A car is a wonderful piece of technology but like anything mechanical, it has its limits and sometimes it can refuse to start. This can be especially disconcerting if this happens when you are about to set out for something important. The good thing is that cars have been around for a long time which means that they have had plenty of time to be refined and it is only very rarely that they fail catastrophically. In most cases, it is something that can be pretty easily fixed. Not all car breakdowns are the same but you can easily diagnose the exact issue based on the symptoms the car exhibits.
Today, we will take a look at all the common issues you could encounter, how to diagnose them and possible fixes for each.
1) Starter Goes Click But Nothing Happens
- Symptoms: When you turn the car on and try to turn the engine on, nothing happens apart from the starter clicking. The lights and dials come on and other electrical components work.
- Possible causes: This is a sign of the car not getting enough juice from the battery. There can be two primary reasons behind this. The first is that the battery does not have enough charge. This can be a consequence of one of the electrical components drawing too much power. This usually happens when you attach aftermarket electrical parts to the car. The other common reason is an improper connection at the battery terminals. On rare occasions, it could be a fault with the starter motor where it simply does not work or the electrical connections to it have been severed somehow. This can be easily diagnosed by observing the lights or honking when turning the ignition on. If the lights flicker or the horn cuts off then it is either a weak battery or improper connection. Otherwise, it is a malfunctioning starter motor.
- Possible fixes: A weak battery can be coaxed into life by cycling the key. This is a method where you have to turn the key to the start position and then back to the off position for about ten times. Then wait for about five minutes and try turning the engine on. If this doesn’t work then pop the hood and tap the battery terminals with something non-metallic. While this won’t permanently fix the issue, it will improve the connection just enough so you can start the engine and drive to a professional. If you have the necessary tools and know-how to safely work with car batteries then you can try cleaning the terminals by yourself. If both these tips don’t work then there might be something wrong with the starter motor’s connection or the starter motor itself which will require the attention of a professional.
2) There Is No Click
- Symptoms: All the electric components work but no click is heard when the key is turned to ignition
- Possible causes: This happens when the electronic sensors cannot either detect neutral gear or a depressed clutch lever.
- Possible fixes: Simply try depressing the clutch lever multiple times or shifting to a different gear and then shifting back to neutral. In most cases, this will fix the issue. If it doesn’t then the sensor would need replacing which will require professional help.
3) None Of The Electric Components Work
- Symptoms: You turn the car on but none of the dials turns on and none of the electric components such as the light and horns works.
- Possible causes: This is not that difficult to figure out as it means that the battery is dead. Usually, there are plenty of warning signs before it gets this far but sometimes faulty batteries can completely discharge themselves overnight. It can also be caused by leaving the car on without the engine running causing one of the electric components in the car to drain out the battery completely.
- Possible fixes: It is actually very little you can do if you are stranded somewhere and this happens. If you happen to be home then you can charge up the battery but remember that you will need special equipment for this. You can also have your car towed or get roadside assistance. Sadly, there are no easy fixes to get your car moving other than pushing it to a nearby workshop.
4) Starter Motor Works But The Engine Won’t Fire Up
- Symptoms: This is when you turn the key to ignition and the engine tries to fire up and keeps cranking but won’t fire up.
- Possible causes: This happens when the engine does not get the right fuel-air mixture needed for combustion. This can be caused by a malfunctioning relay, malfunctioning fuel pump, water or air in the fuel line, or a faulty sensor.
- Possible fixes: The first thing you need
to do is stop trying to crank the engine and get it to fire up as that can
drain the battery and make a bad situation worse. Turn the car on and listen
carefully for a buzzing sound. This is the sound of the fuel pump working if
you do not hear it then pop the hood and locate the fuel pump relay. This can
be easily found by using the car’s manual or the internet. Once you have
located the relay, yank it out and replace it with a similar relay from
elsewhere. Try turning the engine on. If it still doesn’t work then try hitting
the bottom of the fuel tank with something blunt like a shoe or a small piece
of wood. If this too doesn’t work then there might be something seriously wrong
with the fuel pump that would need professional intervention.
On the other hand, if you do hear the fuel pump working then the fuel-air mixture going into the engine is not right. Try pressing the accelerator all the way down and turning the engine on. If this doesn’t work then try pressing the accelerator pedal halfway down and try again. If either of this works, this means that the sensors are detecting wrong values and you need to get the car checked out immediately. If none of these work, the fuel-line might need cleaning or the fuel system as a whole might need repairing, both of which will require qualified help.
5) Another Rare Cause
A ‘security symbol’ or ‘key’ symbol appears on the dash: Modern cars come with immobilizers and the keys to these cars have a chip embedded in them that can get damaged and your car can get immobilized. It can also happen if you end up using the wrong key.