No Start

20 09 2012

Car problems of any kind can be frustrating but the one that seems to annoy people the most is when their car won’t start.  People then get doubly annoyed when they call and ask, “Why won’t my car start?” and we tell them, “It could be one of several reasons.”  I thought I would go over some of the causes just in case you experience a no start in the near future.

There are two types of no starts…one that we call “no crank” and one we call “crank.”  Let’s start with the “no crank” scenario. No crank is when you try to start your engine and you hear nothing.  This could be caused by one of three things; the battery, the ignition or the starter circuit.

The first thing you want to do is check your battery voltage. If it is low, try to jump start your battery.  You might also have corroded or loose battery cables.  You can tighten and clean the cables.  For the average person, this is the easiest fix.

If that doesn’t bring you success then I recommend you get your vehicle towed to your car care provider unless you have experience with ignitions and starter circuits.  This calls for inspecting, cleaning and tightening plus testing.  If the test proves the part is beyond repair, you need to purchase the part and replace it. This is great if you know what you are doing.  If you don’t you could inadvertently cause more problems.

Crank is when you hear your car trying but it just won’t start the engine. This again could be caused by one of three issues…you have run out of fuel, you have no spark or you have no compression. Of course the first thing to check is the fuel.  If your car is on empty then of course you need to refuel.  Hopefully you can just add gas and all will be well but sometimes this isn’t the case. Most vehicles have an electric fuel pump.  This sits inside the tank actually submerged in the fuel.  This allows the pump to stay cool and lubricated.  Without this submergence in fuel the pump can self destruct from overheating.  The reserve fuel inside your tank prevents this from happening.  Some vehicles have a well that the pump sits inside and if this well runs dry the pump also gets damaged. If your vehicle is fueled by diesel and this occurs, it also becomes necessary to “prime it” to get fuel to the pump.  Obviously, you can’t drive forever on an empty tank…but if you regularly put in just enough gas to get by; your fuel pump can fail earlier than normal. Your pump will also be taking in the “bottom of the barrel” fuel which is full of debris. This sediment in the bottom of the fuel tank can also clog the fuel filter, fuel injectors as well as the pump pickup. I generally don’t let my tank get below 1/4 tank for this reason.

If the problem is no spark or no compression I again recommend you get your vehicle to your car care provider.  If you don’t know what you are doing you could even have a “shocking” experience.

Happy Motoring!







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