There’s nothing more frustrating than a car that just won’t start. Whether it’s the starter, the engine or something else, there are reasons why your car won’t start.
In this post, we examine the top seven reasons why your car will not rev up for you. We will also examine some possible solutions as to what you can do about each!
Reason Number One: A Dead Battery
Did you know that a dead car battery is the most common reason why a car won’t start? You can use your battery tester to check to see if your battery is weak. For persons without a battery tester, you may try jumping your car with jumper cables.
How does a car battery work in a car?
When you place your car key in your car's ignition and turn the switch or push your “on button”, a signal is sent to the car's battery. Once your car battery receives this signal, your car battery converts chemical energy into electrical power. This electrical power is delivered to the starter cranking the engine.
Reason Number Two: Lots of Battery Corrosion
If you have corrosion on your battery, then you have some trouble on your hands. If this the case, you should take the time to check and then clean your battery posts, ensuring they are clean and the connection is complete. Once you do this, you can try to start your car again. If you are able to get to an auto parts store, you can explain your situation to a store agent. He or she will direct you to the proper tools and items you need to clean your battery.
“I heard soda pop can clean corrosion. Is this true?”
This is indeed true. Corrosion on a battery is a huge problem. Additionally, it often occurs with older batteries.
When the battery fluid leaks out, this causes the metal to fuse with other parts of the battery. Once this happens, you either need to work to fix this or simply replace your battery all together. You don’t have to take the car to a mechanic to fix this as a can of Pepsi © or Cocoa Cola © can clear the corrosion from your battery. Usually, corrosion looks like a yellow, bluish-green, yellow, dark green or even just green puffy coating around your battery.
Steps to using soda pop to remove corrosion from car battery
Disconnect your battery cables
If possible, disconnect your battery cables. Then remove the negative side first, followed by the positive side. If you choose to remove the positive side first, then you may get shocked because the current is still connected to the car. Then, tie back both cables so that they are not in your way.
Grab the can of soda pop
Take your can of pop/soda and then pour a small amount over any corrosion. Be sure to do this slowly. Just allow a stream of soda pop to flow onto the corrosion. If you need to pour more pop to get rid of the corrosion, do so, but please but do so slowly. Take your time and wait for your soda to bubble and “eat” away at the corrosion. Then, make sure you wait for the soda pop to do its job and remove all of the corrosion. This should take about a minute or two. Next, pour some Coke over the battery connectors themselves if you see any corrosion on them too.
Get a wire brush for cleaning
Get a wire brush and brush away any corrosion that is stuck around battery. It should be easy to remove, due to the soda pop loosening it for you. You may find that there is corrosion around the bolts of your battery. The wire brush is a good idea for further cleaning, as it provides additional corrosion-fighting power. Your usage of the brush also allows the soda pop to reach places pouring cannot reach.
Take your time and continue to brush the corroded areas until they start to look clean and free of corrosion.
Finally, begin to wipe away the corrosion and soda
Finally, you can begin to wipe the corroded areas with either an old towel or a paper towel. This action will remove both the soda pop as well as any leftover corrosion. You can also take a small amount of water, and pour it over the corroded areas to rinse away the sticky soda/pop as well as rusty materials. Be sure that you dry the area completely with the paper towels or the towels you use. If you don’t, you may be encouraging future corrosion.
You can now begin to reconnect your corrosion-free battery. Begin with the positive side of cables with then the negative side. As the negative side will spark as it is connected, this will not be a problem, and will show that the connection is complete. You can finally close the hood of the car and turn on the engine, ensuring everything is working as it should.
Don’t have soda pop? You can also use lemon juice as well as vinegar to remove corrosion. Repeat all steps mentioned above. Just substitute your soda pop with lemon juice and/or vinegar.
Reason Number Three: Bad starter motor
The third reason on our list as to why your car will not start, could be due to a bad starter motor. The starter is responsible for physically turning the engine over as well as getting the engine to fire off once you turn the key. If you have a bad starter, then it’s time to get a good working one installed.
“Can I buy a starter at a junk yard and save some money?”
Thankfully, you can get great and even brand-new starters at junk yards. Without a starter, you can’t really get too far. So, a good working starter is an absolute necessity.
You can also find a big selection of starts at local junk yards, “pick-a-part” places and even salvage yards. If your car needs a starter but you don’t want to pay full price for one, you may also find a great starter at a recycling facility too.
How does a starter work?
You can think of your starter as an electric motor. The car starter has the job of engaging when you turn on your car ignition. The car starter will run and turn the engine over, which then allows it to suck in air.
