Everyone dreads the day in which your car won’t start (usually when you’re already running late). A car that won’t start is often a symptom of a serious problem. However, if you’re lucky, it might be something minor. The suggestions below will hopefully get the car going so that you can trundle down to the auto shop in it, instead of calling for a tow truck.

What Do You Do When Your Car Won’t Start?

Car Starter Clicking

A weak battery or dirty battery terminals may be the cause of this problem. It could also be because of a worn-out starter motor or a solenoid that is stuck. Switch on the overhead light. If it dims or goes out when you try to start the car, it means that your car has a dead battery or it is weak.

Option 1

Turn the key to the start position about ten times repeatedly without trying to start the car. This will give the battery, the terminals, and the starter a chance to warm up. Wait five minutes and try to start the vehicle. If the overhead light stayed bright when you tried to start the car try the next option.

Option 2

If the overhead light stayed bright when you tried to start the car, giving the terminals a tap with a shoe might help. Nudging the terminals will adjust how they are connected to the battery posts. There could be corrosion on the posts. Therefore, tapping the terminals might move the terminals to a part of the post where is no or less corrosion. Try starting the car. If that doesn’t help, try the next option.

Option 3

Using the tire iron gives the starter motor a smack. If the electrical contacts are stuck a smack can free them.

No Car Starter Clicking or Turning on

Try moving the shifter. Sometimes this can re-establish electrical contacts inside the transmission range selector – also called the neutral safety switch. Put the shift lever in the neutral position and keep your foot on the brake. Then try to start the engine. If that doesn’t help, put the car in park and try to start again.

Engine Cranks But Doesn’t Fire Up

Option 1

Swapping over the relays might help. Put the key in the run position. Listen for a two-second whirring or buzzing sound. If you can hear the sound, it means that the fuel pump is priming the injection system. If there is no sound, it could mean the pump relay is on its way out. Refer to the owner’s manual to find the fuel pump relays. Pull one of them straight up and then swap it with the other one. Be sure to push it directly into the socket. Try to start the car.

Option 2

Give the bottom of the fuel tank several smacks. This could serve to jar the fuel pump motor. Try to start the engine.

Option 3

The engine could be flooded, especially if you smell gas when turning the car on. To un-flood, crank the engine while you keep the accelerator pushed to the floor.

Option 4

Try fooling the car’s computer. If there is a defective temperature sensor or vacuum leak it could result in an air/fuel mix that is too thin. By pressing the accelerator halfway down when starting, the engine will tell the computer to send more gas.

Problem: Lack of common sense

Owning a tire iron and a shoe does not instantly make you a mechanic. If you aren’t 100% sure of what a relay or starter motor is, please put the tire iron down and pick up the phone. Happy motoring!

Additional Information: What to Do if Your Car Won’t Start in Cold Weather

Dave & Rays Automotive Repair Shop in Omaha, NE

Our team has learned one thing: automotive problems are as varied and unique as the customers who bring them to us. Fortunately, our decades of experience in auto service and repair also mean that our skilled network of professionals is ready to accommodate an impressive scope of automotive issues. Contact us today.

Recent Articles