There are few things more frustrating than getting into your car only for the engine not to start. Sometimes the reason may be obvious – there may even have been a warning light that you have been deliberately ignoring for the last few journeys – but sometimes it can be harder to know what to do, and when it is time to call your roadside recovery. In this series, we talk through some of the most common problems and their causes.
OK, this may seem incredibly obvious (not to mention embarrassing), but it’s not unheard of to run out of fuel without realising. If you park on a hill, your fuel gauge may be deceptive, meaning that you don’t realise you are on low. If you run out of fuel, your best bet is to walk to your local petrol station and grab a can – if you are truly stuck, call roadside recovery.
If your fuel gauge seems to be faulty or erratic, ask your local mechanic to take a look.
Your battery is critical to getting your engine going – it basically gives your engine the little boost of power it needs in order to get going. Once the engine is running, it then gives power back to your battery, so that it has enough charge to start the engine next time. If your battery is old or faulty, it may not be able to hold its charge once the engine is switched off. This will mean that it can’t start the engine. Another reason for a flat battery is that something has been accidentally left on – a light, a radio, we’ve all been there. Finally, if you went on a fairly short journey but used a lot of elements that use up a lot of battery power while you’re driving (heating or air con, demisters, radio), the drive may not have been long enough to replenish the power that you have taken from the battery. Whatever the cause of your flat battery, you have two options: attempt to jump start it yourself, in which case you will need a set of jump leads and a friendly vehicle owner to help you, or call roadside recovery. They will be able to tell you whether your battery needs replacing or not.
Generally you will be able to tell if you have a flat battery as nothing will happen – the radio, windscreen wipers, none of them will work, and you won’t hear any sound when you turn the key in the ignition.
The best way to avoid a flat battery is to get your local garage to check it when you have your vehicle serviced.
Locked ignition or steering wheel
Most of us have got into our vehicle and had that moment of panic when the steering wheel won’t move or the key won’t turn. This is usually down to one of two reasons: your front wheel is locked against the kerb, or you parked on full lock. To release the steering wheel, gently wiggle it left and right and it will soon free up.
Our top three reasons for your car not starting may seem obvious, but it is amazing how quickly logic flies out the window when you are panicking and late. If in doubt, call your garage. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the next three!