Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Why won't my car start?

I rearended a car yesterday. It cracked my front fender and bent my hood, but nothing was leaking and the car was still running soundly. But once I turned it off, it refused to start back up. From the gap created by the bent hood (I can’t open the hood; it’s jammed shut) I can see that everything inside looks intact. But when I turn the ignition, the engine will only crank weakly and I get a fluttering sound with flashing of all lights on my dashboard. I was hoping to get it started tomorrow so that I can take it to my mechanic without having to tow. Any advice? Thanks.

Sounds to me like you damaged your battery in the accident, or knocked one of the contacts loose.

The contacts look okay. The battery is not leaking. Could it still be damaged on the inside?

Yes, it can be damaged internally. But how sure are you that it is not leaking? I suspect that it might even have some external damage that you can not see w/o opening the hood and looking at the “back” side of the battery.

Agreed. No way to know without opening the hood. Thanks both of you for your help. I guess I’ll try to jump start it tomorrow and see what happens.

I think I would NOT try a jump start if the battery is damaged. I’d be concerned that the damaged btty might hurt the donor car’s battery or alternator (excessive load from shorted cell/s). If you can get the hood open to hook up jumper cables, maybe you can: 1) clean and re-tighten the terminal connectors, and try to start the car; 2) if that does not work, remove the battery and have it tested.