HELP! My Car Won’t Start!
It’s 6am and you just jumped in your car to head out to work, throw the key in the ignition, behold; the car won’t start. Now before you call your boss and tell him you’re going to be late, you might be surprised to know that you can make it to work maybe just a couple minutes later than usual instead of missing a few hours trying to get it towed to a mechanic. It might be as simple as a disconnected, vacuum line, loose wires, or a clogged air filter. These are all problems that can be very easily fixed with using very basic tools that every house-hold should have laying around. This isn’t to say it could be something much worse and you could actually need some extensive repairs but it would be very wise to give it a quick look over just to make sure you’re not going to spend more money and time then need-be.
Some of the first and most basic things to consider are things like, is your battery charged? Did you leave the lights on last night? Check the fuses; sometimes a main ignition fuse can blow and cause the car to just “click” when the key is turned.
If, when you turn the key, the car does absolutely nothing it could be one of these issues which are very simple and inexpensive to repair and be on your way.
Now, say, your cranking the motor and it’s turning over just fine then you have a problem in one of three main components of a firing gasoline motor and I will lay them all out for you:
1) Spark-A gasoline motor requires a spark to ignite the mixture inside the cylinders, as described in this thread. Without this, the motor will continue to just turn over without running because there is no fire or explosion. To determine if a “no spark” situation is the culprit, you’re going to need to located the spark plug by tracing the spark plug wire usually by starting from the distributor which is shown in figure 1. For this test, any of these plugs will work just to see if they’re getting a spark. Pull off the wire from the top of the spark plug. It may be difficult but try to grab as far down on the plug cap as possible and pull, it WILL come off. Remove the plug which is screwed directly into the motor. Socket size varies with motor type but generally they are 5/8″, 13/16″, or 15/16″. Once the plug is removed from the motor put the plug cap back on the plug. This is usually a two person job, even if you need to grab a passer-byer to crank the motor while you watch the plug. When the motor is turning over, there should be spark emitted by the tip of the spark plug as shown in figure 2.
If you see spark then you can determine, for now, that this is not the problem.
2)Air-Another key component of a firing motor is enough air to make it a proper mixture that will explode when ignited. The best way to check this is just to take the top off of your airbox which is literally just a box with a tube that should be heading to your intake manifold. Anywhere from a 2″ to a 5″ pipe. Once the top is off of the airbox you should see a ruffled or cone type air filter. Check to be sure it doesn’t look like this:
If it looks like the old one, take the bus or steal the neighbors bike and run to the local auto parts store and pick up a new one for your make and model car. If it looks pretty clean with no major obstructions then we can conclude that this isn’t the problem either.
3) Fuel-The last component can be the expensive one in certain situations and can be tricky to pinpoint where the problem is coming from. The way to check for fuel getting to the motor is to find the injector rail or the feed/return line going to your intake manifold. A few examples are shown below:
Once the fuel line is separated, get a bottle or milk jug to place the line into. Turn the key to the “ON” position, which turns on the fuel pump, and there should be fuel coming out of the line. Be sure this is the feed line and not the return line. If there is no fuel it could be a fuel pump or a blocked fuel line which will require much more work and time.
These fixes will be covered soon but hopefully this helps at least diagnose the problems you are having instead of paying someone else to find it for you.