That moment of dread when your car won’t start. Sure, you allow an extra five-ten minutes in your daily commute for traffic problems or breakfast stops, but you never allot extra time for car problems. It’s just so seemingly random, it’s not reasonable to check your car first thing in the morning every day to make sure it starts.
But here you are, in your driveway and your car won’t start, already running behind for your big meeting that morning. You’ve called the tow truck, but it’d be so much faster to get your car running yourself.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, try this first:
- If your car is silent when you turn the key, it might just be a loose battery connection. Pop the hood and take a look at your battery to make sure everything is firmly connected. Alternatively, the cables might be corroded and just need a quick clean. Replacing or cleaning those cables can fix a corrosion problem.
- If you hear your starter work but the engine won’t catch, it might be a belt problem. Inspect your engine’s timing belt to diagnose the problem. If it’s just chipped, frayed and cracked, you might be able to drive it to a mechanic for a fix. If it’s broken completely, you’re stuck at home.
- If the car cranks but won’t start, you might just be out of fuel. Did you remember to fill up your car when the gas light came on? Try topping it off with some fuel from your garage and see if that fixes the problem.
- If your car makes a clicking noise but won’t start, you probably have a dead battery. Ask a neighbor for a jump, or make good on your investment of a self-jumper kit (a device which stores enough electricity to jump your car without needing a second vehicle).
- If you hear an electrical whirl when starting your car but nothing happens, your alternator might have given out. By electrical whirl, I mean the hum of electrical relays clicking together, but definitely not a mechanical sound from your engine. Alternator failures are also accompanied by the smell of burning wires, so your nose might be better able to identify this problem.
Alternators generally emit a growling, whining sound before dying, too. If something similar has been happening in your car before complete breakdown, you’re probably in need of professional help.
A faulty alternator and battery can be confusing to differentiate, but there’s a simple test; if a car won’t hold its charge despite a jump, it’s the alternator. The alternator is in charge of keeping your battery charged, so if it won’t hold a charge the alternator might be at fault. Of course, you could also just have an old battery.
Diagnosing a car’s problem involves examining a lot of symptoms, as you can tell, and there are a lot of options to what could be your problem. Leaving it to a professional tow service might be best.
Put your towing in good hands
If you can’t get your car to start, call ASAP Towing; they may be able to help.