CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

My car won't start

I bought a used 2004 Nissan Sentra back in 2006. About a year and a half later, the car wouldn’t start. I consulted a family member that knew about cars, and they told me to change the battery, so I did. Car was running fine, but on occasion, it would take me a couple of times to actually start the car. Now not even 2 years after I bought the new battery, my car won’t start AT all. When I turn the key in the ignition, there is no sound.



Once again, I consulted a family friend and they said it’s the battery.



Help?!

The battery could very well be drained. Check the charge on it and clean the battery connections.

You can bring the battery to most any auto parts store and have them check the battery. If you have a volt meter, you can do a basic test right at home.

When the car was starting, did it seem the battery was at full power or did it start sounding like it might be a little weak?

How often have you been using the car? Five days a week or once a month?

Yes, it could be the battery, and as was suggested, you can have it checked by an auto parts store or at any Sears Auto Center.

However, an issue that you may not have considered is maintenance. Used cars can be the victims of poor maintenance by their previous owner(s), and you did not mention what you have done in terms of maintenance on this car in the 3 years or so that you have owned it.

If the belt that drives the alternator is even somewhat loose, it can eventually lead to battery failure.
If the battery terminals have any accumulation of corrosion, that can eventually lead to battery failure.
If the battery’s connections are not tight enough, that can eventually lead to battery failure.
If the car’s spark plugs and various filters have not been changed on schedule, this can lead to “slow” starts that will eventually lead to battery failure.
Couple the above factors with certain driving habits (only short-trip drives) and battery failure could come sooner, rather than later.

Have the car’s charging system checked and bring ALL of the car’s maintenance up to date, and you should see much better life from your next battery.

Clean, or replace the battery cable terminals. Get a jump start and take your car to an auto parts store for a free battery and alternator check. The alternator may not be charging, or there may be bad switches in the start circuit.