“Is there any way to start a car with a bad starter?”
Although you may be able to start your car with a bad starter, you will eventually need to get a better or a new one. Try each of these methods, to find the best solution for you.
Check your connections
You already know that your starter is an electric motor and is a family member of the electrical circuit of your car. Your starter sets the engine of a vehicle in motion. So, be sure to check your battery or the connections. Take the time to look at the joint of all the connecting cables between the battery and the starter. Take the time to tighten everything because a loose connection means less flow of current to your car starter.
Clean any corrosion
As we mentioned above, a corroded battery can be the cause of your car not starting. So, view our steps above and make sure that you clean any corrosion.
Thump your starter with a tool
One of the most conventional methods of giving the starter a quick fix is to thump it with a hammer or a tool. You can do this method, as you simultaneously crank your car for it to work efficiently. Thumping out the starter may work, because the starters start developing inactive spots located in their field coils as well as amateur. The constant tapping with a hammer offers life to the amateur to rotate and start functioning.
As many have used this method to start a car with a bad starter, newer cars may be equipped with a transversal engine rather than the regular longitudinal one. So, what does this mean? Well it means that this thumping trick will not work. With this, the starter is positioned in a place that is difficult to gain access and thumping may not work on modern/newer cars.
Reason Number Four: Bad or Worn Timing Belt
If your car won’t start, then the fourth issue may be a worn or a bad timing belt. The timing belt on a vehicle ensures that the engine’s valves open and close at proper intervals. This allows those valves and the pistons to never touch or interact.
Your timing belt is the most vital maintenance item in in your engine. A bad or a worn or failing timing belt can cause lots of engine damage requiring an engine replacement. And we know that replacing an engine can be costly. The time to replace a timing belt is usually based on mileage. For the most part, you should change your timing belt every 60,000 miles or five years, whichever you encounter first.
“Where can I get a new timing belt without spending lots of money? What’s their cost?”
The cost of replacing a timing belt may vary. We recommend that you call around and get some prices, before buying one. Generally, you can expect to spend about $25 and $50. But we all know that when it comes to fixing cars, it’s not the price of the part, but the labor involved.
To effectively place a timing belt in a car takes several hours. For expert repair, you can expect to spend between $200 and $900. It takes time and the level of difficulty has to be factored in.
Reason Number Five: Cracked or a broken distributor cap
The fifth reason on our list as to why your car won’t start could be due to a broken or a cracked distributor cap.
If moisture seeps under that cap, you can count on problems for your car. An easy fix would be to take a clean, sturdy and dry cloth and wipe it out. If you have a damaged or broken cap, you are going to have to replace it.
“Can I buy a distributor cap at a junk yard?”
The average cost for a distributor cap replacement ranges from about $123 to $165. For the labor associates with this part, you can expect to spend a little over $100.
Reason Number Six: Bad Ignition Coil
The sixth reason your car won’t start? A bad ignition coil. The job of the ignition coil is to transform the battery’s voltage into an electric spark.
For a damaged ignition coil, you don’t have enough energy, or “juice” to make this happen. A multimeter- which is a tool that measures the electrical current and resistance- can be used as a test.
“How much is a new ignition coil and what will I pay for this repair?”
Generally, the cost for an ignition coil replacement will run between $270 and about $400. For labor, you can expect to spend about $150.
“Can I buy a new ignition coil online?”
Sites such as eBay offer ignition coils. You can check the selection against your brand, year, make and model of car. For example, we found an ignition coil for a Lexus RX350 ES350, for $23.99 on eBay. Just keep in mind, that once you buy your product, you have to hire someone to place it in the car.
Reason Number Seven: You Have A Clogged Fuel Filter
Car not starting and you have no battery issues or engine trouble? Then the problem may lie in a clogged fuel filter.
Your fuel filter can get so clogged, that there will not be enough fuel to reach the engine, to start your car. So, if this is the case for you, you need a replacement.
“What is a fuel filter?”
A fuel filter is a filter located in the fuel line. The filter’s job is to screen out and capture dirt as well as rust particles from the fuel. You can find a fuel filter in many internal combustion engines. Fuel filters also offer important and necessary function in today's modern engine fuel systems.
“What is the cost of a new fuel filter?”
Generally, you will need to replace your fuel filter once a year, for many drivers. This is also based on driving habits.
For a new fuel filter replacement, you can expect to spend between $50 and $170, on average. While the part itself can cost between $15 and $60, you have to factor in labor.
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