4 Common Reasons Cars Don't Start

May 19th, 2016 by

keyA failure to start is high on the list of things about your vehicle that can annoy you. A number of problems can cause your vehicle to sputter instead of jumping to life. Potential issues range from simple fixes to complicated system failures. When diagnosing the problem, it’s best to start by looking at the usual reasons cars don’t start. Here is a list of the four most common problems that interfere with your car’s ability to start.

1. Blame the Battery

That rectangular powerhouse under your car’s hood can cause many headaches when it finally runs out of juice. It’s perhaps the most obvious place to look when you’re having trouble starting your car. Often, a dead battery creates a clicking sound when you turn the key in the ignition.

If someone leaves a dome light on overnight, this simple act can run down an older battery. If your car battery is less than five years old, you may be able to use jumper cables to start your car, allowing you to drive to the automotive store for a battery test.

2. Turn the Steering Wheel

It’s a sickening feeling: you put the key in the ignition and it won’t even turn. Some vehicles don’t allow the key to turn when the front wheels are turned to the side. The ignition lock may also engage when the front wheels are pushed up against an object such as the curb. In this instance, you merely need to turn your steering wheel back and forth carefully to unlock the ignition and start the car. Another possibility is that the key itself is worn down. Try to start the vehicle with a spare key that doesn’t get as much use.

3. Check the Alternator

This piece of technology keeps your car’s battery charged while the car is in motion and idling. With a malfunctioning alternator, the interior lights and headlights are dimmer than usual, and the dashboard lights may look unusually low. When the alternator gives out completely, the car battery won’t be charged and won’t work. A technician at a car dealership can install a new alternator.

4. Evaluate the Starter

The starter mechanism makes use of the power coming from the car’s battery. Turning your key one click to the starting position initiates a small current moving into the starter. This allows a piston on the engine to draw air and fuel into the cylinders. All it takes is a spark to ignite the fuel and air. When any part of this complex system fails, the car won’t start. This problem typically requires more sophisticated repair work and is best left to a mechanic at a dealership.

Considering these four common problems that prevent your car from starting will allow you to begin to figure out what’s wrong with your car. You can determine if it’s a problem you can troubleshoot, such as a dead battery, or if it’s a more significant issue that requires professional help.


Image via Pixabay

Posted in Car Service