Why Your Car Won’t Start & How to Troubleshoot it
Are your car problems keeping you from where you need to be? Having a car that won’t start can be inconvenient, but try not to worry. There is almost always a solution to get your car up and running (in less time than you would think). If your engine fails to start, a good first step is to try troubleshooting to see what’s wrong.
Below are some steps you can follow to identify why your car won’t start. While these steps can help you troubleshoot, remember that it is always best to seek the help of a qualified mechanic.
Can you turn your key in the ignition? If yes, skip to step 2. If not, read below.
If your key won’t turn in the ignition, it could mean that the steering is locked by the ignition. Or, there could be a problem with the ignition lock or the key itself.
After you turn the ignition ON but before your car starts, is there something unusual about the dashboard lights that turn on?
If yes, read below. If not, skip to step 3.
The dashboard lights don’t turn on:
If no lights come on when the ignition is on, your battery or ignition switch may not be functioning properly.
The key-shaped light lights up on your dashboard:
If the key-shaped light appears on your dashboard, you might have a problem with your security system. Your car key (which has a security chip inside it) or your security system may need to be reprogrammed. If the “security” light turns on, on the dashboard this means the security chip is no longer accepted as the correct key and needs reprogramming.
The “check engine” light does not come on: If you turn the ignition ON (but your car doesn’t start), the “check engine” light should light up on your dashboard. If it does not, this means that there may not be any power coming to your computer engine. It could also mean that there is a problem with your engine computer.
What happens when you turn the ignition key to start your car?
There could be a number of problems involving anything from your car battery to your engine. To better diagnose what is causing you car problems, look at what happens when you try to start your car.
The engine won’t turn over:
Does your engine fail to start when you turn the key in the ignition to the “start” position? This means that you likely have a bad starter motor, which isn’t turning over your engine. When this happens, it usually means you have a dead battery. If you check your battery and it is working properly, then it could caused by a number of things, including:
- A bad ignition switch that needs to be fixed.
- The starter solenoid control wire has a bad connection.
- The starter motor or starter solenoid needs repairing.
- The neural safety switch or the shifter cable isn’t working properly.
- The vehicle’s security system or an electrical control module (such as the ECM or the BCM) isn’t working properly.
The engine makes a click or repeated clicking sound:
If your engine makes a clicking noise when you turn your key to the “start “position, it could be caused be several problems. Normally, it is an issue with the battery or a poor connection with the battery terminals. If your battery cables are corroded inside it could also cause this problem.
If your car makes a clicking sound when you try to start it, it might be a battery issue. You should check your battery’s charge and battery terminals for signs of corrosion. If the issue is not with your battery or your battery terminals, then it could be an issue with your battery cables or the starter motor.
The engine turns over very slowly, but won’t start:
If your engine cranks very slowly but your car doesn’t start, you may have a weak or discharged battery. It may also be caused by a bad connection between your battery cables and the terminals or the starter motor. Finally, you can check whether your engine has an internal mechanical problem. In this case, a lack of oil, very old oil, or another internal mechanical problem could be the problem.
The engine cranks slowly and then starts clicking:
If your engine cranks progressively slower and then makes a clicking noise, it means that your start motor lacks the power to turn over your engine. In this case, the problem is usually related to the battery. A weak or dead battery, corded battery terminals, or a bad connection at the battery cables is normally the culprit. If everything to do with your battery appears normal, then the problem could be with the starter motor.
If you are having trouble starting your car and you want to find out what is wrong, simply follow the steps above to diagnose the problem. If the problem appears to be a weak battery, you should first try jump starting your car with jumper cables. Using jumper cables helps charges the battery.
If this doesn’t work because your battery is dead, the next step would be replacing your battery. If changing the battery solves your problem and your engine starts, great. If it appears to be a more complex issue, don’t hesitate to contact an auto repair service company for support.
If you are not an experienced mechanic, is always best to take your car in to a quality auto repair shop.
While it can be frustrating when your vehicle fails to start – often at the least opportune of times – worry not. No matter what the problem is with your car, there is a solution for almost anything that could go wrong.
Your Edmonton Auto Repair Shop Can Help!
Are you having trouble starting your car and troubleshooting the problem? Give Optimum Auto Service a call today at 780-477-2883. At Optimum Auto Service we always put our customers first. You will notice the difference in our quality service from the moment you walk through our doors.
Serving the city of Edmonton for over a decade, we are the local auto mechanics you can trust! We welcome walk-ins and have a comfortable waiting room, with fresh coffee available to make your experience with us pleasant.