It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s…a car mechanic running his errands.

What to do when car won't start

Earlier this summer, while I was out running some errands, I had the pleasure of being in the right place, at the right time. I came across a pair of friends who found themselves in a bit of a bind. Their car (which was running perfectly fine earlier) suddenly wouldn’t start–leaving them stuck in downtown Newnan. 

Finding yourself with a car that won’t start is, unfortunately, a common situation, and most of us have experienced this stressful event at one point or another. You know the scenario: your car was running normally as it successfully got you to work, school, the grocery store, wherever. Only, when you’re ready to leave said destination, suddenly your car seems to have its own agenda.

While I can’t swing from buildings, or run faster than a speeding bullet, I (fortunately) am an auto mechanic in Newnan with a shop nearby, and I could tell this was just a simple dead battery issue. Being so close, I was able to run walk (it was still summertime in South Metro, GA after all) briskly back to the shop, grab a new battery, return in a few, and help them get that all sorted. (See the screen capture below of the sincere appreciation they left on our Facebook page)

Their car wouldn't start and I was able to help.

While I was glad I was able to help out that day, in general, what are the chances when your car won’t start, a car mechanic will come strolling by? Probably not likely!

So, for the vast majority of us, following are some quick tips on what to consider, check, and try the next time your car won’t start. It just might save you a lost afternoon of waiting around for family, friends, roadside assistance, or the tow guy.

First and foremost, before attempting to troubleshoot your vehicle’s malfunction, the safety of you and all of your passengers should be your top priority. You should feel comfortable enough in the area you’re in to exit the vehicle and poke around a little under the hood. Don’t be afraid to call emergency services if you’re stuck in any potentially hazardous situations.

OK, if indeed you’re able to troubleshoot a bit, there are some quick things you can check. Battery issues tend to be a very common reason why your car suddenly “decides” not to start, so we’ll focus mainly on that. Here are the most common scenarios:

  • Loose connection – When inspecting the battery, ensure it’s mounted securely in place, then check the cables to confirm that they are connected to the battery. If they are disconnected or loose, try reconnecting and with a screwdriver (one with an insulated or wooden handle) tightening the connection as needed.
  • Dead battery – If when attempting to start the car, you can hear a clicking noise but it doesn’t start, this usually indicates a dead battery. This would be a good time to open up the roadside emergency kit that you keep in your trunk (you have one of those, right?) and pull out your jumper cables. Now would also be a good time to put on the puppy dog face as you flag down a good samaritan to give you a jump.
  • Corroded battery terminal cables – If everything appears connected, but you can see a lot of corrosion, that might be the problem. Luckily, you’re prepared! You’re prepared because you keep a small can of battery cleaner and a battery terminal cleaner brush in the roadside emergency bag mentioned earlier. You can use these products to quickly remove the corrosion and hopefully resolve the issue.

While these are probably the most common reasons why you’re suddenly stuck on the road, this list is far from exhaustive. There are, of course, many other reasons why a car won’t start as well. After ruling out the basics above, it’s probably time to call your emergency roadside assistance provider (e.g. any roadside assistance provided by your insurance company, AAA, etc.).

While I can’t promise to be walking by in your time of need, be sure to keep our contact information stored in your phone – one less thing to worry about if you need professional help. Give us a call at 678-673-6699 with any auto repair questions and/or to schedule an appointment!