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Car Won't Start? Is It Fuel Delivery or Electrical?

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If you are having trouble trying to start your car or truck in the morning, you may wonder whether it is an electrical or a fuel delivery issue. You want to narrow down your options and work out if you can instigate a quick fix, so you will need to find out what is wrong through a process of elimination. Where should you start?

Electrical Problems

  1. When you turn the key in the ignition, did anything happen at all? If the answer is no, then you may have a completely flat battery and will need to get it charged or look for a jumpstart.
  2. If you have plenty of life in the battery as evidenced by the lights on your dashboard, then you may only get a single click when you turn the key all the way over. This indicates that the starter motor is faulty or could be jammed in place. Try rocking the car gently back and forward (if it's a manual) while in second gear, and this could free the motor. Otherwise, you need to get it replaced.
  3. If there is plenty of power and you can hear the engine cranking over, then it's likely that you have fuel problems. The prime suspect here is the fuel pump which may not be able to deliver petrol from the tank to the injection system. Have you noticed that the vehicle has been sluggish in recent times? Did the engine struggle to deliver when you were trying to overtake a slower car? If so, the pump may well have been on its way out and has now failed completely. You will need to replace it and, as an aside, make sure that you buy the best quality fuel and never run the tank down until it is almost empty. Both of these issues can damage a fuel pump.
  4. If you can crank the engine over and it sounds as if it wants to start, then you may have some issues with your fuel injection system. In this case, the pump is delivering petrol from the tank to the engine, but the injectors are not pushing the fuel into the combustion chamber at the right pressure. If you're lucky, the car may eventually splutter into life, but if not, you will need to get those fuel injectors cleaned. Sometimes, tiny particles can be drawn through the system and will get past any fuel filter into the injector itself. As the holes are so tiny, it does not take much to cause an issue and to stop that injector from delivering the correct amount of fuel. In this case, the injectors will need to be cleaned out or in some cases, replaced.

Repair or Replace

If you're lucky, you may be able to get underway right now, but you may well have to take the vehicle to a mechanic soon. They will be able to repair or replace the faulty parts so that you do not encounter these issues again. For more information, contact a local mechanic today.