July 20, 2024
#Car Advice

What to do if your car won’t start

There are few things as frustrating as turning the key in the ignition and hearing nothing but silence. If you find yourself in this situation and your car refuses to start, do not panic. There are many common issues that can be at the root of the problem, and a systematic approach to troubleshooting can often get your car back on the road. In this guide, we explore step by step what you need to do if your car won’t start.

  1. Check the Basics

Start with the basics before moving on to more complex issues. Make sure that the gear rests in either the “park” or “neutral” position, as well as that the parking brake is engaged. Sometimes, a small hitch in these areas will cause your car not to start.

  • Listen for clicking sounds.

If you turn the key and hear rapid clicking sounds, it could indicate a weak or dead battery. Uganda’s climate can be harsh on batteries, especially during extreme temperatures. Jump-starting your car might be the quickest solution in this case. Keep jumper cables in your vehicle or seek assistance from a passerby with a working vehicle.

  • Inspect the battery.

If the battery seems to be the culprit, check for visible signs of corrosion on the battery terminals. Corrosion can disrupt the electrical connection and prevent your car from starting. Use a wire brush or a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the terminals. If the battery is old or consistently causing issues, consider replacing it.

  • Examine the fuel system.

Ensure that there’s enough fuel in the tank. In some cases, the fuel gauge might be inaccurate, leading to unexpectedly empty fuel tanks. If you’re uncertain about the fuel level, add a small amount of fuel and attempt to start the car again.

  • Inspect the ignition system.

Another major cause of a failed start-up can be a faulty ignition system. Ensure that the ignition coil, ignition switches, and spark plugs are all functioning properly. Your spark plugs may need replacement if they appear burned out or have a lot of carbon on their surfaces. In most cases, starting problems are resolved by replacing a simple spark plug.

  • Verify the starter motor.

A malfunctioning starter motor can prevent the engine from cranking. Listen for a clicking sound when turning the key. If the starter motor is the issue, it might need replacement. Tap the starter motor gently with a hammer to see if it engages; this is a temporary fix, and you should still consult a mechanic for a long-term solution.

  • Examine the alternator.

The alternator is responsible for charging the battery while the engine is running. If the alternator is faulty, it could result in a drained battery. Use a multimeter to check the voltage across the battery terminals when the engine is running. If the voltage is significantly lower than 14 volts, it might indicate a failing alternator. To do this, you might need a professional because you may not have the necessary equipment in place.

  • Consider the security system.

Some modern cars have sophisticated security systems that can prevent the engine from starting if there’s an issue. Check your owner’s manual for information on how to reset or bypass the security system. If necessary, contact the car manufacturer or a qualified mechanic for assistance.

  • Seek professional assistance.

If everything fails and you’re unable to identify the issue, it’s time to seek professional help. Uganda has a network of skilled mechanics and auto repair shops. Contact a reliable mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem. Be cautious about attempting major repairs yourself if you lack the necessary expertise, as this could potentially cause more damage.


Having a car that won’t start can be stressful. However, if you follow a structured troubleshooting process, you can usually identify and solve the problem. From basic maintenance to the battery, fuel system, ignition system, and more, a step-by-step approach increases your chances of getting back on the road. If all fails, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional mechanic who can provide the expertise needed to diagnose and fix the problem.



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