You turn the key in your car or press the power button and rather than rev up, it makes a half-hearted effort to start and then peters out. Sometimes, the car won’t even respond to your attempt to start the vehicle. At this point, you feel stuck. What could be the matter?
There are a few problems your car could be facing at this point. Here are some troubleshooting tips you can use to help you pinpoint the problem and solve it. While some car starter problems require the help of a mechanic, others can be fixed with minimal effort and basic knowledge of a car’s systems.
Check the Battery
There are several components in your car’s system that help you start your vehicle, including the starter motor, engine computer and of course, the battery. Of these components, the most troublesome and likely to cause starter issues is the battery.
Some telltale signs of battery trouble are:
No lights come on on the dashboard
This indicates no power is coming in from the battery, which likely means it’s completely dead. However, a bad ignition switch may also cause this issue. If you notice this problem, try turning on the headlights to confirm which problem you’re facing. If the lights come on, it’s most likely the ignition switch.
The engine won’t crank
You can confirm whether the battery is the culprit by performing a simple voltage test with a voltmeter. You can also try turning on your windshield wipers or indoor light. If the wipers move more slowly than usual or the light appears dim, your battery probably has a low charge.
You hear a click, but the starter doesn’t crank
In this case, you may only have to check your connections and clean the battery terminals. Occasionally, cables connecting to the battery can become loose. Corrosion can also cause a poor connection. Clean off your battery terminals, reconnect them and try starting the car again.
If the battery is the culprit of your starter issues, you may need to recharge it or purchase a new battery altogether. For a short-term solution, you may be able to jump your car. However, if the battery is not to blame, you’re most likely facing an issue with the ignition switch or the starter motor.
If your car doesn’t start in “park,” sometimes it may start in “neutral.” This is due to an issue with the neutral safety switch. For the short-term, you can try switching your automatic car to neutral and start it that way. You should have your vehicle seen by a mechanic soon to fix this issue.
Faulty Fuel Gauge
Occasionally, a car’s fuel gauge can stop working correctly, and you’ll have less gas than what appears on your dashboard. Unfortunately, the only way to know how much gas you have is your fuel gauge. If it’s not working, you may very well be trying to run on empty. When did you last get gas? Try adding a gallon of gas and see if your car will start.
Key and Security Problem
More and more, keys are getting “smart.” Even if you still use a traditional key instead of a push-start engine, it may have a chip in it. Sometimes the microchip no longer communicates appropriately with your car, creating a security issue. The same problem can occur with a push-start engine if the vehicle doesn’t detect the key fob in the car. In both of these cases, you can try using another key. If you have a key fob, try putting it close to the start button. Typically, there will be a light on the dashboard that indicates if this is the issue. You’ll likely need to see your dealer about a new key or key fob.
Check Engine Light Doesn’t Respond
When you start your car, the check engine light should blink just before your car starts. This shows that the engine’s computer has been turned on. However, if the light doesn’t blink on, there may be an electrical issue that needs to be fixed.
Many other issues may prevent your car from starting or keep your battery from staying charged the way it should. A faulty starter motor or alternator are some other common issues that can affect your car’s ability to start.
If you are unable to fix your car on your own, make sure you see a reputable mechanic.
Are you struggling with starter system repairs? Inland Alternator specializes in repairs to this essential system. Give us a call today so that we can schedule your repairs!