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Car Won’t Start? Troubleshooting Tips from an Auto Mechanic

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A broken-down car is a stressful experience. Knowing what to do when your car won’t start can help you get back on the road quickly and cheaply. Before calling for auto repair Watsonville drivers should check the basics to get themselves moving again. Common problems when your car won’t start can sometimes be solved by the driver in minutes. Drivers should be familiar with the most common reasons why a car won’t start and what they can do about it at the moment.

The Battery and Ignition

Probably the most common source of grief for drivers when their car won’t start is the battery. A dead battery doesn’t have enough power to turn the starter motor and crank over the engine.

The battery may have enough power for the lights inside the car and on the dashboard to turn on, only for the driver to hear a dreaded clicking or clunking when they turn the key to start the car.

Batteries can often be drained accidentally by leaving a door ajar or the headlights on. Drivers should always carry jumper cables and try jumping the battery as a first step when their car won’t start.

If the car won’t start after jumping the battery from one with a full charge, it is time to consider other possible causes. Another common source of failure is a car’s ignition switch.

If you put your key into the ignition and turn it to the start position, the lights in the car should dim or go out entirely while the car directs energy to the starter motor. If this does not happen, or if the key is difficult or impossible to turn, it is likely that the ignition switch is not making good contact with the starter motor relay.

In this case, a driver can try gently wiggling or maneuvering the key back and forth to see if an electrical connection can be made. Ignition switches sometimes fail in cars with push-button switches as well, and this should be considered if your car won’t start and the button appears unresponsive or responds only after a hard push.

Fuel Pump Issues

If the car’s battery appears charged and the ignition switch appears to be working, it is likely that another problem is present with the car. Another common problem when a car won’t start is the fuel pump. The fuel pump is a pump in the gas tank that moves pressurized fuel to the engine.

In a quiet environment, a driver will be able to hear a very small whirring noise coming from the pump after they place their key in the ignition and turn it to the “on” position. If that noise is not present, or on the other hand if it is excessively loud, it is possible that the fuel pump is not working correctly.

This will make a car almost impossible to start and will likely impact how the car runs once it has started. Fuel pump failures can be tricky, as they are often intermittent, and a fuel pump may work partially for some time before it fails completely. If a driver is able to determine their fuel pump is not working then they can be certain the car will require a visit to the mechanic.

Security System

A failure in the car’s security system is becoming a greater concern as more modern vehicles are sold with security systems as standard equipment.

These security systems often feature a lockout device, which completely disables the ignition if the security system is not correctly disabled. If a security system is malfunctioning it may indicate that the car is unlocked and ready to drive, even though the ignition system remains disabled.

In this case, a car may do nothing when the driver turns the key, or the starter motor may turn over the engine continuously without the engine starting. The owner’s manual for most vehicles indicates how to diagnose or disable the security system.

While every driver should be familiar with common problems that can keep their car from starting, drivers sometimes need expert consultation to get their vehicle back on the road. If attempts to diagnose and fix minor problems have failed, drivers in the Watsonville area should contact Kadotani Auto Repair for help correcting the issue.

Auto repair services like Kadotani bring expert mechanic experience to complicated car problems and will help drivers get back on the road quickly and affordably.

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