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If you left your lights, heater, radio, or some other electrical gizmo on after you parked the car, you know what the trouble is: Your battery is dead. Of course, there are other possible reasons that your car won't start.

Won't-start symptoms:

Your car may not start for a number of reasons. The following list outlines the most common circumstances and tells you what action you can take to try to remedy each situation:

- The car is silent when you turn the key in the ignition.

Check the battery terminal cable connections. If they look very corroded, force the point of a screwdriver (with an insulated or wooden handle) between the connector and the terminal post and twist it to lodge it firmly. Then try to start the engine. If it starts, you need to clean or replace your cables.

- The car makes a clicking noise but won't start.

This sound usually means a dead battery. If not, check the wiring to and from the starter for a loose connection.

- The car cranks over but won't start.

Check the fuel supply to your engine. If that's okay, check-whether the electrical spark is getting through.

- The engine starts but dies.

If your car has a carburetor, check your carburetor adjustment and your choke to see whether the choke is first closing and then opening. If you have fuel injection, you'll need professional help.

- The car won't start on rainy days.

Check inside the distributor cap for dampness. If you find moisture, get some mechanic's solvent from your friendly service station -they use it to clean car parts - or buy an aerosol can of it at an auto supply store. To evaporate any dampness inside the distributor cap, turn the cap upside down and pour or spray some solvent into it.

Swish it around and pour it out. Then dry the cap as best you can with a clean, lint-free rag and replace the cap.

Use only clean solvent; even a tiny speck of dirt can foul the points. Gasoline won't do because a spark can ignite gasoline fumes and cause an explosion or a fire.

- The car won't start on cold mornings.

For vehicles with carburetors, check the choke. Is it closed? Does it open?. If you have fuel injection, you'll need to have a professional diagnose the cold-start problems.

- The engine misses while idling Autel MaxiDiag MD808.

Check the points (if your car has a nonelectronic distributor) and the spark plugs. Also check the fuel pump, fuel filter, and carburetor, if you have one.

- The engine misses or hesitates during acceleration.

Check the accelerator pump in the carburetor (if equipped), the spark plugs, the distributor, and the timing.

- The engine knocks or pings.

Check your timing; also check the octane rating of the fuel you're using. The owner's manual can tell you whether your vehicle needs regular unleaded or premium gasoline. Check the cooling system. Do a compression check on the engine cylinders.

Remember that air and fuel filters on all vehicles should be replaced on a regular basis according to your owner's manual. Your owner's manual should show you where your fuel filter is. If it doesn't, consult a service manual for your vehicle's make, model, and year (you can usually find these manuals at your local library) or ask someone in the service department at your dealership.

John Den, member of a car forum. Join our Car Forum and find tips on Defensive Driving Autel MK808, Auto Detailing etc.
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