There are just those days when your daily driver just gave up on you just when you need it most. Fixing a car with a bad starter is pretty straightforward. You don’t need your local mechanic to solve a relatively simple problem for you. Maybe all your car needs is a little whack here and there. The following methods on how to start your vehicle might come in handy the next time it breaks down.
Turn on the ignition
Before rushing headlong into fixing your starter, you must first know the cause of the problem. Starting your car can tell you a lot about why it won’t start.
Begin by turning the ignition on. Listen for telltale sounds as you start your vehicle. If the car does not crank and you cannot hear a clicking sound, either your battery is dead, the starter motor is defective, or there could be a faulty circuit.
A clicking sound is a sign that the starter solenoid is not receiving enough power for it to work properly. There could be other problems but we’ll stick with those that you can fix. To get your car up and running again, follow these simple tricks:
Inspect the wiring and connections
Your car starter is an electrical device that needs enough power for it to run properly. Weak batteries, faulty electrical connections, or just plain old wear and tear will prevent your car from starting.
Before considering replacing your battery, it would be best to start fixing the issue by checking your car’s electrical connections. Your starter may not be getting the power it needs to start your vehicle because of faulty wiring despite having a fully charged battery.
Check the starter fuse
The first step in fixing the problem is to check if your starter fuse is blown. This is the least intrusive approach that can save you a lot of trouble.
Begin by disconnecting the black-colored negative battery lead from your battery. Next, find your car’s fuse box that can either be found on the driver’s side of the dashboard or in the engine compartment near the battery. Once found, inspect the circuit diagram and look for the starter fuse which is usually labeled as “IG”. Consult your vehicle manual if you’re having trouble identifying the correct fuse. Remove the corresponding fuse and visually check for the metal link inside. If the link is broken, replace the fuse with one having the same amperage rating. (Images needed: fuse panel and bad fuse)
Look for signs of corrosion
Check your battery terminals for signs of corrosion. Automotive batteries contain a corrosive acid solution that may seep out of the battery and corrode your battery’s terminals. This corrosion can prevent your car from starting as it hampers the battery terminal’s ability to conduct electricity.
Battery terminal corrosion is usually in the form of a blue-green crystalline buildup on the terminals. If corrosion is present, lightly tap the terminals with a hard object to dislodge the accumulated corrosion. Alternatively, you can also loosen the battery clamps and wiggle it side-to-side. This restores electrical contact between the battery terminals and clamps through friction. (Image needed: battery corrosion)
If you have access to baking soda, clean your battery terminals by applying a mixture of baking soda and water. Begin by disconnecting the battery from the vehicle by first removing the negative lead (black) then the positive lead (red). Next, mix one part of baking soda to one part of water. Apply the mixture to the battery terminals and clamps. Let the solution sit for a while and let the mixture to react with the corrosive buildup. Finally, clean off the residue with a steel brush and clamp the battery leads back in place. (Image needed: diagram or photo)
Inspect the connections
After checking that the battery is free from corrosion, the next step is to check the connection between your battery and your starter motor. First off, find the starter motor assembly of your car. It can usually be found at the bottom rear of the engine and near the transmission. If you are having trouble finding the starter, consult your vehicle manual and look for the right image to guide you. Check for loose connections on the starter and tighten any loose ones. Clean any corroded terminal if corrosion is present. (Image needed: starter)
Bypass the ignition switch and relay
If you’re still having trouble starting your car, you can bypass the ignition switch and relay to start your vehicle. Please read the preceding paragraph on how to find your starter motor assembly. For this technique, you will need a screwdriver or any metal-tipped tool with a plastic non-conductive handle. To bypass the ignition switch and start your car, place the tip of your screwdriver to the “S” terminal of the solenoid and touch the solenoid’s battery terminal with the shaft of the screwdriver. If you cannot get your car to start, your battery may be weak or your starter is faulty.
Knock the starter motor back to its senses
Your starter could use a little smacking just like your corroded battery terminals. Starter motors degrade over time due to wear and tear. Starters can get stuck due to accumulated dust on its moving parts and this may cause startup problems. A simple way to loosen up the starter is to repeatedly tap it with a piece of wood. It would be best to use wood to avoid denting the assembly which could lead to more problems.
Jump-start your car
If your car still won’t start after performing the earlier methods, you can try to jump-start your car. For this technique, you’ll need a spare charged battery and a couple of jumper cables. Without removing or disconnecting your old battery, connect the positive (+) red terminal of your spare battery to the positive (+) red terminal of your old battery using a jumper cable. Next, connect the negative (-) terminal of your spare battery to any bare metal part on your stranded vehicle using another cable. Then, turn on the ignition and let the car run for a few minutes to build up the charge on your old battery. You can also resort to the bypass method mentioned before.
Push start the car
If you have a manual transmission car, push-starting your car is your last resort if the previous approaches did not work. Push-starting your vehicle would be a lot easier if your car broke down near an incline or have a few good Samaritans to help you out. You can push-start the car by yourself, albeit difficult.
A car with starting problems can easily be fixed with little automotive knowledge and a few tools. Fix your vehicle in a logical way to save time and effort by doing inspections before getting your hands dirty. The techniques mentioned would most likely get your car running.