When Your Car Won’t Start – Part 1

We have all had that sinking, sickening, aggravating feeling when we turn the key and nothing happens. Or we hear clicking, grinding, or other disturbing noises.  In any case, the issue is simply this: the car won’t start. In this article, we will take a look at one of the many reasons your car may not start.  There are dozens of possibilities, but I will cover the obvious one first: the battery.

Weak Battery

A dead battery is usually the first “suspect” a car “detective” blames when the car will not start.  And, usually, this is for a good reason.  But it is not always the cause.

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

When you get into the car, are the interior lights on? Are they bright? If you put on the headlights, are they bright as well?  If the lights are bright, the battery MAY be okay. I say “may” because the battery might not be dead, but it might be too weak to crank the engine. Also, the battery may just be weak if you turn the key and hear a churning or chugging noise but the engine doesn’t start. If this is the case, it is best to get someone to help you jump-start the car.

Dead Battery

If the headlights do not work and there seems to be no power going to the interior lights or accessories, the battery may be dead or disconnected. If the battery is completely dead, you may not be able to jump-start the vehicle.

Loose Connections

I know it sounds obvious, but be sure the battery is connected.  If your car was recently worked on by a mechanic, check to make sure the cables are properly attached to the battery terminals.  Open the hood and try to wiggle the large connectors on the terminals.  If they are loose or easily pop off, the battery might be okay, but the connection is bad or nonexistent. Make sure the connectors that attach the thick battery cables to the terminals on the battery are tightened properly.

You may be wondering how this would happen.  Actually, it is fairly common.  When you bring your car in to be serviced, often the mechanics will disconnect the battery as a safety measure.  They will actually remove the connector (usually the red “positive” one) before doing any work.  Not only does this protect them from getting shocked, but it also helps to protect any sensitive electronics in the car. And today, there are plenty of sensitive electronics in vehicles.

Have the Battery Checked

If the battery is weak or dead and you DO get the car to start, I suggest that you have a professional check the battery to see if it is still good.  Many times the battery is no good, and you cannot trust it after it has been completely drained. It is better to get a new battery and have the peace of mind that the vehicle will start the next time you try it.

Other Factors

While a weak or dead battery may be the culprit, there are many other factors that can keep a car from starting.  Stay tuned to this website, as I will share more insights in upcoming articles.

Written by Gary Pradel