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By Edited Oct 3, 2015 1 2

How to find the source of your problem.

     Your vehicle will not start. We know that. Now we have to run some test to see what is going on. In order for a vehicle to start, we need fuel, fire, and spark. That is what starts a vehicle. Just follow the check list below and you will be off to finding a solution and getting your vehicle back on the road.


   When you turn the key, your vehicle will either crank or it will not do anything. If it won't do anything, check to see if you have power inside the vehicle. If you don't, you need to check your battery. Check the wires, terminals, and battery post. Make sure the battery is good and not damaged. Clean it with a wire brush to get the best possible connection. Check your alternator because it could be bad and draining your battery. If you do have power, you need to check your ignition fuse. It may have blown. You also need to check your starter. Sometimes the starter will catch if you hit it with something. It could be enough to get you where your going. Check the starter solenoid also. It is also possible that the starter isn't engaging the flywheel. Lastly, you may have an issue with your ignition module.


Now, if the engine is cranking, you will need to check for fuel and spark. First, you want to make sure the fuel pump is working. When you first turn the key, you should hear a humming sound for a second or two. Listen carefully. You might have to listen close to the gas cap. If you hear the sound, the pump is probably working. If so, check your fuel filter, gas lines, and fuel injectors. If you don't hear it, you need to test it. It is probably not working and that is your issue. You can also test the fuel by doing a fuel pressure test. You want to make sure fuel is getting to the engine. Check all fuel components. Check your fuel pump fuse, relay, or reset button.


Ok, if you are getting fuel to the engine, you need to test for spark. You can use a tester or a screw driver. If you have the screw driver, you can stick it into your #1 spark plug tube with the metal side down. Hold it against the head or metal on the car. Have someone crank the car. You should see a deep blue spark. If you do, you have spark. If you don't, you need to check and see if your check engine light is on. This is where it gets tricky. Having no spark could be caused by many things. If you check engine light is on, you need to have it scanned for codes. Hopefully, the computer has picked up the problem and stored it in your computer as a code. Get the code read and change the part that the computer picked up.


Now, if you have no codes, you have to check and test the following parts. Check your timing belt, spark plugs, coils, plug wires, and coil packs. You also need to check your distributor, cap, rotor, camshaft sensor, crankshaft sensor, and your computer. Your computer controls all the functions of the ignition system. They rarely go out, but sometimes they do. Check and test everything else first. Any one of these parts can cause the car to crank and not start. Check all wiring going to the parts and make sure everything is getting power.


You need an OBDII scanner to scan the computer for codes. You need a wiring schematic to test the wiring for current. You will also need tools to take off each part that you check and test. Pay close attention to the wiring and make sure you test each part before changing it. It may not be getting power. Check your wiring at the computer carefully. If you don't know how to properly change a part or test it or wiring, ask somebody for help. You may make things worse than they already are.



Oct 13, 2011 5:47pm
Good article, very helpful for us non mechanically minded. Great tips, logically presented.
Oct 14, 2011 1:55pm
Thank you Tom.
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