Car Starting Trouble

My car failed to start this morning. Last night, the temperature was 23 F. I was able to crank it once and then there was no noise when I turned the key. I suspected a battery problem, so called the AAA guys. The guy came, checked the battery and concluded that it wasn’t a battery issue. He said he suspects two other things.

1) A faulty fuel control regulator which freezes up due to the cold and won’t supply the fuel.

2) A security system in the car which is causing it to happen.

In the afternoon after the sun was out, the car started “auto-magically”. I took it to an auto repair facility, where they ran a diagnostic on it and weren’t able to conclude any problem.

The guy at auto repair facility is thinking that it might be a faulty starter motor that is causing this starting trouble.

How do I narrow down this issue?

AAA is a good service but I won’t put too much weight on the opinion of the driver. These guys might be mechanics, but they can be moonlighting students too. Apparently the typical battery jump start didn’t do the trick for you and he was trying to give you a reason.

A fuel regulator shouldn’t freeze at 23F. Very doubtful IMO. Faulty starter, possible.
Bad solenoid possible. Bad chip key causing a security issue possible. It can also be a bad fuel pump.

This is one of those problems where mechanics can start throwing parts on the car and not fix the real problem. Keep your AAA card handy. When it happens again, remove any other car keys from you key ring. If you have another key for that car, try it.

You need to get a better handle on what is going on here. If the car fails to start and then doesn’t come back to life; that will be good. Then the real problem could be identified and fixed.

Thanks for responding.

You’re absolutely right about mechanics throwing parts on the car. The starter motor replacement is upwards of $400.00 right now. I am not sure what a fuel pump and fuel regulator are going to cost.

There are no other keys on my car key ring.

Start by checking that all of the wire connections are tight and clean. In cold weather, loose connections to the battery terminals and starter that were fine in warm weather suddenly become a problem. This is especially true since the battery was tested and checked out fine. I’d check first the positive cable connection to the starter and each battery cable connection. Clean the terminals and leads and inspect the wires for corrosion inside the jackets (look for a white powder). If you see a white powder that has accumulated on any terminal or wire, clean the part using a wire brush and expose clean metal to contact the wire leads to terminals in each case, and make sure the connections are tight. Replace any part that will not tighten enough that it cannot be moved by hand.

Same issue today morning. I checked the terminals and the wires attached to the terminals. I believe the auto repair facility looked at those things and weren’t able to determine if anything is a problem.

They had a suggestion about turning on the headlights and then turning on the key in the ignition. If the headlights do not dim, it is a starter motor problem.

Hi, mind me joining the discussion as I had a problem starting the engine the past three days as well. I believe mine is caused more by an engine flush a mechanic did 5 days ago, ever since the car is running strangely.

Question - I remember back from the old days my Dad surrounding the battery with styrofoam - is that still a good idea with today’s cars? I am just afraid of Suday when it’s suppose to get real cold for Atlanta temperatures :frowning:

As long as your battery seems to be cranking strongly now, you’ll be fine. “real cold for Atlanta” is nothing to your battery, as long as it’s good condition. If you’re worried about the battery’s condition (or if it’s over 5 yrs old) you can take it into your local mechanic or gas station and ask them to check its condition with a “hygrometer” or “specific gravity tester” that sucks some acid out of the battery and measures its strength. Styrofoam definitely not necessary in Atlanta.

Thanks jesmed! I thought it wasn’t that cold for the car, did not have the trouble before the engine flush. That’s what I think causes everything right now, including the engine light coming on, had to change already sparkplugs and wires and wondering what today’s engine light will reveal…

Is this a “slow or no crank” condition or a “motor turns over nominaly, but will not fire” condition?

There is a slow crank, but then there’s only the clicking sound of the car key being turned. In the afternoon, there’s no crank required. It just fires at the first turn of the key.

Any time a car is started (unless it is push started) a “crank” from the starter is required, no matter how short it is it is still considered a “crank”. That being said I conclude we are dealing with an intermittent no crank and then if it does crank then this crank is slow?

If it cranks, it is not slow.

Update: I put in a injector cleaner in my fuel tank, the last time I filled up and it is no longer giving me starting trouble.

I have no idea how to view your statement “If it cranks, it is not slow” many people have trouble relating just what happens (or does not happen) when they turn the key and I have no suggestion on how to make this confusion go away. Some people can explain their problem and others are overwhelmed by a request from a mechanic to explain what happens when they turn the key. It seems that a sort of dividing line in mechanical competance exists at the point where a customer must describe what happens when they turn the key.

Don’t mean to rain on the parade but if a can of injector cleaner in your tank fixed your problem then you never had a problem in the first place.