Why Won’t My Car Start?

4 10 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.  There are several possible reasons your car won’t start but the number one reason is a battery issue.  If you try to start your car and you don’t hear a noise we call that a “no crank” and this could be caused by one of three things; the battery, the ignition or the starter circuit.

The two main reasons for shortened battery life are;

  • Excessive heat – Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, damaging the internal structure of the battery.
  • Overcharging – A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, resulting in a slow battery death.

To get the most out of your battery:

  • Have your battery and its connections checked at every oil change
  • Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate.  Overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
  • Always have the battery replaced with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
  • Keep the top of the battery clean.  Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power.  Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.

Batteries do not always give warning signs before they fail. It is always wise to check it after summer’s end.

If the battery isn’t the issue, if you don’t have experience with ignitions and starter circuits it is best to leave this to professionals.  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 but 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…your car has run out of fuel, it has no spark or it has 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 and this submergence in fuel keeps the pump from destructing due to 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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