Many of us take our cars for granted. We rely on them to start up and function whenever we need them, and for the most part cars these days will do just that, even with very little maintenance.
But over time as a car gets older, critical engine components start to malfunction, and unless the potential problems are spotted during routine investigations (i.e. when the car is serviced), they can often take us by surprise!
One of the biggest complaints by motorists that pretty much all car breakdown recovery firms will agree with are starting problems. When we get into our cars and turn the key in the ignition, we expect their engines to instantly spring into life, but when they don’t, we often sit there with a puzzled look on our faces.
I think I have probably only ever had one car that this has happened to me with, and I’ve owned a plethora of weird and wonderful cars of the years. This is in part due to my investigative (or nosey) nature, as I always check the engine in my car each week for any potential problems as well as getting under the bonnet if my cars don’t “sound” right.
If you want to make sure that you know what to do in the rare event that you are faced with a non-starting car, here are some details into the possible causes (thanks to .
Symptom: engine cranks slowly, or starter motor makes an irregular clicking sound
For those of you that have battery-powered devices such as electric razors, have you ever noticed that when you first use your device after a full charge it feels and sounds really powerful, but after a while it slows down and then eventually grinds to a complete halt? It’s because the battery hasn’t got much charge, right?
It’s the same thing with cars. If your car’s battery is not fully charged, it won’t have enough kick in it to turn your engine over.
Jump-start your engine from another battery;
Charge your battery;
Buy a replacement (if your battery is more than 5 years old).
Symptom: engine cranks normally but doesn’t start
There are a few different reasons why this could be occurring. The most common is down to a weak or nonexistent spark from one or more of the spark plugs, but sometimes the engine’s immobiliser could be at fault.
Check the condition of the spark plugs and HT leads;
Get a mechanic to check whether your car’s immobiliser is at fault.
Symptom: engine starts for a second or so and then cuts out
Normally when this happens, there isn’t enough petrol being pumped into the engine.
Ensure you have enough petrol in the tank (and that you haven’t put diesel in);
Check whether the safety cut-off switch for the fuel pump hasn’t been activated.
Those are the most common causes to starting problems, but if this tends to happen a lot in your car (and you drive an older vehicle), you should probably consider buying a newer, more-reliable car.
If you decide to go down this route and intend on selling your car privately, it might be worth reading up on some car valuation frequently asked questions to determine a fair price for your car, especially considering its mechanical problems.