Finding the reason why your engine will not start can be a very frustrating problem. The battery and starter motor's principal job is to start the engine. While the engine is running, the alternator, voltage regulator and battery co-dependent on each other to provide stable source of power for your vehicle and to recharge the battery. All of these components, including the wiring and wiring connections, must be in good working order to start and operate your engine.
Assuming you have the battery's plates covered with electrolyte, sufficient fuel, the engine and ignition system are in good working order, and the battery electrolyte is not frozen, the following is a list of four simple instructions on how to troubleshoot the problem and isolate the source:
1. If there are no interior or exterior lights, intermittent or other strange electrical problems, CHECK the wiring, battery terminal mating surfaces, inside the positive top post or GM style side battery cable terminal with multiple cables, and grounding strap between the engine and chassis for corrosion or oxidation. Clean each end to bare metal. Loose, bad or corroded connections are the most common causes. If good, then
2. RECHARGE and TEST the battery for latent damage and TEST the charging system. If good, then
3. Test the starter. Burned solenoid contacts, worn starter motor brushes, loose starter motor bolts, or broken or corroded grounding straps are common problems for older vehicles, especially if they can not be jump started.
4. If the problem continues or the battery drains overnight, TEST for excessive parasitic (ignition key off) drain.
Some auto parts or battery stores in the United States and Canada, like Auto Zone, Sears, Wal-Mart, Pep Boys, etc., will test your battery, charging system and starter for free. Simple stuff, like corrosion, bad or loose cable connections, loose alternator belt, loose starter bolts, or a dead battery, can cause your car not start. If the problem is not corrected, towing your vehicle to a good auto electric shop is highly recommended.
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