If you're a new driver or a new car owner you might find yourself daunted at all the new things you now potentially have to worry about. Car ownership is a very important change in a person’s life in the sense that once you have acquired a vehicle, you now have to deal with maintenance and taking proper care of it. Buying a car does not end with you parking your new sweet ride and calling it a day. Once you have bought your dream vehicle the concept of “car ownership” is really just beginning there.
A car is not like a frivolous item or an impulsive decision you get bored of within a week of buying it: after you purchase a vehicle, that brings on a whole new world of things you are now required to pay attention to. Aside from the costly monthly insurance fees, avoiding all the potholes in your area, doing the regular oil changes, and consistently driving safely in general....there are several things any car owner worth their salt should monitor. That means more than just the gas tank! Car ownership means way more than fretting over just the “E” and “F” on your car’s dashboard.
Unfortunately first-time car owners out there, they may not know what to do until it is way too late. If you are one of the unlucky people out there who ends up with a car that just will not start, here are a few things to consider.
14 Key Cycles
If you still own a vehicle that uses a key to start, this will apply to you. Unfortunately, if you are one of the many owners of a vehicle that uses the now-ubiquitous push to start button this will not be very helpful to you.
“Key cycling” can effectively be described as basically quickly try to start your car 10 times in succession. After that, don’t do anything at all for a solid five minutes. Try to start your car once again.
What “key cycling” does is obviously not something you should be doing regularly, it’s just a last minute resort at trying to resuscitate your battery and starter.
13 Tap The Battery
This is another tip that may not seem like the smartest idea in the world on the surface. Tapping the battery is like number one on this list in the sense that it isn’t something you should consider doing regularly; in the event of an emergency it might come in handy one day. By tapping the battery, what you are doing is also similar to the first tip; you are essentially checking to see if your battery has any life at all left in it.
If your battery is the issue with your car not starting, if you tap the battery (you can use your hand to just knock on it slightly, or something else you might have nearby). This might seem like the silly equivalent of smacking an old TV back in the day, but it might help in the event of your car battery leaking or any other type of unwanted corrosion. These types of liquids can cause the battery to get stuck, but the battery might still have life.
12 Tap The Starter Motor
Hitting the starter motor is another last-minute tip that you should only use if it is absolutely necessary. The logic behind this is the same as number two on this list, “hitting the battery.” It might seem (and even look) incredibly dumb, but when you’re at your wits end trying to start your vehicle this tip might be something to consider.
If you can locate where your car’s starter motor is, and you happen to have a tool that can reach it well enough to give it a quick tap (a broom handle would work well).
It might be the last boost your car needs to actually get going.
11 Try Starting Again
This might seem like a ridiculous tip to include in the list, however, it is an important tip to keep in mind nonetheless.
After you have tried a couple of the various methods on this list, try starting the car again. If possible, try waiting a few minutes after trying one of the tips. Then try to start the car after once again. Attempting to start the car at various times will be helpful: if the vehicle still refuses to start after you have already tried several different last-minute tips, you will definitely need to contact a professional for help.
10 Flooded Engine
If you can smell a strong odor of gasoline from your car, and you can see smoke emanating from the hood, the engine is most likely flooded. In the event that your vehicle’s engine is flooded, you should stop trying to start the car for awhile.
Before you do anything else you should open the car’s hood to get the extra fuel to dry up quicker. If you have an older car, press down on the accelerator while trying to start the vehicle again.
The oxygen and fuel may take awhile to achieve the right balance it had prior to the engine being flooded, but it might work eventually!
9 Unresponsive ECU
If you are the type of person who takes very good care of your vehicle, there are unfortunately always things that are beyond control. Even if you are the type of person to drive without music blasting and roll the windows all the way down to listen for any peculiarities in your vehicle....there might still be the odd hiccup here and there with your vehicle. It is a natural part of the journey that is car ownership.
For some drivers, that might manifest itself in a faulty computer. A car not starting can be one of many problems a faulty engine control module (ECM) creates.
