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What To Do When Your Car Doesn’t Start

It’s a feeling that you dread. You turn your car key and….. nothing happens! There really is nothing worse than having to be somewhere and your car not starting.

So what could it be, and what should you do? At Fergies we’re all about keeping you on the road in a car you can trust. We’ve written this short article so that you can be prepared should this happen to you.

What To Check First?

Even though your car is a complex feat of engineering there are many things that you can check prior to calling Fergies. Let’s take a quick look at some of the common problem areas.

1 – The vehicle battery is one of the most common causes of your vehicle not starting. A low battery fault here can cause the vehicle to turn over slowly, or not start at all.

2 – If your vehicle is an automatic, is it in Park or Neutral, as it won’t start unless one of these is selected.

3 – Are you using the right key. We often see spare keys that aren’t programmed causing the vehicle not to start.

4 – Is there enough of the right fuel in the vehicle?

5 – Do you have a Malfunction Indicator Lamp illuminated? It could be one of the cars electronic system misbehaving.

Let’s take a look at each of those in a little more detail.

How To Check Your Battery

There are a couple of non-technical ways to check your battery. First of all, does your car turn over? If the vehicle cranks at a suitable speed then it won’t be your battery.

If the vehicle does not crank (turn over) then it could be your battery and it’s time for the next test.

Operate your washers so that the screen is wet and then try your wipers. Do your wipers move too slowly across the screen? If so, it could well be your battery and you may need to consider recharging the battery or using jump leads to start the vehicle from a slave battery.

How To “Jump Start” Your Car

Jump starting your car is a fairly straightforward procedure. You’ll need some jump leads and another vehicle or a spare battery to complete this task.

The generic procedure is to connect the other vehicles battery or spare battery to your flat battery, wait 10 minutes for the charge to equalise between the batteries, and then start your vehicle.

It’s VERY important though that you read the manufacturers information as this will highlight where to connect the jump leads on the vehicles and the specific procedure required. In many cases, this is not directly to the battery. Failure to do this correctly could lead to causing a fault, which is the last thing you want to do.

Of course, if you think you have a flat battery then you’re welcome to give us a call and we’ll take care of this for you.

Is your vehicle immobilised?

A key part of your car’s anti-theft system is the transponder immobiliser. Each of your keys is fitted with a tiny coded chip called a transponder. When the key is presented to the vehicle, the data within the transponder is checked to see if it is the correct key for the car. If it is, the car is allowed to crank, if not, then you may see a light illuminated similar to the one pictured below.

If you suspect an immobiliser issue then your first thing to check is the key.

Is it the same key you used to start the car previously? If not, then use the original key and if the car now starts it’s time to get that faulty key checked out.

If the key is good then is it possible to position the key closer to the key reader. Your owners manual will outline the ideal position for the key in such scenarios.

If neither of these quick tips are successful then give us a call as our technicians are skilled in finding solutions to these kind of problems.

Are Your Dash Lights Illuminated?

No dash lights or the wrong dash lights illuminated can be caused by a couple of different faults and your first port of call is to check the vehicle’s fuses.

Fuses protect the cars electrical systems and are designed to “blow” should a fault occur. It’s not uncommon when your car doesn’t start for a fuse to have blown and caused this.


It’s back to your owners manual for this one. The manual will show you where the fuse boxes on your car are located (there may be more than one), and outline the system that each fuse protects. Check each one individually, and replace with a fuse of the same rating if blown.

Should the fuse blow again when the ignition is turned on then you’ll have a permanent fault on the vehicle that will need a professional diagnosis.

If your fuses are in good order then is there a Malfunction Indicator Light Illuminated? These fault lights are designed to highlight electrical system malfunctions and many of these can cause a non-start scenario.

Specialist equipment and knowledgeable technicians are required to accurately get to the bottom of these issues. Luckily at Fergies, we have both, so just call and we’ll get you back on the road in a car you can trust in no time.

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