Most Common Cause of Cat-Starting Problems

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Published: 06th July 2010
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If you ever owned a car, then I am quite sure that you have been in this situation as the rest of us. The situation is that out-of-the-blue, your kind, forgiving car decides to give up on you without any prior notice. You just insert your key into the ignition, turn it, and nothing happens. It is like your engine does not know you are even inside the car. It comes as a little surprise at first, but then you catch up with the cruel reality and realize that this is one of those days where you will have to change everything you have planned and spend the rest of the day troubleshooting. But have no fear, rescue is here.

Trouble shooting car starting problems is not an art. In this article I will give you a strategy that you can follow to diagnose the problem and get the engine of yours roaring to life as soon as possible.

The first thing we need to do is define the most probable causes of your nightmare of which there are many. Car starting problems can be very frustrating because the smallest problem can lead eventually to a non-starting engine even if it is not directly related to anything the engine needs. However such cases are rare and your problem will most probably be one of the following three main causes. First is the battery. In order for your engine to run, it needs to burn fuel. Burning fuel requires a spark, and sparks need current that comes from your battery. Thus, your battery must be charged to no less than 12 Volts before it can ignite the fuel when you turn the key in the ignition switch. To test the battery, get a voltmeter and attach its leads to the two terminals of your battery. A fully charged battery will read 12.5 volts. A working battery will be between 11.8 volts and 12.5 volts. If it is less than 11.8 volts, then you surely need to change that dead battery. Change your battery and give it another try. If the battery is OK, don't rule it out of your suspect list just yet. The problem could lie in the wiring coming from your battery to the ignition switch and starter relay. Check that those wires are not broken or corroded. If the engine kicks and starts, congratulations! You might now continue with your plans. Otherwise, continue to the next suspect.

Your next most probable suspect is the ignition switch itself. Let's first explain what is an ignition switch exactly. The ignition switch act as the gate between your battery and the starter motor which is responsible for starting the engine ones you turn the key. You might have a perfectly working battery and starter motor, and everything is fine, yet the car does not start. This is because although all is good, nothing is connected. For more information about ignition locks and ignition switches have a look at

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