8 Gas Tank
Checking the gas tank may seem like another fairly obvious tip to consider, but you might be surprised how many people actually neglect this aspect of car maintenance. There are people out there who believe the fuel gauge in their vehicle is inaccurate, and push their cars to do too much.
Depending on your particular situation, it might be helpful to consider refilling your gas tank right there on the spot. In some cases, even if there is enough gas in the tank another reason might simply be: it’s bad gas.
Refilling your gas tank with a higher, better quality of “fresh” gasoline that hasn’t been sitting in your car for so long should be helpful in the attempt at starting your vehicle.
If you have tried all the tips on this list so far and none of them have worked, you may be dealing with a car that simply has a broken starter. Specifically, if you happen to have a particularly older vehicle, or you purchased a used car with a lot of mileage on it, and you have tried various things to bring your unresponsive car back to life, the starter is most likely dead.
A common indicator of this is if the car seems healthy otherwise, but the car just won’t start; that is a sign nothing serious is wrong with the car, it might just need a new part or two.
6 Spark Plugs
Another thing to consider about your car’s performance after you have tried everything on this list is your vehicle’s spark plugs. Spark plugs are a crucial component to your vehicle actually starting: they are literally what gives your vehicle the necessary “spark” required to start.
If something is wrong with your plugs, the car obviously will not start properly.
It can be easy to forget about this aspect considering all the other possible solutions the car starting problem might have, however, it could be the crucial fix your car needs to get going. Replacing spark plugs may sound scary to the average person, but it is a normal part of owning and maintaining a car.
5 Fuel System
The fuel system of your car is another major thing to worry about after checking all of the more obvious tips. If your fuel system is clogged, or your fuel filter is just not cutting it anymore, it can cause big problems for your car.
The fuel won’t reach its destination when the system is too backed up, and as a result of the car just can't get started at all.
Unfortunately, this is another one of those problems that only presents itself when you least expect it; the fuel system isn’t something the average car owner is paying that much attention to because it’s not as noticeable as a broken taillight, but it can lead to serious car problems down the road.
Your vehicle not starting may be caused by another commonly overlooked problem: the tachometer. This is another tip that may only be applicable to your situation if you have an older vehicle, as many modern cars do not have tachometers installed.
What a tachometer does is offer support and give accurate readings of the engine's revolutions speed; if you can locate your tachometer and it seems faulty you might have your answer right there. Often times a tachometer might be suffering from something as minor as a blown fuse, but this can lead to bigger problems like an unresponsive vehicle.
3 Crank Sensor
The crank sensor on your vehicle is another crucial component to owning a healthy vehicle that starts reliably and consistently. Similar to the tachometer, the crank sensor is another part of your car that helps to measure the engine RPM (revolutions per minute).
When something goes awry with your crank sensor, it is, unfortunately, a big deal: it is necessary for a car to function.
In addition, the crank sensor issue is similar to other topics on this list in that it is also another big concern for owners of older vehicles in particular.
2 Check the Exterior of Your Car
Before you do anything at all, including trying to start your car again, get out of your vehicle and inspect it for any possible signs of damage. There could potentially be an indicating sign or clue about why your car won’t start.
Even if you know there isn’t anything wrong on the outside of your car, it doesn’t hurt to check anyway. This is another really obvious tip that might seem unrelated to your problem, but what if there was a clear sign of damage you might have missed? You really never know unless you give your car another quick look for any possible signs of damage.
1 Check the Dashboard
This is another obvious tip that might infuriate those of you who are already careful with your cars. However, it is still worth mentioning: it is always important to pay attention to what the panel on your vehicle is saying.
If you are the type of driver who starts their vehicle and sees the phrase “Check Engine” regularly, only to repeatedly ignore it because you, “Know your car,” this tip might be for you.
While the panel of your car may not be 100% accurate, it is still important to pay attention to any warning signs it may be trying to tell you. Many people fail to realize this until it is too late.
Sources: Car And Driver, Jalopnik