What to do if your car will not start.

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I've seen a lot of threads about people's cars failing to start. So I'm going to write a "What to do if..." thread and hope it floats.

There are a lot of things I didnt get to, I can't cover everything. This thread only covers the obvious and simple roadside checks.


If your car turns over, but will not fire, out of the blue (was working fine before. No strange noises, no acting up ect) You have one of two problems: No spark, or no fuel. Maybe both. But here is what you can do to decide exactly which is your problem.

First, check for the obvious. Do you hear your fuel pump running when you turn your key to the "on" position for a few seconds? (if you have an electric fuel pump) If you don't, check fuses and fuel pump relay. If all are OK, try giving power directly to the fuel pump (DO THIS AWAY FROM FUEL TANK, DONT WANT ANY SPARKS AROUND THE FUEL TANK.) If fuel pump still doesn't run, it's fried. Replace pump and filter(s). If fuel pump runs, check if you have fuel pressure in your fuel rail. Look for a valve (same as your fill your tire with air) on the fuel rail. Press in the valve with a pen or such. Fuel should spew out. (do this after turning key to the ON position. No more than 20 seconds after.) If you don't have this valve, loosen an injector and see if you get a spew of fuel. If you get no spew, and your sure your fuel pump runs, replace fuel filter(s). If you have fuel pressure at the fuel rail, you need to make sure it's getting injected. Turn the engine over for about 10 seconds, pull a spark plug, check if it's damp. If it's not, check 2 or 3 more before deciding your not getting fuel. If that test shows your not getting fuel into the cylinders, something is up with your injectors. If it is, on most cars you can pull trouble codes and you will know what's up with the injectors.(By the way, that way of checking for fuel in cylinders is NOT fool proof)

If your getting fuel, and sure of it (all tests above check out OK) time to check for spark. Pull every spark plug wire, pull back the boot to expose the metal connector. Hold it near ground. (1/4 inch), have a friend crank the car. Check for a spark jumping from the wire to ground. Make sure you get that on ALL cylinders and make sure the spark is strong. If you dont get a spark, check coil. If you have a DIS (distributorless ignition system) you should be getting a trouble code if you have no spark in one or more cylinders. Check the code. If you have a distributor, disconnect the wire running from the coil that plugs into the distributor. Disconnect it at the distributor(not the coil) and hold it 1/4 from a ground source. Have a friend crank the engine, check for spark. If your getting a spark your problem is likely to be the distributor cap or rotor. Check/replace both. If it has been more than 35,000 miles since they have been replaced, replace them anyway. It's time. I would go into checking your coil trigger system ( for electronic ignition systems ), but that's to complex. make a thread about that.

If it will not turn over, at all, check battery connections first. Clean them off and tighten them. Check ground connections, relay connections and starter connections. After that, try to start the car again. If all are ok and no difference was made, proceed. Take your battery to an advance auto parts or autozone and have it checked for free. If you can't do that, pull on your headlights, hi beam, and see if they are bright and remain fairly bright when you try to start the car. If it remains bright, your battery is probably OK. Next step is to check starter relay. You will need a volt meter for this. Turn the key to the ON position. Test voltage at the starter. Thick red wire to ground. If your getting within about half a volt reading from what you get at the battery, the starting system is OK, but the starter is fried. If your getting no voltage where the red wire (thick) hooks up to the starter, your starter relay is probably shot. ( make sure you test for voltage when the ignition key is to the START position.

If all the tests above check out OK then obviously you have a more complicated problem that the basics which are above. Create a thread and I'll help you out if I can. :thumbs:

posted by  DodgeRida67

If your car does not start, kick it in the tire a couple times. If the engine doesn't turn over, kick it again and maybe :cussing: at it a couple times. If that doesn't work than you need a new starter. :laughing:

posted by  99integra

or an alternader

posted by  google.com

Or maybe all you need to do is :cussing: and kick it more. :laughing:

posted by  car_crazy89

works for me everytime... :smoke:

posted by  C c C

prying the ford emblem off my mustang helped me... :hi:

posted by  dodger65

Using my 1986 Trans AM as a boat anchor helped me :laughing:

posted by  FordFromHell351

...knew you'd have a response to that! :thumbs:

did you roll the windows down first? otherwise they float, ya know...

posted by  dodger65

Now you made me remember something so i gotta ask. Is it true that the older Volkswagen Beetles floated? Heard it before but dont know lol. Probably isnt true but might as well ask.

posted by  car_crazy89

man, where's the hobo when we need him? :laughing:

posted by  dodger65

Hell it works for me :laughing:

posted by  99integra

ROFL!!!!! you straight up said take the ford emblem off hahahhah :orglaugh:

posted by  C c C

Taking the ford emblem helps but then you have to put on a chevy or dodge emblem to make it better :laughing:

posted by  99integra

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