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Auto Mechanics | Diagnose | Why My Car Won't Start?
CAR WON'T START? - Battery, Alternator or Something Else?
Common problems why a car won't start
October 11, 2021
By: Local Mechanics
Related: Car Charging System
Trouble Starting Your Car?
There are of course several reason why a car won’t start. If a vehicle has trouble starting it is mainly a fuel, ignition or charging system problem. The most common of a vehicle not starting is a battery or the connection to the battery. Other causes may be the alternator or engine starter.
With so many factors to consider if your car won’t start where do we start? Lets examine a few symptoms of various components to narrow down the issue.
Car Won’t Start – Is It The Battery?
Your car battery holds sufficient charge to start your car. If your car won’t start or has a hard time turning over and we have just entered the cold season, chances are the battery is beginning to fail.
One way to determine a failing or dead battery is by turning the ignition key to the on position and checking to see if your interior lights, headlights, horn or car stereo has power.
If your your car won’t start because the battery seems dead, pop the hood and check the connections to the terminals. Here, you want to make sure the battery cables are tightly fastened to the positive and negative terminals and haven’t become loose from vehicle vibration. You’re also looking for any corrosion build up and the terminals and cables themselves.
If the cables are loose, tighten them up and retry starting your vehicle.
If you find corrosion, pour a cup of hot water over the terminals to easily remove the corrosion.
If jump starting a dead battery starts the vehicle, then it is likely a battery problem.
Try and remember the last time you had a new battery installed. If it’s been more than 3 years, again it’s likely time to replace the battery.
In any case, you want to ensure the problem is not the alternator or another component.
Car Won’t Start – Is It The Alternator?
Another common culprit when a car won’t start is a bad alternator. An alternator that is on the way out will display unpredictable behavior as you drive.
Your alternator provides charge to the battery while your car is running. Things such as the temperature gauge not showing a correct reading, dimming lights as you drive, dimming interior lights as you drive or a complete shut down of your vehicle while your engine is running is likely an alternator problem.
If you begin hearing squealing sounds from under the hood as you power up your car stereo or air conditioning can be the bearings inside the alternator itself. Other sounds to be aware of when an alternator is failing are whining sound when you accelerate or step on the gas pedal.
A bad alternator can completely drain your car battery and potentially need replacing. So if any warning signs of a slow cranking engine or diminishing power on the electrical components should be looked at right away.
Car Wont Start – Is It The Engine Starter?
If you turn the key and nothing happens but your headlights and interior lights illuminate with full power, this could indicate a starter problem. Other factors concerning a cars starter is a grind when you turn the ignition key to start the engine.
Other Problems Why a Car Won’t Start
A car that won’t start but turns over just fine could mean fuel is not igniting the spark to start your vehicle
If you consider the factors above of a failing battery, alternator and starter, but there seems to be no problem cranking the engine, it’s likely none of the above and it’s another problem. The best solution at this point is a diagnosis.
In these cases when a car won’t start and the battery light has come on or your engine light appears on the dash, take your vehicle for an inspection sooner than later to avoid getting stranded and unable to start the vehicle.
If Your Car Won’t Start
If you find yourself in a situation where your car won’t start, try jump starting the vehicle and driving around the block to see if any bad alternator signs show up. If not, take it in to the garage to have your charging system inspected.
While at the shop, you’ll want your mechanic to test the battery as well as the alternator.
Standard checks for cold cranking amps and the voltage on your alternator will determine if any of these 2 components should be replaced.
If they both pass the test, other components for fuel delivery and spark will be checked for a further diagnosis.
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