Addressing Auto Problems: Troubleshooting a Vehicle That Refuses to Start

We all have our “off” days. These are the days when you wake up on the wrong side of bed and you find yourself über-late for an important meeting, breakfast tastes like cinders and your shower’s broken. Thinking that your day can’t be any worse, you slip into your car, insert the key into the ignition and turn it, just wanting to get to work as soon as possible. To your absolute horror, all you hear is a “rrr-rrr-ing” sound. You try again and again only to have the same results.

When trying to re-start your vehicle, do avoid holding your ignition key in the Start position for more than ten seconds. This could damage your ignition mechanism or ignition starter, which could mean very costly repair bills.

Before you start panicking and thinking your car is a worthless piece of junk, keep in mind that there are some steps by which you can determine the cause of your auto problem. Before calling a tow truck, you can try out these troubleshooting steps first. (Although if you are in a hurry, you may want to hail a cab and inspect your vehicle when you get home.)

Troubleshooting your stubborn auto:

The following are some of the behaviors that your car might display when you turn your key to the Start position, and the reasons why your auto refuses to start.

When all you hear is clicking or silence when you try to start your car: This could indicate battery problems. Check if you left any of your doors partially open or if you accidentally forgot to turn off some of your auto lights. A drained battery or more specifically, a dead battery could be the main reason why your vehicle won’t start. Turn your key to the On position and check if your other auto accessories work. If they work, then a dead battery isn’t the culprit.

When your auto attempts to start but the engine won’t fire: When this happens, the auto problems usually have to do with damaged points or plugs. Dirty spark plugs could affect your engine’s performance, preventing it from starting effectively. Clean out your spark plugs and try starting your car again. If you left your car out in the rain overnight, or if your vehicle suddenly stopped moving while you were driving through flooded streets (or even just a large puddle), then it’s possible that water has seeped in and your auto’s points are now too damp to operate. If your points and plugs are wet, then you can dry them using WD-40 or starter spray.

When your auto tries to start but your engine simply refuses to turn over enough and engage: This indicates a probable battery problem. Check if you have any loose battery connections or if you have a drained battery. Jump-starting your auto could help you if the problem is a drained or dead battery. Other problems that could cause this vehicle behavior include damages on your alternator or starter, and corrupted or low oil levels. When it comes to repairing starter or alternator problems, it’s best to leave these jobs to the pros. But what you can do is check your oil level and change your oil in case it has become corrupted or if it’s too low.

When your auto’s engine does turn over but it keeps dying after a while: The main culprit behind this auto behavior is usually poor maintenance. If the problem’s minor then this is something that an oil change and a tune-up can fix. If, however, your car fails to start after you’ve conducted both, then get your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic. It’s possible that your car has retained extensive damage in one of its auto systems.

When your auto’s gas gauge indicates FUEL EMPTY: It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to determine that when your gas tank is empty, your auto won’t move. So the next logical step is to simply refill your tank.

While you conduct this analysis, check your vehicle’s dashboard warning lights. These warning lights can help you determine your auto problems easily.

Other possible reasons behind your auto’s failure to start:

  • Loose or broken fan belt—most cars refuse to start unless you’ve tightened or replaced this busted auto part.
  • Starting with the wrong gear—if you’re driving a car with an automatic transmission, then keep in mind that most vehicles require you to be in Neutral or Park before your can start your auto.
  • Activated anti-theft mechanism—if your new vehicle has an anti-theft mechanism, then starting your car may require you to conduct some special steps before your auto can be started (consult your owner’s manual).
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3 Responses to Addressing Auto Problems: Troubleshooting a Vehicle That Refuses to Start

  1. if it doesn’t start it’ll happen again in the near future

  2. autofrankie says:

    well, if it doesn’t start, then that means your auto may have sustained greater damage then you thought. At which case, you have to approach a professional mechanic ASAP. :)

  3. vicki says:

    where is fuel filter located on a 2002 toyota sienna mini van

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