You are in a big hurry (as always). You callously put in your car key for ignition while making up a brand new excuse in your head for getting late. But every thought comes shattering down as you come to the realization that your car’s engine is not starting! What could you possibly have done to incur the wrath of the gods and deserve such a treatment! Well besides cursing and banging your head on the wheel, there are a few things to do before you turn your car to the mechanic. This list will help you identify the cause of the non ignition of your car, and lead you towards identifying and fixing the problem sooner.

Won’t-start symptoms

There are plenty of reasons why your car may not start. The following list highlights the most common ones, and sheds light on what action you can take to fix the problem.

  • Your car is silent when you turn the ignition key: In this case, check the battery terminal cable connections. If they look wore out and corroded, force a screwdriver with an insulated handle between the connector and the terminal post. Twist the screwdriver to lodge it firmly. After this try to start the engine. If this fixes the problem then you need to clean or replace your cables. You can also put some hot water on the terminals to clean them up and then try to start the engine.
  • There is a clicking noise upon ignition attempt nothing more: This sound means your battery is fried or dead! Other than that a loose connection in the wiring or a breakage can also cause this. Check the wiring from the starter motor to the battery and beyond for a loose connection or breakage.
  • The car cranks over but still doesn’t start: You could be running low on fuel. If your fuel is okay,  check whether the electrical spark is getting to your spark plugs.
  • The engine starts but dies soon after: If your car has a carburettor installed, check its adjustment. Check your choke and the switch for any misplacement. In the unfortunate case you have a fuel injection and this happens, then you will need professional help.
  • The car doesn’t start on rainy days: This obviously means that rain water is somehow getting inside your engine’s circuitry. Check the distributor cap for dampness. If you find moisture, get some mechanic’s solvent or an aerosol can from an auto supply store. Turn the cap upside down and spray some solvent into it. After this dry the distributor cap with a clean, lint-free rag. Use only clean solvents as even a tiny speck of dirt can damage the spark points.
  • The car doesn’t start on cold mornings: For vehicles with carburettors, again check the choke. This could also mean that your car battery is weak and can’t provide enough power to give enough revs to the engine. If you have fuel injection, you will need a professional diagnosis on the cold-start problems.
  • The engine misses while idling: Check the points in case your car has a non-electronic distributor. Also, check the spark plugs for any contaminants attached. This could also be due to faulty fuel pumps, fuel filter and carburettor.
  • The engine misses or hesitates during acceleration: Check the accelerator pump in the carburettor. The problem again could be with the spark plugs, the distributor, and the timing setting. If your car needs an overall check up, make sure you get these parts cleaned up good!
  • The engine knocks or pings: Check your engine’s timing setting. You can also check the octane rating of the fuel and compare it with the optimal gasoline grade to be used with your car’s owner manual. The owner’s manual can also tell you whether your vehicle needs regular unleaded or premium gasoline.

So what was the problem with your car? Let us know in the comments section.