Q:

What are the first things to consider when troubleshooting auto problems?

A:

Quick Answer

When faced with a car that won't start, the first things to check include the battery, the fuel supply and the carburetor. Depending on weather and temperature conditions, other problems could involve the distributor cap, the choke, the points and the spark plugs.

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Full Answer

If the key in the ignition is turned and nothing happens, the first thing to check is the battery. First, look at the battery terminal connections. Using a screwdriver with an insulated handle, place it between the battery connectors and the terminal and twist it. If the car starts with the screwdriver in place, the battery terminals need cleaning.

If the car engine turns over but won't start, check the gas gauge. If the vehicle isn't out of gas, check the wiring to the spark plugs. A faulty carburetor can allow an engine to start momentarily before dying again. On older cars, check the adjustment on the carburetor and on the choke. Fuel injection cars don't have this technology, so a trip to an auto mechanic is warranted.

Distributor caps sometimes pick up moisture on rainy days, which can cause starting problems. Mechanic's solvent, sold in aerosol cans, can be used to thoroughly clean and then dry out the cap.

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