It’s a bad feeling when your car won’t start. All the plans made, all the places to be, and all the errands that were supposed to have been run are out the window. It’s bad when your car won’t start at home, but even worse when it won’t start somewhere else. There are immediate decisions to have to make (Call a tow truck? Call a cab? Ask the grocery store if they can store your ice cream because of a potential emergency melting situation?), and the whole situation is alarming. We rely on our vehicles, and when they don’t work there’s a lot of inconvenience, plus the inescapable thought: “How much is this going to cost?”
Be knowledgeable about your car
Knowing a lot about your vehicle pays off in the long run. When your car won’t start, it always good to have some semblance of an idea about what may actually be happening. Vehicle dashboard warning lights are there for a reason. They should be relatively obvious for most, and are very helpful for pointing you in the right direction. The old-fashioned oil can is an alert that you need to take a look at your dipstick as soon as possible. A red thermometer means your engine if too hot (maybe you are out of coolant or the radiator is on the fritz), and, of course, the gas pump in an indicator you need to make a stop to fill up. If a dashboard light comes on (such as the service engine light), and it’s not something you can address yourself, ensure to take your car in to your dealership or mechanic as soon as possible.
Newer vehicles have excellent technologies incorporated into the engine that run many of the advanced safety features that help people be better drivers ― plus they save lives. Many have dashboard interfaces that read out warnings coming from the car’s computer, such as “Fill washer fluid,” and “Tire pressure low.” These are helpful, and shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, failure to address a warning may end up accidentally invalidating any sort of warranty you have on your vehicle. Always follow the terms of your purchase agreement from the dealership (if you have one). Even something as seemingly harmless as getting an oil change at a different service centre could void its terms.
Reasons your car won’t start
The top five reasons why a vehicle just won’t start include:
1. Dead battery. Thankfully, a dead battery isn’t usually an indication of a big problem and it’s easy to recognize. If your key fob won’t work and your radio won’t turn on, it’s more than likely a dead battery. You could have just forgotten to turn off your inside light or perhaps your vehicle didn’t move for awhile. If problems persist after you boost it, however, there could be more issues (or at the very least, you need a new battery). The average car battery lasts about three years.
2. Bad alternator. Your alternator helps keep the battery charged. If your alternator is starting to go, not only will your car be difficult to start (it will be slow to crank), you may also notice signs of your battery draining while you are driving, such as your headlights dimming or flickering. Your battery warning light coming on while you are behind the wheel and moving is a good indication that you should take it in to a mechanic.
3. Broken starter. Your battery, alternator, and starter are all intertwined. If your car won’t start (you will hear a clicking noise when trying to start the engine), but you know the battery and alternator are ok, the next most likely culprit is your starter. Starters tend to wear out over time and thankfully are relatively quick and easy to have replaced.
4. Old spark plugs. Spark plugs used to have to be replaced quite often, however nowadays they last much longer (sometimes up to 200,000 km!). They’re easy to forget about, so when you take your vehicle in for its regular maintenance, ask for the mechanics to check them quickly. They are simple and inexpensive to switch out and will keep your vehicle humming along nicely.
5. Dirty filters. When you take your vehicle in for its 5,000 km oil change, ensure to ask that your oil and fuel filters be either cleaned or replaced if needed. These keep air and fuel circulating properly and greatly improve your car’s performance.
Follow your maintenance schedule
In order to avoid that sinking feeling when your car won’t start, always follow your yearly maintenance schedule. Familiarize yourself with the driver’s handbook that came with your vehicle and ensure to follow the directions of the manufacturer. This will ensure your warranty stays valid and help address potential problems before they occur.
Benefits of roadside auto services
Whether you get your roadside assistance through your dealership or by an independent provider, we highly recommend that nobody drive without it. Benefits of roadside assistance include:
- Towing services
- Tire repair
- Vehicle locksmith services
- Battery boosting/replacement
- Fuel delivery
- A safe ride from wherever you are
Lane’s is your car insurance specialist
There are many reasons why it’s wise to choose an insurance broker, not the least of which is that we are highly trained experts in our field. Our staff of skilled and knowledgeable insurance brokers have decades of experience under our belts and we thrive on being able to help people access better coverage at lower premiums.
We are always here to answer any questions you may have about your car insurance. We work for you, not the insurance companies, and can pick and choose the best options available from several of Canada’s top providers. Give us a call so we can get to know you and your unique insurance situation. Contact us at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton and greater Alberta offices.