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Troubleshooting a Car That Won't Start

Posted by on in H.Heaven Easy Auto Repair
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Did you ever consider those wonderful days when your car won't start? If you left your lights, radio, or some other electrical gizmo on after you parked the car, you know what the trouble is: Your battery is dead. Of course, there are other possible reasons that your car won't start.

Won't-start symptoms

Your car may not start for a number of reasons. The following list outlines the most common circumstances and tells you what action you can take to try to remedy each situation:

The car is silent when you turn the key in the ignition. Check the battery terminal cable connections. (See How to Check Your Car Battery.) If they look very corroded, force the point of a screwdriver (with an insulated or wooden handle) between the connector and the terminal post and twist it to lodge it firmly. Then try to start the engine. If it starts, you need to clean or replace your cables.

The car makes a clicking noise but won't start. This sound usually means a dead battery. If not, check the wiring to and from the starter for a loose connection.

The car cranks over but won't start. Check the fuel supply to your engine. If that's okay, check whether the electrical spark is getting to your spark plugs.

The engine starts but dies. If your car has a carburetor, check your carburetor adjustment and your choke to see whether the choke is first closing and then opening. If you have fuel injection, you'll need professional help.

The car won't start on rainy days.

Check inside the distributor cap for dampness. If you find moisture, get some mechanic's solvent from your friendly service station — they use it to clean car parts — or buy an aerosol can of it at an auto supply store. To evaporate any dampness inside the distributor cap, turn the cap upside down and pour or spray some solvent into it. Swish it around and pour it out. Then dry the cap as best you can with a clean, lint-free rag and replace the cap.

Use only clean solvent; even a tiny speck of dirt can foul the points. Gasoline won't do because a spark can ignite gasoline fumes and cause an explosion or a fire.
The car won't start on cold mornings. For vehicles with carburetors,check the choke. Is it closed? Does it open? If you have fuel injection, you'll need to have a professional diagnose the cold-start problems.

The engine misses while idling.

Check the points (if your car has a non-electronic distributor) and the spark plugs. (How to Remove Old Spark Plugs explains getting bad spark plugs gone.) Also check the fuel pump, fuel filter, and carburetor, if you have one. (If your fuel filter's the problem, check out How to Change Your Vehicle's Fuel Filter.)

The engine misses or hesitates during acceleration. Check the accelerator pump in the carburetor (if equipped), the spark plugs, the distributor, and the timing.

The engine knocks or pings. Check your timing; also check the octane rating of the fuel you're using. The owner's manual can tell you whether your vehicle needs regular unleaded or premium gasoline.

Check the cooling system. 

Do a compression check on the engine cylinders.

Troubleshooting a Car That Won't Start


H.Heaven Automotive is conveniently located in central Huntington Beach, just minutes from the 405 Freeway. We proudly repair all makes and models of vehicles. If you require a car repair in Huntington Beach, come to H.Heaven. For expert Automotive repair while in Huntington Beach call H.Heaven at (714) 841-1949. Call us today or make an appointment now by clicking below. All repairs have a 3yr/36k mile warranty!

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