My Car Will Not Start!

By: Dave's Garage at COPilot

How many times have you been ready to go someplace, walked out of the house, got in your car, turned the key and nothing happens? More than any of us would like to experience right? Most vehicles have 3 basic needs in order for the engine to run: Battery Voltage, Fuel & Air. Here are a few easy procedures to help the average individual with no mechanical knowledge narrow down the problem.

The first thing to do is check your main fluids; Oil & Coolant or Water. (This should be something you do on a regular basis anyway, at least once a month) If the coolant or oil is extremely low you will need to take the vehicle to a certified mechanic for further diagnosis since the fluids went somewhere and did not just evaporate. ; )

LISTEN TO THE VEHICLE: Is there silence with no indication of the engine turning over or does the engine spin like it wants to start but wont? Most of the time you are better off if the car is silent and does not turn over or do anything, this is usually a battery or battery cable connection issue and nothing major. Maybe you left the head lights on or the door was not closed all the way causing the dome light to stay on overnight? This can drain a battery in a matter of hours.

CHEK THE BATTERY: When you turn the key to start the vehicle, do the dash lights and radio come on but nothing else happens? If yes, you are getting some battery power but maybe not enough to engage the starter. If no, you may have a dead battery or bad connection at the battery terminals. Open the hood and first visually check the battery connections. If there is a sign of corrosion on the terminals, regular soda pop or baking soda mixed with water and an old toothbrush to scrub with will do the trick. Try to wiggle the connections to see if they may be loose (don't worry, it will not shock you), a standard pair of pliers can tighten the battery cable connection in most cases. If the battery cable connections at the battery are tight, clean and corrosion free but the engine still will not crank, call a friend or neighbor and try jump starting the vehicle with jumper cables, (remember, RED is Positive + and BLACK is Negative -. Do not cross the cables or damage to the vehicles computer system can occur or even worse, the battery can explode) If the vehicle still fails to start, you may have a starter issue or another problem that the average individual without mechanical experience may not be able to tackle.

“TONS”: If the engine turns over repeatedly but will not start up, the battery and starter should be ok. (This condition is called a TONS – “Turn Over No Start”. Surprise your mechanic with that term if you end up taking it to a shop) Many, many times I have had people bring me a car stating that they need a starter because “it would not start”, I would turn the key and hear the engine spinning over just fine but would not start up. A starter spins the engine over, it does not “start” the vehicle. The first thing to do in a TONS condition is to be sure there is fuel in the vehicle. You would be surprised of how many vehicles I had towed to my shop that only needed gas. Even if the fuel gauge shows there is fuel in the tank, it may not be accurate, fuel level sensors are a very common failure in today’s vehicles. If you have a gas can and funnel, try putting a gallon or two in the tank and see if it starts.

SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP: If you have checked the basics mentioned above and still have no luck you are better off calling your trusted mechanic to have a professional verify the problem.  Don’t sweat it, it is a piece of machinery with thousands of parts that all work together. One simple thing can have an effect on the entire system and disable the vehicle. Remember, regular maintenance at a qualified repair facility will greatly reduce the chance of a failure that may leave you or your loved ones stranded.

Also, remember, if your vehicle is under the protection of any original factory warranty, service contract, or extended warranty, or if you are a COPilot Member, you may have coverage for the issue, but your mechanic needs to diagnose the cause of the issue in order for ANY coverage to apply!    If you're a COPilot Member and aren't sure where to turn, don't hesitate to contact us at 855-4-COPILOT 24/7/365. We're here to help our Members! 

Hope this helps out!


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