Help: My Car Won’t Start!
June 18th, 2015
Few things are more frustrating than turning your ignition key and hearing the anemic “click…click…click” that means you’re not going anywhere…or worse yet, hearing nothing at all. There are a few reasons that might be happening (and chances are it won’t involve major auto repair). Like with any good diagnostic process, we’ll start with the simplest causes and work our way from there:
• Key Won’t Turn At All – This one’s pretty simple. Since the 70s, cars have featured an ignition lock that makes it impossible to steer the vehicle if a thief hot-wires it. Try turning the wheel a couple of degrees in either direction – this is usually enough to get the ignition key and cylinder lined up properly so it can engage.
• Battery Corrosion – We see this fairly often at Chabill’s Tire & Auto Service in Lafayette, LA. Over time, a battery will build up corrosion at the terminals; this could be white and fluffy deposits, or a hard, greenish, glassy coating on the terminals and battery clamps. Once a lot of corrosion accumulates, it can be enough to keep current from flowing to or from the battery. Try cleaning the battery posts with a wire brush, then coating them with anti-corrosion gel or even Vaseline.
• Battery Cable Problems – On older vehicles, the battery cable can just become worn, or the clamps loosen up to the point where they don’t make a positive connection anymore.
• Bad Battery – Sometimes the battery just hits the end of its service life, and nothing can really save it. Other times, it may not be getting a good charge from the alternator, due to a loose drive belt or the alternator itself being faulty. In these cases, a jump-start will usually get you going again, but your car may not start next time, meaning…it’s time for a new battery.
• Bad Ignition Switch – It’s not common, but it happens. If the red warning lights on the dashboard don’t light up when you turn the key to the “on” position, you may well have a faulty ignition switch. If everything else in the car’s electrical system seems to be working (lights, radio, etc) but the car still won’t turn over, this could be another clue that it’s the switch itself. Please note: your keychain shouldn’t have anything heavier than a couple of keys and the key fob on it. Your ignition switch gets used several thousand times over the life of the vehicle, and having a heavy keychain hanging from it, loaded with needless stuff, will put pressure on the ignition switch’s contacts and wear them out prematurely.
If your car turns over but still won’t start, something has gone wrong in the combination of air, fuel and spark that every engine needs to achieve combustion. That, unfortunately, may mean auto repair and is a subject for another blog on another day.
Tags: car battery, car battery replacment, auto repair, vehicle maintenance, auto repair lafayette la, Batteries, Battery Replacement Lafayette, LA
Posted in: Auto Repair 101