your spark plugs if that’s okay.

The engine starts but dies. If your car has a carburetor, check your carburetor adjustment and your choke to discover whether the choke is first closing and after that opening. You’ll need professional help if you have fuel injection.

The car won’t start on rainy days. Check inside the distributor cap for dampness. Get some mechanic’s solvent from your friendly service station – they prefer it to clean up car parts – or buy an aerosol can of it with an auto supply store if you locate moisture. To evaporate any dampness within the distributor cap, turn the cap upside down and pour or spray some solvent into it. Swish it around and pour it out. Then dry the cap as best you may with a clean, lint-free rag and replace the cap.

Use only clean solvent; a good tiny speck of dirt can foul the points. Gasoline won’t do as a spark can ignite gasoline fumes and cause an explosion or a fire.

The car won’t start on cold mornings. For vehicles with carburetors,look at the choke. Is it closed? Will it open? You’ll need to have an expert diagnose the cold-start problems if you have fuel injection.

The engine misses while idling. Check the points (if your car has a non-electronic distributor) along with the spark plugs. (How to Remove Old Spark Plugs explains getting bad spark plugs gone.) Also check the fuel pump, fuel filter, and carburetor, in case you have one. (If your fuel filter’s the problem, check out How to Change Your Vehicle’s Fuel Filter.)

The engine misses or hesitates during acceleration. Check the accelerator pump in the carburetor (if equipped), the spark plugs, the distributor, as well as the timing.

The engine knocks or pings. Check your timing; also look at the octane rating of the fuel you’re using. The owner’s manual can let you know whether your vehicle needs regular unleaded or premium gasoline. Check the cooling system. (which The Essentials of Checking and Maintaining Your Vehicle’s Cooling System explains) Execute a compression review the engine cylinders. (Take a look at How to Check an Engine’s Cylinder Compression.)

Jumping a start

To securely jump a start, adopt these measures:

1. Sign up for your jumper cables.

It’s a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables while keeping them inside the trunk compartment. If you don’t have jumper cables, you’ll have to find a great Samaritan who not only is willing to help you but has jumper cables as well.

2. Place both cars in Park or Neutral, with their ignitions shut off as well as their emergency brakes on.

3. Remove the caps from both batteries (unless they’re sealed).

Batteries produce explosive hydrogen gas, and a spark could set it off. If the caps are open, you can avoid such an explosion. (Sealed batteries have safety valves.)

4. Connect the cables.

The positive cable has red clips at either end, and the negative cable has black clips. It’s important to attach them in the proper order:

1. First, attach one of the red clips on the positive terminal of your battery (it has POS or into it, or it’s bigger than the negative terminal).

2. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the GS’s car.

3. Attach among the black clips to the negative terminal about the GS’s battery.

4. Attach the last black clip for an unpainted metal surface on the car that isn’t near the carburetor (in case your car has one) or battery.

Figure 1 shows how the positive and negative cables needs to be connected.


Figure 1: Make sure to connect jumper cables in the proper order.

5. Try to start your vehicle.

Make sure that the cables are properly connected and have the GS run his or her engine for a few minutes if it won’t start. Then try to start your car again. Your battery may be beyond help if it still won’t start.

6. Disconnect the cables, thank the Good Samaritan, and resume your way of life.

Don’t shut down your engine; drive around for a while to recharge your battery.


Be sure that your fan belt is tight enough to work your alternator properly if your alternator light stays on or the gauge on the dashboard continues to denote Discharge after your car’s been running. Have a professional check both battery plus your alternator if your battery keeps going dead.


In any event, never drive around by using a light or gauge that reads Trouble; have it looked at immediately – that’s why those gauges are in there!