There are many reasons why your car may not start, and it’s always wise to begin with the basics—like does it have enough gas? It’s an obvious answer, but anyone can space refueling when they’re short on time. Alternatively, you might have an issue with your gas gauge. Before you shell out serious cash on diagnostics, check the gas tank first. If you’re lucky, it’s a fast and inexpensive fix (or as cheap as today’s gas prices can allow).
However, one of the most common causes of a non-starting car is a dead battery. Maybe it’s a loose wire, you left an interior light on overnight, or it’s just too old to function. Get a jump and see if you can start it that way (if you can, it might just be running low on juice—it’s dying, but not dead yet). Replace the battery now before you get stranded for good.
Oh, the Possibilities…
Another common issue is an ignition switch gone wrong. You’ve already checked your battery, but the engine still won’t turn over. A simple test is to turn on your headlights and then try the ignition. If your headlights work fine but your engine struggles to start, it’s nearly guaranteed that you’re looking at a bad ignition switch.
Another culprit is a broken starter, which has many of the same symptoms as a bad ignition switch. Aptly named, the “starter” is the force you need to get your engine running. A tell-tale sign is a clicking noise, which suggests your starter is giving out (or already gone kaput).
You might also be dealing with a fuel filter that’s clogged. In this case, gas isn’t making it to the engine. These filters should be changed every 12,000 miles or so, and it’s often offered during an oil change.
After you’ve dismissed the obvious possibilities, it’s time to start digging deeper. Some newer cars come with immobilizer devices which are controlled via computer chips in your fob. If your fob/immobilizer is flashing, it’s letting you know something’s wrong (pro tip: They don’t always flash when they’re broken, though).
Your fob’s working fine? It’s time to double check that your car is completely in “park” mode. Yes, this is another no-brainer, but sometimes the stick shift can be a little off and look like it’s parked when it’s not. Shift it to neutral and back into park just to be certain. Once that’s ticked off the list, it’s time to address connections and fuses. It’s easy for a connection to shake loose, especially on bumpy roads, and fuses can easily get overwhelmed. Blown fuses and loose connections are easy fixes and cheap to replace.
Head to the Professionals
There’s only so much you can do yourself before it’s time to set the pros loose on your car. They can help unflood a flooded engine, “trick” the car’s computer to get it back up and running, and otherwise get to the root of the problem. The good news is that a car that won’t start is rarely a complicated, expensive issue. Yes, it’s annoying (and might make you late for work), but most of the time it’s an easy fix.
Don’t let frustration get the best of you. Rely on the experts at Grease Monkey to get you back on the road pronto.