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How to Identify Car Starting Problems

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Summary: Identifying a problem that may pr our car from starting.

Identifying A Car Starting Problem

Lets take a look at the electrical components that are needed to make a car start:

The Car Electrical Ignition System

The Primary Ignition System

The Engine Ignition System

The Engine Fuel System

Additional Factors that affect Engine Start Up

EXAMPLE: The Car Electrical System Components of a 1994 Honda Civic.

The Ignition System

The ignition system is made up of a few components that make the engine start by igniting the fuel in the engine cylinders. If one of these components is faulty the engine will not start.


* PLEASE NOTE This discussion is limited to this particular car. Your car might be different. Verify the exact wiring for your application requirements.

These tests are best provided by an experienced auto mechanic. Caution should be taken due to moving parts of the engine and the presence of pressurized gas or fuel lines and hoses. Hazard precautions must be taken at all times including personal protection to the eyes and body. Clean rags and a method of fire suppression should be provided.

Wiring Table

Troubleshooting an Engine Starting Problem
Through a Process of Elimination

Key Car Starting Components Identified

The Electrical Ignition System

The Primary Ignition System includes:

  • Battery and Solenoid
  • Key or Ignition Switch
  • Starter Motor

  • The battery must have a charge in order to make the engine crank to attempt to start.
    If the battery is good but the starter motor does not crank the engine then the key switch may be faulty.
    If this primary ignition is working, and the starter is cranking the engine but the engine does not start, then we need to proceed to the next phase of the ignition process.

    The Engine Ignition System includes:

  • Distributor Coil
  • Distributor Rotor
  • The Distributor Cap
  • Spark Plug Wires and a Coil Wire
  • Spark Plugs

  • This phase of the ignition system is where electricity, which is provided by the battery when the ignition switch is turned, is sent to the distributor system which makes the spark plugs spark.
    If the spark plugs are getting spark then we need to proceed to the next phase and check the fuel system.

    The Engine Fuel System includes:

  • The Gas Tank
  • The Fuel Pump
  • The Fuel Filter
  • The Fuel Hoses and Lines
  • The Carburetor or Electronic Fuel Injection

  • This phase of the ignition system is where the fuel makes it's way from the gas tank into the engine cylinders.
    The presence of fuel pressure may be tested up by the engine where the fuel hoses connect to the metal fuel lines with clamps that may be loosened slightly.

    Additional Factors that affect Engine Start Up includes:

  • The Timing Belt or Timing Chain

  • Most cars have a timing belt or timing chain which is used to connect two major engine assemblies and if it has broken then this will prevent the engine from starting and may cause other problems with the car engine as well.

    I Hope this information about Car Problems Helps You!

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