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Troubleshooting a Car That Won't Start

You are running late for work. You jump in the car and turn the ignition and nothing happens. A not so good thing in a day that has already started badly. What could it be? A starting problem can be very frustrating, because let's fae it-it could be a lot of things going wrong under the hood. Pretty much any thing under the hood can keep a car from starting.

So what do you do? The best place to start when troubleshooting a car that doesn't want to start is at the begining-the battery. If it isn't the battery, then you work your way down he line. Some tests are easy for a no-start problem, others are not a day in the park. But, you are already late for work and you need to figure out what the problem is, whether you want to or not.

To make your job easier, you can try these things to help figure out the problem:

  • Battery Corrosion-Over the years, or even months, battery connectors can become dirty and/or corroded. The corrosion breaks the connection the battery has with the car and this may be a reason why it won't start. Clean the battery posts and try starting your car again.
  • Dead Battery-If it isn't dirt or corrosion, another problem may be as simple as the battery is dead. One way you can check this is by trying to jump-start the car. If this works, it is more than likely a dead battery. Replace the battery as soon as possible.
  • Bad Ignition Switch-If everything checks out ok with the battery, but your car still won't start, you may hav a faulty ignition switch. Try turning your key to the on position (not start). Check your dash, if the red warning lights aren't lighting up, your ignition switch is bad. If these lights do kight up, turn the key to start position and these lights should turn off on most cars at this position. When trying to start the car, turn on your headlights. If they either dim or turn off completely, your switch should be alright, If they don't your switch will need to be replaced.
  • Bad Starter Connection-Not only can corrosion keep your battery from connecting with the rest of your car, it can affect anything electrical. Especially ones that are exposed to weather conditions, like the starter. To test the connection, get a helper and hold a circuit tester lead to the wire that engages the starter, this will be the smaller of the two wires. Have your helper turn they key cna check the current. If the starter is getting current to it but it isn't spinning, it needs to be replaced. If it spins freely when the key is turned, the problem is elsewhere.

These are just a few checks you can do when troubleshooting a car that won't start. If all these past the test, check other components that could keep your enegine from starting, When all else fails, have it looked over by a mechanic.


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