by Dan Ferrell
Photo courtesy of Dragon695 on Wikipedia.org.
A no-start problem in your vehicle can be caused by one or more systems in your car. It could be as simple as a loose battery connection or as complicated as a mechanical engine problem. There are some more common causes that you can find in a no-start problem with your vehicle.
Check the battery
Turn on your voltmeter. Set the meter in the 20V range.
Touch the negative and positive battery posts to the black and red voltmeter leads, respectively. It should be close to 12.5 volts. If not, recharge the battery or replace it.
Make sure the battery posts and terminals are clean. If necessary, clean the posts and terminals with 1 tablespoon. of baking soda mixed in 8 oz. of water and a soft brush.
Remove the two vent caps from the top of the battery with a screwdriver. Check that the acid level is just at the bottom of the fill rings. Add battery acid or distilled water as needed. Replace the vent caps.
Check the starting system
Make sure the starter pinion is engaging and cranking the engine. If the starter pinion is engaging and turning the engine, go to Step 4. Otherwise, go to Step 2.
Turn the steering wheel with a steering wheel turner. If the steering wheel turns smoothly, you may have a problem with the starting system. If the steering wheel is difficult to turn or won’t turn at all, you have a mechanical problem and should have an automotive technician inspect the vehicle if necessary.
Check all starting system wiring from battery to starter solenoid and starter motor. Make sure the connections are tight. Arrange as needed.
Locate the Schrader valve on the fuel manifold rail. The valve is similar to an air valve on a motorcycle tire and is near the first fuel injector in the fuel inlet line.
Cover the valve with a shop rag and press the stem into the valve with a small screwdriver. Use the rag to catch the jet of fuel. If there is fuel in the fuel line, go to the next step. If there is no fuel, you may have a restricted fuel filter, fuel line, or faulty fuel pump. Change the fuel filter if necessary or have an automotive technician check the fuel system.
Reinstall the fuel injector and unplug the electrical connector from the injector.
Plug an indicator light into the injector electrical connector.
Have a helper start the engine while watching the assent light. If the assent light is not flashing, there is a problem with the circuit and an automotive technician needs to run more tests. If the assent light is flashing, the circuit is working properly.
Check the spark
Disconnect one of the spark plug wires.
Connect a spark tester to the spark plug wire.
Hook the other end of the spark tester to a good ground on the engine block. A bolt or bracket on the motor will provide a good ground.
Have a helper start the engine. You should see a bright blue spark jumping the gap in the spark tester. If not, you have a problem with the ignition system: bad spark plug wires, distributor, ignition coil, or ignition module. Have an automotive technician check the ignition system if necessary.
Remove the spark plugs one by one with a ratchet, ratchet extension, and spark plug socket. Check the plug gap with a wire feeler gauge. Compare the gap to the specification in your car owner’s manual and reset if necessary.
Articles will need
- Baking soda and water solution
- Soft brush
- Battery acid if necessary
- Steering wheel turner if necessary
- New fuel filter if necessary
- Shop rag
- Small screwdriver
- Bedside light
- Spark tester
- Ratchet wrench and spark plug
- Ratchet extension
- Wire feeler gauge