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What to do when your car won’t start

We’ve all had that sinking feeling when the car won’t start. You turn the car key and zilch! The car probably doesn’t even turn over let alone fire into action. It really is so deflating, especially as you have somewhere to go.

What do you do? At Bryan Swales Auto Repairs we’re very aware how frustrating it can be when you can’t trust your car, so we’ve compiled this article in the hope it will prepare you if this should happen to you.

What to Do First?

Cars are complex engineering systems but there are still a few things that are worth checking for yourself before you reach for the services of Bryan Swales Auto Repairs. Here are some of the common problem areas.

  • The battery in any vehicle is among the most common causes of cars not starting. If the battery’s charge is low it may cause the vehicle’s power unit to turn over slowly, or not to do anything at all. 
  • Have you left your automatic car in another setting than Park or Neutral? It’s easy to do, but so frustrating when it’s the reason your car won’t start.
  • Even more confusing is if you are inadvertently trying to use the wrong key. At Bryan Swales Auto Repairs, we too often find spare keys haven’t been programmed and therefore won’t start your car.
  • Is the fuel in the tank right for the car?
  • Are any of the Malfunction Indicator Lamps illuminated? The reason your car won’t start maybe because one of the car’s electronic systems is misbehaving.

Let’s take a look at each of those in a little more detail.

Checking the Battery

The non-technical ways to check a battery start by establishing if the car will turn over. If it does so and at a suitable speed then it’s not the battery that’s the cause.

However, if the engine won’t crank it’s time for the next test. 

Try the wipers after wetting the screen with the washers. If the wipers move very slowly across the screen, you need to consider giving the battery recharge, perhaps by using some jump leads attached to a slave battery.

“Jump Starting” a Car

Jump-starting a car is fairly straightforward. You’ll need jump leads and either another vehicle or a spare battery. 

Connect your flat battery to the other vehicle’s battery or the spare battery, and wait for 10 minutes to allow the charge to equalise between the two batteries, and then start your car.

It is VERY important that you thoroughly read and apply the manufacturer’s information as this will not only highlight where the jump leads should be connected on the vehicles, but also the specific procedure you need to follow. In a lot of cases, this connection is not necessarily directly to the battery. If you fail to follow the instructions correctly you could cause a fault, which is the last thing you want to do.

Of course, if you believe your battery is flat then give us a call so we can take care of the problem for you.

When Your Vehicle is Immobilised

A key part of a car’s anti-theft system is its transponder immobiliser. Every one of your keys is fitted with a transponder, which is a tiny coded chip. When a key is presented to the vehicle the transponder’s data is checked to establish if it’s the correct key for the car. If it is accepted, the car will be allowed to crank. If it’s not the correct key, a light may illuminate that is similar to the one pictured.

The first thing to check is the key when you suspect an immobiliser issue. If it’s not the key you normally use then try the original key and if the car starts, to get the faulty key corrected.

If the key’s good then perhaps you can position it closer to the key reader. The owner’s manual should outline the best position for the key.

If these quick tips are not successful then call Bryan Swales Auto Repairs so our technicians can find a solution to your problem. 

When Dash Lights Illuminate

If the dash lights fail to come on or the wrong dash lights are illuminated a couple of different faults may be to blame. The first thing to do is checking the vehicle’s fuses.

Fuses are there to protect a car’s electrical systems. They are designed to “blow” when faults occur. It’s common that a car won’t start if one of the fuses have blown.

The owner’s manual will not only show you where the fuse boxes on your car are located, but it will also outline the system that each fuse is there to protect. Check each one individually, and replace with a fuse of the same rating if blown.

If the fuse keeps blowing when you turn the ignition on, then you’ll need a professional diagnosis. 

If none of your fuses are blown but there is a Malfunction Indicator Light illuminated, you have an electrical system malfunction which may be causing your car not to start. In this kind of case specialist equipment and knowledgeable technicians are required.

Luckily at Bryan Swales Auto Repairs, we have both, so give us a call and we’ll get you back on the road in a car you can trust in no time.

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