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We’ve all been there – when, after a hectic morning, with the speed of a light you get into your car; put the key into the ignition, turn it and… Nothing. An absolute silence (except for grinds and whines of your heart that’s about to pop out of your chest). Is it my engine? Most likely it is (not your engine per se, but certain parts under the hood that help it run).
A ‘not starting engine’ problem is one of the most common ones that are bound to occur at some point in your driving career. A number of defects, ranging from dead battery to low oil level can contribute to this. What are the most usual problems when you car engine is not starting?
Dead Car Battery
Discharged car battery is, in most cases, the major reason why your car engine is not starting. Depending on the model of your vehicle, your car’s battery is supported by high-tech management system that prevents battery discharge. However, if the ignition’s activation has been prolonged or if headlights or the radio have been on for a long period of time, the battery may encounter discharging problems and will need to be tested. The best way to test if the battery is causing the engine failure is to jump start your car. If the car starts immediately, then you probably have a problem of a dead battery and need to replace it.
You should know that the average car battery life is about four years. However, depending on your driving techniques; how often you drive your car; climate conditions of where you live and many other factors, your battery may have shorter lifespan. If you repeatedly experience starting problems due to low battery charge, then you probably have a defective car battery. The best thing to do in this case is to visit your car mechanic and have him charge or replace the battery. Your tech will take snapshots of the vehicle’s battery by hooking electronic testers to it. This will provide necessary information whether the battery needs to be replaced.
If your car battery has been eliminated as a possible cause for your ‘not starting engine’ problem, then the problem may be a faulty ignition switch. The ignition switch is what gets your vehicle started by providing necessary electrical connection between the battery and the starter. It is probably one of the most important electrical systems of your car and is responsible for supplying it with about 50% of the total power needed. To determine whether you need to replace the ignition switch do the following – turn the key on but not all the way to start. If the warning lights on the dashboard do not light up like New Year’s fireworks, then you probably have a faulty ignition switch and it may need to be replaced.
Fuel, Fuel Pump and Fuel Filter
So we have eliminated your battery and the ignition switch as possible cases, yet your car engine won’t start. If that’s the case, you might be out of fuel. Yes, it happens, but luckily it is a temporary and an easy fix. To check whether your car needs fuel, open the fuel tank and shake your car. If you can’t hear any liquid movement than you car is out of fuel. However, if you’re certain that you have enough fuel then you might have to deal with a bad fuel pump or your mechanic will need to perform a fuel injection service on your vehicle.
Turn the ignition switch to the second position and if no sounds are heard from the fuel tank or if the fuel pump is making whining noise then your car is in desperate need of a new pump. Visit your mechanics shop for fuel pump pressure test. A technician will insert a fuel pressure gauge into the Schrader valve to determine if your engine is receiving enough fuel from the tank. Remember, the fuel pump is crucial for flawless vehicle operation. It ‘feeds’ the engine with the required fuel enabling it to run. If you believe you might have a faulty fuel pump, replace it as soon as possible.
If your fuel pump is operating smoothly, then you might have a dirty fuel filter. The fuel filter protects your car engine from harmful particles by catching and trapping any fuel remains that can be harmful to the engine. If you haven’t replaced the fuel filter in a while, then its best you do so in order to keep your engine running smoothly. This is an easy DIY that can be performed in no time.
The engine oil is crucial for smooth engine operation as it provides effective lubrication and cooling for your engine and all its internal parts. If you have replaced the engine oil recently and believe you do not need to it, know that oil consumption varies from vehicle to vehicle and depends on the oil quality, the road, the weather conditions and the engine speed. If you have trouble starting your car, low engine oil level might be the reason. The best way to know if the engine oil level is low, use the dipstick and markings on it that indicate your current oil level.
In order to get true reading, you must assure the vehicle is on level ground. Pull out the engine oil dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert it and pull it out again. Check the oil level according to the markings to see if you need to add engine oil (read your owner’s manual to find out what each marking indicates). If the oil level is low, add new one as soon as possible. Please note, when adding engine oil do so by adding small amounts of it at a time. Also, wait a while between each pouring to avoid adding to much engine oil. Make sure you check the oil level regularly, preferably every time you add fuel and before and after longer trips. Moreover, change the engine oil according to manufacturer’s instructions listed in your owner’s manual.
Remember, regular car maintenance is a must for a smooth vehicle operation. Most of these checks take very little of your time and by regularly inspecting them you’ll be able to detect any defects on time thus save time and money. These are just some of the most common causes for your car engine not starting, however there can be more serious problems causing the car engine not to start, so if none of the above recommendations work, we encourage you to visit a professional car service centre so that the can make discover any serious problems & fix them as necessary.
An ignition coil is an induction coil in a vehicle’s ignition system which transforms the battery’s low voltage, 12volts, to the thousands of volts needed to create an electric spark in the spark plugs to ignite the fuel.
Originally, every ignition coil system required mechanical contact breaker points, and a capacitor (condenser). More recent electronic ignition systems use a power transistor to provide pulses to the ignition coil. Later model cars may use one ignition coil for each cylinder, eliminating fault-prone spark plug cables and a distributor to route the high voltage pulses.
As an aside ignition systems are not required for diesel engines which rely on compression to ignite the fuel/air mixture.
In modern vehicle ignition systems smaller coils are used with one coil for each spark plug or one coil serving two spark plugs (for example two coils in a four-cylinder engine, or three coils in a six-cylinder engine). A large ignition coil puts out about 20 kV, and a small one such as from a lawn mower puts out about 15 kV. These coils may be remotely mounted or they may be placed on top of the spark plug, known as coil over plug.
Where coils are individually applied per cylinder, they may all be contained in a single moulded block with multiple high-tension terminals. This is commonly called a coil-pack.
One of the first symptoms that a coil is no longer working as it should is a decline in your normal economy. This is because it takes more fuel for the car to run when less power is reaching the spark plugs. So, when your ignition coil begins to fail and becomes less able to transfer power, your car requires more fuel to run, and your fuel economy suffers.
Also the result of increased, and less efficient, fuel use is a noticeable change in your exhaust. It may become black and smell of gasoline, rather than smelling like normal exhaust fumes.
If you do not catch the earliest symptoms of a failing ignition coil, your car may begin to experience serious backfires. This happens when unused fuel is emitted through the car’s exhaust, creating a small explosion. Backfires can occur either in the car’s manifold or in the exhaust pipe. Typically, backfires caused by ignition coil issues take place in the latter. If the problem is not corrected, these backfires can cause serious damage to your exhaust system, which will require costly repairs, which would otherwise be unnecessary.
Because ignition coil failure means that a spark plug is no longer receiving an appropriate amount of charge, cars that are suffering from this issue are typically harder to start. This may be especially noticeable when the car is cold, or when the humidity level is high.
A series of misfires will often occur when ignition coils fail, resulting in your car running rough. When travelling at highway speeds, this may feel like a jerking sensation or a random, but repeated loss of power. At a stop light, or when idling for any reason, this feels like a vibration.
It is essential that your car continue receiving sparks to stay running. Cars that have ignition coil issues may stall, especially when idling, like at a stoplight or when left running while parked. This may become especially noticeable after the engine has been running a while and has “warmed up.”
A car whose ignition coil(s) completely fail will not start at all. In this case, jump starting will prove ineffective.
If you have started experiencing any of the above symptoms, the best thing is to take your car to a car servicing workshop & let the car mechanic know about these symptoms, as this will lead to a faster and more cost efficient resolution of your car’s ignition coil problem.