No matter how much time you give yourself to get ready in the morning and make it to your destination, there are some things you just can’t plan for.

On a cold morning, it’s so frustrating to scrape the ice off your windows, climb into your vehicle, only to have the car refuse to start. If you’re having trouble starting your car, here are some things to troubleshoot.

Why Your Car Won’t Start

Usually, we immediately blame the battery when the car won’t start. But did you know it’s not always the only problem? There are a lot of interconnected elements that help your battery hold a charge, and distribute that power to other parts of the vehicle.

Trouble Starting Your Car? Here Are Some Reasons Why

  • Clogged fuel filter
  • Dead battery
  • Loose or corroded connections
  • Bad alternator
  • Faulty starter
  • No fuel

Thankfully, some of these are fairly simple fixes in your vehicle. Whether you do it yourself or visit your trusted Salt Lake City car repair experts at Master Muffler, you can be on your way again in no time.

How To Find Out What’s Wrong

Even if you don’t know much about car repair, you can take a look under the hood to start eliminating potential culprits. If your car won’t start, look and listen for the following.

Fuel Filter

Refer to your vehicle’s manual to locate your fuel filter. It’s often located under the car near the fuel tank, and it’s shaped like a cylinder. If your vehicle uses an inline filter, it will be situated under the hood in the engine compartment. 

If you can see that the paper filter in the cylinder is dark in color, or that there are particles, it’s time to change your filter. Without adequate airflow, your car will have a hard time starting. Just like a vacuum, if the filter is clogged, overall performance suffers.

Battery

When you open the hood and look at the battery, you should be able to see if the battery terminals are corroded, crusty, or otherwise covered in gunk. Without a clean connection at the positive and negative terminals, your vehicle may have trouble starting, and you may encounter other problems.

What is Battery Corrosion?

The build-up on your battery terminals can be either lead sulfate or anhydrous copper sulfate. Car batteries contain sulfuric acid, which releases hydrogen gas under the hood. When the hydrogen reacts with the air around the battery, it causes corrosion. This chemical reaction can be exacerbated by weather and road salt.

Preventing Battery Corrosion

You can purchase a corrosion preventative spray or compound containing NCP2 that coats your terminals, both on the battery itself and the connecting cables. This application seals battery acid in while sealing moisture out. 

Cleaning Corroded Batteries

When doing any type of cleaning on your battery, it’s important to disconnect the cables to avoid potential risks.

Using a combination of water and baking soda, you can scrub your vehicle’s battery terminals clean in no time. Apply a thick paste of this concoction and use a battery terminal brush to loosen and remove the gunk that’s accumulated. Commercial-grade terminal cleaners do more than just clean up the corrosion; they neutralize battery acid. Whatever you use, be sure you allow the battery, terminals, and cables to dry completely before continuing on.

After everything is dry, you can add terminal protectors to both the negative and positive terminals on your battery. These covers are made from wool and soaked in NCP2, an oil-based corrosion preventative.

Other signs it’s your battery that’s responsible for a dead car include:

  • Your car does make noise when you turn the key in the ignition, but it won’t start.
  • A jumpstart gets the car running, but it will not turn on again later without a jump.

Alternator

If you check your vehicle’s battery at home using a multimeter, you may find it’s in good condition. If that’s the case, you might have a problem with your alternator. The alternator helps your battery hold a charge, so when the alternator dies, the battery can’t store power. Other signs your car won’t start due to a faulty alternator:

  • The car squeals.
  • There’s a burning rubber smell coming from the engine (alternator is overheating).
  • Headlights and/or dash light flicker or dim when the ignition is turned.
  • Jump starting the car doesn’t work.

Sometimes replacing a belt is all you need to be able to hit the road once more. Other times, you need to replace the alternator completely.

Starter

If you turn the ignition and hear the dreaded “click click click,” you might have a bad starter. Additional indicators that you have a bad starter:

  • Dash lights turn on, but the car won’t start.
  • A jump start does nothing to get the car running.

You may not need to fix or replace the starter itself. It may be an issue with faulty wiring or poor connections. If you’re lucky, you’ll still be able to jumpstart your car so you can drive it to your local Salt Lake City car repair shop.

Since a faulty alternator and a faulty starter present some of the same symptoms, it can be a good idea to bring or tow your vehicle to a Salt Lake City car repair team if you can. They can provide an alternate source of power for your car in order to allow them to read engine codes to determine what needs to be repaired or replaced.

Empty Fuel Tank

Have you ever been surprised to run out of gas? With all the technology available in our vehicles today, we usually have plenty of notice when the fuel tank is running low. However, if you do find yourself puzzled as to why your car won’t start when everything is in working order, take a look at your fuel gauge. It may be a bit embarrassing, but sometimes you have to take the walk of shame to the gas station with the telltale red can in your hands. 

For Salt Lake City car repair, give us a call today.