If your car will not start when you turn the ignition on, you may hear a clicking noise. If so, this sound could give you clues on what the problem is. Use the three-step guide below to determine the cause of your car's inability to start, as well as possible, simple solutions.
Step 1: Check Your Battery
The first thing you should do is check the charge on your battery, especially if you hear a grinding noise either concurrent with or after the clicking noise begins. If there is not enough juice left in the cells, the battery will not have enough charge to operate the starter or turn the engine over.
One way to check the charge on your battery is to turn the ignition on without cranking it. If the lights on the dashboard are dim or do not light, the battery is either low or dead. If so, you will need to either have someone jumpstart your car or place the battery on a portable charger.
If the battery consistently drains, this could be caused by one of two problems. The battery itself may be bad, requiring that it needs to be replaced.
Or, the alternator may be the problem and is not charging the battery while the car is running. Taking your car to an auto repair mechanic can help you figure out which one is causing the problem, since they can test both to find out the culprit.
After going through the above, you may find out that your battery or alternator is not the issue. If so, go on to the next step.
Step 2: Ensure The Battery Cables Are Tightly Connected And Intact
The next step involves checking your battery cables to make sure they are tightly connected and intact. If one of the leads is loose or a wire is broken, not enough power will be able to reach the solenoid or starter.
First, look at the battery cables to make sure the bolts are tight. If the posts appear dirty, remove the cables and use an old rag to wipe off the grime. This could also interfere with the connection.
Second, remove the positive cable from the battery and follow the wire to the other end where it joins the solenoid. The solenoid acts as a buffer between the battery and starter. On some models, the solenoid is attached directly to the starter. As you follow the wire, check for any areas that are worn and broken.
Once you reach the solenoid, make sure the leads are connected tightly. If you do not find an issue with the wires, reattach the positive lead to the battery and go on to the third step.
Step 3: Tap On The Starter
If your battery has a charge and the cables seem to be intact, it is possible that you have a bad starter. When the inner components stick, it is not able to draw enough power from the battery and solenoid to turn over the engine.
To see if the starter is sticking, tap it gently a few times with a hammer or wrench. Then, try to start the car. If it starts, the starter was stuck and the vibrations broke it loose. Sometimes, this is a one-time thing and you may not have any more problems.
However, if the starter continues to stick, it should be replaced as soon as possible before it breaks completely. You can do this or, if you do not feel comfortable doing it, by a professional.
After going through the guide, you still may not be able to determine what is causing the clicking sound or why your car will not start. If so, you may want to have it towed to an auto repair shop or check out a site like http://autobodyomaha.com so they can diagnose the problem and offer you suggestions on how to fix it.