Help my car won’t start

Let me just set the scene… it’s Sunday morning, we are all fed, dressed and the dog has been walked. For Jack it is his first day back at football and hasn’t stopped talking about it for the past two days. He has his training kit on and ready to go. Its 9:40am, both Jack and Dan (my hubby, his dad) get into the car whilst I look on from the window. Jack’s strapped in to his seat and Dan gets in. I’m waiting to wave them off but they don’t seem to be going very far. I can see the headlights flick on then off, this happens a couple of times. Dan then sort of waves his hands in the air and its then I realise there is a problem… my car won’t start!

That’s it, I have one very upset little boy and one very annoyed husband. He says to me that i’m the car lady and that I need to sort it out. Er, okay, I know a bit about cars but I’m not a mechanic or a miracle worker! Anyway, this was all said in the heat of the moment, which all stemmed from understandably seeing our little boy so upset.

What do you do?

Jump start – this is the most obvious option. The way our drive works and how the car is parked means there is no room for another car to even get near to the bonnet, and jump leads just wouldn’t reach.

So, why don’t you push the car I hear you say. Well, we tried, but quickly realised our car has an electronic breaking system, which meant we were unable to release the breaks without power! There is some irony in this i’m sure. We tried to find a manual override but with no joy!

Car jump starter cables attached to car battery

Breakdown cover – After getting over the annoyance and inconvenience there really wasn’t much we could do apart from try and get it going. I suggested to Dan calling our breakdown company to see if we have home cover included within our cover. I didn’t think we did and the call confirmed this. It was worth a try.

Mobile mechanic – My next thought was to call out a mobile mechanic, however I refused to call one out on a Sunday as it would be quite pricey.

Car battery charger – After much discussion, and with the help of Mr Google, we decided the issue was most likely to be the battery or alternator (which charges the car battery whilst driving). As a result we sourced a car battery charger, from Argos of all places. We decided for the price it was worth a try. We are lucky that where we live we are able to walk to pick it up, so that is exactly what hubby did whilst I looked after the kids.

Car battery charger

The result

I didn’t hold out much hope with the battery charger, and even though I know a bit about cars I hadn’t before taken a car battery out. I knew where it was located but that was about it. Between me, Dan and YouTube we managed to disconnect the battery from the rest of the car. We didn’t want to risk further damage to any other components i.e. the alternator.

We attached the battery charger and kept our fingers crossed. The low LED light lit up (least it wasn’t on the 0% LED), this gave me a little hope. After half an hour or so I went to look at the LEDs again, this time it was on 50%. When I checked again a little after an hour, the 100% LED light was lit.

Battery charger attached to car battery

We disconnected the charger and reconnected the battery. This was it, the moment of truth. Dan turned the key… and hey presto the car spluttered into life – hooray!

Why did we have this issue?

We believe the flat battery issue derived from short journeys and the cold. The car simply wasn’t being driven long enough to recharge the battery. When things like heat and lighting were required, as it is cold and dark, there really wasn’t enough power. Too much output not enough input.

What a headache

Luckily our car seemed to only suffer from a flat battery. I’ve been very lucky to never have had it happen up until now. We’ve taken the car out on a couple of long journeys since to keep the battery charged, and to make sure all the juices are flowing. Luckily, I believe we have discovered the issue, as we’ve been able to restart the car since. This indicates to us that the alternator is working as it should.

I like to have faith in things and do not like unexpected surprises like this. When I get in the car now I just pray it starts. It pretty much ruined our Sunday, however we have come through it more knowledgeable than before. Least I now know what steps to take if my car won’t start.

I didn’t realise how much I took having a working car for granted. Seeing it sat outside, unable to drive, really unsettled me. On the flip side its made me more determined to get more hands on. Especially learning to change a tyre single handed!

A lesson has certainly been learnt!


One response to “Help my car won’t start”

  1. Dave says:

    Great article, thanks for the tips.

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