It's one of every driver's worst nightmares. Invariably, you're on your way to an appointment, go to start your car and...nothing. You may turn the key and hear nothing, or get a clue as to what's wrong, but either way you won't be going anywhere for a while. There are many reasons why a car may not start, and tracking down the specific reason for your vehicle's trouble can range from very simple, to extremely complex. A good place to start is usually the electrical system. Here's are some common problems, and how to check for them.
This is a longshot, but you'll be happy you checked the fuses if there happens to be a problem there. Otherwise, you could waste a lot of time and money on inspecting and replacing other components. Most vehicles don't have a fuse associated with the ignition system, but it's a simple repair that's worth a shot.
This is another simple repair that could save you a lot of time. Pop your hood and take a look at your car's battery. If you can easily spot corrosion built up on the posts, that may be what's keeping your car from starting. When corrosion builds up, it interrupts the connection between your battery and the electrical system. Without the power it needs, your car can't start. So, try cleaning off the posts, then try to start the car again.
Even if your battery looks like it's in working order, it may simply be dead. If you've had it in your vehicle for more than three years, there's a good chance it had worn out. If you have a battery tester, you can easily measure the amps it's putting out to see if it's too weak to start your car. If you can't test it yourself, try jump starting the car. If you can start it up after a jump, it's likely that the battery needs to be replaced. If your vehicle still doesn't start after a jump, the search for the culprit continues.
Next up, check your ignition switch. To do so, turn the vehicle on, but don't try to start it. If the red warning lights across your dash don't come on as normal, and your battery isn't to blame, it could mean your ignition switch has gone bad. You can also try starting the car with your headlights on. If trying to start your engine has no affect on the lights, like dimming them, your ignition switch likely needs to be replaced.
The starter in your vehicle is also susceptible to corrosion, just like your battery. Testing this component is a two person job, however. While a friend tries to start your car, use a circuit tester on the wire that engages the starter. That would be the smaller of the two wires connected to the starter. Assume the engine will start and be sure you're standing clear to prevent any injury. If you read a current is going to the starter, but it doesn't spin, you've found your problem.
If your BMW, Mercedes or Hummer H1 suddenly doesn't start, have it towed to the experts at Benzin Motor Works. Our technicians will quickly diagnose the problem and have you back on the road in no time.