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3 Things to Check When Your Car Won’t Start

When you turn your key in the ignition and your car won’t start, a feeling of dread shoots through your mind. After all, there are dozens of things that might prevent your engine from turning over. Identifying the problem can easily become a frustrating mystery. In order to effectively troubleshoot the issue, you’ll need to have a basic understanding with regard to what happens between your ignition and the motor. There are a lot of parts along the line and any one of them can cause a glitch.

In this article, I’ll provide a short list of three things you should check when your engine fails to roar to life.

#1 – Battery

Most non-starting problems are caused by the battery. Sometimes, the poles become corroded and the connection suffers. Other times, the battery drains to the point at which it doesn’t carry a sufficient charge to turn the engine. In some cases, it dies completely.

If you notice corrosion on the poles, use a battery cleaner to remove it. If, after cleaning the poles, you’re still unable to turn the motor, it’s likely that your battery is drained or dead. Unless you have a tester with which to gauge the amperage, jump start your vehicle. You can be reasonably confident that if it starts immediately, you need a new battery.

#2 – Ignition Switch

Bad ignition switches don’t happen nearly as often as dead batteries, but they do malfunction and they’re easy to check. To be certain that your switch is working properly, turn your key so that your car is “on” (as opposed to the “starting” position). Then, look at your dashboard. If your ignition switch is working, you’ll see warning indicators appear on the dash. This is normal. Now, turn the key further (to “start”). The warning indicators should disappear.

You can also test the switch by turning your headlights on prior to starting your vehicle. If, when you try to crank the engine, the lamps do not dim, your switch is bad.

#3 – Starter Connection

You won’t be able to easily test whether your starter is working properly, but you can test the connection. In the same way that batteries can accumulate corrosion, so too, can your vehicle’s starter. When this happens, it reduces the integrity of the connection and can prevent your motor from cranking. If there is no corrosion, but you still suspect that your starter is causing the issue, you can use a circuit tester to test the connection.

Cars, trucks, and SUVs continue to leave us stranded due to faulty connections or failing parts. The good news is that your vehicle isn’t as mysterious as you might think. While there are many components under the hood that can prevent your engine from turning over, most problems are associated with the battery, ignition switch, and starter. Armed with a circuit tester, jumper cables, and a friend, you’ll often be able to fix the problem without taking your car to a repair shop.

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