CARS-- Some things in life can be troubling but nothing seems to be as troubling as having to deal with a car that won’t start. Now I can’t promise this is going to give you the answer you are needing to fix the problem at hand, but at least this can point you in the right direction. The first thing we are going to need to determine is the type of “won’t start” your car is currently experience.
The Car “Cranks”:
When talking about a car trying to “crank” we are talking about the car actually attempting to start, as you would be able to hear the engine turning over but just not starting.
The Car Does “NOT” Crank:
This is going to be the opposite from above, so when you turn the key you get nothing. Your engine does not attempt to start, the key just turns and at best you may see your dash lights dim.
Now that we have established the difference between the two you can then look at the category and possible reasons as to why your car isn't doing what it is suppose to do, start. For whatever reason you figure out your cars issue but it wasn't listed as a possible reason below, then please share your fix in the comments section as it can help fellow car owners in the future. Your good deed for the day.
A Car That Cranks:
Dead Battery/Low Battery- Even if your battery is showing it is charged it may have faulty amps. Another thing to check is the kind of battery that is in your car, batteries are built to handle certain whether conditions and if you have a battery that isn’t made for a certain temperature(cold) then i may not start. A possible solution is to turn on your headlights for a few minutes to try and warm up the battery(amps) which would then allow you to crank the engine and start it up
Bad Starter or Dirty Starter Connections- When you turn the key in your ignition it then tells your battery to push 12V to your starter which then turns the gears in your car which causes it to start. A bad starter may give you a clicking sound when you try to crank your car, if you hear that sound make sure you check your battery first and the battery connections(ground and power) before you dig into that. Starters range from around $80-$200 just for the part, depending on your car make, model and year.
Broken Fuses- This is a common problem to have, especially if you have done something like install a new car stereo. Most cars will have to areas in which a fuse box can be located, one in the engine bay and another inside the car usually in the drivers side area on the side or under the dashboard/steering column. On the back side of the panel that is covering the fuse most cars will have a diagram which states what fuse does what, if your car does not have that then you will need to search for it online or ask your local autoparts for the book that correlates to your car. Check to make sure your car fuses are all intact and look at the diagram to make it easier to find the fuses that relate to the engine and ignition which will be labeled by a small symbol or picture.
Faulty/Bad Alternator- If you have a dead battery but it checks out ok as a good battery from your local shop(AutoZone, Walmart, etc) then it might be a bad alternator. When you drive a car the alternator charges your battery as the battery gives power to such things as a radio, air conditioning/heater, power windows and so on. If the alternator is bad it will not charge a car battery as it is being driven, even if the battery turns out to be good, a bad alternator will not charge it. To test this, jumpstart a car if you can’t start it normally, then take off your car battery hot(power, usually red) terminal and see if the car keeps running, if it dies then the alternator is bad.
Bad Battery Connections- Make sure the positive and negative connections to your battery are not corroded, this happens a little more commonly on older cars. Take a wire brush or I recommend buying a battery terminal cleaner for $5 either online or at a local store that carries them. You also want to make sure the ground(black) cable is connected correctly to the engine or an unpainted part of the car. The connecting cable that is attached to some part of the car to ground it can infact rust, so double check that isn't the problem before diving into the more expensive solutions.
A Car That Does NOT Crank:
Dead Battery- A completely dead battery will give you no chance of starting a car, if you have no lights, no dashboard lights and nothing seems to work then this could be the issue. Try to jump start your car by using a second car, just remember to leave the cars connected while the working car is running for a few minutes before you try to see if anything works. If the battery is dead, you may want to check the alternator if you know for a fact the battery is healthy.
Dead Starter- A completely dead starter will give you no chance to turn over a car with it installed. You can take a voltmeter and connect one end to a grounded area like the engine and the other to the power bolt that is connected to the solenoid part of the starter. You will then need someone to try and start the car, if the voltmeter is not registering an influx of power(around 12v) then you know the starter is bad. Double check it by taking the starter out and bringing it to a auto store like Autozone, they will test it for free.
Failed Ignition Switch- When a key is entered into the ignition and turned, a current is sent to the car that is telling it you have turned it on and thus the car should start. However if you have a faulty ignition switch then this current cannot be sent, normally this would only happen on older cars or cars that have a “lemon” of an ignition switch. To test it you will need just need to put your key into the ignition and attempt to turn it on, if you hear a click from the engine then the ignition switch is not the problem. If you hear nothing whatsoever, then the ignition switch may infact be the problem, but make sure you go through all the possible causes before you go out and buy a new one.
Even though these are not all the possible reasons on why your car may not start, these are the most common. Each year, make and model of car will require the same basic info as written above but as far as where everything is placed it will be different. Also, if you had a perfectly running car and then you did something recently such as installing a new radio, then the chances are the culprit will stem from there.
A burnt out cluster could have happened if you connected the wires up wrong, though if you had it done professionally then this may be a little less likely. Also if you accidentally connect the positive cable to the negative terminal and the negative cable to the positive cable then you may have done some serious damage.