What To Do When Your Car Won’t Start

Having your car refuse to start when you turn the key is never a good feeling. Unfortunately, it always seems to happen at the worst possible time, too! Luckily, there are a few things you can do to try and avoid calling a tow truck!

Car Won’t Start Symptom – Starter Clicks

If you turn the key and hear the starter just click, but the car still won’t start, the battery or battery connections are a common cause. Pop the hood, and make sure the battery terminals are tight by trying to wiggle the cables. If they’re loose, try snugging them up. If they look dirty or corroded, try removing, cleaning, and reinstalling them (if you have tools handy, that is). If the problem remains the same, find someone to give you a jump start.

If you don’t already have a portable jump pack, they’re really handy. You can jump start your own car with it, plus charge your USB devices, and it doubles as a flashlight. The NOCO unit above is one of the best there is.

If none of these ideas work, you may be dealing with a bad battery or starter, at which point it may be best to call a tow truck so you can have both tested.

Symptom: No Noise When You Turn The Key

If nothing happens when you turn the key, but your lights are bright and the battery appears to be working fine, try moving the shifter. Shift from Park to Neutral and back, then try starting the car. Alternatively, try starting the car in Neutral. If one of the above works, The neutral safety switch may be the problem. That switch is what tells the car’s computer the car is in Park or Neutral, and it’s safe to start.

Car Won’t Start Symptom: Engine Just Cranks

  • Try Swapping Relays – With the radio off, turn the key to the “Run” position and listen for a two-second buzzing sound. That’s the fuel pump priming the injection system. If you don’t hear any sound, the fuel pump relay may be bad or the pump may be on its last legs. First, find the location of the fuel pump relay in your owner’s manual or on the legend of the under-hood fuse box cover. Pull the relay straight up, carefully but firmly. Then, locate another relay with the same part number (the A/C relay is usually the same) and swap it with the fuel pump relay by pushing it straight into the socket. Try starting the engine afterward.
  • Try Hitting the Fuel Tank – If you can get to the fuel tank, try hitting the bottom of the fuel tank several times with the heel of your shoe (take the shoe off first) to jar the fuel pump motor. Then try starting the vehicle. If it starts, drive straight to your mechanic (hopefully us), as it may not start again once shut off.
  • Try holding the accelerator partway down– If the computer isn’t sending the right amount of fuel to the engine, or the engine is slightly flooded with gasoline, holding the accelerator in partway may get you started. Try a few different positions from 10-100% to see if the engine will start.
  • Own a Ford? – Most Ford vehicles have an automatic fuel pump shutoff switch to prevent fire if the car’s in an accident. They occasionally trip even when you haven’t been in an accident. If that’s tripped, the car won’t start. To reset it on most Fords, just push a little button in the toe kick panel on the passenger side.

Ed’s BnB Auto Repair is always ready to help. Give us a call and we’ll discuss your options. You can also use the Book Appointment button to schedule an appointment. 

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