What Should I Do If My Car Won't Start?
What should you do if your car won’t start?
Well, number one would be to diagnose the problem. And you might be thinking, diagnose the problem? I’m not a mechanic! That’s okay, I’ll walk you through it.
Why is it important to diagnose the problem?
It’s very important to try to diagnose the problem yourself because it can save you A LOT of time and money. Let’s say that you realize it’s a problem with the fuel. Perhaps you have run out of gas but didn’t realize it.
If you’ve run out of gas, it’s a very simple thing to call someone you know or a tow truck to bring you some gas, saving you a lot of time.
If it’s a low battery, then you can probably have someone help you with a hotshot before a tow truck even makes it to your location saving you tons of time and money.
If you recognize that this will not be an easy fix and that you will need to have your car towed to the auto repair shop, then you can quickly make arrangements for the rest of your day giving you some peace of mind.
Diagnosing the problem.
First of all, when you try to start your car does it make any noise at all? Is it totally quiet? Do you hear a clicking/ratcheting sound? Or does the car sound like it’s trying to start, but it just doesn’t seem to catch and start running?
See!? You’re starting to diagnose the problem already!
If the car doesn’t make any noise at all, it could be a LOT of things. Number one, make sure that the car’s transmission is in park and step on the brake or if it has a clutch, the clutch is pushed in.
If you can’t even get the key to turn, then try moving the steering wheel as far as you can in either direction while simultaneously trying to turn the car key.
There are some other things you can try which I’ll mention later. If your car doesn’t start but just makes a clicking / ratcheting noise that may actually be the best scenario.
Usually, that’s either a low or dead battery. It can also be a bad connection on the battery terminal. If you see corrosion on the battery terminals, you can pour soda on the terminal to clean it off.
You can also try tightening the terminal or banging on it with something like a screwdriver handle or your shoe.
If you’re getting the clicking noise when trying to start, you can also try to Jumpstart your car. (A Jumpstart is when you use the power of another car’s battery to help start your car) This is why it’s so important to carry with you hotshot cables or a portable hotshot device. If you don’t have cables you can ask another driver in the vicinity if you can borrow theirs.
How to Jumpstart a Car.
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JUMPSTART WITH A HYBRID OR ELECTRIC VEHICLE! HIGH VOLTAGE: RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY!!
Usually, there is a red cable and a black cable on a pair of hotshot cables. Step 1. Connect the red cable to the Positive terminal “+” on your battery and then on the positive terminal on the other car’s battery. Then connect the black cable to the Negative terminal “ - ” on your car and then the negative terminal on the other car.
WARNING: When starting a car with the hood open, make sure that you and the cables are clear of the car’s cooling fan. Risk of serious injury and damage.
Step 2. Start the other car first, then try to start your car. If you still hear the clicking noise then wait 3 minutes while slightly increasing the RPMs of the other car’s engine. This will actually help charge your car’s battery. If the car still doesn’t start and continues to have the clicking sound then wait another 5 to 10 minutes with the other car’s RPM’s slightly elevated to approximately 1000 to 1200 RPM’s.
Okay, last and least. If your car sounds like it’s trying to start but it just won’t catch and continue to run then you could be out of gas. Or water could be in the gas. There are also many other things that it could be. There are many reasons why the gasoline isn’t making it to your engine. There could also be a problem with the spark.
Your engine needs three things to run. Fuel, spark and compression. So typically, if the car sounds like it’s trying to start but can’t - It’s either fuel or spark.
If you’re not out of gas and there is a problem with fuel or spark then your car may need to be towed to an auto repair shop for a mechanic to diagnose the problem. This could leave your car out of commission for hours.
So it’s really helpful to you, the towing company and your mechanic if you can diagnose the problem as best as you can before even making your first phone call.
Please take all precautions when broken down on the road. Make sure you have all of the safety items mentioned in this checklist before you even leave the driveway!
Calling for help.
Make sure you know who you will call in case of an emergency. When calling a tow truck the number one thing they need to know is your EXACT location.
Next, they need to know if the call is about a mechanical breakdown or if the car has been in an accident.
Lastly, if the car is having mechanical issues, you can save a lot of time if you can help them to figure out what the problem is before they leave the shop because they may be able to bring what’s needed to fix it right on the spot! A tow truck can bring gas or a battery or perhaps even a tire if needed.
Again, be prepared and know who you will call in the case of an emergency. Make sure to put Essex Towing’s phone number in your phone right now while you are thinking about it.
Be safe while you’re out there on the road!
~The Essex Towing Team